A. David’s anger at Nabal.
1. (1) Samuel, the great prophet and judge over Israel, dies.
Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran.
a. Then Samuel died: This great man, who was dedicated unto the Lord and served Him from his youngest days, now dies. As godly as he was, it did not save him from an earthly death, because he was till a descendant of Adam. But God’s work in Israel did not end when Samuel died; His work never is dependent on only one man.
i. If it is written then Samuel died, it is also written and David arose. God’s work may begin with a man, but it never ends with one man. God continues and sustains His work as He pleases.
b. The Israelites gathered together and lamented for him: As well they should have! Samuel seemed to be unappreciated by Israel during his life (1 Samuel 8:1-7), but at least he was honored in his death.
c. Samuel’s heritage lived on in a remarkable way. 1 Chronicles 9:22 suggests that Samuel laid the foundation for the organization of the Levites for the service of the sanctuary which was completed by David and Solomon. 1 Chronicles 26:27-28 says that Samuel began to collect the treasures for the building of the temple in Solomon’s day. 2 Chronicles 35:18 says that Samuel remembered the Passover, and kept Israel in remembrance of God’s great deliverance. Psalm 99:6 and Jeremiah 15:1 commemorate Samuel as a man of great intercession. Hebrews 11:33 puts Samuel in God’s “Hall of Faith.”
d. This is the last we see of Samuel in the book of 1 Samuel - except for a very interesting incident in 1 Samuel 28!
2. (2-3) A man named Nabal, his wife and his character.
Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. And he was of the house of Caleb.
a. And the man was very rich: The first thing we learn about this man is where he lived (Maon, with his business in Carmel), and that he was a very rich man (three thousand sheep and a thousand goats).
i. There are four kinds of riches. There are riches in what you have, there are riches in what you do, there are riches in what you know, and there are riches in what you are - riches of character. Nabal was a very rich man, but only rich in what he had. He had the lowest kind of riches.
ii. This should remind us of what Jesus said: material riches are a definite obstacle to the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-26). It is not impossible for a rich man to be godly, but being rich makes walking with God harder. If he is to be a godly man, one of the key things there must be in the heart of a rich man is generosity. We should look for this in the character of Nabal!
b. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel: This was the “harvest time” for a sheep rancher. Because it was like “harvest time,” by ancient traditions, sheep shearing time was a time of lavish hospitality towards others.
c. The name of the man was Nabal: This is another indication of his character, because the name Nabal means fool. In the ancient culture of Israel, names were often connected with a person’s character; we don’t know if Nabal was given this name or he earned it, but we will certainly see that he matches his own name.
i. We read that Nabal was harsh and evil in his doings (which needs no explanation, only appreciation, understanding that the Bible is never given to overstatement in such matters). The fact that he was of the house of Caleb may also be told as a bad description of Nabal, because Caleb means dog, and to be of the house of a dog was no compliment.
ii. “As the word caleb signifies a dog, the Septuagint have understood it as implying a man of a canine disposition, and translate it thus . . . he was a doggish man. It us understood in the same way by the Syriac and Arabic.” (Clarke)
d. Abigail . . . a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance: Nabal’s wife was both beautiful and wise, in contrast to Nabal himself. The Bible gives Abigail great praise when it says she was of beautiful appearance, because the only other women who have this Hebrew phrase applied to them are Rachel (Genesis 29:7) and Esther (Esther 2:7).
i. How did a woman like this ever get matched up with a man like Nabal? We can understand it in that day of arranged marriages. Clarke says that she was “married to the boor mentioned above, probably because he was rich. Many women have been thus sacrificed.” Trapp also says, “But what meant her father to match her to such an ill-conditioned churl? It is likely he married her to the wealth, not to the man. Many a child is cast away upon riches.”
