1 Samuel 25


‘Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah.’ 1 Samuel 25:1

The Death Of Samuel

The chapter begins by informing us about the death of Samuel the prophet and judge, and it’s clear that a lot of people loved him because all of Israel gathered and mourned for him.

It’s interesting that although Samuel was a great prophet and judge, only one verse in the whole of the Bible covers his funeral. Just because he ceased to exist physically doesn’t mean he ceased to exist, in other words, he will continue to live in heaven.

Samuel was buried in his home in Ramah, this isn’t speaking about his house because if he was buried in his house, then his house would have become unclean. It’s likely he was buried in the garden or courtyard of his home, 2 Chronicles 3:20 / 2 Kings 21:18.

David, Nabal And Abigail

‘Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran. A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite. While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. So he sent ten young men and said to them, ‘Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! ‘Now I hear that it is sheepshearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favourable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’ When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited.’ 1 Samuel 25:2-9

After the death of Samuel David moved towards the Desert of Paran where he meets Nabal, a man who had property at Carmel and was very wealthy. This Carmel isn’t the Mount Carmel most people have heard of which was located to the north and on the west coast of Palestine. This Carmel is located at the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Nabal’s wife was called Abigail, who was intelligent and beautiful, unlike her husband who was offensive and corrupt. Nabal’s name means ‘fool,’ or ‘stupid,’ and he certainly lives up to his name.

Notice also he was a Calebite, the Calebites were attached to the tribe of Judah and since Judah would be the tribe most loyal to David. Nabal had evidently inherited the great estate of his ancestor Caleb, but sadly, he didn’t inherit the type of character that belonged to his distinguished ancestor.

David sends out ten young men to ask Nabal to show some hospitality towards them. This was a reasonable request from David because he and his men had protected Nabal’s sheep from raiders that came from the desert, 1 Samuel 23:1-5 / 1 Samuel 30:1-2. It was also a feast day, which meant there would have been more than enough to go around.

‘Nabal answered David’s servants, ‘Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?’ David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. David said to his men, ‘Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.’ 1 Samuel 25:10-13

After making the request to Nabal to show some hospitality, it’s now that we see Nabal’s true character in his response to David, he is disrespectful and cruel. David understandably wasn’t very happy with his response and so he gathers 400 of his men to punish him for refusing to help God’s anointed. Because David gathered 400 men, this tells us that Nabal had a large army around him.

‘One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, ‘David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day, they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.’ 1 Samuel 25:14-17

Word of Nabal’s response got back to Abigail through one of the servants and the servant tells her, that Nabal had insulted David with his words.

This passage tells us that David and his men had indeed guarded Nabal’s flocks of sheep for a long while, 1 Samuel 23:1-5 / 1 Samuel 30:1-2.

It appears that even the servant knew that things weren’t going to end well with Nabal and his household. The servant knew that he was an evil, self-centred man, whom nobody could talk to because everyone is afraid of him. The good news is that the servant knew that Abigail was approachable and could confidently speak with her.

‘Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, ‘Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.’ But she did not tell her husband Nabal. As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. David had just said, ‘It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!’ 1 Samuel 25:18-22

It’s clear that Abigail believed every word the servant told her concerning her husband Nabal. She believed that things weren’t going to end well with Nabal and his household. however, like most good wives, despite being married to a disrespectful and evil man, she still wanted to protect him from David.

Because David knew that he was anointed by God to be king of Israel, he knew that what he was about to do was God’s will because Nabal had gone against God by going against David. It’s clearly evident from David’s response that he at this time was assuming the responsibility of being king over Israel, even though Saul was still alive as king.

‘When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. And now, my lord, as surely as the LORD your God lives and as you live, since the LORD has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you. ‘Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The LORD your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the LORD’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the LORD has fulfilled for my lord every good thing, he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.’ 1 Samuel 25:23-31

When Abigail saw David she bowed before him with her face to the ground, this is where we see her wisdom. She pleads with David and tells him that her husband Nabal is living up to his name, that is he is foolish and a rebellious person.

Her argument was exactly the same argument that David himself had used in his efforts to discourage Saul from trying to kill him, 1 Samuel 24:14. The argument was basically this, Nabal wasn’t important enough to warrant David’s taking vengeance upon him, and it was contrary to God’s law for David so to do.

Notice she tells that that he is fighting the Lord’s battles, this tells us that all of Israel had now accepted David as a defender of Israel and all of Israel should be grateful to him for defending them. If it wasn’t for David, then Nabal wouldn’t be living in freedom.

David lived under God’s protection and notice how Abigail gives him a gift. There will come a time when David will be ruler and king over Israel and Abigail in her wisdom, Psalm 141:5, didn’t want David to regret any action which would lead to the killing of innocent people. In other words, just because Nabal was a rude, evil man, didn’t mean that everyone in his household was too.

‘David said to Abigail, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.’ Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.’ 1 Samuel 25:32-35

The humility of David is seen here, as he takes the advice of a woman who is married to a fool. He recognises that Abigail was sent from God and he thanks her for her wisdom.

He also recognises that she is a genuine person with no hidden agendas, she doesn’t ask him to deliver her from her cruel husband, but she does ask that her cruel husband be delivered from David’s judgment.

‘When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.’ Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, ‘David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.’ She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, ‘I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.’ Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife. David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were his wives. But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.’ 1 Samuel 25:36-44

When Abigail went home, it appears it was party time in the house of Nabal and he was very drunk. Abigail waited until morning to tell her husband that she had met David. This really shocked Nabal and his heart failed and he became like a stone, Jude 1:12.

The news that Abigail brought her husband was just too much for him and ten days later he died at the hand of the Lord, probably from a heart attack or stroke. Please note this wasn’t David’s judgment upon Nabal, this was the Lord’s judgment upon Nabal because he refused to help God’s anointed.

After Nabal died David took Abigail as his wife, he must have seen her wisdom and loyalty, even to her cruel husband. She was fit to be the next king’s wife.

Notice also that he married Ahinoam of Jezreel, the polygamy of David was one of his many sins, but in the customs of the day, such marriages were generally accepted. When David later had the power, he took Michal, Saul’s daughter back as his wife, 1 Samuel 18:27 / 2 Samuel 3:14-15.

Go To 1 Samuel 26


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