2 Samuel 1:1
(1) After the death of Saul.--These words are immediately connected with 1 Samuel 31, and the following words, "when David was returned," refer to 1 Samuel 30. The two books really form one continuous narrative.

Two days in Ziklag.--The site of Ziklag has not been exactly identified, but it is mentioned in Joshua 19:5 as one of the cities in the extreme south, at first assigned to Judah, but afterwards given to Simeon. It is also spoken of in connection with Beersheba and other places of the south as re-occupied by the Jews on their return from Babylon (Nehemiah 11:28). Its most probable locality is some ten or twelve miles south of beersheba, and nearly equidistant from the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It was thus quite four days' journey from Mount Gilboa. and the messenger who brought the news of the battle must have left the field before David's return to Ziklag.

Verse 1. - Now it came to pass. During the last few days events had been crowding fast upon one another. Living as fugitives at Ziklag, in the land of the Philistines, David and his men, unfit for the peaceful occupations of agriculture, had been driven to seek their maintenance by raids upon the wild tribes in the desert. Of these the chief were the Amalekites, whose home was the bare region lying between the south of Judah and Egypt. We have ample proof that this race was utterly hostile to all order and quietness; it lived by the plunder of others, and, sheltering itself in the recesses of the wilderness, broke out thence on every opportunity to carry, ravage and ruin into all the neighbouring districts. The Amalekite was thus every man's enemy, and the object of universal dislike; and the cruelty which he habitually practised would justify to David's mind the barbarity with which he put to death all whom he found, man and woman alike. But his object was not justice. His cruelty was the result of selfish motives. For it was necessary for him to keep tidings of his real doings from the ears of Achish, who naturally would not approve of David's military activity. He very probably had put him there upon the borders to protect his realm from incursions; but David in the Amalekite war was the assailant, and was, moreover, practising his men for ulterior objects. Achish most probably received a share of the captured cattle; but his inquiries were met with an equivocation (1 Samuel 27:10-12), which made him suppose that David, with the usual bitterness of a renegade, had been harrying his own tribesmen. And the falsehood soon entangled David in most painful consequences; for Achish, nothing doubting of his fidelity, and of his bitter hatred of Saul. determined to take him with him in the grand army of the Philistines, which was slowly moving northward for the conquest of the land of Israel. David had God's promise of ultimate safety, and he ought not to have deserted his country. As a deserter to the Philistines, he had to descend to falsehood, and now treason seemed inevitable. His only choice lay between betraying his country or the king who had given him so hospitable a refuge. The jealousy, or rather the good sense, of the Philistine lords (1 Samuel 29:4) saved him from this dreadful alternative, and he was sent back, to his great joy, to Ziklag. But it was a dreadful sight which there met his view. With strange mismanagement, he had left no portion of his men to guard his little city, and the Amalekites had made reprisals. The news of the Philistine army upon its march upwards would be quickly carried through the desert, and the wild tribes would be sure to take the opportunity for gathering plunder far and wide. So undefended: was the whole country, that they met nowhere with resistance. And David saw, on his return, only the smoking ruins of the little city where for many months he had dwelt. His wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, the wives and children of his men, had all been carried away for the Egyptian slave market. So secure were the Amalekites, that they had no fear about encumbering their march with a vast multitude of children and cattle. And to add to his distress, his men, indignant, and not without reason, at David's want of precaution, were threatening to stone him as an alleviation for their distress. Never had David's fortunes fallen so low as at that moment; but quickly they were to rise again. By energetic action he not only recovered the spoil and the captives taken from Ziklag, but also won the immense wealth gathered by the Amalekites in a wide raid made at a time when there was no one to resist them. His own share of the spoil was so large that he was able to send valuable presents of sheep, oxen, and camels to his friends in Judaea, probably not without some prescience that the way to his return might be opened by the events of the war between the Philistines and Saul. The dangerous issues of that war could not be hidden from him; but he would find solace for his anxieties in the active work of restoring order at Ziklag, and in providing hasty shelter for the women and children whom he had brought back to their desolated homes. But his suspense did not last long. For when David had abode two days in Ziklag, news came which confirmed his worst fears. The battle had Been fought; Israel had been routed; and Saul and Jonathan, the friend who had been to him more than a brother, lay among the slain.

1:1-10 The blow which opened David's way to the throne was given about the time he had been sorely distressed. Those who commit their concerns to the Lord, will quietly abide his will. It shows that he desired not Saul's death, and he was not impatient to come to the throne.Now it came to pass after the death of Saul,.... The third day after, as appears from the next verse:

when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites; as related in 1 Samuel 30:17,

and David had abode two days in Ziklag; which, though fired by the Amalekites, was not utterly consumed, but there was still some convenience for the lodging of David and his men; within this time he sent his presents to several places in the tribe of Judah, of which mention is made in the chapter before quoted, and at the same time it was that so many mighty men came to him from several tribes spoken of in 1 Chronicles 12:1.

1 Samuel 31:13
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