ii. But there are many Abigails today, who are in that place not because the marriage was arranged, but because they chose it. “It is remarkable how many Abigails get married to Nabals. God-fearing women, tender and gentle in the sensibilities, high-minded and noble in their ideals, become tied in an indissoluble union with men for whom they can have no true affinity, even if they have not an unconquerable repugnance.” (Meyer)
iii. “A woman may still find herself in Abigail’s pitiful plight. To such a one there is but one advice - you must stay where you are. The dissimilarity in taste and temperament does not constitute a sufficient reason for leaving your husband to drift. You must believe that God has permitted you to enter on this awful heritage, partly because this fiery ordeal was required by your character, and partly that you might act as a counteractive influence. You must stay as you are. It may be that some day your opportunity will come, as it came to Abigail. In the meantime do not allow your purer nature to be bespotted or besmeared. You can always keep the soul clean and pure.” (Meyer)
iv. “May I say to you lovingly, but firmly, if such a circumstance has befallen you, that is no reason for you to invoke the law of the country to get out of the entanglement. Perhaps God knew that you needed the fiery trial to humble you and make you a testimony to your partner. The Bible says you must stay as you are. Maybe there will come to you one day, as there came to Abigail, a new opportunity; but until then, it is for you to prove the grace and power of the Lord in your heart to strengthen you and keep you pure.” (Redpath)
3. (4-9) David asks for compensation for his valuable service to Nabal.
When David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep, David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: ‘Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have! Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while 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 comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David.’” So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited.
a. David made a request of Nabal: Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants and your son David. David makes this request because he had performed a valuable service for Nabal, serving as protection for his flocks in a time when Philistine raids were common. To our modern ears, it might sound like David was running some kind of “protection racket,” but that wasn’t the case at all. He performed a worthy, valuable service for Nabal, and expects to be compensated.
i. In fact, David “bent over backwards” to do all this right, and make the request right. A close look shows just how right David did in all this.
b. David did right in this, because he waited until he heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep. David protected Nabal’s shepherds and flocks for a long time, but did not expect to be compensated until Nabal himself made his money at the “harvest” of sheep shearing.
c. David did right in this, because he was very polite to Nabal. He did this through messengers (David sent ten young men) so Nabal would not be intimidated. He sent the messengers with a greeting full of warmth and kindness (Peace be to you), so that Nabal would not give out of fear or intimidation.
d. David did right in this, because he carefully and patiently gave Nabal an “itemized receipt” for services rendered (Your shepherds were with us . . . nor was there anything missing . . . ask your young men, and they will tell you).
e. David did right in this, because he politely reminded Nabal of the traditions of generosity surrounding harvest and sheep shearing time (For we come on a feast day).
f. David did right in this, because he did not demand any specific payment from Nabal, or set a price - he simply left it up to Nabal’s generosity (Please give whatever comes to your hand). Then, David’s messengers simply waited for the reply.
4. (10-12) Nabal’s reply to David’s request.
Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” So David’s young men turned on their heels and went back; and they came and told him all these words.
a. Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? It can’t be that Nabal did not know who David was, because David was famous all throughout Israel (1 Samuel 18:5-7). Nabal says this as a direct insult to David - knowing who he is, but refusing to recognize him. In our modern way of speaking, Nabal would say, “Who does he think he is?”
b. There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master: Nabal deepens his insult of David, saying that David is simply a rebellious servant. This was completely false, because David had continually (though not perfectly) conducted himself wisely when attacked by Saul.
c. Shall I then take my bread . . . my water . . . my meat . . . my shearers, and give it: Nabal shows what an ungenerous man he is. He looks at everything as his, instead of the Lord’s. True, Biblical generosity doesn’t think, “This is mine and I will share it with you.” It thinks, “All that I have belongs to the Lord, and so you can have some of it also.”
5. (13) David reacts to Nabal’s insulting response.
Then David said to his men, “Every man gird on his sword.” So every man girded on his sword, and David also girded on his sword. And about four hundred men went with David, and two hundred stayed with the supplies.
a. Then David said to his men, “Every man gird on his sword.” David receives Nabal’s response exactly the way Nabal intended it to be received: with great insult. But Nabal is not dealing with a weak, no-account man; he is dealing with a great soldier and warrior. In our modern way of speaking, David would have said to his men, “Lock and load!” In a western movie, he would have said, “Mount up, boys!” David was ready to fight.
i. We don’t wonder why David was ready to fight, because Nabal had provoked him so greatly. But this is not a high moment for David. He isn’t responding the way the Lord would have him respond to an insult, or even to an attack.
