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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 25

Verses 1-44

David and Abigail (25:1-44)

The first verse is probably editorial, reporting the death of Samuel. David remained an exile in the south in the neighborhood of Ziph and Maon. The Carmel here mentioned is not the place later associated with Elijah (1 Kings 18:20-40), but a place now located as "Kermel" in this southern area. Nabal, a rich man noted for his meanness, was holding his sheepshearing festival (compare Genesis 38:12). He is described as a Calebite, a member of a clan incorporated in the complex tribe of Judah. David’s band had apparently been of service in protecting from marauders Nabal’s flock, with its valuable wool, and now David sent his young men to ask for provisions in return for this protection. Apparently Nabal’s own young men supported David’s claim. Nabal, however, refused, and refused in a churlish way. David, angered at this attitude, set out with part of his band to annihilate the Calebite and his household.

Meanwhile one of Nabal’s young men had reported the affair to Abigail, Nabal’s wife, as beautiful and sensible as Nabal was churlish and mean. This servant gave credit to David for his unofficial protection of her husband’s flocks and warned Abigail against the impending disaster. She at once gathered a quantity of provisions and sent them on ahead by the servant, she herself following to meet David. In pleading with the Israelite hero, she made play on Nabal’s name which means "fool" and showed herself a mistress of words, contending that the annihilation of Nabal and his household would be a rash act that would recoil on David’s own head. She maintained that David was fighting in the cause of the Lord, and would therefore be protected and his life preserved; his life would be "bound in the bundle of the living" under God’s care. This is no reference to immortality but to God’s providential care in this mortal life. Because David was God’s servant, he must not soil his soul by taking justice into his own hands and carrying it on his conscience. He was appointed prince over Israel by the Lord and must leave justice to him. This David had already done in the case of Saul at Engedi.

David recognized the justice of Abigail’s plea, once more revealing his superiority to the normal standard of conduct of his contemporaries. Abigail had been sent by God, and David had been restrained from bloodguilt. Abigail returned home, and, on her report to Nabal of what had transpired, the latter had what appears to have been a stroke following his bout of drunkenness. Nabal’s death was interpreted by David as an indication of the Tightness of his conduct in leaving his cause in the hands of the Lord. He claimed Abigail as his wife, remembering the plea she had herself made and also undoubtedly because of the personal impression she had made on him. Saul had already given Michal, David’s first wife, to another.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Samuel 25". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/1-samuel-25.html.