1 Samuel 29-30:   “While David Goes To Battle Against Israel With The Philistines Ziklag Is Burned And The Wives And Children Taken Captive


Jim Bomkamp

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1.     INTRO:


1.1.     In our last study, we looked at chapters 28 and the story of Saul going to the witch of Endor.


1.1.1.  In that chapter, we saw that the Philistine army assembled to fight against King Saul and his army.  King Saul was very nervous as he realized that the hand of the Lord had long since departed from him, and that the Lord had even told him that his kingdom would be taken away and given to another man (that would be David).  The king sensed that things were not going to go well for him and his army in this battle.  He determined to inquire of the Lord about what to do and whether or not he would win the battle that will ensue.  However, the Lord was completely silent and would give him no word through any channel.  Therefore, he went to a medium at Endor to see if she would call up Samuel so that he could get some counsel from Samuel.  Samuel did in fact appear to Saul, however he had a word from the Lord of impending judgment for Saul that he and his sons would be killed in battle on the next day and Israel would be defeated by the Philistines.


1.2.     In our study today, we are going to look at chapters 29 and 30.


1.2.1.  We have seen in the previous 28 chapters of the book of 1 Samuel how that the Lord had been using David’s trials and difficulties to mold him into the man that He wanted David to be, the man whom the Lord would have to be king over His people.  In our study today, we will see that the final step in that process is completed before David next begins to reign upon the throne over Israel.  In the next chapter after our study, King Saul and his sons are killed in battle and not too long after this David is made to be king over Israel.


1.2.2.  In chapter 29, we see that David and his men are found in a very compromising position.  Because David and his men had gone over and lived among the Philistines and served the king of the Philistines, the king of the Philistines now commands David and his men to come with the Philistines in battle as he plans a campaign to attack Israel.  If David were to disobey the Philistine king’s command to go to the battle against Israel, he could be killed by the king.  However, David cannot go up and fight against Israel either for they are God’s people and he has been told by the Lord that he will be the next king over Israel.  David had taken his men and gone to live among the Philistines because he was tired of the Lord placing him in difficult circumstances, especially regarding King Saul who was always chasing him down and hunting him to kill him.  This decision of David’s to take his men and go and live in Philistia was done because:  David was not living in faith in the Lord but rather in unbelief.  David had lost the confidence that the Lord was mighty and had promised to protect him and give him victory in battle.  David was in rebellion against the Lord.  David tired of the trials he was going through in running and hiding from King Saul who was constantly trying to kill him and rather than learn the character lessons that the Lord was trying to teach him in these trials, he chose instead to circumvent God’s working in his life and thus he chose instead to take the easy path and serve the enemy of the Lord and Israel.  Now, David is facing the consequences of his actions as he is going up to fight against Israel.  The Lord will deliver David from having to fight against God’s people when the Philistine commanders become concerned about having David and his men in battle with them against the Israelites, thinking they will turn and begin to fight against the Philistines.  However, when David and his men are forced to return from the battle and they go back to their home city of Ziklag, they discover it has been burned down and all of their women and children are missing.  The Lord uses this circumstance at Ziklag to bring David to the end of himself, to truly repent of going his own way apart from the Lord.  David has lost everything now and his men are even threatening to stone him because they are holding him responsible for what has happened.  After repenting of his sin, David encourages his heart in the Lord.  Then, he inquires of the Lord about whether he and his men should pursue the Amalekites (he hadn’t inquired of the Lord in many months).  He is told to go and given assurance that he will recover all safely.


1.2.3.  In chapter 30, we see that David and his men pursue the Amalekites and surprise them in battle.  The Amalekites are soundly defeated by David and his men and everything taken by the Amalekites is recovered just as David had been told by the Lord.


1.2.4.  We will look in our study today how that at times we as Christians follow in David’s footsteps and lose our passion for serving the Lord as well as the vision of what the Lord wants to do in our lives.