ii. When we are insulted, the Lord would have us bear it with love and kindness, returning their evil with good. This is high ground to walk on, but it is commanded by Jesus: You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matthew 5:38-39)
iii. As well, we see that David doesn’t show Nabal the same kindness and longsuffering that he showed to Saul. In just the previous chapter, we saw how David spared Saul’s life, when Saul not only insulted David but actually attacked him and tried to kill him. David was able to be kind and longsuffering to Saul, but it seems to have been harder for him to do it towards someone he perceived as his equal, or lower than himself. Often, this is true measure of our character - not how we treat our superiors, but how we treat our equals or those “beneath” us in some way or another.
b. About four hundred men went with David: David is not coming to Nabal just to make a statement, but to wipe him out. That is why he arms himself and his men, and why he leaves some men behind to watch the stuff and serve as reinforcements.
i. Most of us would have responded to Nabal just as David did. Our sympathies might be with David, but our hearts and our obedience must be with Jesus Christ.
B. Abigail intercedes between David and Nabal.
1. (14-17) Abigail hears of how Nabal responded to David.
Now one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them. But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.”
a. He reviled them: One of the servants who witnessed Nabal’s respons to David’s men tells Nabal’s wife Abigail that Nabal reviled David’s men, and by extension, David. To revile means “to treat with contemptuous language,” and Nabal laid it on David’s men and David.
b. The men were very good to us: Nabal’s servants tell Abigail of the valuable service David’s men performed for them. This lets Abigail know that David and his men deserved compensation.
c. Know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined: Nabal’s servants could read the handwriting on the wall. They knew that David would not take such an insult - theft, actually - lying down. For their own sake, and for the sake of the household, they ask Abigail to do something (consider what you will do).
d. Why didn’t they say this to Nabal? Because they knew he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him. The book of Proverbs had not been written yet, but they still knew the truth of Proverbs 17:12: Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly. Therefore, they made this life-or-death appeal to Abigail.
2. (18-20) Abigail prepares a present for David and his men.
Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. And she said to her servants, “Go on before me; see, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. So it was, as she rode on the donkey, that she went down under cover of the hill; and there were David and his men, coming down toward her, and she met them.
a. Abigail made haste: Since she was a woman of good understanding (1 Samuel 25:3), she knew that time was of the essence, and something had to be done quickly.
b. Two hundred loaves of bread . . . two skins of wine . . . five sheep already dressed . . . one hundred clusters of raisins: David simply, politely, asked Nabal for fair payment for services rendered, and Nabal refused. Now, Abigail is doing what Nabal should have done, but didn’t do.
c. The fact that Abigail was able to gather so much food so quickly shows how wealthy Nabal was. If this much food was on hand, it makes Nabal’s ungenerous reply to David all the worse.
3. (21-22) David vows to massacre Nabal and his entire household.
Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good. May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.”
a. Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has: David’s sense of hurt was justified. He had been wronged by Nabal, and Nabal was entirely in the wrong and David was entirely in the right. The feelings may have been justified, but what will David do with those feelings?
b. And he has repaid me evil for good: David is accurate, but not right in his heart. He has the facts straight, but not his heart.
c. If I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light: This makes David’s intention clear - he plans to massacre Nabal and all the males of his household. This was the expected reaction (Nabal’s own servants expected it according to 1 Samuel 25:17). But God was calling David to go further than what the world might expect.
i. David had so wonderfully resisted the temptation to take vengeance against Saul in 1 Samuel 24; but here, it seems that he will fail when a similar temptation comes again. This reminds us of our constant need to be on guard.
ii. “Does it not show beyond all possible doubt that I cannot stand against the enemy of my soul unless the Lord upholds me moment by moment? This story tells me that however long I may have been on the Christian path, however often I may have overcome one temptation or another, however many times I have defeated sin in one area, it can strike in another and crush me in a moment.” (Redpath)
4. (23-31) Abigail’s appeal to David.
Now when Abigail saw David, she hastened to dismount from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground. So she fell at his feet and said: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent. Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal. And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days. Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”
a. When Abigail saw David: Because of the hilly terrain (she went down under cover of the hill, 1 Samuel 25:20), Abigail could remain hidden from David right up until they met face to face. It also seems that Abigail saw David first, and when David first saw her, she was humbled before him, at the head of a great train of gifts and provisions.
i. David and his men were charging forth to kill a man who had terribly insulted and stolen from David. David had just swore an oath: May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light (1 Samuel 25:22). But now, in his angry, agitated state, something unexpected makes David and his whole company come to an immediate stop: a great procession of gifts, and at the head of that procession, beautiful woman bowing down before David. This had to make a startling impression on the angry, agitated David.
