1 Samuel 25
We have here some intermission of David's troubles by Saul. Providence
favoured him with a breathing time, and yet this chapter gives us
instances of the troubles of David. If one vexation seems to be over,
we must not be secure; a storm may arise from some other point, as here
I. Tidings of the death of Samuel could not but trouble him,
1 Samuel 25:1.
II. The abuse he received from Nabal is more largely recorded in this
1. The character of Nabal,
1 Samuel 25:2,3.
2. The humble request sent to him,
1 Samuel 25:4-9.
3. His churlish answer,
1 Samuel 25:10-12.
4. David's angry resentment of it,
1 Samuel 25:13,21,22.
5. Abigail's prudent care to prevent the mischief it was likely to
bring upon her family,
1 Samuel 25:14-20.
6. Her address to David to pacify him,
1 Samuel 25:23-31.
7. David's favourable reception of her,
1 Samuel 25:32-35.
8. The death of Nabal,
1 Samuel 25:36-38.
9. Abigail's marriage to David,
1 Samuel 25:39-44.
|The Death of Samuel.
||B. C. 1057.|
1 And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered
together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah.
And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
We have here a short account of Samuel's death and burial.
1. Though he was a great man, and one that was admirably well qualified
for public service, yet he spent the latter end of his days in
retirement and obscurity, not because he was superannuated (for he knew
how to preside in a college of the prophets,
1 Samuel 19:20),
but because Israel had rejected him, for which God thus justly
chastised them, and because his desire was to be quiet and to enjoy
himself and his God in the exercises of devotion now in his advanced
years, and in this desire God graciously indulged him. Let old people
be willing to rest themselves, though it look like burying themselves
2. Though he was a firm friend to David, for which Saul hated him, as
also for dealing plainly with him, yet he died in peace even in the
worst of the days of the tyranny of Saul, who, he sometimes feared,
would kill him,
1 Samuel 16:2.
Though Saul loved him not, yet he feared him, as Herod did John, and
feared the people, for all knew him to be a prophet. Thus is Saul
restrained from hurting him.
3. All Israel lamented him; and they had reason, for they had all a
loss in him. His personal merits commanded this honour to be done him
at his death. His former services to the public, when he judged Israel,
made this respect to his name and memory a just debt; it would have
been very ungrateful to have withheld it. The sons of the prophets had
lost the founder and president of their college, and whatever weakened
them was a public loss. But that was not all: Samuel was a constant
intercessor for Israel, prayed daily for them,
1 Samuel 12:23.
If he go, they part with the best friend they have. The loss is the
more grievous at this juncture when Saul has grown so outrageous and
David is driven from his country; never more need of Samuel than now,
yet now he is removed. We will hope that the Israelites lamented
Samuel's death the more bitterly because they remembered against
themselves their own sin and folly in rejecting him and desiring a
(1.) Those have hard hearts who can bury their faithful ministers with
dry eyes, who are not sensible of the loss of those who have prayed for
them and taught them the way of the Lord.
(2.) When God's providence removes our relations and friends from us we
ought to be humbled for our misconduct towards them while they were
4. They buried him, not in the school of the prophets at Naioth, but
in his own house (or perhaps in the garden pertaining to it) at Ramah,
where he was born.
5. David, thereupon, went down to the wilderness of Paran, retiring
perhaps to mourn the more solemnly for the death of Samuel. Or, rather,
because now that he had lost so good a friend, who was (and he hoped
would be) a great support to him, he apprehended his danger to be
greater than ever, and therefore withdrew to a wilderness, out of the
limits of the land of Israel; and now it was that he dwelt in the
tents of Kedar,
In some parts of this wilderness of Paran Israel wandered when they
came out of Egypt. The place would bring to mind God's care concerning
them, and David might improve that for his own encouragement, now in
|David Sends to Nabal.
||B. C. 1057.|
2 And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in
Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand
sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in
3 Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife
Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a
beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his
doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.
4 And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his
5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the
young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him
in my name:
6 And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity,
Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace
be unto all that thou hast.
7 And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy
shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there
ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.
8 Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the
young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day:
give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy
servants, and to thy son David.
9 And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal
according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.
10 And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is
David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now
a days that break away every man from his master.
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?
Here begins the story of Nabal.
I. A short account of him, who and what he was
(1 Samuel 25:2,3),
a man we should never have heard of if there had not happened some
communication between him and David. Observe,
1. His name: Nabal--a fool; so it signifies. It was a wonder
that his parents would give him that name and an ill omen of what
proved to be this character. Yet indeed we all of us deserve to be so
called when we come into the world, for man is born like the wild
ass's colt and foolishness is bound up in our hearts.
