The Death of Samuel
25 Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.
David and Abigail
Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”
When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. And Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” So David’s young men turned away and came back and told him all this. And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.
But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them. Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.”
Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. And as she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, behold, David and his men came down toward her, and she met them. Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”
When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”
And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”
And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.
When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.
1 Samuel 25 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Sometimes it seems that if it’s not one thing, it’s another. This is the case for David. During a reprieve of Saul’s antics, David and his men continue on their physical journey. At one point they hear of a wealthy man who is sheering sheep. They had encountered this man’s servants evidently at one point and had somewhat taken care and looked out for them. Culturally, the favor was expected to be returned. But as David’s 10 men went to inquire of Nabal, it was rejected. Incensed, David rashly vows to kill the man and took 400 of his guys to storm the property.
Enter stage right Abigail, the wife of Nabal. Through word from one of their servants it’s told of how David had worked with their servants at one point, the favor requested and denied and David’s consequent taking of arms to deal with the man. We do get a brief snapshot of what kind of scoundrel Nabal is here – but that doesn’t change the fact David is acting rashly.
As the story unfolds, it is not only Abigail who intervenes in this atrocious event, but speaks reason and truth of God’s sovereignty. Her words resonate to the core of David’s actions.
There are times our emotions get the best of us. There are times we too will act rashly in some situation. No matter how right we think we are, we need voices of reason to speak to us. It’s not always easy as we all know how our hearts can be set on something but oftentimes pausing and listening to such voices from outside the situation may indeed save us from future pain and trouble in the long run.
1 Samuel 25 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As well as David reacted to having a moment with Saul to himself, he backtracks with his emotions when it comes to dealing with Nabal. Yes, it’s true, Nabal was an arrogant and angry man. In fact, the name Nabal actually means “fool.” He disrespected David and his men, and he really deserved what was coming to him.
However, David’s response to wipe him out was an emotional reaction out of anger and revenge. As easily as David forgave Saul and allowed him to live, he does just the opposite here. It may seem petty as we can relate to David in this matter but God calls us to a higher standard – Jesus Christ. As difficult as it may be, the fact remains that Jesus commanded us to repay evil with good.
Another interesting application of this ordeal is to consider how we deal with those who are considered equal or below us socially. David would not kill Saul because he was God’s anointed king. However, the “fool” Nabal was equal or lesser to David and really he deserved it! But Jesus’ teaching doesn’t change based on the social status of the individual. He desires for us to bear with one another showing the fruit of the Holy Spirit inside us, regardless of status or title.
Fortunately, as Hank has pointed out, Abigail steps in and diffuses the situation. There is much to be said about peacemakers as well, for in this case, she saved David from reacting in sin.