Samuel the prophet dies
v1 Samuel died. All the *Israelites met together and were very sad. Then they buried Samuel in his home town of Ramah.
Samuel had been a very important leader of the *Israelites. The *Israelites trusted him as a leader and a *prophet. They were very sad when he died. Samuel led them during a time of great change. He had *anointed Saul as the first king of *Israel. Then he *anointed David as the king that God chose. Samuel did not see David become king. But in 24:20, Saul had agreed that David would be the next king.
Nabal insults David
David went down to the desert of Maon. v2–3 A very rich man lived at Maon. His name was Nabal. He came from the family of Caleb. His wife’s name was Abigail. Nabal owned land near the town of Carmel. He had 1000 goats and 3000 sheep. He was cutting the wool off his sheep at Carmel. Abigail was a beautiful and intelligent woman. But Nabal was a cruel and wicked man.
v4 David was in the desert. He heard that Nabal was cutting the wool off his sheep. v5 So David sent 10 young men to the town of Carmel. He told them to find Nabal and give him David’s greetings. v6David told the young men to say, ‘David sends you his greetings. He wants you to have peace. He wants your family to have peace. He wants everything you own to have peace. v7 David heard that you were cutting the wool off your sheep. The men who look after your sheep have been with us. We did not hurt them. We did not steal anything from them when they were at Carmel. v8 Your servants will tell you this if you ask them. We have come on the day when you have a special meal. So, please be kind to David’s young men. And please give them, and your son David, whatever you can’.
v9 David’s men arrived at Carmel and gave the message to Nabal. They waited for Nabal to reply. v10 Nabal answered David’s young men, ‘I do not know who David is. I have never heard of this son of Jesse. Many slaves run away from their masters these days. v11 I have bread and water. And I have killed some animals. But this is all for the men who are cutting the wool off my sheep. I am not going to give this to men that I do not know’.
David and his 600 men lived in the southern part of the country of *Judah. There were many hills and mountains there. People called the land a desert because it was dry. There was not much rain in that area. Not many people lived there because they could not grow crops on the land. Only grass and small plants grew in this area. The people who lived there kept sheep and goats. Each year the farmers cut the wool off their animals. They sold the wool and paid their servants. Everyone was happy at this time. They usually had a party with plenty of food and drink.
David and his men had to find water and food every day. They could not plant their own crops because they had to keep moving to different places. Verses 7 and 16 show that they protected Nabal’s men and animals in the desert. David and his men probably protected other people’s animals too. Enemies from countries near to *Judah often came and stole from the *Israelites. The farmers usually paid David and his men with food.
This story is about a wicked man and his good wife. Nabal came from the family of Caleb. Caleb was an *Israelite who left the country of Egypt with Moses. Only Caleb and Joshua went in to the land that God had promised to the *Israelites (Numbers 14-15 and Joshua 14:6-15). Carmel is a town near the town of Hebron (Caleb’s town). Saul went to Carmel in 15:12.
David sent his young men to Nabal on the day that he had his special meal. David hoped that Nabal would be generous. The greeting in verse 6 is a typical *Israelite greeting. In verse 8, David calls himself ‘your son David’. This means that David had been like a servant to Nabal. David gave Nabal honour because he was an important man. But Nabal insulted David. Nabal did not greet David’s men quickly. Nabal pretended that he did not know David. But everyone who lived in the country of *Judah knew who David was. Verse 10 shows that Nabal knew about David. He knew that David was the son of Jesse. Here, Nabal used the name ‘son of Jesse’ as an insult (as Saul did in 20:27 and 22:13). Nabal knew that David had been one of Saul’s servants. However, he described David as a bad slave who had run away. Nabal had prepared food for his servants but he was selfish.
v12 David’s men returned to David. They told him all that Nabal had said. v13 David said to his men, ‘Go and get your swords’. So, they got their swords and put them onto their belts. David got his sword too. About 400 men went with David. About 200 men stayed with their supplies.
v14 One of Nabal’s servants spoke to Abigail (Nabal’s wife). He said, ‘David sent some of his men from the desert to greet our master. But our master insulted them. v15 These men were very good to us. They did not hurt us. They did not steal anything from us while we were out in the fields. v16 They protected us while we cared for the sheep. They protected us during the daytime and at night. v17 Please think about this and decide what to do. Terrible trouble is coming to our master and his family. Our master is such a wicked man. He will not listen to anyone’.
v18 Abigail quickly got some food. She got 200 loaves of bread, 2 big jugs of wine, 5 sheep that she had cooked. She also got 15 kilograms (about 7 pounds) of grain that she had cooked, 100 bundles of raisins and 200 round packs of figs. She loaded all this onto some *donkeys. v19 She said to her servants, ‘You go first and I will follow you’. But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
v20 Abigail rode her *donkey along the valley in the mountain. She saw David and his men as they came down the valley towards her. v21 David had just said, ‘I do not know why I protected Nabal’s property in the desert. We did not steal anything from him. We were good to him, but he has been bad to us. v22 I will certainly go and kill all the men in Nabal’s family by tomorrow morning’.
This story shows that David was not a perfect man. David was angry with Nabal. David had protected Nabal’s men and animals in the desert. But Nabal had not been generous to David and his men. So David went to punish Nabal and his family. David was a man who felt natural anger. But his reaction to Nabal contrasts with his reaction to king Saul. David was angry and wanted to kill Nabal. If David ever felt natural anger towards Saul, he controlled it. David would not hurt Saul because God had *anointed him.