2. His family: He was of the house of Caleb, but was indeed of another
spirit. He inherited Caleb's estate; for Maon and Carmel lay near
Hebron, which was given to Caleb
but he was far from inheriting his virtues. He was a disgrace to his
family, and then it was no honour to him. Degeneranti genus
opprobrium--A Good extraction is a reproach to him who degenerates from
it. The LXX., and some other ancient versions, read it
appellatively, not, He was a Calebite, but He was a dogged man, of a
currish disposition, surly and snappish, and always snarling. He was
anthropos kynikos--a man that was a cynic.
3. His wealth: He was very great, that is, very rich (for riches make
men look great in the eye of the world), otherwise, to one that takes
his measures aright, he really looked very mean. Riches are common
blessings, which God often gives to Nabals, to whom he gives neither
wisdom nor grace.
4. His wife--Abigail, a woman of great understanding. Her name
signifies, the joy of her father; yet he could not promise
himself much joy of her when he married her to such a husband,
enquiring more after his wealth than after his wisdom. Many a child is
thrown away upon a great heap of the dirt of worldly wealth, married to
that, and to nothing else that is desirable. Wisdom is good with an
inheritance, but an inheritance is good for little without wisdom. Many
an Abigail is tied to a Nabal; and if it be so, be her understanding,
like Abigail's, ever so great, it will be little enough for her
5. His character. He had no sense either of honour or honesty; not of
honour, for he was churlish, cross, and ill-humoured; not of honesty,
for he was evil in his doings, hard and oppressive, and a man that
cared not what fraud and violence he used in getting and saving, so he
could but get and save. This is the character given of Nabal by him who
knows what every man is.
II. David's humble request to him, that he would send him some victuals
for himself and his men.
1. David, it seems, was in such distress that he would be glad to be
beholden to him, and did in effect come a begging to his door. What
little reason have we to value the wealth of this world when so great a
churl as Nabal abounds and so great a saint as David suffers want! Once
before we had David begging his bread, but then it was of Ahimelech the
high priest, to whom one would not grudge to stoop. But to send a
begging to Nabal was what such a spirit as David had could not admit
without some reluctancy; yet, if Providence bring him to these straits,
he will not say that to beg he is ashamed. Yet see
2. He chose a good time to send to Nabal, when he had many hands
employed about him in shearing his sheep, for whom he was to make a
plentiful entertainment, so that good cheer was stirring. Had he sent
at another time, Nabal would have pretended he had nothing to spare,
but now he could not have that excuse. It was usual to make feasts at
their sheep-shearings, as appears by Absalom's feast on that occasion
(2 Samuel 13:24),
for wool was one of the staple commodities of Canaan.
3. David ordered his men to deliver their message to him with a great
deal of courtesy and respect: "Go to Nabal, and greet him in my
name. Tell him I sent you to present my service to him, and to
enquire how he does and his family,"
1 Samuel 25:5.
He puts words in their mouths
(1 Samuel 25:6):
Thus shall you say to him that liveth; our translators add,
in prosperity, as if those live indeed that live as Nabal did,
with abundance of the wealth of this world about them; whereas, in
truth, those thatlive in pleasure are dead while they live,
1 Timothy 5:6.
This was, methinks too high a compliment to pass upon Nabal, to call
him the man that liveth. David knew better things, that in God's
favour is life, not in the world's smiles; and by the rough answer he
was well enough served, for this too smooth address to such a
muck-worm. Yet his good wishes were very commendable. "Peace be to
thee, all good both to soul and body. Peace be to thy house and
to all that thou hast." Tell him I am a hearty well-wisher to his
health and prosperity. He bids them call him his son David
(1 Samuel 25:8),
intimating that, for his age and estate, David honoured him as a
father, and therefore hoped to receive some fatherly kindness from
4. He pleaded the kindness which Nabal's shepherds had received from
David and his men; and one good turn requires another. He appeals to
Nabal's own servants, and shows that when David's soldiers were
quartered among Nabal's shepherds,
(1.) They did not hurt them themselves, did them no injury, gave them
no disturbance, were not a terror to them, nor took any of the lambs
out of the flock. Yet, considering the character of David's men, men in
distress, and debt, and discontented, and the scarcity of provisions in
his camp, it was not without a great deal of care and good management
that they were kept from plundering.
(2.) They protected them from being hurt by others. David himself does
but intimate this, for he would not boast of his good offices:
Neither was there aught missing to them,
1 Samuel 25:7.
But Nabal's servants, to whom he appealed, went further
(1 Samuel 25:16):
They were a wall unto us, both by night and day. David's
soldiers were a guard to Nabal's shepherds when the bands of the
Philistines robbed the threshing-floors
(1 Samuel 23:1)
and would have robbed the sheep-folds. From those plunderers Nabal's
flocks were protected by David's care, and therefore he says, Let us
find favour in thy eyes. Those that have shown kindness may justly
expect to receive kindness.
