1 Samuel 25

Listen to 1 Samuel 25

The Death of Samuel

1 1Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled 2and mourned for him, and they buried him 3in his house at 4Ramah. Then David rose and went down to 5the wilderness of Paran.
2 And there was a man in 6Maon whose business was in 7Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. 8He was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3 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; 9he was a Calebite.
4 David heard in the wilderness that Nabal 10was shearing his sheep.
5 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.
6 And thus you shall greet him: 11'Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.
7 I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, 12and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel.
8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come 13on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.'"
9 When David's young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited.
10 And Nabal answered David's servants, 14"Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? 15There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters.
11 Shall I take 16my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to 17men who come from I do not know where?"
12 So David's young men turned away and came back and told him all this.
13 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 18about four hundred men went up after David, 19while two hundred 20remained with the baggage.
14 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.
15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, 21and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them.
16 They were 22a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
17 Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, 23for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such 24a worthless man that one cannot speak to him."
18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs[a] of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys.
19 And she said to her young men, "Go on before me; behold, I come after you." But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
20 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.
21 Now David had said, "Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, 25so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has 26returned me evil for good.
22 27God do so to the enemies of David[b] and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him."
23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried 28and got down from the donkey 29and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground.
24 She fell at his feet and said, 30"On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant.
25 Let not my lord regard 31this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal[c] is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.
26 Now then, my lord, 32as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because 33the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from 34saving with your own hand, now then 35let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal.
27 And now let this 36present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord.
28 Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord 37a sure house, because my lord 38is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live.
29 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 39he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.
30 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,
31 my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord 40taking vengeance himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant."
32 And David said to Abigail, 41"Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!
33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, 42who have kept me this day from bloodguilt 43and from avenging myself with my own hand!
34 For as surely 44as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, 45who 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."
35 Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, 46"Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition."
36 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, 47he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal's heart 48was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing 49at all until the morning light.
37 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.
38 And about ten days later 50the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, 51"Blessed be the LORD who has 52avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, 53and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. 54The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head." Then David sent and 55spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife.
40 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."
41 And she rose 56and 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."
42 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.
43 David also took Ahinoam of 57Jezreel, 58and both of them became his wives.
44 Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of 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.

Cross References 58

  • 1. 1 Samuel 28:3
  • 2. Genesis 50:10; [Numbers 20:29; Deuteronomy 34:8]
  • 3. [1 Kings 2:34]
  • 4. 1 Samuel 1:19
  • 5. Numbers 10:12
  • 6. 1 Samuel 23:24
  • 7. Joshua 15:55
  • 8. [Genesis 38:13; 2 Samuel 13:23]
  • 9. [1 Samuel 30:14]
  • 10. [See ver. 2 above]
  • 11. [1 Chronicles 12:18; Matthew 10:13; Luke 10:5]
  • 12. ver. 15, 21
  • 13. Esther 8:17; Esther 9:19, 22
  • 14. [Judges 9:28]
  • 15. [Judges 12:4]
  • 16. [Judges 8:6]
  • 17. [1 Samuel 22:2]
  • 18. 1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 27:2; [1 Samuel 22:2]
  • 19. 1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 27:2; [1 Samuel 22:2]
  • 20. 1 Samuel 30:24
  • 21. ver. 7, 21
  • 22. [Job 1:10]
  • 23. [1 Samuel 20:7]
  • 24. Deuteronomy 13:13
  • 25. ver. 7, 15
  • 26. Psalms 109:5; [Proverbs 17:13]
  • 27. See Ruth 1:17
  • 28. Joshua 15:18; Judges 1:14; [Genesis 24:64]
  • 29. ver. 41; Ruth 2:10
  • 30. [2 Samuel 14:9]
  • 31. [See ver. 17 above]
  • 32. See 1 Samuel 20:3
  • 33. [Genesis 20:6]
  • 34. [Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30]
  • 35. [2 Samuel 18:32]
  • 36. 1 Samuel 30:26; Genesis 33:11; [2 Kings 5:15]
  • 37. 1 Kings 11:38; [1 Samuel 2:35; 2 Samuel 7:11, 27; 1 Kings 9:5; 1 Chronicles 17:10, 25]
  • 38. 1 Samuel 18:17
  • 39. Jeremiah 10:18
  • 40. [See ver. 26 above]
  • 41. Genesis 24:27; Psalms 41:13; Psalms 72:18; Luke 1:68
  • 42. [See ver. 26 above]
  • 43. [See ver. 26 above]
  • 44. See Ruth 3:13
  • 45. [See ver. 26 above]
  • 46. See 1 Samuel 1:17
  • 47. [2 Samuel 13:23]
  • 48. [2 Samuel 13:28; 1 Kings 21:7]
  • 49. 1 Samuel 22:15
  • 50. 1 Samuel 26:10
  • 51. [See ver. 32 above]
  • 52. See 1 Samuel 24:15
  • 53. ver. 26, 33, 34
  • 54. 1 Kings 2:44; [Psalms 7:16; Ezekiel 17:19]
  • 55. [Song of Songs 8:8]
  • 56. [Ruth 2:10]
  • 57. Joshua 15:56
  • 58. 1 Samuel 27:3; 1 Samuel 30:5; 2 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 3:2, 3; 1 Chronicles 3:1

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. A seah was about 7 quarts or 7.3 liters
  • [b]. Septuagint to David
  • [c]. Nabal means fool

Chapter Summary


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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.