2.       VS 29:1-10  - 1 Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek, while the Israelites were camping by the spring which is in Jezreel. 2 And the lords of the Philistines were proceeding on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were proceeding on in the rear with Achish. 3 Then the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, who has been with me these days, or rather these years, and I have found no fault in him from the day he deserted to me to this day?” 4 But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him, and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Make the man go back, that he may return to his place where you have assigned him, and do not let him go down to battle with us, or in the battle he may become an adversary to us. For with what could this man make himself acceptable to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of these men? 5 “Is this not David, of whom they sing in the dances, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” 6 Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the Lord lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army are pleasing in my sight; for I have not found evil in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, you are not pleasing in the sight of the lords. 7 “Now therefore return and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” 8 David said to Achish, “But what have I done? And what have you found in your servant from the day when I came before you to this day, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 9 But Achish replied to David, “I know that you are pleasing in my sight, like an angel of God; nevertheless the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He must not go up with us to the battle.’ 10 “Now then arise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who have come with you, and as soon as you have arisen early in the morning and have light, depart.” - 


2.1.     In the previous chapter of 1 Samuel, we saw that Achish the king of the Philistines had commanded that David and his men would accompany his army to go up in battle against Israel.  At that time, David had replied to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.”  David intentionally made this vague reply to Achish in order to deceive him, for David knew that there was no way that he could fight against God’s people.  As David had intended, Achish interpreted David’s words to mean that he would see firsthand just how awesome a fighting force David and his men were, and thus Achish replied to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”


2.2.     David was in the dilemma of his life. 


2.2.1.  It was mentioned in the previous study that whenever we as God’s people become bound together with non-believers that we are eventually going to be expected to reciprocate with them, but in doing so we will have to compromise our morals.  This was David’s position.  He was now being expected to fight on the side of the Philistines against Israel.


2.2.2.  David feared that if he refused to fight against Israel that the Philistine king would kill him.  Yet, he also knew that it would be horribly wrong for him to go to war against Israel, God’s people, the very ones whom he had been promised by the Lord that he would one day rule over.


2.3.     By the providence of God, David is delivered out of his dilemma. 


2.4.     We see here though that in spite of the compromise that David had allowed in his life, and his backslidden heart, that the Lord delivers David.  Some of the Philistine commanders began to question Achish and his decision to allow David and his men to fight against Israel with them.  The commanders are worried that in the battle that David and his men might turn against the Philistines and fight them and that in this way that David might reconcile himself to King Saul of Israel.  Therefore, Achish tells David to take his men and to return to their home early in the morning.


2.4.1.  At times the Lord seems to overlook our present condition or state before him and act in deliverance for us even though there are some character issues and sin that He knows need to be dealt with in our lives.  During those times, the Lord is looking towards our future and acting according to His sovereign plans for our life.


2.4.2.  When the Lord delivers us in these types of situations, it is not because He looks the other way concerning our sins and need for repentance, nor that He condones our actions, rather, just as happens with David a little further in our story, He plans to deal with us regarding those issues at a later time in the future.


2.4.3.  If each of us were to sit down and think about our lives for a moment, I think we would come to the conclusion that there have been many times that the Lord has delivered us from the consequences of our sins, delivering us from our circumstances even when our hearts were not perfect towards Him.  What a gracious and merciful God it is that we serve!


2.5.     David was quite an actor here, was he not?  When Achish tells David that he and his men are going to have to return home, David feigns being very disappointed and even angry on account of not being able to fight with the king against Israel.


2.6.     Achish, for his part reveals that he is a bit naïve.  He seems to want to believe in David’s loyalty and he treats David very considerately and respectfully.  However, Achish did not understand that within David’s heart burned a great love and a passion for the God of Israel, and thus the Philistines would always be the enemies of the Lord and of Israel.


3.       VS 29:11-30:7  - 11 So David arose early, he and his men, to depart in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel. 1 Then it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; 2 and they took captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great, without killing anyone, and carried them off and went their way. 3 When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. 5 Now David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. 7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Please bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. -  David and his men return to their home in Ziklag only to find that it has been burned by fire and all of the women and children are missing


3.1.     Jezreel where the Philistines now proceed to was located up in the north of Israel and will be the place where the battle of Armageddon will take place.


3.2.     Leaving the battle, David and his men begin the three-day ride south to their home in Ziklag of the Philistines. 


3.3.     I can just imagine what might have been going on in David’s mind on this ride home:


3.3.1.  David is feeling pretty good about himself.  He is probably light hearted and just having a nice, maybe even fun, ride with his men. 


3.3.2.  David knows that he is not perfect, that he had made a bad choice in coming to live among the Philistines, and that he had almost been required to suffer the consequences of his not being right with the Lord and not seeking the Lord’s will in all areas of his life.  However, the Lord had come through for him even though he had been in this state, and even though he had not repented and gotten his life right with the Lord. 


3.3.3.  David probably thought that he was just a special and unique individual who deserved what the Lord had done in delivering him on this day.


