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Deeper Commentary

1Sa 25:1 Samuel died, and all Israel gathered together and mourned for him, and they buried him at his home in Ramah. David went down to the wilderness of Paran-
In the type, we see a foretaste of the death of John the Baptist, the Lord's first teacher, and how He goes out afterwards into a deserted place. We note too how Israel loved Samuel and respected him, although they did the very opposite of what he had taught them. We can have an emotional, sentimental attachment to the things of our religion, whilst having hearts far from God's word in practice. Paran is LXX Maon, as in :2.

1Sa 25:2 There was a man in Maon who had property in Carmel, and the man was very wealthy. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel-
Nabal meaning "fool" is one of the sources for the Lord's parable of the rich / wealthy fool. Maon was a mile north of Carmel, and they are mentioned together in Josh. 15:55. The complete geographical and historical agreement of the books of the Bible, clearly written at different times, is such that there must have been a higher, singular hand behind them all. And that hand was that of God, through His inspiration of the entire volume.

The sheep shearing festival was known as a time of payment of debts. David was hungry, and recalled Nabal was in his debt. As David's men had guarded Nabal's sheep and servants without payment. So it was the logical time to ask for some payment in the form of food. The refusal was therefore especially irksome to David.

There are clear connections between Nabal and Saul, signposted to us by the comment that Nabal sat down to eat a meal like a king (:36 "like the feast of a king"). Probably subconsciously, David allows himself to be led by these connections into transferring his anger with Saul onto Nabal. Rather should be have perceived the similarities, and also allowed God in His own time and according to His will, to deal with Nabal. "Nabal" means "fool" and Saul has been called foolish by Samuel ("You have done foolishly", 'been a Nabal', 1 Sam. 13:13), and he will later admit to David "I have done foolishly", 'been a Nabal', 1 Sam. 26:21. David calls himself Nabal's son (1 Sam. 25:8). But David also refers to Saul as his father (1 Sam. 24: 11) and Saul calls David his son four times (1 Sam. 24: 16; 26: 17,21,25). Nabal lived in Maon and Carmel (25:2), places associated with Saul (1 Sam. 15:5, where Saul built a monument to himself, so it was very Saul-associated territory; 1 Sam. 23:25). Both Saul and Nabal refer to David as the “son of Jesse” (1 Sam. 25:10; cp. 1 Sam. 20:30; 22:7), and both ask "Who is [he]?". Both Nabal and Saul repay David “evil for good” (1 Sam. 25:21; cp. 1 Sam. 24:17). David graciously overlooked this for Saul, but he counts Nabal's drunken refusal to help David as a huge "evil". The evil done by Saul was far greater than that by Nabal. But David wants to requite the evil of Saul ad so he transfers it onto Nabal.  Nabal’s servants betray him to Abigail (1 Sam. 25:17), just as Saul's servants apparently did- for he complains that they “have conspired against me” (1 Sam. 22:8). As Saul’s daughter isn't loyal to him and is on David's side (1 Sam. 19:11–17), likewise with Abigail to Nabal (1 Sam. 25:19.36‒37). Nabal has three thousand sheep (1 Sam. 25:2), and Saul has three thousand chosen men (1 Sam. 24:2; 26:2).

Saul describes himself as a "fool" (1 Sam. 26:21) and Samuel likewise calls Saul a fool (1 Sam. 13:13). So we can see here how David's desire to kill Nabal was a reflection of his desire to kill Saul. He had restrained himself from killing Saul, but transfers that death wish onto Nabal; rather like an addict quitting one addiction but moving to another one. He is restrained from killing Nabal by Abigail, who seems to imply that if he were to do so, then his own kingship would be somehow impugned. This is exactly how David had reasoned about why he refused to kill Saul when he had the chance to. And so Nabal dies by God's hand rather than David's sword, just as Saul would. The incident was to surely underline this lesson to David. This is why in the next chapter, 1 Sam. 26, David again is given the chance to kill Saul just as he was in 1 Sam. 24, and he refuses to. He needed the lesson from his near failure in 1 Sam. 25 in order to maintain his resolve not to kill Saul. We marvel at how God works through human weakness in order to strengthen His people.

1Sa 25:3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but the man was harsh and mean; he belonged to the family of Caleb-
Continually in Biblical history we encounter good men with bad descendants, and the opposite. This is to be expected, because true spirituality is not genetic; each must forge their own relationship with God, and Godly parenting is but setting a person on the right path, for them to later exercise their own freewill. "Harsh" is LXX "hard", and is the basis for the "hard man" of Mt. 25:24. Continually we discern the Lord's mind saturated in Old Testament history, and consciously or unconsciously forming the characters of His stories from those He had encountered in the scriptures. Caleb's family had settled in Hebron in the south (Josh. 15:13; 1 Sam. 30:14), but it seems Nabal had separated from them and gone to live alone in the north near mount Carmel- although it makes more sense to understand Carmel as a place in Judah. Nabal the fool is alluded to in Ps. 14:1; Prov. 30:22. Solomon writes the truth in Proverbs, but he likes to allude to the enemies of his father, ever seeking to use God's truth to justify himself and his family.

