David and his men were trying to rescue their wives and children from the robbers who had taken them from Ziklag.
First David went south, into the region that the robbers controlled. Since ancient times, those groups of robbers had lived in the desert on the south side of Philistia and Judah. The border was at or near a stream called Besor.
Because that region is so dry, the streams there do not flow for the entire year. During Summer and Autumn, they are completely dry. In the place of the stream, there is just a narrow valley with steep sides. However in Winter and early Spring, it is completely different. Rain has fallen on the hills in Judah, and the stream becomes a fast, powerful river. At such times, it is very difficult to cross.
Many of Davidís men were already tired when they reached Ziklag. They had been on two long marches that week. Then they all had the terrible shock to discover what had happened at Ziklag. At the stream, 200 men decided that they were too weak to continue. Probably it was not just the stream that stopped them. Their wives and children had already crossed that stream. However, on the other side of the stream they would be living in the desert, perhaps for several weeks. Life would be hard, and then they would have to fight against the robbers. They needed to rest.
Saul urged his men always to use every effort, even when they felt very weak (14:24-28). David had a different attitude; he loved the men whom he led. So he allowed those 200 men to establish a camp by the stream. There they looked after whatever possessions the other men still had. Probably they also supplied food to David and his men while they were in the desert.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.