1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 25
David, Nabal, and Abigail.
NABAL'S FOOLISHNESS. — V. 1. And Samuel died, his death taking place at about this critical time in the history of Israel; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah, the entire nation thus honoring him as a great prophet, whose rule had been a blessing for Israel. And David arose, and went down to the Wilderness of Paran, the northern end of the Arabian desert. V. 2. And there was a man in Maon, chap. 23, 24, a city southeast of Hebron, whose possessions were in Carmel, he had his herds and flocks on the mountain-meadows near the city, in the elevated plain of Judah; and the man was very great, rich and influential, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats; and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel, usually an occasion of great festivities. V. 3. Now, the name of the man was Nabal and the name of his wife Abigail; and she was a woman of good understanding, sensible, well versed in genteel conduct, and of a beautiful countenance, well formed; but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb, to whom this entire region near Hebron had been given, Judg. 1, 10-15. V. 4. And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep, and therefore would probably have an abundance of food on hand for the joyful meal. V. 5. And David sent out ten young men, as on an important and solemn embassy, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name, with the customary greeting of peace; v. 6. and thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, rather, May good fortune attend thee for a long and happy life! Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. This comprehensive greeting was intended to render Nabal well-disposed toward the messengers. V. 7. And now, I have heard that thou hast shearers, with all that this implied; now, thy shepherds which were with us, with whom David's men lived on terms of good fellowship, protecting them against wild animals and against robbers, we hurt them not, by any form of injury, neither was there ought missing unto them all the while they were in Carmel. Even during his exile David proved himself the champion of the people. V. 8. Ask thy young men, his sheep-herders, and they will show thee, testifying to the splendid fellowship which existed between David's men and them. Wherefore let the young men find favor in thine eyes; for we come in a good day, for such a festivity should be an auspicious occasion; give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand, as much as he could afford at this time, unto thy servants and to thy son David. V. 9. And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words, making their request in his very words, in the name of David, and ceased, they sat down, awaiting the fulfillment of their request. V. 10. And Nabal answered David's servants and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? What was David and his concerns to him? Why should he bother about his troubles? There be many servants nowadays that break away every man from his master; these words insulted David as a common runaway and renegade, who had maliciously severed his relation with Saul. V. 11. Shall I, then, take my bread and my water and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be? Both the necessities of life and the luxuries he denied them; the very idea of sharing these with David and his men he represented as preposterous. V. 12. So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings, gave him the report of this contemptuous and insulting rebuff. V. 13. And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword, to take revenge for this insult. And they girded on every man his sword, and David also girded on his sword; and there went up after David about four hundred men, and two hundred abode by the stuff, guarding the camp. Nabal is a type of a covetous fool, whose heart has been hardened against every form of distress and want, who is willing enough to accept services at the hand of others, but wants to know nothing of services on his part.
ABIGAIL'S TACT AND PRUDENCE. — V. 14. But one of the young men, of the servants of Nabal, told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them, drove over them, flew on them in a rage. v. 15. But the men, namely, those of David, were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, injured, made subjects of shame and contempt, neither missed we anything as long as we were conversant with them, during all the time of their fellowship with them, when we were in the fields; v. 16. they were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep, their presence had proved a powerful protection against the wild beasts as well as against the robbers of the desert. V. 17. Now, therefore, know and consider what thou wilt do, Abigail was to find some way to avert a probable calamity; for evil is determined against our master and against all his household, this they might count on as firmly settled; for he, Nabal, is such a son of Belial, bad, foolish, and profitless, that a man cannot speak to him. That was the estimate in which Nabal was held by his household and by his servants. V. 18. Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, the skins used for this purpose in the Orient, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, more than forty quarts of roasted gram, and an hundred clusters of raisins, in the form of cakes made of pressed raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, also in the pressed form, and laid them on asses. V. 19. And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. Like Jacob, Gen. 32, 13-20, she sent the presents of reconciliation ahead of her. But she told not her husband Nabal, who would probably have interfered very decidedly. V. 20. And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert of the hill, probably a depression or pass between two peaks, hidden from sight at any distance, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them. V. 21. Now, David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, in protecting his wealth in flocks, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him; and he hath requited me evil for good. David had been bitterly disappointed in his expectation of receiving any recognition whatever on the part of Nabal and had now flared up in passionate anger, which was not right. V. 22. So and more also do God unto the enemies of David if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall, so much as a single person. David wrongly considered the act of Nabal a manifestation of enmity against the cause of Jehovah. V. 23. And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, in an attitude of supplication and subjection, and bowed herself to the ground, v. 24. and fell at his feet, humbling herself more and more before him, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me, let this iniquity be, the blame or guilt for this unfortunate affair; and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid. He was to consider her alone as the foolish and guilty person with whom he was to deal. V. 25. Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal, he should not take his behavior to heart; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal (fool) is his name, and folly is with him; but I, thine handmaid, saw not the young men of my lord whom thou didst send. Having drawn attention to her own person, she proceeds with her arguments. V. 26. Now, therefore, my lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the Lord hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, literally, "into blood-guiltiness," and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, by saving or procuring help for himself, thus making himself guilty of a serious crime, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal, sons of folly, the correlate of godlessness, which invariably brings the punishment of God upon the sinner. To these two points Abigail now adds the third argument, in offering her gift. V. 27. And now this blessing, the present which she had sent before her, which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord, these words showing that she was a skilful diplomat. It is only now that she asks for pardon and forbearance. V. 28. I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid, the guilt which she had taken upon herself by her own confession; for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, as a reward of his magnanimity in this case, because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days, that is, bad luck, misfortune. V. 29. Yet a man is risen to pursue thee and to seek thy soul, or, "Should a man arise and pursue," for she delicately omits a direct reference to Saul; but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord, thy God, said of the sure protection which the children of God enjoy in the merciful fellowship of the Lord here on earth; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out, as out of the middle of a sling, the pan of the sling where the missile is placed before it is shot. It is a strong expression for the total rejection which should strike the enemies of David by the divine punishment. V. 30. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord shall have done to my lord according to all the good that He hath spoken concerning thee, for she knew that God had chosen and called David to be king of Israel, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel, v. 31. that this shall be no grief unto thee nor offense of heart unto my lord, a stumbling-block or vexation, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself, bloodshed and self-help being the double sin that he would have been guilty of; but when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid, not to forget her entirely in his own prosperity. V. 32. And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me, for David ever acknowledged himself to be under divine guidance; v. 33. and blessed be thy advice, her tactful wisdom, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand, thus accepting the correction in the two points which she made. V. 34. For in very deed, as the Lord God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light, by tomorrow morning, any that pisseth against the wall. V. 35. So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, the presents in food, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house, without anxiety; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person, her petition had been favorably regarded by him. Like David, all believers will find many an occasion for thanking the Lord for mercifully keeping them from some severe transgression, often in the very nick of time.
DAVID MARRIES ABIGAIL. — V. 36. And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, although he had been too stingy to share with David and his men, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king, with all its luxury and sumptuousness; and Nabal's heart was merry within him, on account of the rich feast, for he was very drunken, intoxicated to such a point that he was not aware of anything outside of his own pleasure; wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, not a word, until the morning light. V. 37. But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, when he had become sober once more, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone, struck with apoplexy, probably due to violent anger because his wife had presumed to deal with the hated David without consulting his authority. V. 38. And it came to pass about ten days after that the Lord smote Nabal that he died, his death being a punishment for his ungodliness. V. 39. And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the Lord, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept His servant from evil; it was clearly God's judgment upon the insult offered him by Nabal and ever so much better than the revenge which he himself would have taken; for the Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. To David it was like a case in law, in which the Lord had rendered the judicial decision. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife. V. 40. And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee to take thee to him to wife. It was the usual formal proposal. V. 41. And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, in the Oriental manner of deepest devotion, and said, with the same extreme formal humility, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord, thus declaring herself willing, in consenting to the proposal, to perform the lowest service of the house-slaves. V. 42. And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her, her usual train of servants; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. The author now immediately supplies further information concerning David's other domestic relations. V. 43. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, a city in the mountains of Judah; and they were also both of them his wives, in addition to Michal, chap. 18, 28. V. 44. But Saul had given Michal, his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti, the son of Laish, which was of Gallim, a town between Gibeah and Jerusalem. Cp. 2 Sam. 3, 14 ff. Note: What the believers do good to either friends or enemies is rewarded by God, both in time and in eternity.