1Sa 25:4 David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep-
David had been glad for just five loaves of bread from Abiathar. And now he was desperate for food again. Survival was based on a hand to mouth existence amongst the peasant class, and for those on the move without land to farm, just getting enough food would have been a major issue.

1Sa 25:5 David sent ten young men and said to them, Go up to Carmel and go to Nabal and greet him in my name-
David obviously knew Nabal, and had effectively worked for him as a kind of security service for his flocks and shepherds. He apparently hadn't been paid for this, and yet had not taken the liberty of helping himself to Nabal's flocks. Nabal's claim he didn't know David's name (:10) was in response to these greetings in David's name

1Sa 25:6 Say to him, ‘Long life to you! Peace to you and to your house and to all that you have-
These were standard terms of greeting, perhaps consciously omitting the name Yahweh because David considered that Nabal was effectively an atheist, the fool who said in his heart that there was no God (Ps. 14:1). One theme of the records is the invitation to consider the sincerity of motive in even the best of God's servants, in this case David and Abigail. David here wishes peace to Nabal and his family ["house"]. But very soon, he is charging off to murder them all. His statement here that he wished peace to Nabal's family is immedicately shown to be lacking in integrity. It is mere formalism.

1Sa 25:7 I have heard that you are shearing your sheep. Your shepherds have been with us, and we didn’t hurt them, nothing of theirs was missing all the while they were in Carmel-
This may be a way of saying that David and his men had not been paid for their protection services, and yet had not helped themselves to anything from Nabal's flock.

1Sa 25:8 Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find grace in your eyes, for we come at a good time. Please give whatever you can to your servants and to your son David’-
"Good time" is a phrase used about a feast day, and it is thus rendered in GNB. The Mosaic feasts were to celebrate God's saving grace, and implied that the memory of that was to be reflected in our giving / grace to others. And yet instead of demanding wages, David asks for "grace". David asked Nabal to give his men food because they were asking on a feast day (Heb., 1 Sam. 25:8 NEV "at a good time"). This is a parallel with how he asks Ahimelech to give his men food because, he implies, it is a feast day (see on 1 Sam. 21:5). So circumstances had repeated. David's request for food from Nabal on a feast day ought to have reminded him of how at a low spiritual point, he had asked the priests of Nob for the same. And it led to their death. We likewise are to perceive the connections between our life experiences, and to learn the lessons.

1Sa 25:9 When David’s young men came they said this to Nabal in the name of David, and waited-
It is emphasized that they spoke in David's name (:5), and this was to elicit Nabal's denial of that name; see on :10.

1Sa 25:10 Nabal answered David’s servants, Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants who break away from their masters these days-
As noted on :5, David and Nabal knew each other. To claim not to know a man's name was a great insult, for all that a man was and stood for was bound up in his "name". This is the significance of the Yahweh Name. Nabal clearly knew that David had been a servant of Saul, and he likes to believe the narrative that David was a runaway slave. He uses the same phrase as Saul contemptuously used of David, "the son of Jesse".

1Sa 25:11 Shall I then take my bread, my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I don’t know where?-
We note all the personal pronouns, "I", "my". He presents as the classic narcissist. Nabal did know from whence they were, and he knew the name of David. This idea of 'I don't know your name, nor where you are from' is common in Semitic languages, and may explain why the Jews in Rome claimed not to know Paul. It is the language of absolute rejection, and was used about the Lord Jesus. We note all the personal pronouns in this sentence, just as in the parable of the rich fool, which is based upon Nabal. David later reflected that bread, water and meat was provided for Israel in the wilderness (Ps. 78:20); he saw his wilderness experiences as similar to theirs, being led towards the same kingdom of God.

1Sa 25:12 So David’s young men turned and went back and told him all this-
David sent messengers to Nabal meaning well to him, and they were rudely rebuffed, resulting in his anger which only Abigail’s grace and wisdom saved him from (1 Sam. 25). And yet the same situation repeated in its essence when he sent messengers to Hanun who were likewise misinterpreted and rebuffed (2 Sam. 10:3). Again, David got angry- but there was no Abigail to restrain him, and he did get into an impossible fight… from which by grace God delivered him. Could it not be that David failed to learn from his previous experience…? Circumstances repeat within our lives and between our lives and those of others in Biblical history; that we might learn the lessons and take comfort from the scriptures, that man is not alone.

1Sa 25:13 David said to his men, Every man put on his sword! Every man put on his sword and David also put on his. About four hundred men followed David and two hundred stayed by the baggage-
The same word is used of David girding himself with Saul's sword, and then rethinking and taking it off. Abigail has jogged his memory by speaking of his enemies being cast out as sling stones. He has the humility to take off his sword. And it is that humility to admit error which was really his saving grace.

David has slipped from the day when he had fought Goliath without a sword, insisting that Yahweh saves without swords. And it was not so long ago that there was no sword amongst the Israelites apart from with Saul and Jonathan. This is clearly a low point of faith for David. "Hundred" may mean a family or military division. To have had 600 males with him would have meant that along with accompanying family, David's group would have been several thousand strong. They would have been very vulnerable if they were this many. David's anger and intention was wrong, but it can be understood very easily in terms of psychological transference. His repressed anger with Saul was transferred onto the family of Nabal. Again, the record is absolutely psychologically credible.

