1 Samuel 25

David, Nabal, and Abigail

1 Samuel died, and all Israel assembled to mourn for him, and they buried him by his home in Ramah. David then went down to the Wilderness of Paran.[a]
2 A man in Maon had a business in Carmel; he was a very rich man with 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats and was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3 The man's name was Nabal, and his wife's name, Abigail. The woman was intelligent and beautiful, but the man, a Calebite, was harsh and evil in [his] dealings.
4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep,
5 so David sent 10 young men instructing them, "Go up to Carmel, and when you come to Nabal, greet him in my name.[b]
6 Then say this: 'Long life to you,[c] and peace to you, to your family, and to all that is yours.
7 I hear that you are shearing.[d] When your shepherds were with us, we did not harass them, and nothing of theirs was missing the whole time they were in Carmel.[e]
8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. So let [my] young men find favor with you, for we have come on a feast[f] day. Please give whatever you can afford to your servants and to your son David.' "
9 David's young men went and said all these things to Nabal on David's behalf,[g] and they waited.[h]
10 Nabal asked them, "Who is David? Who is Jesse's son? Many slaves these days are running away from their masters.
11 Am I supposed to take my bread, my water, and my meat that I butchered for my shearers and give them to men who are from I don't know where?"
12 David's men retraced their steps. When they returned to him, they reported all these words.
13 He said to his men, "All of you, put on your swords!" So David and all his men put on their swords. About 400 men followed David while 200 stayed with the supplies.[i]
14 One of Nabal's young men informed Abigail, Nabal's wife: "Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he yelled at them.
15 The men treated us well. When we were in the field, we weren't harassed and nothing of ours was missing the whole time we were living among them.
16 They were a wall around us, both day and night, the entire time we were herding the sheep.
17 Now consider carefully what you must do, because there is certain to be trouble for our master and his entire family. He is such a worthless fool nobody can talk to him!"
18 Abigail hurried, taking 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five butchered sheep, a bushel[j] of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys.
19 Then she said to her male servants, "Go ahead of me. I will be right behind you." But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
20 As she rode the donkey down a mountain pass hidden from view, she saw David and his men coming toward her and met them.
21 David had just said, "I guarded everything that belonged to this man in the wilderness for nothing. He was not missing anything, yet he paid me back evil for good.
22 May God punish me,[k] and even more if I let any of his men[l] [survive] until morning."
23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off the donkey and fell with her face to the ground in front of David.
24 She fell at his feet and said, "The guilt is mine, my lord, but please let your servant speak to you directly. Listen to the words of your servant.
25 My lord should pay no attention to this worthless man Nabal, for he lives up to his name:[m] His name is Nabal,[n] and stupidity is all he knows.[o] I, your servant, didn't see my lord's young men whom you sent.
26 Now my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, it is the Lord who kept you from participating in bloodshed and avenging yourself by your own hand. May your enemies and those who want trouble for my lord be like Nabal.
27 Accept this gift your servant has brought to my lord, and let it be given to the young men who follow my lord.
28 Please forgive your servant's offense, for the Lord is certain to make a lasting dynasty for my lord [p] because he fights the Lord's battles. Throughout your life, may evil[q] not be found in you.
29 "When someone pursues you and attempts to take your life, my lord's life will be tucked safely in the place[r] where the Lord your God protects the living. However, He will fling away your enemies' lives like [stones] from a sling.
30 When the Lord does for my lord all the good He promised and appoints you ruler over Israel,
31 there will not be remorse or a troubled conscience for my lord because of needless bloodshed or my lord's revenge. And when the Lord does good things for my lord, may you remember [me] your servant."
32 Then David said to Abigail, "Praise to the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today!
33 Blessed is your discernment, and blessed are you. Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand.
34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord God of Israel lives, who prevented me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, Nabal wouldn't have had any men[s] left by morning light."
35 Then David accepted what she had brought him and said, "Go home in peace. See, I have heard what you said and have granted your request."
36 Then Abigail went to Nabal, and there he was in his house, feasting like a king. Nabal was in a good mood[t] and very drunk, so she didn't say anything[u] to him until morning light.
37 In the morning when Nabal sobered up,[v] his wife told him about these events. Then he had a seizure[w] and became paralyzed.[x]
38 About 10 days later, the Lord struck Nabal dead.
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "Praise the Lord who championed my cause against Nabal's insults and restrained His servant from doing evil. The Lord brought Nabal's evil deeds back on his own head." Then David sent messengers to speak to Abigail about marrying him.
40 When David's servants came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, "David sent us to bring you to him as a wife."
41 She bowed her face to the ground and said, "Here I am, your servant, to wash the feet of my lord's servants."
42 Then Abigail got up quickly, and with her five female servants accompanying her, rode on the donkey following David's messengers. And so she became his wife.
43 David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and the two of them became his wives.
44 But Saul gave his daughter Michal, David's wife, to Palti[y] son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

1 Samuel 25 Commentary

Chapter 25

Death of Samuel. (1) David's request; Nabal's churlish refusal. (2-11) David's intention to destroy Nabal. (12-17) Abigail takes a present to David. (18-31) He is pacified, Nabal dies. (32-39) David takes Abigail to wife. (39-44)

Verse 1 All Israel lamented Samuel, and they had reason. He prayed daily for them. Those have hard hearts, who can bury faithful ministers without grief; who do not feel their loss of those who have prayed for them, and taught them the way of the Lord.

