“And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days ago I fell sick. We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire. And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company. And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah” (1 Samuel 30:11-16).
On their way to recapture what the Amalekites had stolen, David’s men found a young Egyptian slave who had been abandoned by his master. This event was preordained of God to further encourage David and to build up his faith. “God by his providence both provides for the needs of the poor stranger, and made Him a guide to David to accomplish his enterprise” (Geneva Study Bible). The slave was able to give David precise information about who the invaders were and where they would be encamped. Now that he was operating according to the will of the Lord, things were going in his favour.
This man was abandoned by the Amalekites because he had become sick. It is likely that all he needed was food, for he seemed well enough to guide David after a good meal. He had been in the field for three days and nights literally starving to death, and would have died unless David had passed by. It is obvious that this field was not situated near farmland, but was instead a deserted place, a wilderness.
David could have executed the young man because, by his own admission, he had been part of the group that had burned Ziklag and taken anything of value. Maybe prior to his personal revival, David might have done so, but now he is willing to show mercy. “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land” (Deuteronomy 23:7).
This incident also reveals the hard-hearted cruelty of the Amalekites. They had no compassion for anyone who was sick or weak, therefore for this injustice alone, they deserved to be judged. The callousness of the Amalekite master would prove to be the downfall of his countrymen, for the slave did not die in the wilderness as he expcted. Sin has the habit of catching up with us. “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
The young man was able to give David much needed information about the whereabouts of the invaders. We know from Scripture who they were, but up until David questioned the Egyptian, he had little or no knowledge of who was responsible for the attack. Because David had shown him unmerited kindness, he was willing to serve him by giving him all the information he needed. “So that there is no fighting against God, who can make the smallest accidents serviceable to the production of the greatest effects” (John Wesley).
The Egyptian guided David and his men to the exact spot that he knew the Amalekites would be camped. They appeared not to have a care in the world, and were making merry after what they thought was a great act of cunning in successfully robbing both the Philistines and Judeans. Their intoxicated situation offered David a chance to regain all he lost without much resistance from the enemy. “Eating, and drinking, and dancing have been the soft and pleasant way in which many have gone down to the congregation of the dead” (Matthew Henry). They had no protection, since they never imagined that anyone would be looking for them so soon, for they thought that the Philistine and Israeli conflict would go on for days or weeks. “The wicked in their pomp and pleasures do not consider the judgment of God, which is then at hand to smite them” (Geneva Study Bible). “So they had no visible cause of danger; and yet then they were nearest to destruction” (John Wesley).
We will see in our next study that David will win a quick and decisive victory over the Amalekites, but we must assume that it would never have happened if he had not turned his heart back to the Lord. Obedience has its rewards. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11) … “So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:14) … “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).