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1 Samuel 30:11–20

So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking … David recovered all (vv. 18–19).

As David and his men press on after the Amalekites, they make a most unexpected discovery—a young Egyptian man. Apparently, he has collapsed due to lack of food and water, but he is still alive. Perhaps recognizing the hand of God in this unusual event, David takes time from his pursuit to give the man water and something to eat, which revives him to the point that he can answer questions. David first asks about his origins and his loyalties, and the man replies that he was a servant to an Amalekite who was part of the raiding party that burned Ziklag. However, the Egyptian says that he became sick as the Amalekite party traveled, whereupon his master simply left him behind to fend for himself or die. Clearly he is upset at having been treated so cruelly, for when David asks whether he can show where the Amalekites have gone, he replies that he can and will—just as long as David will not kill him or turn him over to his former master.

It doesn’t take long for the Egyptian to fulfill his promise. He soon leads David’s force to the Amalekites, who have halted their march to enjoy the spoils of their raid. Apparently they believe David is still far away fighting with the Philistines, so they have nothing to fear. But David quickly teaches them otherwise. He comes upon them unexpectedly and attacks them for a night and a day. This passage notes that, when David finds them, the Amalekites are “spread out over all the land,” suggesting they are a great host. It also says that only four hundred of them escape by riding on camels, yet four hundred is the total number of David’s men. The picture that emerges from these clues is of an overwhelming victory by David. And in this victory, we are told, “David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away,” just as God had promised him. His two wives, his men’s loved ones, their property—David recovers it all.

In addition, David and his men capture a great deal of livestock the Amalekites took from other cities they raided. According to the New King James Version, David claims this livestock for himself, but Biblical translators say that these words should be attributed to David’s men, not David himself. The men who so recently were ready to stone David for allowing their loved ones to be taken are now rewarding him for leading the rescue.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

God’s hand was in the illness of the Egyptian. He caused it that the man might be left behind, so as to be found by David and lead him to the Amalekites. So works the providential hand of the God who sees the end from the beginning. We can trust that every circumstance in our lives, minor or great, is working for our good (Rom. 8:28).

For Further Study
  • Ps. 135:6
  • Dan. 4:34–35
  • Acts 15:18; 17:25–28
  • Eph. 1:11

Just Deserts

A Generous Leader

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From the July 2003 Issue
Jul 2003 Issue