Taking 400 armed men to slay Nabal and his family was reflective of Saul coming with 3000 men to hunt David, "just one flea" in the desert. David's apparent forgiveness of Saul was not totally pure; because clearly he has transferred his anger with Saul onto Nabal, and now David the abused is the abuser.

1Sa 25:14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, Look, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them-
There is quite a theme of servants bringing blessings or good news (1 Sam. 9:6; 16:16; 25:14 cp. Gen. 41:10; 2 Kings 5:3). This may be to reflect God's interest in the significance of the lowly.  

1Sa 25:15 But the men were very good to us and we were not hurt, nothing was missing as long as we were with them in the fields-
The reason they praise David's men for not taking anything is because they realized Nabal hadn't paid for their services. They could legitimately have helped themselves to some animals for food. And yet the men of David hadn't taken this out upon them, because they recognized that they were not Nabal.

1Sa 25:16 They were a wall to us night and day all the while we were with them keeping the sheep-
We think of Jacob keeping the sheep day and night (Gen. 31:40), sustained by God's protection. The gift sent to pacify David in :18 is also an allusion to Jacob doing the same to Esau. 

1Sa 25:17 Now therefore consider what you should do, for evil is determined against our master and against all his household; he is such a worthless fellow that one can’t even speak to him-
As on :25, we note that this is an unusual way for servants to speak about their master. It seems Abigail was effectively running the household and the servants were in tune with her attitude to Nabal. She may even be one of the base images for the depiction of the wise woman of Prov. 31.

David had himself spoken evil ["determined evil"] against innocent people. But David was so sensitive to words spoken against him that he breathes out the deepest condemnation upon those who had spoken evil against him (s.w. Ps. 109:20). We get the impression that David is not adequately aware of the huge grace he himself had received. Otherwise there would have been at least some desire for the repentance and salvation of his enemies. This is so markedly lacking in the Psalms of David.

1Sa 25:18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread, two bottles of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys-
This recalls Jacob's pacification of Esau by sending huge presents ahead of him. Abigail bows before David as Jacob does before Esau. David was coming against Abigail with four hundred men, just as Esau had come against Jacob with the same numbers (Gen 32:6); her learning from this incident surely reflects her spirituality. We note the uses the Yahweh Name a significant seven times; although all the same, her behaviour is clearly overarched by the simple human motive of self interest and self preservation. Abigail takes the blame. The "bottles" of wine would have been adult goat skins filled with wine; the whole animal had its insides removed through the head and the skin was then left intact. This was a fair amount of food, but it had to feed 600 males and likely many women and children.

1Sa 25:19 She said to her young men, Go on before me; I am following you. But she didn’t tell her husband, Nabal-
As noted on :18, she seems to be seeking to follow Biblical precedent, copying the example of Jacob seeking to appease Esau. 

1Sa 25:20 As she rode on her donkey and came down in a valley, and there were David and his men coming down towards her, and she met them-
The impression is that they both descended, she from mount Carmel and David from mount Paran, and they met in a valley. They would have observed each other from a distance coming down the valley side .

But "valley", AV "covert of the hill", is the same word for "hiding place" in Ps. 119:114: "You are my hiding place and my shield. I hope in Your word". When hiding from Saul in the wilderness [s.w. of David's "hiding places" at this time in 1 Sam. 19:2; 25:20], David hoped in the prophetic word that one day Saul would be no more and David would be king.

1Sa 25:21 Now David had said, Surely for nothing I have kept all this fellow’s possessions in the wilderness, so that nothing was missing. He has returned me evil for good-
The point was that Saul admits that he has done evil to David whilst David has done him good. So Nabal is another Saul, but David fails to display grace to him. Rather he transfers his anger with Saul onto Nabal. "For nothing" suggests that Nabal had not paid wages for the work of David's men, and now in their time of need he would not even share basic food with them. Solomon alludes here in Prov. 3:30 "Don’t strive with a man without cause if he has done you no harm". To strive or plead a cause is the very phrase used of the opposition of Saul (1 Sam. 24:15) and Nabal to David (1 Sam. 25:39); and in both cases, David had done them "no harm", the phrase used of David's innocence before Nabal (1 Sam. 25:21,28) and Saul (1 Sam. 24:11). Clearly Solomon has these incidents in view, and again his statements of truth have a subtext of justifying his father David, with whom he was psychologically obsessed.

1Sa 25:22 God deal with David severely, if I leave alive one man of his by the morning-
David is here quoting the words of Saul when he too sought to 'avenge himself' on his enemies; and he foolishly wishes to slay Jonathan: "May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan" (1 Sam. 14:24,27,44,45). Like Jonathan, Abigail hadn't heard when Nabal [like Saul] made his statements (1 Sam. 14:27). David has transferred his anger with Saul onto Nabal, and comes out with a huge number of men to slay Nabal- and thus he is acting like Saul. And now we see him actually using the words of Saul. We have a tendency to become like what we hate, and the abused will always act like their abuser in some way- until and unless they learn God's grace. David's desire to destroy the entire family and animas [the dogs who urinate against the wall] of Nabal is similar to Saul destroying all the animals, family and children of the priests at Nob. I suggest therefore that David's apparent grace to Saul in the previous chapter was not total. Possibly his grace to Saul in the next chapter is more truly gracious, having learnt the lesson from the Abigail incident.

