The death of Nabal (1 Sam 25:36-25:38)

“Abigail came to Nabal. He was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things. Then his heart died within him. He became like a stone. About ten days later, Yahweh struck Nabal and he died.”

Abigail did not tell Nabal about her encounter with David. The next day, after Nabal had sobered up after the drunken feast he had the night before, she told him what had happened. His heart hardened and became like a stone. 10 days later, Yahweh struck him and he died. This tough guy died a tough death.

The kindness of Abigail, Nabal’s wife, to David (1 Sam 25:14-25:35)

“But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife. ‘David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master. However, he shouted insults at them. Yet the men were very good to us. We suffered no harm. We never missed anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. They were a wall to us both by night and day all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore know this and consider what you should do. Evil has been decided against our master and all in his house. He is so ill-natured that no one can speak to him.’”

One of the shepherds of Nabal told Nabal’s wife, Abigail, that Nabal had angered the men of David by insulting them. He said that the men of David had been helpful to the shepherds when they were out in the field. Now the men of David had decided to do something evil to Nabal and his household. Besides no one can speak to hard headed Nabal.

“Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys. She said to her young men. ‘Go on ahead of me. I am coming after you.’ But Abigail did not tell her husband Nabal.”

Abigail provided a lot of food on donkeys and sent her young men out with this stuff. She was going to follow them. However, she said nothing to husband about any of this.

“As she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, David and his men came down toward her. She met them. Now David had said. ‘Surely it was in vain that I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him. But he has returned me evil for good. God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.’”

Abigail was on a donkey and met David. David had said that since he had protected Nabal’s shepherds in the wilderness, he should have been shown more respect from Nabal. Therefore, David was going to kill every male of Nabal’s household.

“When Abigail saw David, she hurried and alighted from the donkey. She fell before David on her face, bowing to the ground. She fell at his feet and said. ‘Upon me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. My lord, do not take seriously this ill-natured 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.”

Abigail bowed down before David claiming that she was the guilty one. She just wanted to explain that it was her ill-natured husband who had been insulting. She explained that his very name is folly and rudeness. She never saw the young men that David had sent.

“Now then, my lord, as Yahweh lives, and as you yourself live, Yahweh has restrained you from bloodguilt. You are not taking vengeance with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. Now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For Yahweh will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of Yahweh. Evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If any men should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of Yahweh your God. But the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. When Yahweh has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself. When Yahweh has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.’”

Abigail pleaded her case. She wanted to give him and his men these presents. She asked him to forgive the words of Nabal. She commended David for fighting Yahweh’s battles.   Yahweh will protect him. David’s enemies will die by the sling. After David is king, he should not regret any bloodshed that happened while he was trying to save himself. She only asked David to remember her when he became king. In fact, David will be king and she will become his wife. This is a strange prophecy.

“David said to Abigail. ‘Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Blessed be your good sense! Blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as Yahweh 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 would not have been left to Nabal so much as one male.’ Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. He said to her. ‘Go up to your house in peace. See, I have heeded your voice. I have granted your petition.”

David responded to her. He blessed Yahweh for having sent her to him. He blessed her for saving him from bloodguilt. He was about to kill every male in the house of Nabal. Then he took the presents that she had prepared. He told her to return to her house in peace. He listened to her and granted her petition.

 

David and Nabal (1 Sam 25:1-25:13)

“Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. There was a man in Maon, whose property was in Carmel. The man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and one thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. Now the name of the man was Nabal. The name of his wife was Abigail. This woman was clever and beautiful. The man, however, was surly and mean. He was a Calebite.”

Nabal, which means insensitive, was a very rich man living in Maon, but whose property was in Carmel, where he was shearing his sheep. This must have been close by and certainly not the northern Mount Carmel. His wife’s name was Abigail who was smart and good looking. Nabal was a Calebite, a strong tribe that would have been descendents of Caleb. He however was mean.

“David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men. David said to the young men. ‘Go up to Carmel. Go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. Thus you shall salute him. ‘Peace be to you! Peace be to your house! Peace be to all that you have! I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us. We did them no harm. They missed nothing all the time that they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your sight. We have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

David was going to send 10 of his young men to remind Nabal that they had protected his shepherds. This was a kind of protection money that they wanted from Nabal. However, they were to come in peace with a peace greeting. In return, they were asking for whatever Nabal would like to give them.

“When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David. Then they waited. But Nabal answered David’s servants. ‘Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread, my water, and my meat that I have butchered for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?’ So David’s young men turned away. They came back and told him all this. David said to his men. ‘Every man strap on his sword!’ Every one of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. About four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.”

When the 10 men from David arrived, Nabal responded that he knew nothing about David. He was not going to give anything to anybody he did not where they were from. He had butchered meat for his workers. They would get something. Shepherds were always complaining about something. David’s men returned and told their story to David. The David told them to get their swords. So David took off with about 400 men while 200 stayed behind.

David and Saul reconcile (1 Sam 24:8-24:23)

“Afterwards David rose up and went out of the cave. He called after Saul. ‘My lord the king!’ When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance. David said to Saul. ‘Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘David seeks to do you harm’? This very day your eyes have seen how Yahweh gave you into my hand in the cave. Some urged me kill you, but I spared you. I said. ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord. He is Yahweh’s anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand. By the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. May Yahweh judge between me and you! May Yahweh avenge me upon you! But my hand shall not be against you. As the ancient proverb says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea? May Yahweh therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you! May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you.’”

