Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
1 Kings (1 Samuel)
While David is absent with the army of Achish, the Amalekites invade Ziklag, and burn it with fire, and carry away captive David's wives, and those of his men, Sa1 30:1, Sa1 30:2. David and his men return; and, finding the desolate state of their city, are greatly affected, Sa1 30:3-5. The men mutiny, and threaten to stone David, who encourages himself in the Lord, Sa1 30:6. David inquires of the Lord, and is directed to pursue the Amalekites, with the promise that he shall recover all, Sa1 30:7, Sa1 30:8. He and his men begin the pursuit, but two hundred, through fatigue are obliged to stay behind at the brook Besor, Sa1 30:9, Sa1 30:10. They find a sick Egyptian, who directs them in their pursuit, Sa1 30:11-15. David finds the Amalekites secure, feasting on the spoils they had taken; he attacks and destroys the whole host, except four hundred, who escape on camels, Sa1 30:16, Sa1 30:17. The Israelites recover their wives, their families, and all their goods, Sa1 30:18-20. They come to the two hundred who were so faint as not to be able to pursue the enemy, with whom they divide the spoil; and this becomes a statute in Israel, Sa1 30:21-25. David sends part of the spoil which he had taken to different Jewish cities, which had suffered by the incursion of the Amalekites; and where David and his men had been accustomed to resort, Sa1 30:26-31.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:1
On the third day - This was the third day after he had left the Philistine army at Aphek. Calmet supposes that Aphek was distant from Ziklag more than thirty leagues.
The Amalekites had invaded - These were, doubtless, a travelling predatory horde, who, availing themselves of the war between the Philistines and the Israelites, plundered several unprotected towns, and among them Ziklag. It is likely they had not heard of what David did to some of their tribes, else they would have avenged themselves by slaying all they found in Ziklag.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:4
Wept, until they had no more power to weep - This marks great distress; they wept, as says the Vulgate, till their tears failed them.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:6
The people spake of stoning him - David had done much to civilize those men; but we find by this of what an unruly and ferocious spirit they were; and yet they strongly felt the ties of natural affection, they "grieved every man for his sons and for his daughters."
David encouraged himself in the Lord - He found he could place very little confidence in his men; and, as he was conscious that this evil had not happened either through his neglect or folly, he saw he might the more confidently expect succor from his Maker.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:7
Bring me hither the ephod - It seems as if David had put on the ephod, and inquired of the Lord for himself; but it is more likely that he caused Abiathar to do it.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:9
The brook Besor - This had its source in the mountain of Idumea, and fell into the Mediterranean Sea beyond Gaza. Some suppose it to have been the same with the river of the wilderness, or the river of Egypt. The sense of this and the following verse is, that when they came to the brook Besor, there were found two hundred out of his six hundred men so spent with fatigue that they could proceed no farther. The baggage or stuff was left there, Sa1 30:24, and they were appointed to guard it.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:12
A cake of figs - See on Sa1 25:18 (note).
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:13
My master left me, because three days agone I fell sick - This was very inhuman: though they had booty enough, and no doubt asses sufficient to carry the invalids, yet they left this poor man to perish; and God visited it upon them, as he made this very person the means of their destruction, by the information which he was enabled to give to David and his men.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:14
Upon the south of the Cherethites - Calmet and others maintain, that the כרתי kerethi, which, without the points, might be read Creti, were not only at this time Philistines, but that they were aborigines of Crete, from which they had their name Cherethites or Cretans, and are those of whom Zephaniah speaks, Zep 2:5 : Wo to the inhabitants of the sea-coasts, the nation of the Cherethites. And by Ezekiel, Eze 25:16 : Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and will cut off the Cherethim. In Sa2 15:18 we find that the Cherethites formed a part of David's guards.