5. He was very modest in his request. Though David was anointed king,
he insisted not upon royal dainties, but, "Give whatsoever comes to thy
hand, and we will be thankful for it." Beggars must not be choosers.
Those that deserved to have been served first will now be glad of what
is left. They plead, We come in a good day, a festival, when not
only the provision is more plentiful, but the heart and hand are
usually more open and free than at other times, when much may be spared
and yet not be missed. David demands not what he wanted as a debt,
either by way of tribute as he was a king, or by way of contribution as
he was a general, but asks it as a boon to a friend, that was his
humble servant. David's servants delivered their message faithfully
and very handsomely, not doubting but to go back well laden with
III. Nabal's churlish answer to this modest petition,
1 Samuel 25:10,11.
One could not have imagined it possible that any man should be so very
rude and ill-conditioned as Nabal was. David called himself his
son, and asked bread and a fish, but, instead thereof, Nabal
gave him a stone and a scorpion; not only denied him, but abused him.
If he had not thought fit to send him any supplies for fear of
Ahimelech's fate, who paid dearly for his kindness to David; yet he
might have given a civil answer, and made the denial as modest as the
request was. But, instead of that, he falls into a passion, as covetous
men are apt to do when they are 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.
1. He speaks scornfully of David as an insignificant man, not worth
taking notice of. The Philistines could say of him, This is
David the king of the land, that slew his ten thousands
(1 Samuel 21:11),
yet Nabal his near neighbour, and one of the same tribe, affects not to
know him, or not to know him to be a man of any merit or distinction:
Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? He could not be
ignorant how much the country was obliged to David for his public
services, but his narrow soul thinks not of paying any part of that
debt, nor so much as of acknowledging it; he speaks of David as an
inconsiderable man, obscure, and not to be regarded. Think it not
strange if great men and great merits be thus disgraced.
2. He upbraids him with his present distress, and takes occasion from
it to represent him as a bad man, that was fitter to be set in the
stocks for a vagrant than to have any kindness shown him. How naturally
does he speak the churlish clownish language of those that hate to give
alms! There are many servants now-a-days (as if there had been
none such in former days) that break every man from his master,
suggesting that David was one of them himself ("He might have kept his
place with his master Saul, and then he needed not have sent to me for
provisions"), and also that he entertained and harboured those that
were fugitives like himself. It would make one's blood rise to hear so
great and good a man as David thus vilified and reproached by such a
base churl as Nabal. But the vile person will speak villany,
If men bring themselves into straits by their own folly, yet they are
to be pitied and helped, and not trampled upon and starved. But D avid
was reduced to this distress, not by any fault, no, nor any
indiscretion, of his own, but purely by the good services he had done
to his country and the honours which his God had put upon him; and yet
he was represented as a fugitive and runagate. Le t this help us to
bear such reproaches and misrepresentations of us with patience and
cheerfulness, and make us easy under them, that it has often been the
lot of the excellent ones of the earth. Some of the best men that ever
the world was blest with were counted as the off-scouring of all
1 Corinthians 4:13.
3. He insists much upon the property he had in the provisions of his
table, and will by no means admit any body to share in them. "It is my
bread and my flesh, yes, and my water too (though < I>usus communis
aquarum--water is every one's property), and it is prepared
for my shearers," priding himself in it that it was all his own; and
who denied it? Who offered to dispute his title? But this, he thinks,
will justify him in keeping i t all to himself, and giving David none;
for may he not do what he will with his own? Whereas 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 that entrusted us with it.
Riches are ta allotria
they are another's, and we ought not to talk too much of their
being our own.
|Abigail Wise Resolution.
||B. C. 1057.|
12 So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and
came and told him all those sayings.
13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword.
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.
14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying,
Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our
master; and he railed on them.
15 But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt,
neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with
them, when we were in the fields:
16 They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the
while we were with them keeping the sheep.
17 Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil
is determined against our master, and against all his household:
for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to
I. The report made to David of the abuse Nabal had given to his
(1 Samuel 25:12):
They turned their way. They showed their displeasure, as became
them to do, by breaking off abruptly from such a churl, but prudently
governed themselves so well as not to render railing for railing, not
to call him as he deserved, much less to take by force what ought of
right to have been given them, but came and told David that he might do
as he thought fit. Christ's servants, when they are thus abused, must
leave it to him to plead his own cause and wait till he appear in it.
