“And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor” (1 Samuel 30:7-10).
We learned in our previous study that David encouraged himself in the Lord. This spiritual strength drove him to begin to seek God’s face about the matter in hand rather than rushing into battle with the Amalekites. Here is the profit he received from the chastisement God had brought upon him. “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). For eighteen months David had been prayerless, but now he is back on course and ready to receive the blessing.
The priest and the ephod
This shows us just how far David’s spiritual life had plummeted, for he had Abiathar the priest and the ephod with him, yet had not sought God’s will for a year and a half. It was the priest’s duty to seek God’s will on behalf of the people. “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation” (Numbers 27:21). Maybe David had avoided having too much contact with the minister. The ephod must have been hidden out of sight; otherwise the Amalekites would have taken it too.
We wonder why he was never convicted about his sin and disobedience, but maybe he simply forced any spiritual thoughts to the back of his mind. David had the priest and ephod, but how often do Christians put aside the Bible and church attendance to pursue their ungodly lifestyles? David was no longer operating according to fleshly wisdom, now he knew he needed God’s guidance. “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” (John Wesley).
David could have easily go out against the Amalekites, for he had been doing exactly this for eighteen months, but now he seeks God’s will and is determined to obey Him. Many seek the will of the Lord, but when they learn what it entails, soon retreat into their old ways. David was no longer fighting the enemy in his own power, now he was strengthen by the Lord. “Though God seem to leave us for a time, yet if we trust in him, we will be sure to find comfort” (Geneva Study Bible).
God promised that David would recover everything that the Amalekites had stolen from him. This answer to prayer must have been a source of encouragement too. Though he had fallen so far from grace, God still heard him when he prayed. His spirit must have overflowed when God promised that him full recovery. The same men, who spoke of putting David to death, now trusted him again and were willing to follow him into battle. David was not discouraged when one third of his men became too exhausted to go any further, for he was still determined to trust in the Lord. Four hundred soldiers might not appear to be a sufficient force against the enemy hosts, but “David was strong in faith, giving God the glory of his power and faithfulness” (John Wesley). “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Right after the defeat of the Amalekites, David went straight back to where he initially had fallen from God. “When David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites” he returned to Ziklag, sought God in prayer, and set out for Israel (2 Samuel 1:1). “If we thus, in all our ways, acknowledge God, we may expect that he will direct our steps, as he did David’s here, answering him above what he asked, with an assurance that he should recover all” (Matthew Henry). What God did for David, He will do for all who repent and return to Him in faith.