3.4.     However, after the three-day ride home and as soon as David and his men get to Ziklag and see the smoke rising from the city and all of their wives and children missing, this sight must have been a horror of horrors for David.  We can imagine David’s thoughts at seeing Ziklag on this day:


3.4.1.  David knew that it was the Amalekites who had done this to his city.  The Amalekites had been waiting for an opportunity to exact revenge against David and his men for the Amalekite cities and people that they had destroyed.  In those attacks David and his men had destroyed every man, woman and child in the Amalekite cities they had attacked, therefore David probably thought that the Amalekites would kill all of the women and children that had been in Ziklag.


3.4.2.  David realizes that he had presumed upon the Lord.  He had been thinking that even though he had removed himself from being in fellowship and obedience with the Lord that somehow everything would go fine with him, and that God would be his protection, just as had happened to him all of his life up to this point.  However, in taking himself out of fellowship with the Lord, David also took himself out from under the protecting hand of the Lord.  David realizes now that the Lord was under no obligation to protect David at this point in his life and that the Lord was planning to use the consequences of his sin to bring him to the place of repentance and again seeking the Lord first in his life.  We Christians need to realize that we also remove ourselves out from under the protecting hand of the Lord whenever we turn away from following the Lord with all of our hearts.  Though the Lord may protect us during those times because of His grace and mercy and because of fulfilling His sovereign will for our lives, we have no assurances that we will not suffer the consequences of our sins either, just as happened to David on this day.  In fact, the scriptures teach in Col. 3:25, “If any man does wrong he shall suffer the consequences and that without partiality.”


3.4.3.  David realizes that because of his sin and not following the Lord that he has even lost his followers, the mighty fighting men.  They are now blaming David for this evil that has befallen their home and families, and we can imagine their thoughts on this day:  If David hadn’t taken them from Israel to live in the enemy’s territory they would still be under the protection of the Lord.  If David hadn’t led them to attack the Amalekites secretly the Amalekites would not have sought revenge against them at this time.  If David hadn’t told them to leave Ziklag and go with the king of the Philistines to fight against Israel (a ridiculous plan), then their city would not have been attacked and destroyed.


3.5.     The Lord uses all of these circumstances on this day to bring David to the end of himself.  David is now repentant of his sins and recommits his way to the Lord.  We can see the fruit of the repentance of David:


3.5.1.  It says here that David ‘strengthened himself in the Lord his God.’  If David hadn’t truly repented at this point, then he would have strengthened himself in his own self-will, self-centeredness, and self-sufficiency, however now he strengthened himself in the Lord.  David surely recounted the great things that the Lord had done in his life in the past, including giving him victory over the giant.  He realized that nothing is impossible with the Lord.  David surely recounted many of the promises of God’s word to His people.  David surely recounted the fact that he had been anointed as king by the Lord and promised that one day he would rule over Israel.


3.6.     We as believers need to learn to strengthen our hearts in the Lord our God as well. 


3.6.1.  If we will but do what David did on this day and recount past victories of the Lord in our life and His promises to us from His word, we too will be transformed into a man or woman who walks in faith and obedience to the Lord. 


3.6.2.  Whatever we have our mind to dwell upon will affect our life dramatically.


3.7.     We read here that David asked for Abiathar the priest to bring to him the ephod so that David could inquire of the Lord.  It had been many months since David had inquired of the Lord.  Since moving from Israel, David had been walking in God’s “permissive will” for his life and calling the shots in his life.  Now, David has finally learned his lesson and he will no longer make decisions without first inquiring of the Lord’s will for him.


4.       VS 30:8  - 8 David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?” And He said to him, “Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all. -  David inquires of the Lord and is told to pursue the Amalekites and that he will recover all that they had taken


4.1.     It is wonderful here to see that as soon as David has repented of his sins and come to the end of himself that the Lord immediately begins to speak to him and to lead him. 


4.1.1.  The Lord didn’t place David on six months probation before He was willing to work through David’s life again.


4.1.2.  The Lord didn’t tell David that He no longer knew if He could really trust David.


4.1.3.  The Lord didn’t tell David that he was so unworthy now of any good thing that the Lord would do through his life that David was now going to have to settle for far less of a role in the Lord’s kingdom.


4.2.     The Lord promises to David not only victory over the Amalekites, but also full recovery of all that they had lost to the Amalekites.