The servant showed his lord what affronts he had received, but did not
II. David's hasty resolution hereupon. He girded on his sword, and
ordered his men to do so too, to the number of 400,
1 Samuel 25:13.
And what he said we are told,
1 Samuel 25:21,22.
1. He repented of the kindness he had done to Nabal, and looked upon it
as thrown away upon him. He said, "surely in vain have I kept all
that this fellow hath in the wilderness. I thought to oblige him
and make him my friend, but I see it is to no purpose. He has no sense
of gratitude, nor is he capable of receiving the impressions of a good
turn, else he could not have used me thus. He hath requited me evil
for good." But, when we are thus requited, we should not repent of
the good we have done, nor be backward to do good another time. God is
kind to the evil and unthankful, and why may not we?
2. He determined to destroy Nabal and all that belonged to him,
1 Samuel 25:22.
Here David did not act like himself. His resolution was bloody, to cut
off all the males of Nabal's house, and spare none, man nor man-child.
The ratification of his resolution was passionate: So, and more also
do to God (he was going to say to me, but that would better
become Saul's mouth,
1 Samuel 14:44,
than David's, and therefore he decently turns it off) to the enemies
of David. Is this thy voice, O David? Can the man after God's own
heart speak thus unadvisedly with his lips? Has he been so long in the
school of affliction, where he should have learned patience, and yet so
passionate? Is this he who used to be dumb and deaf when he was
who but the other day spared him who sought his life, and yet now will
not spare any thing that belongs to him who has only put an affront
upon his messengers? He who at other times used to be calm and
considerate is now put into such a heat by a few hard words that
nothing will atone for them but the blood of a whole family. Lord, what
is man! What are the best of men, when God leaves them to themselves,
to try them, that they may know what is in their hearts? From Saul
David expected injuries, and against those he was prepared and stood
upon his guard, and so kept his temper; but from Nabal he expected
kindness, and therefore the affront he gave him was a surprise to him,
found him off his guard, and, by a sudden and unexpected attack, put
him for the present into disorder. What need have we to pray, Lord,
lead us not into temptation!
III. The account given of this matter to Abigail by one of the
servants, who was more considerate than the rest,
1 Samuel 25:14.
Had this servant spoken to Nabal, and shown him the danger he had
exposed himself to by his own rudeness, he would have said, "Servants
are now-a-days so saucy, and so apt to prescribe, that there is no
enduring them," and, it may be, would have turned him out of doors. But
Abigail, being a woman of good understanding, took cognizance of the
matter, even from her servant, who,
1. Did David justice in commending him and his men for their civility
to Nabal's shepherds,
1 Samuel 25:15,16.
"The men were very good to us, and, though they were themselves
exposed, yet they protected us and were a wall unto us." Those who do
that which is good shall, one way or other, have the praise of the
same. Nabal's own servant will be a witness for David that he is a man
of honour and conscience, whatever Nabal himself says of him. And,
2. He did Nabal no wrong in condemning him for his rudeness to David's
messengers: He railed on them
(1 Samuel 25:14),
he flew upon them (so the word is) with an intolerable rage;
"for," say they, "it is his usual practice,
1 Samuel 25:17.
He is such a son of Belial, so very morose and intractable, that a man
cannot speak to him but he flies into a passion immediately." Abigail
knew it too well herself.
3. He did Abigail and the whole family a kindness in making her
sensible what was likely to be the consequence. He knew David so well
that he had reason to think he would highly resent the affront, and
perhaps had had information of David's orders to his men to march that
way; for he is very positive evil is determined against our master,
and all his household, himself among the rest, would be involved in
it. Therefore he desires his mistress to consider what was to be done
for their common safety. They could not resist the force David would
bring down upon them, nor had they time to send to Saul to protect
them; something therefore must be done to pacify David.
|Abigail Meets David.
||B. C. 1057.|
18 Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and
two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five
measures of parched corn, and a hundred clusters of raisins,
and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.
19 And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I
come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
20 And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down
by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came
down against her; and she met them.
21 Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this
fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of
all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for
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.
23 And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the
ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the
24 And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me
let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee,
speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.
25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial,
even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his
name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the
young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.
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, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now
let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as
27 And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto
my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my
28 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the
LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord
fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in
thee all thy days.
29 Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but
the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the
LORD thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling
out, as out of the middle of a sling.
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, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;
31 That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart
unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that
my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt
well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.
We have here an account of Abigail's prudent management for the
preserving of her husband and family from the destruction that was just
coming upon them; and we find that she did her part admirably well and
fully answered her character. The passion of fools often makes those
breaches in a little time which the wise, with all their wisdom, have
much ado to make up again. It is hard to say whether Abigail was more
miserable in such a husband or Nabal happy in such a wife. A
virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, to protect as well as
adorn, and will do him good and not evil. Wisdom in such a case
as this was better than weapons of war.
