1 Samuel 28-31 David strengthened himself in the LORD his God

From 1 Samuel 28-31

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1 Sam 28.1-25; Story; Saul and the Medium of Endor

1 Sam 29.1-11; Story; The Philistines Reject David

1 Sam 30.1-15; Story; David’s Wives Are Captured

1 Sam 30.16-31; Story; David Defeats the Amalekites

1 Sam 31.1-13; Story; The Death of Saul

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Passage and Comments

The first book of Samuel is nearing its end. In chapter 29, fortunately for the Philistines they refused to let David stand with them in battle. Who knows what would have happened if the LORD’s anointed and his battle hardened mighty men were allowed to stand with them. Im sure they would have changed sides and wiped them out at a critical moment. The Philistines head off to Jezreel to fight Saul. David returns to the land of the Philistines where he had been hiding from Saul and secretly wiping out Philistines on the side (1 Sa 29).

Our passage starts when David comes to Ziklag.

30 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire 2 and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. 3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. (1 Sa 30:1–3)

The Amalekites come to the land of the Philistines and pillage the land. In doing so they take their women and children. They burn everything else. Obviously this would be heart breaking. They could kill them or worse.

How do the people respond?

4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. (1 Sa 30:4-6a)

The people are understandably grieved and distressed. David like the men with him has also suffered the loss of his wives. The people are so distressed they start to blame David for what has happened and some want to stone him. Perhaps they blame him for leaving the women and children behind in the first place. Wanting to fight the Philistines. The situation looks bleak, especially for David.

But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. (1 Sa 30:6b)

I’m sure David reassured himself of the LORD’s faithfulness to him. Perhaps he prayed. David’s response to the situation is contrasted to that of his men.

What makes David different and how can we learn from him?

We live in a fallen world. All people at some time in their lives face distressing situations. What matters is how we respond to them. God’s people have access to the strength only the LORD can provide.

Strengthened by the LORD, David doesn’t give up.

7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 And David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” 9 So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor. (1 Sa 30:7-10)

David is a spiritual leader as well as a military leader. He believes the LORD, rallies his men and they go off in pursuit of their women and children. Along the way, some of them tire and have to stop. But many are able to continue.

Not everyone has the same amount of endurance. Only God is perfect.

11 They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, 12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. 14 We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” 15 And David said to him, “Will you take me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.” (1 Sa 30:11-16)

David and his men find an Egyptian. In an act of generosity, after all the way they had run, they feed him. He was a servant of the Amelekites. He dobs them in and agrees to show them where they are. Presumably David swears he will not kill the Egyptian for helping them.

16 And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. 20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David’s spoil.” (1 Sa 30:16–20)

The LORD was faithful to his word, they surely overtook the Amalekites and surely they rescued their women and children.

Story of Israel

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In the Old Testament the LORD really hates the Amalekites. Basically if one was an Amalekite, they were dead. Moses is deliberate in letting Joshua and others know what the LORD has in store for the Amalekites.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Ex 17:14–16)

Likewise, during the time of Samuel and Saul. The blood promise continues.

15 And Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD. 2 Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ” (1 Sa 15:1–3)

The Amalekites were doomed from the start. It was right for David to realise the LORD would eventually give justice. In his lifetime or the next.

Story of Jesus

David strengthened himself in the LORD. He probably did this by reflecting on his past experiences, what he knew of the LORD and through prayer. At times Jesus himself also needed strengthening. He sought the LORD in prayer for strength and guidance. He encouraged others to do the same as well.

18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:1–8)

We all experience times of discouragement and suffering. Remember to find your strength in the LORD.

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