Nabal’s servants knew that David would be angry. They knew that Nabal was a wicked man. They were afraid that something bad would happen. Nabal would not listen to them, so they spoke to Abigail. Abigail was an intelligent woman (verses 2-3). She acted quickly. She knew that David and his men deserved to share Nabal’s food. Abigail was generous. She took enough food for a good meal for David and his men. Raisins and figs are types of fruit that the sun has dried. They are sweet and give people energy. Abigail was a wise woman. She did not tell Nabal what she was doing. She knew that he would have stopped her. Abigail sent her servants ahead with the food. Perhaps she thought that she would be safer behind her servants.
v23 When Abigail saw David she quickly got off her *donkey. She kneeled in front of David and her face touched the ground. v24 She kneeled right in front of his feet. She said to David, ‘My master, let me take the blame. I am your servant. Please listen to what I say. v25 Please do not think about that wicked man Nabal. His name means fool and he is a fool. I, your servant, did not see the young men that you sent. v26 Now the *Lord has stopped you from punishing your enemies and killing them. You have enemies and many people who want to hurt you. But they will receive their punishment just as Nabal will. I know that this will certainly happen. v27 My master, please accept this present that I have brought for you and your men. v28 Please forgive me for what I have done wrong. I know that the *Lord will always choose someone from your family as the king. The *Lord will do this because you always fight his battles. And you do not do anything evil in your life. v29 Someone may chase you and try to kill you. But the *Lord your God will always protect you. The *Lord will throw your enemies away like someone throws away a stone. v30 One day the *Lord will do all the good things that he has promised to you. He will make you the leader of the *Israelites. v31 When this happens you will not feel guilty about anything. You have not killed innocent people. And you have not tried to punish people yourself. When the *Lord gives you success, please remember me’.
v32 David said to Abigail, ‘I praise the *Lord God of *Israel. He sent you to meet me today. v33 The *Lord bless you for your wise advice and for what you did. You stopped me from punishing and killing people today. v34 The *Lord stopped me from hurting you. You came quickly to meet me. Otherwise, I certainly would have killed all of Nabal’s men by the morning’.
v35 David accepted Abigail’s present. He said to her, ‘Go home and do not worry. I will do what you said’.
David was probably very surprised to see Abigail with her servants, *donkeys and all the food. Abigail acted quickly again. She had to stop 400 angry men before they killed anyone. Abigail behaved in a humble way when she bent down on her knees. She gave David great respect and honour when she spoke to him. Abigail agreed that Nabal was wicked. But she appealed to David not to behave in the wrong way. She did not use her gift of food to persuade David. Instead she reminded him to trust the *Lord. The *Lord would protect David. And the *Lord would deal with David’s enemies, including Nabal. Abigail knew that David would be king of *Israel. She did not want him to be guilty about anything. In verse 31 Abigail said, ‘When the *Lord gives you success, please remember me’. These words are similar to Joseph’s in Genesis 40:14.
David knew that God had sent Abigail to him. He accepted her wise advice and her present. David and his men got their meal. David trusted the *Lord to deal with Saul. But David nearly made a mistake because of his wrong anger. The result of this would have been serious. God was kind to David and saved him. Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:17-21 say that God will deal with every wrong act. We must never punish people who hurt us. Instead, we must do good things to them. We should trust the *Lord who is a fair judge.
v36 Abigail went back home to Nabal. He had prepared a huge meal. It was good enough for a king to eat. He had drunk too much wine. He was in a good mood. So Abigail did not tell him anything until the next morning. v37 The next morning Nabal was sensible again. So Abigail told him all that had she had done. Nabal’s heart failed and he became like a stone. v38 About 10 days later the *Lord made Nabal die.
v39 David heard that Nabal had died. David said, ‘I praise the *Lord. Nabal insulted me but the *Lord defended me. The *Lord stopped me from doing the wrong thing. And now he has punished Nabal’.
Then David sent a message to Abigail. He asked her to marry him. v40 David’s servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, ‘David has sent us to you. We must take you to David so that he can marry you’.
v41 Abigail kneeled down and her face touched the ground. She said, ‘I am his servant. I will wash the feet of David’s servants’. v42 Abigail quickly got onto a *donkey and went with David’s men. She took 5 young girls with her. They were her servants. Abigail became David’s wife.
v43 David had married Ahinoam from the town of Jezreel. So David now had two wives. v44 Saul’s daughter Michal used to be David’s wife. But Saul had given her to Paltiel as his wife. Paltiel was the son of Laish who came from the town of Gallim.
Nabal had prepared a huge meal. He did not notice that Abigail had taken some of his food. Abigail could not speak to Nabal that night. He was not sensible because he had drunk too much wine. In the morning, Nabal had a shock when he listened to Abigail. Verse 37 says, ‘Nabal’s heart failed’. This means that he lost his courage. Exodus 15:16 says that God’s enemies will be as still as a stone. This may be picture language for death. Nabal died because the *Lord punished him. Psalm 112:5; Proverbs 11:25; 22:9 show that God blesses generous people. Nabal was not generous. God did not bless him. But Abigail was generous. David ‘remembered’ her (verse 31) and he married her. Abigail gave David honour. She wanted to serve him and his servants too.
Genesis 2:24 shows that God wants a man to have one wife. In those days, it was common for men to have more than one wife. This is still common in some countries today. In the *Old Testament, men who had more than one wife often had trouble in their family. When David left Saul, David had to live apart from his wife Michal. So Saul found another husband for her. In verse 43, Jezreel is a town near Carmel. Ahinoam was the mother of David’s first son, Amnon (2 Samuel 3:2).