1. It was her wisdom that what she did she did quickly, and without
delay; she made haste,
1 Samuel 25:18.
It was no time to trifle or linger when all was in danger. Those that
desire conditions of peace must send when the enemy is yet a great way
2. It was her wisdom that what she did she did herself, because, being
a woman of great prudence and very happy address, she knew better how
to manage it than any servant she had. The virtuous woman will herself
look well to the ways of her household, and not devolve this
duty wholly upon others.
Abigail must endeavour to atone for Nabal's faults. Now he had been in
two ways rude to David's messengers, and in them to David: He had
denied them the provisions they asked for, and he had given them very
provoking language. Now,
I. By a most generous present, Abigail atones for his denial of their
request. If Nabal had given them what came next to hand, they would
have gone away thankful; but Abigail prepares the very best the house
afforded and abundance of it
(1 Samuel 25:18),
according to the usual entertainments of those times, not only
bread and flesh, but raisins and figs,
which were their dried sweet-meats. Nabal grudged them water,
but she took two bottles (casks or rundlets)
loaded her asses with these provisions, and sent them before; for a
gift pacifieth anger,
Jacob thus pacified Esau. When the instruments of the churl are
evil, the liberal devises liberal things, and loses nothing by it;
for by liberal things shall he stand,
Abigail not only lawfully, but laudably, disposed of all these goods of
her husband's without his knowledge (even when she had reason to think
that if he had known what she did he would not have consented to it),
because it was not to gratify her own pride or vanity, but for the
necessary defence of him and his family. which otherwise would have
been inevitably ruined. Husbands and wives, for their common good and
benefit, have a joint-interest in their worldly possessions; but if
either waste, or unduly spend in any way, it is a robbing of the
II. By a most obliging demeanour, and charming speech, she atones for
the abusive language which Nabal had given them. She met David upon the
march, big with resentment, and meditating the destruction of Nabal
(1 Samuel 25:20);
but with all possible expressions of complaisance and respect she
humbly begs his favour, and solicits him to pass by the offence. Her
demeanour was very submissive: She bowed herself to the ground
(1 Samuel 25:23)
and fell at his feet,
1 Samuel 25:24.
Yielding pacifies great offences. She put herself into the place and
posture of a penitent and of a petitioner, and was not ashamed to do
it, when it was for the good of her house, in the sight both of her own
servants and of David's soldiers. She humbly begs of David that he will
give her the hearing: Let thy handmaid speak in thy audience.
But she needed not thus to bespeak his attention and patience; what she
said was sufficient to command it, for certainly nothing could be more
fine nor more moving. No topic of argument is left untouched; every
thing is well placed and well expressed, most pertinently and
pathetically urged, and improved to the best advantage, with such a
force of natural rhetoric as cannot easily be paralleled.
1. She speaks to him all along with the deference and respect due to so
great and good a man, calls him My lord, over and over, to
expiate her husband's crime in saying, "Who is David?" She does not
upbraid him with the heat of his passion, though he deserved to be
reproved for it; nor does she tell him how ill it became his character;
but endeavours to soften him and bring him to a better temper, not
doubting but that then his own conscience would upbraid him with
2. She takes the blame of the ill-treatment of his messengers upon
herself: "Upon me, my lord, upon me, let this iniquity be,
1 Samuel 25:24.
If thou wilt be angry, be angry with me, rather than with my poor
husband, and look upon it as the trespass of thy handmaid,"
1 Samuel 25:28.
Sordid spirits care not how much others suffer for their faults, while
generous spirits can be content to suffer for the faults of others.
Abigail here discovered the sincerity and strength of her conjugal
affection and concern for her family: whatever Nabal was, he was her
3. She excuses her husband's fault by imputing it to his natural
weakness and want of understanding
(1 Samuel 25:25):
"Let not my lord take notice of his rudeness and ill manners,
for it is like him; it is not the first time that he has behaved so
churlishly; he must be borne with, for it is for want of wit: Nabal
is his name" (which signifies a fool), "and folly is with
him. It was owing to his folly, not his malice. He is simple, but
not spiteful. Forgive him, for he knows not what he does." What she
said was too true, and she said it to excuse his fault and prevent his
ruin, else she would not have done well to give such a bad character as
this of her own husband, whom she ought to make the best of, and not to
speak ill of.
4. She pleads her own ignorance of the matter: "I saw not the young
men, else they should have had a better answer, and should not have
gone without their errand," intimating hereby that though her husband
was foolish, and unfit to manage his affairs himself, yet he had so
much wisdom as to be ruled by her and take her advice.
