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I Samuel 25-27    Listen Podcast


A good man dies (I Samuel 25:1)

1 Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in 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.

Nabal dodges a bullet...but dies anyway (I Samuel 25:2-44)

2 ¶ Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3 The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb.
4 ¶ When David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep,
5 David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name.
6 And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: “Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have!
7 Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while 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 comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David.’ ”
9 ¶ So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited.
10 ¶ Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master.
11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?”
12 ¶ So David’s young men turned on their heels and went back; and they came and told him all these words.
13 Then David said to his men, “Every man gird on his sword.” So every man girded on his sword, and David also girded on his sword. And about four hundred men went with David, and two hundred stayed with the supplies.
14 ¶ Now one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them.
15 But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields.
16 They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep.
17 Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.”
18 ¶ Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.
19 And she said to her servants, “Go on before me; see, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
20 ¶ So it was, as she rode on the donkey, that she went down under cover of the hill; and there were David and his men, coming down toward her, and she met them.
21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good.
22 May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.”
23 ¶ Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground.
24 So she fell at his feet and said: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant.
25 Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.
26 Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, since the LORD has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal.
27 And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord.
28 Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the LORD, and evil is not found in you throughout your days.
29 Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling.
30 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel,
31 that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”
32 ¶ Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!
33 And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.
34 For indeed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!”
35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person.”
36 ¶ Now Abigail went to Nabal, and there 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; therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light.
37 So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone.
38 Then it happened, after about ten days, that the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.
39 ¶ So when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept His servant from evil! For the LORD has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head.” ¶ And David sent and proposed to Abigail, to take her as his wife.
40 When the servants of David had come to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her saying, “David sent us to you, to ask you to become his wife.”
41 ¶ Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, “Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.”
42 So Abigail rose in haste and rode on a donkey, attended by five of her maidens; and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife.
43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and so both of them were his wives.
44 ¶ But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from 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. 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 KJV phrase ("any that pisseth against the wall") describing "males" (NKJV) 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 "scoundrel" (verse 25) indicates that he had no redeeming social qualities. 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.

Saul seems to have a short memory (I Samuel 26)

1 Now the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding in the hill of Hachilah, opposite 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 encamped in the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon, by the road. But David stayed in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness.
4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul had indeed come.
5 ¶ So David arose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Now Saul lay within the camp, with the people encamped all around him.
6 Then David answered, and said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother of Joab, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” ¶ And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.”
7 ¶ So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and there Saul lay sleeping within the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. And Abner and the people lay all around him.
8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!”
9 ¶ But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless?”
10 David said furthermore, “As the LORD lives, the LORD shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish.
11 The LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD’S anointed. But please, take now the spear and the jug of water that are by his head, and let us go.”
12 So David took the spear and the jug of water by Saul’s head, and they got away; and no man saw or knew it or awoke. For they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen on them.
13 ¶ Now David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of a hill afar off, a great distance being between them.
14 And David called out to the people and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Do you not answer, Abner?” ¶ Then Abner answered and said, “Who are you, calling out to the king?”
15 ¶ So David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? And who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not guarded your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king.
16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not guarded your master, the LORD’S anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the jug of water that was by his head.”
17 ¶ Then Saul knew David’s voice, and said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” ¶ David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.”
18 And he said, “Why does my lord thus pursue his servant? For what have I done, or what evil is in my hand?
19 Now therefore, please, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant: If the LORD has stirred you up against me, let Him accept an offering. But if it is the children of men, may they be cursed before the LORD, for they have driven me out this day from sharing in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, “Go, serve other gods.’
20 So now, do not let my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
21 ¶ Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David. For I will harm you no more, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.”
22 ¶ And David answered and said, “Here is the king’s spear. Let one of the young men come over and get it.
23 May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD delivered you into my hand today, but I would not stretch out my hand against the LORD’S anointed.
24 And indeed, as your life was valued much this day in my eyes, so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the LORD, and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation.”
25 ¶ Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David! You shall both do great things and also 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 had fallen on 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 strike 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 has 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.

David moves in with the Philistines (I Samuel 27)

1 And David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.”
2 Then David arose and went over with the six hundred men who were with him to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath.
3 So David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, each man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s widow.
4 And it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath; so he sought him no more.
5 ¶ Then David said to Achish, “If I have now found favor in your eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?”
6 So Achish gave him Ziklag that day. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day.
7 Now the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was one full year and four months.
8 ¶ And David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. For those nations were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as you go to Shur, even as far as the land of Egypt.
9 Whenever David attacked the land, he left neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the apparel, and returned and came to Achish.
10 Then Achish would say, “Where have you made a raid today?” And David would say, “Against the southern area of Judah, or against the southern area of the Jerahmeelites, or against the southern area of the Kenites.”
11 David would save neither man nor woman alive, to bring news to Gath, saying, “Lest they should inform on us, saying, ‘Thus David did.’ ” And thus was his behavior all the time he dwelt in the country of the Philistines.
12 So Achish believed David, saying, “He has made his people Israel utterly abhor him; therefore he will be my servant forever.”

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."