Prayer: Psalm 25:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Theme: David was still being shaped by God, and in this episode he learned much from Nabal, himself, Abigail, and God. Like David, must learn in God’s school.
1 What David Learned From Nabal (1 Samuel 25:1-12)
1a Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.
1b Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. 2 And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. 4 David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5 So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. 6 And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’ ” 9 When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited.
10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 11 Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” 12 So David’s young men turned away and came back and told him all this.
- 1 We first learn that Samuel died. It does not tell us how. It does not make make much of it, only that Israel assembled and mourned for him, even though they hardly listened to him.
- There are lessons in the mention of Samuel’s death, for he was a great man—born as an answer to Israel’s spiritual apathy, he served as the conscience of the nation. But when God’s servants die, God continues to work. There is only one death that yields, and that is the death of Christ.
- But Samuel was a strong support to David. Now, that support is gone.
- 1-8 David, trying to provide for his six hundred men while in the wilderness of Paran, appealed to a man named Nabal, a rancher who was very rich (Job started with 7,000 sheep, so Nabal’s 3,000 are fairly impressive). Apparently, David had been a protective for for Nabal’s shepherds, for not only did David’s men do them no harm, they also kept the Philistines away so that they missed nothing.
- 10-11 Nabal was unimpressed, asking, ”Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters.” His answer betrays the fact he knew exactly who David was, and that he was on Team Saul.
- 11 Nabal objected to giving his bread, his water, and his meat to give it to David.
12 David’s young men brought the message to David. There were ten of them (5), so David must have expected quite a haul, a customary tip for the help he’d provided Nabal!
1 Little Sauls are everywhere in life.
- 3 Nabal: means ‘fool’, a name he had earned over the years.
- 3 Even though he was a Calebite, he was harsh and badly behaved.
- He was like a miniature Saul.
- 2 Not everyone will believe in or be pleased with you.
- 10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters.
- You cannot please everyone. The moment you start following God, you will be displeasing to someone.
- David would have to deal with people’s displeasure as king (see 2 Samuel 20:1).
- But you are in good company, for even God was addressed this way by Pharaoh. Not everyone is pleased with God!
- Exodus 5:2 (ESV) — 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
- 3 Power goes to the heads of many.
- 11 Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”: “My, my, my…” Nabal was confused about his wealth. He was a steward of it, but it didn’t really belong to him. God had made him wealthy so that, in part, he could feed David and his men.
- 1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) — 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
- 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) — 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
2 What David Learned From Himself (1 Samuel 25:13-22)
13 And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.
14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17 Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” 18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. 19 And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 And as she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, behold, David and his men came down toward her, and she met them.
21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. 22 God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”
- 13 David, the man who had extended grace to Saul, commanded four hundred of his men to strap on their swords. The plan? To kill every male of all who belonged to Nabal.
- 14-17 But one of the young servants of Nabal told Abigail what had happened. He even took a risk, saying that Nabal was such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.
18-20 Abigail made haste, quickly assembling a gift of supplies with which to appease David, sending them ahead of herself. She went out to meet David, but did not tell her husband.
- But David almost lost himself here. The future king of Israel cannot go around lopping off the heads of people who don’t pay proper tribute.
1 There is no quitting time for the enemy.
- He had concentrated and prayed through Saul, but was not prepared for Nabal.
- Ephesians 6:11 (HCSB) — 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.
- Example: Major concentration and effort for your work, but then you let your guard down once off duty.
- 2 The big battles might manifest themselves in smaller struggles.
- It seems obvious to the reader that David is releasing some suppressed anger towards Saul onto Nabal.
- Examples: Boss/spouse, Father/boyfriend, Disappointments/authority figures, Pressures/kids
- Colossians 3:5 (HCSB) — 5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.
- Big battle: Greed, which is idolatry, a total lack of contentment, desires to have that which is not yours.
- Smaller struggles: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desire.
- 3 We need the Lord’s help 24/7.
- This man, who has endured the constant dripping of persecution from his father-in-law, loses it when challenged by a fool like Nabal.
- Part of David was surrendered to God, but part of him was still flesh.
- Psalm 34:17 (NLT) — 17 The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.
- Psalm 46:1 (ESV) — 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
- Cling to God!
- Proverbs 16:18 (The Message) — 18 First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
4 What David Learned From Abigail (1 Samuel 25:23-35)
23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25 Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. 26 Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. 27 And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28a Please forgive the trespass of your servant.
28b For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29 If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30 And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31 my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”
32 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! 34 For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” 35 Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”
- 23-25 Abigail fell before David on her face once she saw him, bowing to the ground. With humility, at his feet, she took the guilt of Nabal, explaining that his name, which means ‘fool’, was fitting, and that she did not see the young men of David.
- 25 Folly: Unthankful (10). Greedy (11). Unapproachable (17). Evil for good (21). Drunkard (36).
- 26-28a She then asked David to accept the present she had brought, and to forgive the trespass of his servant.
28b-31 Abigail then prophesied over David, demonstrating she was most firmly on Team David.
- 28 God would make David a sure house.
- 28-29 Though David fought the battles of the LORD, his life would be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD.
- 29 David’s enemies would be slung out as from the hollow of a sling.
- 28-31 In all this, David’s conscience would be clean, without cause of grief or evil found in him. He would not be guilty of having shed blood without cause or working salvation for himself.
1 The value of godly support.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9 (ESV) — 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
- She brought out the best in him.
- She made up for his weaknesses.
- Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) — 17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
- 2 The value of a wise reprover.
- Proverbs 25:12 (ESV) — 12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
4 What David Learned From God
36 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, 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. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37 In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38 And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died. 39a When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.”
39b Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” 41 And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42 And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife. 43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. 44 Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.
- 36-38 When Abigail returned to Nabal, she found him holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. He was very drunk, so she told him nothing of what she’d done until the morning. When he heard, he had a stroke (or something like a stroke) and became as a stone, dying ten days later when the LORD struck him.
39-44 Though awkward to the modern reader, it is meant to be seen as a beautiful turn of events when David proposes to Abigail to take her as his wife. She accepted his proposal and became a servant to David, along with five young women who attended her.
- 44 The note is given that Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, effectively ending David’s first marriage (although this would not be permanent).
- The Bible tells the truth about its characters, and it records that some good men gave into it even though it contradicted the law of God and the law of nature.
- The Bible does not paint polygamy in a positive light. In fact, it is a great textbook showing the error of it.
- Additionally, polygamy is an example of what the progressive revelation of God’s word does to humans. The brighter the revelation from God, the better the person God’s word shapes.
- Target: Ephesians 5:33 (ESV) — 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
- Brought back to the garden: Ephesians 5:31 (ESV) — 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
1 He is our defense.
- He didn’t have to fight Nabal. He didn’t have to fight Saul.
- David had to fight the LORD’s battles, not his own.
- Matthew 6:33 (ESV) — 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- 2 He works to restrain us from evil.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) — 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.