What is the significance of Ziklag in the Bible?Ziklag is a city in southern Israel that was part of the land inherited by the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:1–9). The chronicler confirms that descendants of Simeon did, indeed, live in Ziklag and other cities in the area (1 Chronicles 4:28–31). However, this area, including the city of Ziklag, fell to Philistine control. Thus when King Saul was pursuing David to kill him, David was able to flee to the nearby Philistine king for protection (1 Samuel 27:1). After staying with the Philistine king, Achish, in the capital city of Gath, David requested that he, his men, and their families be given a place of their own to live (1 Samuel 27:5). In this way, "Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day" (1 Samuel 27:6).
Ziklag became David's "stronghold in the wilderness" (1 Chronicles 12:8). Mighty men from different tribes of Israel who were loyal to David rather than to Saul "came to David at Ziklag" (1 Chronicles 12:1). "For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God" (1 Chronicles 12:22). When the Philistine king prepared to battle King Saul in Jezreel, David offered the help of this army God raised around him. The Philistine commanders did not trust David to fight against his own Israelite people, so he and his men were sent home to Ziklag (1 Samuel 29:9–11).
While David and the men were away from Ziklag, neighboring Amalekites raided the city, capturing the families, stealing valuables, and burning the remains (1 Samuel 30:1–2). "And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep" (1 Samuel 30:3–4). At that moment, Ziklag was a place of devastation and distress. However, "David strengthened himself in the LORD his God" (1 Samuel 30:6). After inquiring about God's will, David and his men were able to track down the Amalekites. "David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all" (1 Samuel 30:19). So once again Ziklag was a safe refuge in the Judean wilderness where God continued to draw men loyal to David as he prepared to become Israel's next king.
While Ziklag was David's refuge from Saul's murderous intentions and a stronghold from which to train strong warriors, David recognized that God Himself was responsible for David's safety. In Psalm 144 David declared, "Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me" (Psalm 144:1–2). David did not credit Ziklag for being such a defensible or prosperous city. He did not consider Ziklag his refuge or stronghold, but rather recognized only the LORD as his source of safety.
Psalm 18 records David "addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold" (Psalm 18:1–2). So while others recorded that Ziklag was a city of refuge for David and his men and a place where God raised up an army around this future king, David knew the geographic location was of little concern as long as he placed his trust in the One True God.
Ziklag is a city remembered as belonging to David and his royal line, a place of refuge, originally inherited by the tribe of Simeon. However, it should also remind readers that true safety and refuge is found in the trustworthy God of the Bible.
What does it mean God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1)?
In what way is God our refuge?
What does it mean that the name of the Lord is a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10)?
What does it mean that my help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2)?
What are the twelve tribes of Israel?
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