iii. David also had focused his wrath against every male of Nabal’s household, but here is a woman of Nabal’s household. Because of David’s anger and agitation, what Abigail did here probably could not have been done by any man in Nabal’s household (except for Nabal himself), no matter how humble and wise that man was.
b. She hastened to dismount from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground: Abigail will make an appeal to David, and she makes her appeal in utmost humility. She doesn’t come do David as a superior (as the beautiful, rich, and privileged often do) or even as an equal; she comes to David as his humble servant.
c. In this appeal, Abigail did many things very right:
i. When she first heard of the crisis, she immediately went into action (Then Abigail made haste, 1 Samuel 25:18). She knew this was an urgent situation, so she acted with urgency.
ii. Abigail immediately, and with her first words to David, takes the blame on herself (On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be!). Abigail didn’t do this because she really believed she was guilty. She put herself in the place of punishment because she knew that David would punish her differently than her husband Nabal.
iii. Abigail asks for permission to speak, instead of taking command of the conversation (Please let your maidservant speak in your ears).
iv. Abigail smoothly suggests the positive outcome to David in her appeal (since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand). She states it in a way that almost guides David towards her suggested outcome.
v. Abigail brought David a present (now this present), but was wise enough to say that it was for the young men who follow David, not for David himself. To say that it was for David himself would suggest that David was in this just for the compensation or the money, and that David’s insulted dignity could be bought off with money.
vi. Abigail plainly, straightforwardly, asked for forgiveness (Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant).
vii. Despite David’s present anger and agitation - which is clearly sin - Abigail speaks of David’s character in high terms, regarding his present unmentioned state as an aberration (my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days).
viii. Abigail reminded David of the Lord’s promise for his life (the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house). She guides David to look beyond the immediate aggravating circumstances to the bigger promise of God. Since Abigail knows that God has promised David would one day be king, this must have been known throughout Israel.
ix. Abigail asks David not to do something he will later regret, when God’s promise is ultimately fulfilled (that this will be no grief to you . . . that you have shed blood without cause). This is perhaps the single best thing that Abigail said; she wisely asked David to consider the outcome of his present course, and how it would be a bad outcome. She asks him to let the Lord settle the matter, instead of taking vengeance into his own hands.
d. Abigail also did some things wrong in her appeal to David:
i. She did all this - which was no small thing, either in the doing or the meaning of it - without her husbands counsel or approval (But she did not tell her husband Nabal, 1 Samuel 25:19).
ii. She openly, and severely, criticizes her husband to David (this scoundrel Nabal . . . Nabal is his name, and folly is with him). No wife should speak this way of her husband, and no husband should speak this way of his wife.
iii. Even as she confesses her sin to David (on me let this iniquity be!), she also excuses and justifies herself, letting David know that she really doesn’t think she has sinned at all (I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent).
iv. She almost suggests to David that he kill the guilty Nabal (let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal), but he spare the rest of the household because they are innocent (shed blood without cause).
v. She makes herself available for David’s future consideration, perhaps in an inappropriate way (When the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant).
vi. Abigail was not outstandingly submissive or respectful to her husband Nabal. Though there is no explanation in the Bible, perhaps it was justified because this was a legitimate life-or-death situation. If Abigail didn’t do what she did, then Nabal and scores of innocent men would die. But the point of the passage is how submissive and respectful Abigail is towards David, not Nabal.
vii. “It may be thought a great crime, that she traduceth her husband in this manner; but this may be said for her, that she told them nothing but what they all knew concerning him, and that she only seemed to take away that which he never had, indeed, to wit, his good name, that she preserve that which he had, and which was more dear and important to him, even his life and soul.” (Poole)
e. The life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling: This perhaps is the strongest point of Abigail’s appeal, and she uses a wonderful turn of speech. She says, “David, you are like a bundle that the Lord holds closely and securely to Himself. Your enemies are like rocks that the Lord will sling away.” This invites David to act like a man who is close to the Lord!
i. David was taking his 400 men to do what God could do as easily as throwing a stone out of sling. This had to remind David of a time when he really did trust God for the victory - when he cast a stone out of a sling and killed Goliath. Through her wise words, Abigail refocused David’s attention from Nabal back unto the Lord.
