- Ziklag plundered: David and his men distressed, verse 1-6.
- Encouraged of God, he pursues them, verse 7-10.
- He gains intelligence from a straggler, verse 11-15.
- Routs the enemy, and recovers all they had taken, verse 16-20.
- Makes an order for dividing the spoil, verse 21-25.
- Sends presents to his friends, verse 26-31
The south - Namely, the southern part of Judah, and the adjacent parts.
Wept - It is no disparagement to the boldest, bravest spirits, to lament the calamities of friends or relations.
Stoning him - As the author of their miseries, by coming to Ziklag at first, by provoking the Amalekites to this cruelty, and by his forwardness in marching away with Achish, and leaving their wives and children unguarded. Encouraged himself - That is, in this that the all-wise, and all-powerful Lord, was his God by covenant and special promise, and fatherly affection, as he had shewed himself to be in the whole course of his providence towards him. It is the duty of all good men, whatever happens, to encourage themselves in the Lord their God, assuring themselves, that he both can and will bring light out of darkness.
The ephod - And put it upon thyself, that thou mayst enquire of God according to his ordinance, David was sensible of his former error in neglecting to ask counsel of God by the ephod, when he came to Achish, and when he went out with Achish to the Battle; and his necessity now brings him to his duty, and his duty meets with success.
He answered - Before, God answered more slowly and gradually, chap. 23:11,12, but now he answers speedily, and fully at once, because the business required haste. So gracious is our God, that he considers even the degree of our necessities, and accommodates himself to them.
Four hundred - A small number for such an attempt: but David was strong in faith, giving God the glory of his power and faithfulness.
Three days and nights - One whole day and part of two others, as appears from the next verse, where he saith, three days ago I fell sick, but in the Hebrew it is, this is the third day since I fell sick.
Egypt - God by his providence so ordering it, that he was not one of that cursed race of the Amalekites, who were to be utterly destroyed, but an Egyptian, who might be spared. Left me - In this place and condition: which was barbarous inhumanity: for he ought, and easily might have carried him away with the prey which they had taken. But he paid dear for this cruelty, for this was the occasion of the ruin of him and all their company. And God by his secret providence ordered the matter thus for that very end. So that there is no fighting against God, who can make the smallest accidents serviceable to the production of the greatest effects.
Cherethites - That is, the Philistines. Caleb - This is added by way of explication: that part of the south of Judah which belongs to Caleb's posterity.
Will bring thee - For his master had told him whither they intended to go, that he might come after them, as soon as he could.
Upon all the earth - Secure and careless, because they were now come almost to the borders of their own country, and the Philistines and Israelites both were otherwise engaged, and David, as they believed, with them. So they had no visible cause of danger; and yet then they were nearest to destruction.
Twilight - The word signifies both the morning and evening twilight. But the latter seems here intended, partly because their eating, and drinking, and dancing, was more proper work for the evening, than the morning; and partly, because the evening was more convenient for David, that the fewness of his forces might not be discovered by the day-light. It is probable, that when he came near them, he reposed himself, and his army, in some secret place, whereof there were many parts, for a convenient season; and then marched on so as to come to them at the evening time.
Other cattle - Before those that belonged to Ziklag. David's spoil - The soldiers, who lately were so incensed against David, that they spake of stoning him: now upon this success magnify him, and triumphantly celebrate his praise; and say concerning this spoil, David purchased it by his valour and conduct, and he may dispose of it as he pleaseth.
Saluted them - He spoke kindly to them, and did not blame them because they went no further with them.
My brethren - He useth his authority to over-rule them; but manageth it with all sweetness, tho' they were such wicked and unreasonable men, calling them brethren; not only as of the same nation and religion with him, but as his fellow-soldiers. What God hath freely imparted to us, we should not unkindly and injuriously withhold from our brethren.
Part alike - A prudent and equitable constitution, and therefore practiced by the Romans, as Polybius and others note. The reason of it is manifest; because they were exposed to hazards, as well as their brethren: and were a reserve to whom they might retreat in case of a defeat; and they were now in actual service, and in the station in which their general had placed them.
Elders of Judah - Partly in gratitude for their former favours to him: and partly, in policy, to engage their affections to him.