5. She takes it for granted that she has gained her point already,
perhaps perceiving, by David's countenance, that he began to change his
(1 Samuel 25:26):
Seeing the Lord hath withholden thee. She depends not upon her
own reasonings, but God's grace, to mollify him, and doubts not but
that grace would work powerfully upon him; and then, "Let all thy
enemies be as Nabal, that is, if thou forbear to avenge thyself, no
doubt God will avenge thee on him, as he will on all thy other
enemies." Or it intimates that it was below him to take vengeance on so
weak and impotent an enemy as Nabal was, who, as he would do him no
kindness, so he could do him no hurt, for he needed to wish no more
concerning his enemies than that they might be as unable to resist him
as Nabal was. Perhaps she refers to his sparing Saul, when, but the
other day, he had him at his mercy. "Didst thou forbear to avenge
thyself on that lion that would devour thee, and wilt thou shed the
blood of this dog that can but bark at thee?" The very mentioning of
what he was about to do, to shed blood and to avenge himself, was
enough to work upon such a tender gracious spirit as David had; and it
should seem, by his reply
(1 Samuel 25:33),
that it affected him.
6. She makes a tender of the present she had brought, but speaks of it
as unworthy of David's acceptance, and therefore desires it may be
given to the young men that followed him
(1 Samuel 25:27),
and particularly to those ten that were his messengers to Nabal, and
whom he had treated so rudely.
7. She applauds David for the good services he had done against the
common enemies of his country, the glory of which great achievements,
she hoped, he would not stain by any personal revenge: "My lord
fighteth the battles of the Lord against the Philistines, and
therefore he will leave it to God to fight his battles against those
that affront him,
1 Samuel 25:28.
Evil has not been found in thee all thy days. Thou never yet
didst wrong to any of thy countrymen (though persecuted as a traitor),
and therefore thou wilt not begin now, nor do a thing which Saul will
improve for the justifying of his malice against thee."
8. She foretels the glorious issue of his present troubles. "It is true
a man pursues thee and seeks thy life" (she names not
Saul, out of respect to his present character as king), "but thou
needest not look with so sharp and jealous an eye upon every one that
affronts thee;" for all these storms that now ruffle thee will be blown
over shortly. She speaks it with assurance,
(1.) That God would keep him safe: The soul of my lord shall be
bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God, that is, God
shall hold thy soul in life (as the expression is,
as we hold those things which are bundled up or which are precious to
Thy soul shall be treasured up in the treasure of lives (so the
Chaldee), under lock and key as our treasure is. "Thou shalt abide
under the special protection of the divine providence." The bundle
of life is with the Lord our God, for in his hand our breath is,
and our times. Those are safe, and may be easy, that have him for their
protector. The Jews understand this not only of the life that now
is, but of that which is to come, even the happiness of
separate souls, and therefore use it commonly as an inscription on
their gravestones. "Here we have laid the body, but trust that the
soul is bound up in the bundle of life, with the Lord our God."
There it is safe, while the dust of the body is scattered.
(2.) That God would make him victorious over his enemies. Their souls
he shall sling out,
1 Samuel 25:29.
The stone is bound up in the sling, but it is in order to be thrown out
again; so the souls of the godly shall be bundled as corn for the barn,
but the souls of the wicked as tares for the fire.
(3.) That God would settle him in wealth and power: "The Lord will
certainly make my lord a sure house, and no enemy thou hast can
hinder it; therefore forgive this trespass," that is, "show
mercy, as thou hopest to find mercy. God will make thee great, and it
is the glory of great men to pass by offences."
9. She desires him to consider how much more comfortable it would be to
him in the reflection to have forgiven this affront than to have
1 Samuel 25:30,31.
She reserves this argument for the last, as a very powerful one 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, which every wise man
will be tender of.
(1.) She cannot but think that if he should avenge himself it would
afterwards be a grief and an offence of heart to him, 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.
(2.) She is confident that if he pass by the offence it will afterwards
by no grief to him; but, on the contrary, it would yield him
unspeakable satisfaction that his wisdom and grace had got the better
of his passion. Note, When we are tempted to sin we should consider how
it will appear in the reflection. Let us never do any thing for which
our own consciences will afterwards have occasion to upbraid us, and
which we shall look back upon with regret: My heart shall not
10. She recommends herself to his favour: When the Lord shall have
dealt well with my lord, then remember thy handmaid, as one that
kept thee from doing that which would have disgraced thy honour,
disquieted thy conscience, and made a blot in thy history. We have
reason to remember those with respect and gratitude who have been
instrumental to keep us from sin.
|David Blesses Abigail.
||B. C. 1057.|
32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of
Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:
33 And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which
hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from
avenging myself with mine own hand.
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 any that pisseth against the wall.
35 So David received of her hand that which she had brought
him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I
have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.
As an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise
reprover upon an obedient ear,
Abigail was a wise reprover of David's passion, and he gave an obedient
ear to the reproof, according to his own principle
Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness. Never was
such an admonition either better given or better taken.
I. David gives God thanks for sending him this happy check to a sinful
(1 Samuel 25:32):
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent thee this day to meet
1. God is to be acknowledged in all the kindnesses that our friends do
us either for soul or body. Whoever meet us with counsel, direction,
comfort, caution, or seasonable reproof, we must see God sending them.
2. We ought to be very thankful for those happy providences which are
means of preventing sin.
II. He gives Abigail thanks for interposing so opportunely between him
and the mischief he was about to do: Blessed be thy advice, and
blessed be thou,
1 Samuel 25:33.
Most people think it enough if they take a reproof patiently, but we
meet with few that will take it thankfully and will commend those that
give it to them and accept it as a favour. Abigail did not rejoice
more that she had been instrumental to save her husband and family from
death than David did that Abigail had been instrumental to save him and
his men from sin.
III. He seems very apprehensive of the great danger he was in, which
magnified the mercy of his deliverance.
1. He speaks of the sin as very great. He was coming to shed blood, a
sin of which when in his right mind he had a great horror, witness his
prayer, Deliver me from blood-guiltiness. He was coming to
avenge himself with his own hand, and that would be stepping
into the throne of God, who has said, Vengeance is mine; I will
repay. The more heinous any sin is the greater mercy it is to be
kept from it. He seems to aggravate the evil of his design with this,
that it would have been an injury to so wise and good a woman as
Abigail: God has kept me back from hurting thee,
1 Samuel 25:34.
Or perhaps, at the first sight of Abigail, he was conscious of a
thought to do her a mischief for offering to oppose him, and therefore
reckons it a great mercy that God gave him patience to hear her speak.
2. He speaks of the danger of his falling into it as very imminent:
"Except thou hadst hasted, the bloody execution had been done."
The nearer we were to the commission of sin the greater was the mercy
of a seasonable restraint--Almost gone
and yet upheld.
IV. He dismissed her with an answer of peace,
1 Samuel 25:35.
He does, in effect, own himself overcome by her eloquence: "I have
hearkened to thy voice, and will not prosecute the intended
revenge, for I have accepted thy person, am well pleased with
thee and what thou hast said." Note,
1. Wise and good men will hear reason, and let that rule them, though
it come from those that are every way their inferiors, and though their
passions are up and their spirits provoked.
2. Oaths cannot, bind us to that which is sinful. David had solemnly
vowed the death of Nabal. He did evil to make such a vow, but he would
have done worse if he had performed it.
3. A wise and faithful reproof is often better taken, and speeds
better, than we expected, such is the hold God has of men's
|David Marries Abigail.
||B. C. 1057.|
36 And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in
his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal's heart was
merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told
him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.
37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone
out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his
heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD
smote Nabal, that he died.
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: for the
LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And
David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.
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.
41 And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth,
and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the
feet of the servants of my lord.
42 And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with
five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the
messengers of David, and became his wife.
43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both
of them his wives.
44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to
Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.
We are now to attend Nabal's funeral and Abigail's wedding.
I. Nabal's funeral. The apostle speaks of some that were twice
We have hare Nabal thrice dead, though but just now wonderfully
rescued from the sword of David and delivered from so great a death;
for the preservations of wicked men are but reservations for some
further sorer strokes of divine wrath. Here is,
1. Nabal dead drunk,
1 Samuel 25:36.
Abigail came home, and, it should seem, he had so many people and so
much plenty about him that he neither missed her nor the provisions she
took to David; but she found him in the midst of his jollity, little
thinking how near he was to ruin by one whom he had foolishly made his
enemy. Sinners are often most secure when they are most in danger and
destruction is at the door. Observe,
(1.) How extravagant he was in the entertainment of his company: He
held a feast like the feast of a king, so magnificent and abundant,
though his guests were but his sheep-shearers. This abundance might
have been allowed if he had considered what God gave him his estate
for, not to look great with, but to do good with. It is very common for
those that are most niggardly in any act of piety or charity to be most
profuse in gratifying a vain humour or a base lust. A mite is grudged
to God and his poor; but, to make a fair show in the flesh, gold is
lavished out of the bag. If Nabal had not answered to his name, he
would never have been thus secure and jovial, till he had enquired
whether he was safe from David's resentments; but (as bishop Hall
observes) thus foolish are carnal men, that give themselves over to
their pleasures before they have taken any care to make their peace
(2.) How sottish he was in the indulgence of his own brutish appetite:
He was very drunk, a sign he was Nabal, a fool, that
could not use his plenty without abusing it, 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 ruin the
little he has, than drinking to excess. Nabal, that never thought he
could bestow too little in charity, never thought he could bestow too
much in luxury. Abigail, finding him in this condition (and probably
those about him little better, when the master of the feast set them so
bad an example), had enough to do to set the disordered house to-rights
a little, but told Nabal nothing of what she had done with reference to
David, nothing of his folly in provoking David, of his danger or of his
deliverance, for, being drunk, he was as incapable to hear reason as he
was to speak it. To give good advice to those that are in drink is to
cast pearls before swine; it is better to stay till they are
2. Nabal again dead with melancholy,
1 Samuel 25:37.
Next morning, when he had come to himself a little, his wife told him
how near to destruction he had brought himself and his family by his
own rudeness, and with what difficulty she had interposed to prevent
it; and, upon this, his heart died within him and he became as a
stone. Some suggest that the expense of the satisfaction made to
David, by the present Abigail brought him, broke his heart: it seems
rather that the apprehension he now had of the danger he had narrowly
escaped put him into a consternation, and seized his spirits so that he
could not recover it. He grew sullen, and said little, ashamed of his
own folly, put out of countenance by his wife's wisdom. How is he
changed! His heart over-night merry with wine, next morning heavy as a
stone; so deceitful are carnal pleasures, so transient the laughter of
the fool. The end of that mirth is heaviness. Drunkards are
sometimes sad when they reflect upon their own folly. Joy in God makes
the heart always light. Abigail could never, by her wise reasonings,
bring Nabal to repentance; but now, by her faithful reproof, she brings
him to despair.
3. Nabal, at last, dead indeed: About ten days after, when he
had been kept so long under this pressure and pain, the Lord smote
him that he died
(1 Samuel 25:38),
and, it should seem, he never held up his head; it is just with God
(says bishop Hall) that those who live without grace should die without
comfort, nor can we expect better while we go on in our sins. Here is
no lamentation made for Nabal. He departed without being lamented.
Every one wished that the country might never sustain a greater loss.
David, when he heard the news of his death, gave God
thanks for it,
1 Samuel 25:39.
He blessed God,
(1.) That he had kept him from killing him: Blessed be the lord, who
hath kept his servant from evil. He rejoices that Nabal died a
natural death and not by his hand. We should take all occasions to
mention and magnify God's goodness to us in keeping us from sin.
(2.) That he had taken the work into his own hands, and had vindicated
David's honour, and not suffered him to go unpunished who had been
abusive to him; hereby his interest would be confirmed, and all would
stand in awe of him, as one for whom God fought.
(3.) That he had thereby encouraged him and all others to commit their
cause to God, when they are in any way injured, with an assurance that,
in his own time, he will redress their wrongs if they sit still and
leave the matter to him.
II. Abigail's wedding. David was so charmed with the beauty of her
person, and the uncommon prudence of her conduct and address, that, as
soon as was convenient, after he heard she was a widow, he informed her
of his attachment to her
(1 Samuel 25:39),
not doubting but that she who approved herself so good a wife to so bad
a husband as Nabal would much more make a good wife to him, and having
taken notice of her respect to him and her confidence of his coming to
1. He courted by proxy, his affairs, perhaps, not permitting him to
2. She received the address with great modesty and humility
(1 Samuel 25:41),
reckoning herself unworthy of the honour, yet having such a respect for
him that she would gladly be one of the poorest servants of his family,
to wash the feet of the other servants. None so fit to be preferred as
those that can thus humble themselves.
3. She agreed to the proposal, went with his messenger, took a retinue
with her agreeable to her quality, and she became his wife,
1 Samuel 25:42.
She did not upbraid him with his present distresses, and ask him how he
could maintain her, but valued him,
(1.) Because she knew he was a very good man.
(2.) Because she believed he would, in due time, be a very great man.
She married him in faith, not questioning but that, though now he had
not a house of his own that he durst bring her to, yet God's promise go
him would at length be fulfilled. Thus those who join themselves to
Christ must be willing now to suffer with him, believing that hereafter
they shall reign with him.
Lastly, On this occasion we have some account of David's wives.
1. One that he had lost before he married Abigail, Michal, Saul's
daughter, his first, and the wife of his youth, to whom he would have
been constant if she would have been so to him, but Saul had given her
(1 Samuel 25:44),
in token of his displeasure against him and disclaiming the relation of
a father-in-law to him.
2. Another that he married besides Abigail
(1 Samuel 25:43),
and, as should seem, before her, for she is named first,
1 Samuel 27:3.
David was carried away by the corrupt custom of those times; but from
the beginning it was not so, nor is it so now that Messias has come,
and the times of reformation,
Perhaps Saul's defrauding David of his only rightful wife was the
occasion of his running into this irregularity; for, when the knot of
conjugal affection is once loosed, it is scarcely ever tied fast again.
When David could not keep his first wife he thought that would excuse
him if he did not keep to his second. But we deceive ourselves if we
think to make others' faults a cloak for our own.