ii. “In effect she said, ‘David, your soul is wrapped up in a bundle of life in the Lord your God, and the strength of that bundle lies in the identity of God with all that goes on inside it. He is there with you! Therefore, the life of a man after God’s own heart is safe in God’s keeping, and what can the churlishness of Nabal do against you? Why should you stoop to his level?’” (Redpath)
f. Abigail’s appeal to David was so glorious, because it lifted him up instead of beating him down. David was clearly in the wrong, and Abigail wanted to guide him into the right. But she didn’t do it by being negative, by emphasizing to David how wrong and angry and stupid he was acting - though he was in fact acting that way! Instead, Abigail emphasized David’s glorious calling and destiny, and the general integrity of his life, and simply asked him to consider if what his present course of action was consistent with that destiny and integrity.
g. Look how positive Abigail is in her appeal: the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house . . . my lord fights the battles of the Lord . . . evil is not found in you throughout your days . . . the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord God . . . when the Lord has done . . . all the good that He has spoken concerning you . . . has appointed you ruler over Israel. She is lifting David up, not beating him down with criticism and accusation.
h. Look how submissive Abigail is in her appeal: fell on her face before David . . . bowed down to the ground . . . she fell at his feet . . . Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant . . . then remember your maidservant. In her appeal, Abigail calls David lord (not as God, but as a term of high respect and submission) 13 times. She calls herself David’s maidservant five times. She doesn’t come to David as a superior or even as an equal, but appealing to him as someone who has rightful authority over her.
i. Abigail is a marvelous model of “sweetly speaking submission.” Many Christian wives have the idea of “silent submission.” They say, “I know my husband is wrong, but I won’t tell him. Submission means I should shut up.” That is wrong, and they should look to Abigail as an example. Other Christian wives have the idea of “sharply speaking submission.” They say, “I know my husband is wrong, and God has appointed me to tell him. And boy, will I!” That is wrong, and they should look to Abigail as an example. Abigail gives the right example - submission that speaks, but speaks sweetly instead of sharply.
j. Husbands have a huge responsibility in all this. First, they are responsible to encourage their wives to speak, instead of reinforcing the idea of “silent submission.” Next, they are to carefully and prayerfully receive what their wives say. Finally, they need to understand that even if the advice isn’t given as wonderfully as Abigail’s was towards David, the basic message may still be from the Lord, even if the delivery was fouled up.
k. Abigail’s submission to Nabal was not outstanding. But her submission to David was. And David’s submission to the Lord was equally outstanding; by giving up the fight, he had to trust God to take care of Nabal. And God certainly did!
5. (32-35) David thanks God for Abigail’s appeal, and receives her advice.
Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. For indeed, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hastened and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!” So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person.”
a. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: David was on a sinful course, and Abigail, through her bold, quick, and wise appeal, stopped him from sin. He knew that God spoke to him through Abigail’s appeal (who sent you this day).
b. David’s anger was justified, and his were rights were violated. But David responded wrongly, because vengeance and retribution belong only to God. Here, David is taught that this principle didn’t only apply between him and Saul, but between him and everyone.
i. David is being taught a good lesson - our hurt feelings never justify disobedience. When others sin against us, we may feel justified in sinning against them, but we are never justified by our hurt feelings.
c. You have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand: David can also thank God, because Abigail successfully reminded him of his destiny: to reign over Israel in righteousness and integrity. If David had slaughtered Nabal and his household, it would forever be a black mark against David among Israelites. They would forever wonder if they could really trust him. And it might have sealed his doom before Saul, because for the first time, David would have given Saul a legitimate reason to hunt him down as a criminal.
i. “It was a major lesson in David’s training for kingship, and one that he was going to need to keep before him at future crises. The implication is that violence breeds violence, whereas restraint makes way for a peaceful solution. This he knows with his head, but he may fail to remember it when his blood is roused.” (Baldwin)
d. Blessed is your advice, and blessed are you: David was man enough and wise enough, to take counsel from a woman. He knew that the issue wasn’t Abigail’s gender, but that God was using her at that time and place. David does well both to receive her advice, and to praise her for her boldness in bringing it.
e. So David received from her hand: It is important to remember that Abigail did not come to David empty-handed. One reason her appeal was effective was because she paid David what was owed to him. When David received it from Abigail, he acknowledged that Nabal had paid the bill and there was nothing outstanding.