David followed Saul out of the cave. He bowed down to Saul. He called Saul his lord and king. He then confronted Saul by asking him why he wanted to harm him. David reminded Saul that he could have killed him in the cave. In fact, his followers wanted him to do so. He was close enough to cut off the corner of his coat or cloak. He used this phrase about how wickedness comes from wicked people to show that he was not wicked. Saul was pursuing him like a dog or a flea. He wanted Yahweh to be the judge.

“When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said. ‘Is this your voice, my son David?’ Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David. ‘You are more righteous than I. For you have repaid me good whereas I have repaid you evil. Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when Yahweh put me into your hands. For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? May Yahweh reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. Now, I know that you shall surely be king. The kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by Yahweh that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.’ David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home. But David and his men went up to the stronghold.”

Saul actually wept when he saw David and called him ‘my son.’ He admitted that David was more righteous than he was. David did not kill Saul, his enemy when he had a chance to do so. Saul said that David would be king. He only asked that his descendents not be wiped out. David agreed to this. Then they parted. There was no victory reconciliation ceremony. They each went their own way.

David refuses to attack Saul in the cave (1 Sam 24:1-24:7)

“When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told. ‘David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.’ Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel. He went to look for David and his men in the direction of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. The men of David said to him. ‘Here is the day of which Yahweh said to you. ‘I will give your enemy into your hand. You shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’ Then David went arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men. ‘Yahweh forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, Yahweh’s anointed, to raise my hand against him. He is Yahweh’s anointed.’ So David scolded his men severely. He did not permit them to attack Saul. Saul rose up and left the cave, and went on his way.”

Saul returned from his battle with the Philistines. This time he took 3,000 soldiers and to go after David and his men. Along the way, he stopped in a cave to relieve himself. However, David and his men were hiding deeper in the cave. David secretly went over and cut the corner of Saul’s coat. However, he was sorry about this. He told his men that they should not hurt Yahweh’s anointed, King Saul. Thus David let Saul get away.

David alludes Saul at the Rock of Escape (1 Sam 23:24-23:29)

“David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued after David into the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. Then a messenger came to Saul, saying. ‘Hurry and come! The Philistines have made a raid on the land.’ So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. David went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.”

David was in the wilderness of Maon, just south of Hebron. Saul headed south to pursue David. They ended up on either side of a mountain. Saul was attacking David, when he hears that the Philistines were attacking Israel. There is no indication of where the attack was taking place. Anyway, Saul stopped pursuing David. That is why that place is called the ‘Rock of Escape.’   Every rock has its own story. David then headed to En-gedi, which is east of Hebron on the Dead Sea.

 

The Ziphites report David to Saul (1 Sam 23:19-23:24)

“Then some Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, and said. ‘David is hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon. Now, O king, whenever you wish to come down, do so. Our part will be to surrender him into the king’s hand.’ Saul said. ‘May you be blessed by Yahweh for showing me compassion! Go and make sure once more. Find out exactly where he is, and who has seen him there. For I am told that he is very cunning. Look around and learn all the hiding places where he lurks. Come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you. If he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah. So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul.”

Some people from Ziph, which is a little south of Hebron, went to Saul to tell him that they would turn David over to him. There is no clear indication of why they wanted to do this other than loyalty to Saul. They said that David was in the strongholds at Horesh. Saul thanked them for the information, but he sounded skeptical when he asked for more exact information. He knew that David was very cunning.

Jonathan visits David (1 Sam 23:15-23:18)

“David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when he learned that Saul had come out to seek his life. Saul’s son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh. There he strengthened his hand through Yahweh. He said to him. ‘Do not be afraid. The hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel. I shall be second to you. Saul my father also knows this.’ Then the two of them made a covenant before Yahweh. David remained at Horesh. Jonathan went home.”

Jonathan went to visit David at Horesh. It is strange that Jonathan can locate David but Saul cannot. This is the only mention of this place Horesh in the wilderness. Jonathan said that David will be king and not him. This follows up the friendship that was expressed so strongly in chapter 20. Jonathan would be his second in command. Saul will never get David. Once again, Jonathan and David make an agreement. David stayed, while Jonathan went home.

David’s victory at Keilah (1 Sam 23:1-23:14)

“Now they told David. ‘The Philistines are fighting against Keilah. They are robbing the threshing floors.’ David inquired of Yahweh. ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’ Yahweh said to David. ‘Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.’ But David’s men said to him. ‘Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more will it be if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?’ Then David inquired of Yahweh again. Yahweh answered him. ‘Yes, go down to Keilah because I will give the Philistines into your hand.’ David and his men went to Keilah. They fought against the Philistines. They brought away their livestock. They dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.”

Keilah, a city in the plains of Judah, was attacked by the Philistines. David wondered whether he should go to attack them. Yahweh spoke directly to David, something that he had never done to Saul. Yahweh said go and attack. However, David’s men were reluctant to go. Yahweh once again reassured David. They went down and wiped out the Philistines.

“When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told to Saul that David had come to Keilah. Saul said. ‘God has given him into my hand. He has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.’ Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest. ‘Bring the ephod here.’ David said. ‘O Yahweh, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Yahweh, the God of Israel, I beseech you to tell your servant.’ Yahweh said. ‘He will come down.’ Then David said. ‘Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?’ Yahweh said. ‘They will surrender you.’ Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah. They wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but Yahweh did not give him into his hand.”

Then the priest Abiathar came down to Keilah also. Saul heard about the things at Keilah. He was happy that they were in a walled city. David asked Abiathar to bring the holy ephod. This was a priestly covering that was described in Exodus, chapter 28. Then David asked Yahweh directly, was Saul coming to Keilah and would the people of this town give him up. Yahweh’s answer to both was ‘yes.’ David and his men set out for the wilderness in Ziph in the south. Saul called off his expedition to Keilah, but he kept looking for David every day.