His anger with Nabal and desire to slay all “that piss against the wall” who lived with “this fellow” (1 Sam. 25:21,22 AV) is expressed in crude terms; and he later thanks Abigail for persuading him not to “shed blood” and “avenging myself with mine own hand” (1 Sam. 25:33)- the very things he elsewhere condemns in his Psalms (e.g. Ps. 44:3). Time and again in the Psalms, David uses that Hebrew word translated “avenging myself” about how God and not man will revenge / save him against his enemies, for God saves / avenges the humble in spirit not by their strength and troops but by His. But in the anger of hot blood, David let go of all those fine ideas. He had some sort of an anger problem. And he surely swears by God's Name far too loosely here.

"One that urinates against a wall" could mean a dog; for it is dogs and not males who urinate against an object like a wall. David wanted to kill everybody there even down to all the dogs. But he has just told Saul that he feels like a dead dog. And now he wants to make dead dogs of Nabal's household, leaving him nothing but dead dogs. He is wanting to make people like him, which is typical human response: 'You make me feel a dead dog, so I'll kill your dogs'. Reading the reference to dogs would fit in with the mention that Nabal is descended from Caleb, which means "dog".

1Sa 25:23 When Abigail saw David she hurried and alighted from her donkey; she bowed down before David with her face to the ground-
Perhaps imitating the Godly Rebekah, of whom the same phrase is used (Gen. 24:18,46). She then copied Rebekah in immediately dropping all and accepting the invitation of marriage (:41).

1Sa 25:24 She fell at his feet and said, On me, my lord, on me be the blame, and please let your handmaid speak in your ears. Hear the words of your handmaid-
Abigail's plea "Hear the words of your handmaid" (1 Sam. 15:24) was repeated by the woman of 2 Sam. 20:17. But Abigail herself had modelled her behaviour on women like Rebekah (1 Sam. 25:23 = Gen. 24:18,46). This is how functional fellowship occurs between God's people, both over time and in contemporary relationships. We copy that which is Godly and good which we observe in other believers, both those we know and those we meet in the Bible.

1Sa 25:25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to this worthless fellow Nabal. As his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is his nature; but I, your handmaid, didn’t see your young men whom you sent-
It was unusual for a woman to speak like this about her husband, even if she thought this in her heart. For a woman was defined by the men in her life, particularly her husband. Abigail is truly unusual in her attitude here. But she was no mere liberated woman; she believed in David and wanted to serve him and take his side against Nabal her husband. Like Jonathan, her loyalties were conflicted, but she came down on the right side. See on :17.

1Sa 25:26 Now therefore my lord, as Yahweh lives and as your soul lives, since Yahweh has withheld you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now therefore let your enemies and those who seek evil to my lord be like Nabal-
Saul "sought" David, implying a great level of mental effort (1 Sam. 19:10; 23:14,15,25; 24:2; 25:26,29; 26:2,20; 27:1,4; 2 Sam. 4:8). In the type of Christ, the Jews sought to kill the Lord (Mt. 21:46; Mk. 11:18; 12:12; 14:1,11,55; Lk. 19:47; 20:19; 22:2,6; Jn.5:16,18; 7:1,11,25,30; 8:37,40; 10:39; 11:8,56; 18:4,7,8). Abigail was clearly very aware of David's sparing of Saul; indeed seeing that David and Nabal knew each other, she may have spoken with David before. David had restrained or withheld his own men from murdering Saul (1 Sam. 24:7), but Abigail perceives that over and above his own mental effort to do this, Yahweh had confirmed David in it. And she sees her appeasement of David as likewise controlled by Yahweh to preserve David as innocent from avenging himself, so that he could indeed become king.

"Yahweh has withheld you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand" is in the past tense. Abigail seems aware of what has happened in the previous chapter- Yahweh withheld David from killing Saul. And she asks David to consider Nabal as Saul and to do the same again.

Abigail's appeal to David not to avenge himself but let God do so... was exactly the reasoning of David to Saul and often in his Psalms. Abigail was David's better side speaking, his alter ego. She was of good understanding / insight (:3), so perhaps she consciously presents her argument as being that of David's alter ego. David is likewise described as both attractive / handsome, and wise (1 Sam. 16:12; 18:5,30). Six times Abigail calls herself David’s maidservant, and fourteen times she calls him her lord. This is just as David has been calling Saul his lord and presenting himself as Saul's servant. Abigail is seeking to help David see himself as Saul and to pull out of the similarities with Saul. Through such language, she is also saying that she sees David as her king- with possible hints at seeing him as her husband. Hence her final comment, that David could "remember" her after Nabal dies. Straight after this incident, David again has the chance to kill Saul (1 Sam. 26), but surely he was fortified against that choice by the Abigail experience. Perhaps that second chance to take vengeance on Saul was provided as a test as to whether he had learnt the lesson from Abigail; and he had.