f. David knew the blessing here of being kept from sin. It surely is a blessed to be forgiven our sins; but it is an even greater blessing to be kept from sin.
i. We would need to seek forgiveness of our sins less often if we would seek the Lord more diligently to be kept from sin to begin with. “There is no way of keeping out the fire of sin except by having the fire of grace blazing within the spirit. We must fight fire with fire.” (Spurgeon)
ii. What things might God use to keep us from sin? 1. The work of God in our hearts. 2. Early education as children. 3. Positive friendships and associations. 4. The laws of the land. 5. A low station in life. 6. Physical infirmities. 7. Amazing works from God’s hand. 8. A word to our conscience from a messenger of God.
C. Nabal dies and David marries Abigail.
1. (36-38) God strikes Nabal dead.
Now Abigail went to Nabal, and there 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; therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light. So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it came about, after about ten days, that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.
a. There he was, holding a feast in his house: Nabal lives up to his name; he is a fool. His life is in imminent danger - his wife knows it, all his servants know it, but he doesn’t know it. He eats and gets drunk as if all is fine, and he hasn’t a care in the world.
i. In this regard, Nabal is a picture of the sinner who goes on rejecting God, without regard to God’s coming judgment. Just as certain as it was that David would have killed Nabal, so it is certain that God will judge the sinner who continues to reject Him.
b. Like the feast of a king: All Nabal had to do was invite David to this tremendous feast, and Nabal’s life would have been spared. Nabal’s own greed and foolishness was his undoing.
c. His wife had told him these things: “Wonderful, saith one, was the force of this woman’s speech, that as it before allayed David’s rage, so now it pierceth Nabal to the heart. This power was not in her human eloquence, but proceeded from the Spirit of God.” (Trapp)
d. His heart died within him, and he became like stone . . . the Lord struck Nabal, and he died: Abigail’s wise action saved Nabal from David, and saved David from himself. But it could not save Nabal from God’s judgment. Nabal was never out of God’s reach, and when it was the right time, God took care of him.
i. In 1 Samuel 25:33, David was grateful that Abigail’s appeal had kept him from avenging myself with my own hand. This proves that David did not need to avenge himself with his own hand; God was more than able to do it.
ii. Jesus may have had Nabal in mind when He taught the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:15-21). That parable describes a man who dies with everything - and nothing.
iii. “All which time he lay like a block in his bed, without repentance or confidence in God; but condemned of his own conscience, he went to his place without noise. Let this be a warning to drunkards.” (Trapp)
2. (39-44) David marries Abigail.
So when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept His servant from evil! For the Lord has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head.” And David sent and proposed to Abigail, to take her as his wife. When the servants of David had come to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her saying, “David sent us to you, to ask you to become his wife.” Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, “Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” So Abigail rose in haste and rode on a donkey, attended by five of her maidens; and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and so both of them were his wives. But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim.
a. For the Lord has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head: David knew exactly what the death of Nabal meant. It was God’s judgment against Nabal, which the Lord showed when David decided to let the Lord avenge him instead of avenging himself.
b. David sent and proposed to Abigail: In 1 Samuel 25:31, Abigail asked David, then remember your maidservant. Here, David certainly remembers her, and takes her as his wife.
i. Was this inappropriate? Wasn’t David already married to Saul’s daughter Michal? (1 Samuel 18:27) The writer of 1 Samuel explains that at this time, David was not married to Michal, because Saul had taken her away and given her to another man to spite David (David will get Michal back in 2 Samuel 3:13-16). So, Abigail is not really David’s second wife; she is his “second first wife.”
c. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and so both of them were his wives: Though Abigail was David’s “second marriage,” with Ahinoam, David takes his second wife, and will add many more wives.
i. Was this inappropriate? It wasn’t directly sin, because God hadn’t commanded against it. But it did go against God’s ideal, God’s plan for marriage, for oneness in a marriage relationship. David was a man of great passions, and as a part of that he had many wives. But because David never really followed God’s plan and purpose for marriage, his family life was never blessed and peaceful. Family trouble would bring David some of the greatest trials of his life.
d. Here is your maidservant, a servant, to wash the feet of the servants of my lord: Abigail did not allow her success with David, or the death of Nabal, to make her arrogant or bossy. She greets the servants of David with the greatest humility.
© 2001 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission