I Samuel 25

Let the believer be encouraged to commit his cause to God when in any way injured,
being assured that in His own good time God will redress the wrongs in His own way if we but sit still and leave the matter to Him.

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.

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 Carmel.

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 sheep.

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?

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 him.

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 an 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 good.

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 ground,

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 Nabal.

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 lord.

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.

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.

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.

1 Samuel 25:1

The death of a good man is a serious loss at any time, but to Israel, governed by a cruel, wayward king, Samuel’s death was cause for special lamentation. His holy life, his fearless denunciation of wrong, his self-sacrifice for the people’s welfare, and especially his power in intercessory prayer, made him one of the most important national assets. Let us so live that we may be missed when we go home!

1 Samuel 25:2-17 – A Rich Man’s Churlishness

   This Carmel was a city in the mountains of Judah, ten miles south of Hebron. See Joshua 15:55. Though a descendant of Caleb, Nabal had none of that hero’s spirit. He had great wealth, but little wit. Today the Arab tribe which guards the shepherd or caravan, or restrains itself from plundering, expects some acknowledgment. It was unfair that the rich sheep-master should take all the advantage and make no return, and altogether too bad to cap injustice with a coarse jest. Nabal’s shepherds were quite explicit in their testimony to the benefits they had received, I Samuel 25:7, 15-16. His jibes and churlishness justified the general estimate entertained by those who knew him best.
   For David to take the sword to avenge the insult stands out in striking contrast to Him who, “when he was reviled, reviled not again” (1 Peter 2:23). Revenge for an insult where one has personally suffered has no place in Christ’s teaching, and is separated by a whole heaven from the magisterial use of the sword referred to in Romans 13:4. In after-years, David must have been very thankful for the interposition, through Abigail, of God’s grace that arrested his hand. See Romans 12:17.

1 Samuel 25:18-31 – A Wise Woman’s Plea

   What a contrast between the sordid Nabal and his beautiful wife—as lovely in disposition as in face! What a terrible trial for such a woman to be united with a man of whom his servant did not hesitate to speak to his wife in the words of I Samuel 25:17! With what admirable tact did Abigail treat the whole situation! She did not talk to her husband while he was drunk; she took the matter in hand without a moment’s delay and marshaled her arguments with commendable sagacity.
   It is a blessed partnership when husband and wife are so united that they are animated by a common purpose; but where this is not the case, let not the evil disposition of the one hinder the devotion and grace of the other. In the home-life, as in redemption, where sin abounds, grace should much more abound, that where the former reigns unto death, the latter may reign in life, Romans 5:21. Never let the difficulties of your home lead you to abdicate your throne. Do not step down to the level of your circumstances, but lift these to your own high calling in Jesus Christ. “Be not conformed …be ye transformed” (Romans 12:1-2).

I Samuel 25:31—This shall be no grief unto thee.

   There was an inimitable blending of woman’s wit with worldly prudence in the words of the beautiful Abigail. Poor woman, she had had a sorry life of it, mated to such a man as Nabal was! An ill assorted pair certainly, though probably she had had no hand in bringing about the alliance. Like so many Eastern women, she was the creature of another’s act and choice. But she succeeded in averting the blow which David was hasting to inflict, by asserting her belief that the time was not far distant when he would no longer be a fugitive from his foes, and by suggesting that when that happy time came it would be a relief to feel that he had not allowed himself to be carried to all lengths by his hot passion.
   It was very salutary advice. Let us always look at things from the view point of the future, when our passion shall have subsided, when time shall have cooled us, and especially when we review the present from the verge of the other world how then?
   We can well afford to do this since God is with us, and our life is bound up with Him in the bundle of life. Abigail reminded David that God would do to him all the good of which He had spoken, and would sling out his enemies as from a sling. So God will do for us; not one good thing will fail of all that He hath promised; no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper. Within a little, Nabal was dead and David’s wrong righted; so shall the evil that now molests us pass away. God will deal with it. Let us leave it to Him: before Him mountains shall melt like wax; and we shall have nothing to regret.

1 Samuel 25:32-44 – The End of Selfish Indulgence

   The lowly obeisance of this beautiful woman at the young soldier’s feet, her frank confession of the injustice done him, her thankfulness that he had been withheld from hasty vengeance, her appreciation of his desire to fight only as a soldier of the Lord, brought David back to his best self.
   What a revelation is here given of the agencies by which God seeks to turn us from our evil ways! And, above all, those that enter our lives as sweet human ministries are those arresting influences of the Holy Spirit, pleading with us, striving against our passion and selfishness, and calling us to a nobler, better life. Blessed Spirit, come down more often by the covert of the hill, and stay us in our mad career. Let us not press past thee to take our own wild way, and we shall review thy gracious arrest with ceaseless gratitude.
   The idyll ended happily. Nabal died in an apoplectic fit, caused by his debauch and anger. Then David made proposals of marriage to the woman to whom he owed so much, and she gracefully but humbly accepted, declaring herself unworthy. I Samuel 25:35 is our Lord’s answer to every soul that casts itself upon Him, and every such soul becomes married to Him, when the former husband is dead. See Romans 7:4.