4.2.1.  When the Lord brings a man or a woman to salvation through Christ, He not only forgives him of his sins, not only restores him to fellowship with Himself, not only grants him to have eternal life through Christ’s sacrifice, but He also “justifies” him.  He makes it “just as if I’d never sinned.”  Every effect of a sinful nature and committing sinful acts before the Lord is removed and the relationship that a child of God now has with the Lord is made to be just as if he had never sinned in the first place.


5.       VS 30:9-10  - 9 So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those left behind remained. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men, for two hundred who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor remained behind. -  David and his men make haste to follow the Lord’s leading and begin heading south pursuing the Amalekites, but they must leave behind 200 men at Besor who are too weary to proceed


5.1.     Not only did the Lord restore David to himself immediately upon his coming to the end of himself, because of the Lord’s grace and mercy He also restored David’s men to him and they are again willing to follow David into battle.


5.1.1.  I wonder if David told his men at Ziklag on this day that he had in fact really blew it in those decisions and that he had been at fault before the Lord?  Perhaps this admission is part of the reason they are now willing to follow David?  Though the text does not tell us this, I think that it is probably the case.


5.2.     David is now so passionate about following the Lord and His will for his life that he drives his men so hard that after traveling 16 miles, 200 of the 600 men are too weary to continue the pursuit and they are left at Besor.


6.       VS 30:11-16  - 11 Now they found an Egyptian in the field and brought him to David, and gave him bread and he ate, and they provided him water to drink. 12 They gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins, and he ate; then his spirit revived. For he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” And he said, “I am a young man of Egypt, a servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind when I fell sick three days ago. 14 “We made a raid on the Negev of the Cherethites, and on that which belongs to Judah, and on the Negev of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” 15 Then David said to him, “Will you bring 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 bring you down to this band.” 16 When he had brought him down, behold, they were spread over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing because of all the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. -  David and his men find an Egyptian who leads them to where the Amalekites have camped


6.1.     David and his men are pursuing the Amalekites whom they know have taken their wives, children, and livestock.  However, they don’t know exactly where the Amalekites have gone, and for this they will have to depend upon the Lord to lead them.


6.2.     Providence again is given as David and his men come across an Egyptian who was a servant of one of the Amalekites.  This man had gotten sick and was left behind to die by his master, and this man knows where the Amalekites are headed. 


6.3.     The Egyptian strikes a deal with David.  He will provide David with the information about where the Amalekites have gone in exchange for his own life.


6.4.     When David and his men come upon the Amalekites, the Amalekites are taken completely unawares.  Having believed that David and his men would be in a long conflict far away with the Israelites, the Amalekites felt that they were so safe they didn’t even need to post a guard over them.  The Amalekites are scattered all over the land and are having a great big party enjoying the spoils of their victory over Ziklag.


7.       VS 30:17-20  - 17 David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day; and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. 18 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and rescued his two wives. 19 But nothing of theirs was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that they had taken for themselves; David brought it all back. 20 So David had captured all the sheep and the cattle which the people drove ahead of the other livestock, and they said, “This is David’s spoil.” -  David and his men have a great victory over the Amalekites killing all of them but 400 young men who fled on camels


7.1.     God’s is faithful.  Here we see that just as the Lord told David it would happen that he and his men recover everything that was taken from them by the Amalekites.


7.2.     When it says here that the men said to David that the spoil was his, what is meant is that David’s men acknowledged that David could do with the spoil whatever he felt was best.


8.       VS 30:21-25  - 21 When David came to the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow David, who had also been left at the brook Besor, and they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him, then David approached the people and greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless men among those who went with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away and depart.” 23 Then David said, “You must not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hand the band that came against us. 24 “And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.” 25 So it has been from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day. -  When David and his men return to the 200 men they had left behind, some of David’s men didn’t want to share any of the spoils of the battle with them


8.1.     We see here that the men who didn’t want to share in any of the spoils with the 200 who stayed behind are called “wicked and worthless men.”  These men were greedy and didn’t want to share the spoils of the victory. 


8.2.     David’s argument with these “wicked and worthless men” is that since it was the Lord who had given David’s men the victory and deliverance from the Amalekites that they had to share the spoils of the victory with their brothers who earlier had simply been too weary to proceed.


8.3.     This principle enforced by David on this day of sharing the spoils of battle with all regardless of whether or not they had engaged in the battle was hereafter followed by Israel throughout their history as a nation.