Verses 2-11 We should not have heard of Nabal, if nothing had passed between him and David. Observe his name, Nabal, "A fool;" so it signifies. Riches make men look great in the eye of the world; but to one that takes right views, Nabal looked very mean. He had no honour or honesty; he was churlish, cross, and ill-humoured; evil in his doings, hard and oppressive; a man that cared not what fraud and violence he used in getting and saving. What little reason have we to value the wealth of this world, when so great a churl as Nabal abounds, and so good a man as David suffers want!, David pleaded the kindness Nabal's shepherds had received. Considering that David's men were in distress and debt, and discontented, and the scarcity of provisions, it was by good management that they were kept from plundering. Nabal went into a passion, as covetous men are apt to do, when asked for any thing, thinking thus to cover one sin with another; and, by abusing the poor, to excuse themselves from relieving them. But God will not thus be mocked. Let this help us to bear reproaches and misrepresentations with patience and cheerfulness, and make us easy under them; it has often been the lot of the excellent ones of the earth. Nabal insists much on the property he had in the provisions of his table. May he not do what he will with his own? We mistake, if we think we are absolute lords of what we have, and may do what we please with it. No; we are but stewards, and must use it as we are directed, remembering it is not our own, but His who intrusted us with it.

Verses 12-17 God is kind to the evil and unthankful, and why may not we be so? David determined to destroy Nabal, and all that belonged to him. Is this thy voice, O David? Has he been so long in the school of affliction, where he should have learned patience, and yet is so passionate? He at other times was calm and considerate, but is put into such a heat by a few hard words, that he seeks to destroy a whole family. What are the best of men, when God leaves them to themselves, that they may know what is in their hearts? What need to pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation!

Verses 18-31 By a present Abigail atoned for Nabal's denial of David's request. Her behaviour was very submissive. Yielding pacifies great offences. She puts herself in the place of a penitent, and of a petitioner. She could not excuse her husband's conduct. She depends not upon her own reasonings, but on God's grace, to soften David, and expects that grace would work powerfully. She says that it was below him to take vengeance on so weak and despicable an enemy as Nabal, who, as he would do him no kindness, so he could do him no hurt. She foretells the glorious end of David's present troubles. God will preserve thy life; therefore it becomes not thee unjustly and unnecessarily to take away the lives of any, especially of the people of thy God and Saviour. Abigail keeps this argument for the last, as very powerful with so good a man; that the less he indulged his passion, the more he consulted his peace and the repose of his own conscience. Many have done that in a heat, which they have a thousand times wished undone again. The sweetness of revenge is soon turned into bitterness. When tempted to sin, we should consider how it will appear when we think upon it afterwards.

Verses 32-39 David gives God thanks for sending him this happy check in a sinful way. Whoever meet us with counsel, direction, comfort, caution, or seasonable reproof, we must see God sending them. We ought to be very thankful for those happy providences which are the means of keeping us from sinning. Most people think it enough, if they take reproof patiently; but few will take it thankfully, and commend those who give it, and accept it as a favour. The nearer we are to committing sin, the greater is the mercy of a seasonable restraint. Sinners are often most secure when most in danger. He was very drunk. A sign he was Nabal, a fool, that could not use plenty without abusing it; who could not be pleasant with his friends without making a beast of himself. There is not a surer sign that a man has but little wisdom, nor a surer way to destroy the little he has, than drinking to excess. Next morning, how he is changed! His heart overnight merry with wine, next morning heavy as a stone; so deceitful are carnal pleasures, so soon passes the laughter of the fool; the end of that mirth is heaviness. Drunkards are sad, when they reflect upon their own folly. About ten days after, the Lord smote Nabal, that he died. David blessed God that he had been kept from killing Nabal. Worldly sorrow, mortified pride, and an affrighted conscience, sometimes end the joys of the sensualist, and separate the covetous man from his wealth; but, whatever the weapon, the Lord smites men with death when it pleases him.

Verses 39-44 Abigail believed that David would be king over Israel, and greatly esteemed his pious and excellent character. She deemed his proposal of marriage honourable, and advantageous to her, notwithstanding his present difficulties. With great humility, and doubtless agreeably to the customs of those times, she consented, being willing to share his trails. Thus those who join themselves to Christ, must be willing now to suffer with him, believing that hereafter they shall reign with him.

Footnotes 25

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 25

This chapter gives an account of the death of Samuel, and of the ill treatment David met with from Nabal; it begins with the death of Samuel, which was greatly lamented in Israel, 1Sa 25:1; it draws the character of Nabal, and his wife, 1Sa 25:2,3; records a message of David to him, by his young men, desiring he would send him some of his provisions made for his sheep shearers, 1Sa 25:4-9; and Nabal's ill-natured answer to him reported by the young men, which provoked David to arm against him, 1Sa 25:10-13,21,22; and this being told Abigail, the wife of Nabal, and a good character given of David and his men, and of the advantage Nabal's shepherds had received from them, and the danger his family was in through his ingratitude, 1Sa 25:14-17; she prepared a present to pacify David, went with it herself, and addressed him in a very handsome, affectionate, and prudent manner, 1Sa 25:18-31; and met with a kind reception, 1Sa 25:32-35; and the chapter is closed with an account of the death of Nabal, and of the marriage of Abigail to David, 1Sa 25:32-44.

1 Samuel 25 Commentaries