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I Samuel 25-27 Listen
A good man dies (I Samuel 25:1)
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.
Samuel died. All Israel mourns. He does not get to see David actually crowned King of Israel, but his work is done. David then moves south into 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.
David's feisty rag-tag army needed some provisions. They came upon a rich man, Nabal (the Hebrew word for his name means stupid, foolish, wicked), but he was quite selfish, foolish and worthless...and that's just what his wife said about him.The KJV term in verse 25 "man of Belial" literally means a worthless man; it's not a reference to an Old Testament deity. His refusal to assist David could have been his undoing; after refusing David and his men, he was just about to receive an unpleasant social call from the heavily-armed David and his main men (verse 13), when Nabal's wife, Abigail, comes out to meet David and his men with ample provisions - no social call necessary.
Abigail was the voice of reason here. She didn't just save her husband's life (though only temporarily), she also saved David from doing something that he might regret in the future. This is the point she makes in verse 31. This reasoning strikes a tone with David.
Abigail waits to tell her husband how she had saved him from an action-packed evening until the next morning when he sobers up from his wild party the preceding night. The news petrifies him - literally; he has what appears to be a stroke (verse 37) which leads to his death ten days later. In verse 34, David credits Abigail with saving the lives of the males back on Nabal's ranch. Incidentally, the King James phrase describing "males" in verse 34 is an accurate rendering of exactly how the Hebrew expression is worded. David takes Abigail as his second wife. Ahinoam (verse 43) of Jezreel apparently preceded her as his wife (mother of David's firstborn, Amnon); David had lost his first wife (verse 44), Michal (Saul's daughter), after Saul took her back and gave her away to someone else. Oh, well! You win some; you lose some. Apparently Saul wanted to make certain that David had no claim to his throne through his daughter. It should be noted that, while the giving of a daughter to another as his wife constitutes an oath, Saul had a history of violating oaths. Incidentally, David demands the return of his wife, Michal, after the death of Saul...and gets her back in II Samuel 3 (see notes).
We may have a difficult time justifying David's actions in this incident. As a matter of fact, David's point that he did not attack Nabal's hired hands while they were watching his cattle may almost seem similar to tactics used by organized crime when they extort money from merchants in exchange for "protection." Let's make some relevant observations here. First of all, David had been anointed King of Israel by God's servant (Samuel) himself, a fact that Abigail seems to fully recognize by her comments in verse 28. Furthermore, Nabal was not a God-fearing man. His wife's reference to him as a "man of Belial" (verse 25) indicates that he had no redeeming social qualities. The transliterated-Hebrew-word "Belial" literally means worthless and evil. Furthermore, David even expresses in verses 33 and 39 that his own motivations might have been something less than noble...way less than noble. However, let's not lose sight of this fact: God supernaturally took care of it. As a matter of fact, God used Abigail and a supernatural stroke to prevent David from doing something that he may have regretted later on, a point that Abigail makes to David in verse 31. Abigail must be commended for her smooth negotiations in this matter.
1 And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?
2 Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
3 And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness.
4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.
5 And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him.
6 Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee.
7 So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him.
8 Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.
9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless?
10 David said furthermore, As the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.
11 The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
12 So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them.
13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them:
14 And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?
15 And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.
16 This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the LORD’S anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.
17 And Saul knew David’s voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king.
18 And he said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?
19 Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.
20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.
21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.
22 And David answered and said, Behold the king’s spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it.
23 The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed.
24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.
25 Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
Here come the Ziphites; those tattletales who had disclosed to Saul David's whereabouts in I Samuel 23:19 (see notes) are at it again here in verse 1. Didn't Saul just say that he would not pursue David's death anymore back in I Samuel 24 (see notes)? Well, he changed his mind; did I mention that Saul wasn't very good at keeping oaths. He simply did not have the respect for oaths/vows that his forefathers did. He takes his 3,000-man army and heads out after David once again. The mission is simple: Kill David!
While Saul's army sleeps, David and Abishai go right down into Saul's camp - right into the middle where Saul is sleeping. Saul's spear (which he freely throws around at various family members from time to time) was stuck in the ground right beside his head along with his jar of water. Nobody awakened because "a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them" (verse 12). As they stand over Saul, Abishai volunteers to take Saul out...right there and then. David, who didn't really have a problem with killing bad people, still maintains that it would be inappropriate to kill Saul, "the Lord's anointed." Interestingly enough, David had the opportunity right here to slay Saul with the very same spear which had been thrown at him by Saul.
David is certain that Saul has to die, but he says in verse 10 that when the time comes, "the LORD shall smite him." He does take the water and spear though, puts a little distance between the camp and himself, and then awakens Saul and his army by hollerin' over while waving the spear and water in front of them. David spends a little time razzing Abner, Saul's main military man, for failing to protect Saul. Verse 20 is humorous when David points out the waste of resources in pursuing him when he says, "...for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea." Realizing he could be a dead man right now, once again Saul is remorseful regarding his intentions to kill David - even says "I have sinned" and asks David to return with him. David gives him back his spear and water, but declines the offer to return with Saul; David doesn't really trust Saul anymore. Can you blame him? Saul has no respect for promises.
1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.
2 And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.
3 And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s wife.
4 And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him.
5 And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee?
6 Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day.
7 And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months.
8 And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.
9 And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish.
10 And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites.
11 And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.
12 And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever.
Fearing Saul, David moves to Gath and makes a deal with the Philistine king there, Achish. Now here's the deal: Israel had not regained much of the land allocated to Judah and Simeon; the Philistines still controlled it. So, that's where David moved. Thinking it good to have a fugitive of Israel with an army, King Achish welcomes him to Philistia - even gives him possession of his own town, Ziklag, about 23 miles south of Gath (approximately 43 miles southwest of Jerusalem). David's not a very good neighbor though for the 16 months he lives there. He begins to plunder his non-Jewish neighbors in Judah. When King Achish would check up on David's activities, David lied to him and led him to believe he was attacking Jews in Judah and the descendants of Moses' in-laws, the Kenites. This story was plausible and pleasing to King Achish because David and his men left no witnesses at the scene to report otherwise. Achish reasons that David will forever be a fugitive of Israel and thus the servant of Achish because of such activities. In verse 12 the Hebrew word for "abhor" means "smell really bad."