9.       VS 30:26-31  - 26 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, “Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord: 27 to those who were in Bethel, and to those who were in Ramoth of the Negev, and to those who were in Jattir, 28 and to those who were in Aroer, and to those who were in Siphmoth, and to those who were in Eshtemoa, 29 and to those who were in Racal, and to those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to those who were in the cities of the Kenites, 30 and to those who were in Hormah, and to those who were in Bor-ashan, and to those who were in Athach, 31 and to those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go.” -  David sends some of the spoil to the elders in Judah


9.1.     Having almost come against Israel in battle with the Philistines, David felt that he had to send a gift to the elders of Judah.


9.2.     These cities are the very ones who later, after the death of King Saul, will name David to be king (2 Sam. 2:1-4).


9.3.     At Hebron, one of the cities who received these gifts, David will later be anointed king.  He will reign in Hebron for 7 ½ years before moving the capital to Jerusalem.





10.1. As we have seen, David had been walking by faith trusting in the Lord to be his strength, help, and hope, trusting the Lord to protect and provide for him, however because of the duration and severity of his trials he had taken matters into his own hands and moved his family and his men to the land of the Philistines and began to serve the king of the Philistines.  However, David finally came to repentance and to the end of himself as a result of having to taste the consequences of his own sin in the choices he had made for his life. 


10.2. David had lost his passion for serving the Lord as well as the vision for the things that God wanted him to do in his life, and for each of us today, we ought to ask ourselves if we also have lost our passion for serving the Lord. 


10.2.1.      Have you lost your passion for serving the Lord? 


10.2.2.      Are you excited about worshipping the Lord?  Are you excited about praying and claiming souls for salvation or even for healing?


10.2.3.      Are you excited about and praying for opportunities to share your faith with those who don’t know Christ?             The following survey completed by Barna Research in 2002 shows how in the U.S. today that there are so few people who truly do know the Lord, and these statistics should bother us as Christians if we are truly sensitive to the fact that those who leave this life without Christ are going to spend eternity in hell ( the Lake of Fire in Rev. 20-21 ).  If our population in America is around 300 million, then there are probably at least 200 million people who if they died today do not know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  At least 3 million of those live right in our state of Wisconsin.

Faith Groups 

·         85% of Americans self-identify as Christians.

·         5% of US adults classify as evangelicals (see Evangelical archive for definition)

·         35% of US adults classify as born again, but not evangelical

·         37% are self-described Christians but are neither evangelical nor born again

·         8% of adults nationwide maintain self-identify as atheists or agnostics

·         9% of the US population identify with a faith other than Christianity


·         95% believe in God (1997)

·         72% believe in God when described as the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today. (2001)

·         10% believe that that God represents a state of higher consciousness. (2001)

·         7% believe that God is the total realization of personal human potential. (2001)

·         15% say God is no longer involved in their life. (1997)

·         Almost nine out of ten people (87%) say the universe was originally created by God. (2000)



·         43% of American adults attend church in a typical weekend. (2002)

·         60% of all adults agree that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings (45% agree strongly, 16% agree somewhat) (2001)

·         The most commonly used verse of the Bible in evangelistic conversations and preaching is John 3:16.

·         Two-thirds of the population (63%) has no idea what "John 3:16" refers to, much less has the ability to quote that verse. However, 24% of adults know that it is a verse from the Bible that addresses salvation. Among born again Christians, 50% were aware of this. (1994)

10.2.4.      Are you excited about just spending time with the Lord every single day?


10.2.5.      As part of keeping our passion where it should be before the Lord, it is key that we keep our priorities what they should be.  Our priorities should be God, family, work, hobbies.  However, many times Christians get the order exactly opposite:  Hobbies, work, family, God.  Yet, the thing that really separates Christians regarding who is truly serving the Lord as he should is whether they keep their priorities what they should be.


10.2.6.      It is important to be in fellowship with the body of Christ.  However, we must not only get our bodies to church we need to prepare our hearts before we come to church.  Many times Christians think that if they just get their bodies to church that they will hear what God has for them, however if their hearts aren’t receptive to the Lord they will often miss what God wants to say to them at fellowship.  Prepare your hearts before you come to church.


10.3. Alan Redpath points out that so many times the church is in the dilemma of either having a revival or a funeral.  If we don’t rend our hearts before the Lord in repentance and ask Him to do place the fire of passion in our hearts that He wants to place, then we are in danger of simply flaming out for the Lord, and the church is in danger of extinction. 


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