We note that the two occasions when David spares Saul's life by grace are in 1 Sam. 24 and 26. In between them is the Nabal / Abigail story in 1 Sam. 25, where David is wildly eager to murder Nabal and his family and then is calmed down by Abigail. We see here how David, as every man, may reach peaks of grace and wisdom, and yet in between them act ungraciously. This is psychologically credible, and reflects the struggle of every man to live on a level of high grace to others. But we wonder whether David's grace to Saul was possibly only achieved by psychologically transferring his anger onto another, in this case Nabal, and madly seeking to murder him rather than Saul. David resisted taking revenge upon Saul, but he over eagerly seeks to take revenge on Nabal- a man who unlike Saul was not seeking to chase and destroy him. In this case, Abigail becomes David's alter ego, the voice of his own better conscience speaking through another. David relents and repents of his desire to murder Nabal, and God then slays Nabal. But that is just what Saul did, relenting for a moment of his desire to kill David, and then being removed by God in God's good time. And God works thus oftentimes with man, putting our better side and better inner voice into the mouth of another... in my own case, often the mouth of my wife.

Abigail wishes all David's enemies would "Be like Nabal", implying she believes and wishes Nabal her husband would die. Her request to be remembered by David and frequently calling him her "lord" are all a hint she wants to become David's wife- and it's as if she wishes death on her husband to that end. Again we ponder her motives for wishing death to her husband... was it all so spiritually motivated, or was it simply a case of wanting "out" from a horrible marriage and dreaming of being the wife of the handsome, charismatic and up-and-coming David...

1Sa 25:27 Let this gift which your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord-
Abigail perceives David's men as not simply his servants, but following him as their lord. This again invites us to see David and his men as types of the Lord Jesus and His followers / disciples.

1Sa 25:28 Please forgive the sin of your handmaid, for Yahweh will certainly make for my lord a sure house, because my lord fights the battles of Yahweh-
Here Abigail uses the very words of Saul, when he offers his daughter in marriage to David if he "fights the battles of Yahweh" (1 Sam. 18:17). This could be another quite subtle 'come on' for David to consider marrying her.

She alludes to David's description of the conflict with Goliath as being Yahweh's battle. But she feels Yahweh will only give David a "sure house" if he doesn't take vengeance; the promise of his future kingship over Israel was conditional. And surely she had within her some desperate hope that she somehow might become his wife and help build that sure house. And that well motivated desire was allowed to come true by providence. Abigail quotes the promise of a priest being raised up with a "sure house" (1 Sam. 2:35), imagining that David was to become a Messianic king-priest; and to have blood on his hands would preclude that. Abigail's phrase "a sure / established house" (1 Sam. 25:28) is used in the promises to David (2 Sam. 7:16; 1 Kings 11:38). It's as if she was so in tune with God's ways that she had some premonition of His intentions with David, although she saw these as conditional upon David not shedding the innocent blood of her family. Or perhaps the promise of 1 Sam. 2:35 about a priest with a "sure house" had already been developed by Samuel in relation with David, and Abigail was aware of that. The promises to David which mention a sure house for him would therefore only be confirming what had already been promised. She implies in :30 that David had been promised quite a few "good things" beyond simply being king.

The reference to "a sure house" is repeated in Nathan's prophecy about David in 2 Sam. 7:5-17 and also she alludes to Samuel's prophetic words about David. Likewise Abogail's prediction that God wuld sling out all David's enemies connects with 2 Sam. 7:11 "The Lord will give you rest from all your enemies". We could conclude that her words were spoken under Divine inspiration. And yet she is David's alter ego, speaking his own better thoughts back to him. Clearly this was all from God. God spoke to David through Abigail, his alter ago, just as He does at times to us today. Her speech also presents as well formulated to the point that it could well have been by direct inspiration.

She begs David not to kill Nabal and her family "because my lord fights the battles of Yahweh". She implies that any taking of personal vengeance is not a battle of Yahweh.

Let evil not be found in you all your days-
This could be translated "evil has not been found in you / touched you all your days", the idea being that David had been miraculously preserved from Saul's "evil", and Abigail feared this would end if he now murdered the whole family of Nabal. Or she could simply be wishing that David continue to be innocent before God; a fine desire for any of us to have for another, especially for our future partner.

1Sa 25:29 Though men may rise up to pursue you-
David in the Psalms records how he hated those who 'rose up' against him, and that includes Saul. Saul 'rose up' against David (s.w. 1 Sam. 25:29; 26:2), and  then evil men 'rose up' against David out of his own family (2 Sam. 12:11 s.w.), especially Absalom who rose up against his father (2 Sam. 18:31,32 s.w.). But David has a tendency to assume that all who rose up against him were arising against God. It's not always so that our enemy is God's enemy. Relationships and the hand of God in human affairs and relationships is more complex than that. And David in Ps. 139:21,22 goes further, to assume that his hatred of people is justified, because they must, he assumes, hate God because they are against him. Solomon seems to make the same mistake when he alludes to such 'risings up' in Prov. 28:28. We must note that "all in Asia" turned away from Paul personally (2 Tim. 1:15), and yet according to the letters to the seven churches of Asia in Rev. 2,3, there were many faithful individuals amongst them.

And to seek your life-
Saul sought the life of David (s.w. 1 Sam. 20:1; 22:23; 23:15; 25:29; 2 Sam. 4:8). In the Psalms, David frequently imprecates judgment upon those who sought his life (s.w. Ps. 35:4; 38:12; 40:14; 54:3; 63:9; 70:2; 71:13; 86:14). He loved Saul, the life of Saul was precious in David's sight, indeed the historical records seem to emphasize David's patient love of Saul; and yet in the Psalms he gives vent before God to his anger with Saul and desire to see Saul punished and judged by God. This is absolutely true to human experience; we may act with great patience and apparent love toward those who abuse us, and yet within we fume about it. The lesson of David is that we are to pour out those feelings to God in prayer, leaving Him to judge.

Yet the life of my lord will be bound in the bundle of life with Yahweh your God-
Abigail is convinced that Yahweh will preserve David from Saul's persecution, and she implies that she sees her husband as part of that persecution. She uses the figure of a valuable life carried in a bundle, alluding to a woman carrying her precious newborn baby swaddled and close to her body. But she implies that the woman represents none other than Yahweh Himself; an unusually intimate allusion. And she sees David, the angry man with his sword coming to slay her, as the newborn baby, about to become the new king, a life “bound in the bundle of living in the care of the Lord”. Abigail was of very fine spiritual perception.

Abigail is reminding David that Yahweh has preserved him. But David's ire with Nabal was because David considered that he had preserved Nabal's men and interests- and he had not been rewarded for it. Abigail is pointing out what David himself often said in his Psalms- that Yahweh has protected David amazingly. What God does for us, we are to do for others- regardless of their gratitude.

"The bundle" could be a technical term from shepherding, referring to the cache of various animals kept within a storage space. The various animals each had a pebble which the shepherd used to count and ensure all his animals were safe. But the lives of the likes of Saul and Nabal would be hurled away; the pebbles representing them would be thrown away because they were lost.  "A find encountered by archaeologists investigating burial sites in northern Iraq at Nuzi near the Tigris, dating to the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. In one of the graves, a clay oval container/carved stela filled with 48 stones was found, with an inscription on it: “the stones refer to sheep and goats: 21 mother sheep, 6 lambs, 8 adult males/rams, 4 lambs, 6 mother goats, 1 billy goat, 2 young goats.” Beneath this inscription was another reading, “the seal of Ziqarru, the shepherd,” suggesting the meaning and origin of this Assyrian artifact. According to archaeologists referring to other similar discoveries and texts, this type of object (a hollow tablet, container, or cloth bag/pocket) filled with pebbles and accompanied by an appropriate description was used by ancient shepherds of the Levant to count their flocks as they returned from pasture to their pens. Pebbles placed in such an object denoted animals in a safe place and no longer in danger".

He will hurl out the lives of your enemies as though from the pocket of a sling-
She continues her allusion to his victory over Goliath in :28. Surely she had been amongst those women who praised David for slaying his ten thousands. And her words here are nothing less than a death wish against her own husband, leading up to her pregnant request that at this point, David should "remember" her. Clearly she wanted to be his wife.

1Sa 25:30 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-
I suggested on :28 that Abigail was aware of a body of material promised to David, far beyond simply the promise of kingship. She therefore mentions a promise that he would have a "sure house". This was one of "all the good" things promised to him.

When David writes in Ps. 110 of how "Yahweh said unto my Lord", he is quoting the very phrase used by Abigail years before, when they weren’t even married. He was unconsciously alluding to the words of his wife before they were married, even years later. It is of course true that context plays a vital part in Biblical interpretation. But this can lead us to overlook the fact that many New Testament quotations of the Old Testament- many of those in the early chapters of Matthew, for example- are picking up words and phrases from one context and applying them to another. Paul himself did this when he quoted the words of the poet Aratus “We are all the offspring of Zeus” about our all being the offspring of the one true God.  

1Sa 25:31 then this will not be on your conscience, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself-
She seems to perceive that the promises to David (see on :30) were conditional upon him not avenging himself. Whilst all Abigail says is wise, spiritual and true, we are again left in these records pondering the totality of her motives. She wanted to save her own life and that of her kids. Whatever higher motivation she had, of saving David from sin and encouraging his faith in God's prophetic word, she also wanted to save her own skin. We note that her 153 Hebrew words here are the longest speech of any woman recorded in the Bible. She is an unusual and powerful mediator.

Shedding blood "without cause" echos the very words David frequently uses in his Psalms about how Saul wanted to shed David's blood "without cause". Abigail, consciously or unconsciously, is leading David to see that he is behaving exactly like Saul. His desire to murder all Nabal's family with his few hundred armed men... was as bizarre and out of order as Saul with 3000 men chasing David to kill him, when David was but "a dead dog, one flea". The psychological credibility is amazing. For typically men act and become like those they despise the most. David's apparent stellar grace towards Saul is nuanced by him now behaving just like Saul. David the abused sets out to abuse just like he has been abused. And this nuances all his apparent grace, forgiveness and respect towards Saul. It was as was, but it was nuanced by not being total. 1 Sam. 24-26 is all about David avoiding bloodshed. But the apparent grace towards Saul in 1 Sam. 24-26 is nuanced by his acting just like Saul in 1 Sam. 25.