South of Caleb - Somewhere about Kirjath-arba, or Hebron, and Kirjath-sepher; these being in the possession of Caleb and his descendants.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:15
Swear unto me - At the conclusion of this verse, the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic add, that David swore to him. This is not expressed in the Hebrew, but is necessarily implied.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:16
Out of the land of the Philistines - That these Amalekites were enemies to the Philistines is evident, but it certainly does not follow from this that those whom David destroyed were enemies also. This, I think, has been too hastily assumed by Dr. Chandler and others, in order the better to vindicate the character of David.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:17
There escaped not a man of them - It is well known to every careful reader of the Bible, that the Amalekites were a proscribed people, even by God himself, and that in extirpating them it has been supposed David fulfilled the express will of God. But all this depends on whether he had an express commission to do so, received from God himself, as Saul had.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:20
And David took all the flocks - He and his men not only recovered all their own property, but they recovered all the spoil which these Amalekites had taken from the south of Judah, the Cherethites, and the south of Caleb. When this was separated from the rest, it was given to David, and called David's spoil.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:22
Men of Belial - This is a common expression to denote the sour, the rugged, the severe, the idle, and the profane.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:23
That which the Lord hath given us - He very properly attributes this victory to God; the numbers of the Amalekites being so much greater than his own. Indeed, as many fled away on camels as were in the whole host of David.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:25
He made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel - Nothing could be more just and proper than this law: he who stays at home to defend house and property, has an equal right to the booty taken by those who go out to the war. There was a practice of this kind among the Israelites long before this time; see Num 31:27; Jos 22:8; and the note on this latter verse.
Unto this day - This is another indication that this book was composed long after the facts it commemorates. See the hypothesis in the preface.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:26
Unto the elders of Judah - These were the persons among whom he sojourned during his exile, and who had given him shelter and protection. Gratitude required these presents.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:27
To them which were in Beth-el - This was in the tribe of Ephraim.
South Ramoth - So called to distinguish it from Ramoth Gilead, beyond Jordan. This Ramoth belonged to the tribe of Simeon, Jos 19:8.
In Jattir - Supposed by Calmet to be the same as Ether, Jos 15:42, but more probably Jattir, Jos 15:48. It was situated in the mountains, and belonged to Judah.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:28
In Aroer - Situated beyond Jordan, on the banks of the river Arnon, in the tribe of God.
Siphmoth - Supposed to be the same with Shepham, Num 34:10, on the eastern border of the promised land.
Eshtemoa - Another city in the tribe of Judah. See Jos 15:50.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:29
Them which were in Rachal - We know not where this place was; it is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. Calmet conjectures that Hachilah, Sa1 23:19, may be the same place; here we know David did conceal himself for some time, till the Ziphites endeavored to betray him to Saul.
The cities of the Jerahmeelites - See before, Sa1 27:10 (note).
And - the cities of the Kenites - A very small tract on the southern coast of the Dead Sea.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:30
Hormah - The general name of those cities which belonged to Arad, king of Canaan; and were devoted to destruction by the Hebrews, and thence called Hormah. See Num 21:1-3.
In Chor-ashan - Probably the same as Ashan in the tribe of Judah: see Jos 15:42 (note). It was afterwards ceded to Simeon, Jos 19:7.
To them which were in Athach - Probably the same as Ether, Jos 19:7.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 30:31
To them which were in Hebron - This was a place strongly attached to David, and David to it, and the place where he was proclaimed king, and where he reigned more than seven years previously to the death of Ishbosheth, Saul's son, who was, for that time, his competitor in the kingdom.
David's having sent presents to all these places, not only shows his sense of gratitude, but that the booty which he took from the Amalekites must have been exceedingly great. And we learn from this also that David sojourned in many places which are not mentioned in the preceding history; for these are all said to be places where David and his men were wont to haunt.
We are not to suppose that the transactions mentioned here and in the preceding chapter took place after Saul's interview with the woman of En-dor, they were considerably antecedent to this, but how long we do not know. What is recorded in the following chapter must have taken place the next day after Saul left En-dor.