David was later precluded from building the temple because he had shed innocent blood. So her appeal didn't have abiding influence, and we read no more of her. The immediate reference to David's other wives in :43 perhaps leads us to conclude that she had morally misjudged David, and marriage to him was not to turn out as she fantasized. Her appeal is indeed spiritually based, but as with so many Biblical incidents and in so much of our "good deeds"- the motives were mixed. She wanted to save her life and that of her kids. And all the 'spiritual' reasoning was only to that end. She argues as if David has never sinned up until this point, but slaying her and her kids would be a sin. This was flattery- for David was hardly sinless at this point, as he admits about his early life in Ps. 119. Her speech appeals to David's self interest- to achieve her self interest. She was both smart and beautiful, and she knew this- and clearly used it to get her end. This is not necessarily morally wrong, in the context of saving innocent life- but it was all the same human. She surely fell at David's feet with her cleavage showing, as charmingly as possible. She as a married woman definitely gives David the come on. She asks him to 'remember her', calls him her "Lord" 15 times, fawns at the feet of the landless, homeless David as his "handmaid" when she was clearly mistress of the situation; and as soon as Nabal dies, David responds by asking her to marry him. If she was indeed the peerless paragon of virtue, she would have responded that he was under the one man: one woman ideal of Genesis, and so she would prefer not to marry him as he was already married, and in fact Ahinoam is the name of one of Saul's wives so he was married to a woman whose husband was still alive [God comments: "I gave your master's wives into your bosom"]; and the king of Israel should not multiply wives (Dt. 17:17). She knew he was to be king, that was politically as well as spiritually obviously going to happen. And to be one of the new king's wives was something she clearly wanted. Even though she surely guessed he would take more wives once he became king. If the Lord's line were traced through Abigail and her children by David, we might have reason to think she was indeed spiritual. But that isn't the case and her offspring with David have no Biblical significance.

When Yahweh has dealt well with my lord, then remember your handmaid-
Fourteen times, Abigail calls David her "lord"- which can hint that she saw him as her husband ["Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord"]. This could be taken as asking David to consider marrying her at some point if Nabal died. It could be that when the thief on the cross asked to be remembered for good, he had in mind Abigail's words: that when David returned in glory in his Kingdom, "my Lord, then remember thine handmaid". This was prefaced by her asking: "Forgive the trespass of thine handmaid... 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" (1 Sam. 25:29-31 AV). And David's response was marvellously similar to that of the Lord to the thief: "Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person" (1 Sam. 25:35). It would seem that the thief saw in David a type of the Lord, and saw in Abigail's words exactly the attitude he fain would have. And the Lord accepted this.

1Sa 25:32 David said to Abigail, Blessed is Yahweh, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!-
We see here the interplay of Divine sovereignty and human volition. She purposed of herself to meet David, but David perceives that she had been sent to him by God. David perceives that God can withhold a person from sinning, just as He did to Abimelech with Sarah, and as His Spirit today can "keep us from falling" (Jude 24). There is an element in all this of God acting over and above our own strength against temptation. It is all the gift / grace of the work of His Spirit.

1Sa 25:33 Blessed is your discretion, and blessed are you for keeping me this day from the guilt of bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand-
We wonder if by this point David had already prayed the prayer of Ps. 19:13 asking to be kept back from presumptuous sins. If so, the answer came even when he was spiritually weak.

See on :22. David was tested by God in the matter of sparing the life of his enemy Saul- and he came through the test with flying colours (1 Sam. 26). But just before that, he had been tested again in the same area in the matter of Nabal- and he initially failed, intent as he was to take the life of his enemy Nabal (1 Sam. 25). But before the Nabal incident, he had again resisted the temptation to take vengeance. Thus a circumstance can repeat over a matter in which we were previously both successful and unsuccessful.

Many have struggled to reconcile the statement that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14) with the fact that his life contains many examples not only of failure, but of anger and a devaluing of human life. He was barred from building the temple because of the amount of blood he had shed (1 Chron. 22:8). The figure of ‘shedding blood’ takes us back to the incident with Nabal, where David three times is mentioned as intending to “shed blood” (1 Sam. 25:26-33), only to be turned away from his sinful course by the wisdom, spirituality and charm of Abigail. David started out as the spiritually minded, humble shepherd, full of faith and zeal for his God. Hence Jehoshaphat is commended for walking “in the first ways of his father David” (2 Chron. 17:3). It seems to me that the comment that David was “a man after God’s own heart” refers to how he initially was, at the time God chose him and rejected Saul. But the trauma of his life, the betrayals, jealousies and hatred of others, led him to the kind of bitterness which so often surfaces in the Psalms and is reflected in several historical incidents where he lacks the value of others’ lives which we would otherwise expect from a man who walked so close with his God.

1Sa 25:34 For indeed, as Yahweh the God of Israel lives who has withheld me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely there wouldn’t have been left to Nabal by the morning light so much as a single male-
David recognizes that he has been kept back from sinning by a Divine force far greater than himself. And that kind of strengthening, the strength we so desperately need in our spiritual struggles, is no less available today through the work of the Spirit given to us (Jude 24).

We note the three references here to Yahweh withholding David from the sin in view (:26,34,39). And there are three references to David's desire to avenge himself (:26,31,33). Clearly God does withhold from sin- at His initiative. Likewise He did with Abimelech. This is another outpouring of His grace through His Spirit, and Paul explains that the work of the Spirit is the parade example of how God's grace and not human works lead His people to salvation.

1Sa 25:35 So David accepted from her what she had brought him and he said to her, Go up in peace to your house. I have listened to your words and have granted your request-
Note the similarities between the David / Nabal / Abigail experience and those of Jacob, whilst he too kept flocks (1 Sam. 25:35 = Gen. 32:20; 25:18 = Gen. 32:13; 25:27 = Gen. 33:11). Abigail had consciously sought to emulate Jacob in appeasing David with presents sent before her, and God's wider providence played along with this. The granting of her request suggests that David is effectively king in this situation- he has the power to slay Nabal but decides not to, because of the request from Abigail.

1Sa 25:36 Abigail came to Nabal while he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. Nabal’s heart was merry, for he was very drunk. Therefore she told him nothing until the morning-
If the "feast" of :8 was a religious feast, then we have Nabal doing something similar to what happened at the church in Corinth; the Lord's feast was turned into an excuse for drunken revelry. Nabal clearly pretended to kingship himself, and Abigail must have seen the stark contrast between him and David.

1Sa 25:37 In the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him what had happened; and his heart failed and he became like a stone-
To have been saved by a woman from death due to his own foolishness... was too much for him. If he had humbled himself in repentance and acceptance of grace, he perhaps wouldn't have had a stroke. The ten day period before his death was maybe a time of testing (Dan. 1:14,15), to see if he would repent deep within him. But he didn't, and so he was slain by Yahweh (:37). We marvel at God's desire to save even the likes of Nabal and Saul, and our outreach should be mightily inspired thereby.

1Sa 25:38 About ten days after that, Yahweh struck Nabal so that he died-
The experience of the Lord smiting Nabal led David to perceive that Yahweh would likewise smite Saul and he himself need not murder him (1 Sam. 26:10).

This was encouragement to David to realize that if he didn't take vengeance upon Saul, then likewise his time would come to die from Yahweh's hand rather than David's. This is how God works with us too; we are provided a smaller scale worked example of how things can be over a larger issue, if we continue faithful. We note that "ten days" is a period of testing in Dan. 1:14,15.

1Sa 25:39 When David heard that Nabal was dead he said, Blessed is Yahweh, who has upheld my cause against Nabal, and has kept back His servant from doing wrong. Yahweh has returned the wrongdoing of Nabal on his own head-
God's judgment is ongoing. He considered David's case against Nabal in the court of heaven, and judgment was given and carried out. It was in David's favour, despite him being very unspiritual and cranky at the time. "We make the answer now". Judgment day will not be a time when God considers evidence for the first time, weighs it up and delivers a verdict. That considering of evidence is ongoing right now, and the last day of judgment is for our benefit and not His.

David sent and asked Abigail to become his wife-
This may have meant that he inherited Nabal's wealth. But it is more likely that Abigail resigned all that for the outlaw life. Thus Abigail's secret wish came wonderfully true because it was rightly motivated.

1Sa 25:40 When his servants had come to Abigail to Carmel they said, David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife-
It's not clear whether this was a second visit after she had agreed, or whether he sent and took her as his wife anyway. The next verse would imply the latter, although she was ready and willing. David presents here as doing the right thing. Despite Abigail's beauty, he doesn't grab her for himself. Rather he waits for God to give him the beautiful woman in His time and according to His will. Later David fails to retain this lesson, in that he grabs Bathsheba for himself because, again, she is a beautiful woman. God worked through all this strange stuff with Abigail and Nabal. For Nabal was a descendant of Caleb, who had been given Hebron (Josh. 14:13,14). Nabal was a big time landowner. And now, as married to Nabal's wife, that inheritance passed to David; and thus he was declared king in Hebron. All through God graciously working through David's sinful desire to murder Nabal and his family.

1Sa 25:41 She arose, bowed herself with her face to the earth and said, Your handmaid is ready to be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord-
She had earlier copied the example of Rebekah (1 Sam. 25:23 = Gen. 24:18,46). And God played along with this, by giving her an opportunity to further copy Rebekah's example by leaving all immediately.

1Sa 25:42 Abigail hurried and got onto a donkey, with five of her maids who followed her, and she went with the messengers of David and became his wife-
We get the impression of haste, of walking away from a prosperous life to become second wife to a man who was an outlaw. She was inspired by Rebekah's example (see on :41), who also took her maids and left immediately with Isaac's messengers.

1Sa 25:43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they both became his wives-
Heb. 'had taken'. Ahinoam comes first in his list of wives in 2 Sam. 3:2.

1Sa 25:44 Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim
Gallim was in Benjamin, near Saul's home town of Gibeah (Is. 10:30), so we can read this as meaning that Saul was trying to cement his own leadership of his tribe, thinking that he might at least remain leader of Benjamin even if he lost the kingship over all Israel. He repeatedly tried to vainly get around God's clear words to him, as many do today.