1 Samuel 25:10
And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.
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(10) There be many servants now a days that break away.—This evident insult indicates that Nabal was of the faction of Saul at this time—was reckoned among those who hated David. It was the report of these words, doubtless, which so furiously excited David. In Nabal, the rich sheep-master, the churlish refuser of the fairly earned gift, he saw a deadly political adversary—one who, with men like Doeg and Cush, would hunt him down like a wild beast. Without this explanation, David’s wrath and determination to take such speedy and bloody vengeance on a mere selfish churl is inexplicable. With the light, however, which such an open declaration of deadly hostility on the part of Nabal throws on the transaction, the subsequent passionate conduct of David, although deeply blameable, is not difficult to understand.

1 Samuel 25:10. Who is David? — There be many servants, &c. — He reproaches them all as a company of fugitives and vagabonds; and, in effect, taxes David with infidelity to his master Saul; a most rude and brutish answer to such a civil message and humble request.25:2-11 We should not have heard of Nabal, if nothing had passed between him and David. Observe his name, Nabal, A fool; so it signifies. Riches make men look great in the eye of the world; but to one that takes right views, Nabal looked very mean. He had no honour or honesty; he was churlish, cross, and ill-humoured; evil in his doings, hard and oppressive; a man that cared not what fraud and violence he used in getting and saving. What little reason have we to value the wealth of this world, when so great a churl as Nabal abounds, and so good a man as David suffers want!, David pleaded the kindness Nabal's shepherds had received. Considering that David's men were in distress and debt, and discontented, and the scarcity of provisions, it was by good management that they were kept from plundering. Nabal went into a passion, as covetous men are apt to do, when asked for any thing, thinking thus to cover one sin with another; and, by abusing the poor, to excuse themselves from relieving them. But God will not thus be mocked. Let this help us to bear reproaches and misrepresentations with patience and cheerfulness, and make us easy under them; it has often been the lot of the excellent ones of the earth. Nabal insists much on the property he had in the provisions of his table. May he not do what he will with his own? We mistake, if we think we are absolute lords of what we have, and may do what we please with it. No; we are but stewards, and must use it as we are directed, remembering it is not our own, but His who intrusted us with it.That liveth in prosperity - The Hebrew is obscure, and is variously interpreted. The simplest rendering is, "And ye shall say thus about (his) life," i. e., with reference to his life, health, circumstances, etc. 1Sa 25:10-13. The Churlish Answer Provokes Him.

10-12. Nabal answered David's servants, … Who is David? &c.—Nabal's answer seems to indicate that the country was at the time in a loose and disorderly state. David's own good conduct, however, as well as the important services rendered by him and his men, were readily attested by Nabal's servants. The preparations of David to chastise his insolent language and ungrateful requital are exactly what would be done in the present day by Arab chiefs, who protect the cattle of the large and wealthy sheep masters from the attacks of the marauding border tribes or wild beasts. Their protection creates a claim for some kind of tribute, in the shape of supplies of food and necessaries, which is usually given with great good will and gratitude; but when withheld, is enforced as a right. Nabal's refusal, therefore, was a violation of the established usages of the place.

Who is David? what relation or obligation have I to David?

There be many servants now a days that break away; hereby he taxeth both David, as one revolted from and risen up against Saul his lord and master; and his soldiers as runagates from their masters and creditors, &c. See 1 Samuel 22:2. And Nabal answered David's servants, and said,.... In a very haughty manner, in great wrath, just as churlish covetous persons do, when they do not care to give what is asked of them:

who is David? and who is the son of Jesse; his two questions, which relate to the same person, do not well agree together, since by both he would suggest as if he knew not the person they came from, and whose name they made use of: had he stopped at the first question, it might have gone so, but his second question betrays him, and plainly shows he did know him, though he speaks with contempt of him, calling him "the son of Jesse", as Saul often did, 1 Samuel 20:27. Abarbinel, of all interpreters, is of opinion only, that Nabal did not say this disrespectfully of David, and to his dishonour; he knew he was the Lord's anointed, and the king's son-in-law; but the sense, according to him, is, "who is David? and who is the son of Jesse?" are they not one man? but though he is the son of Jesse, and prides himself saying, I shall be king, I should not regard that, but would send him corn, and bread, and food, as much as is needful for his own use; but what can I do when there are so many servants? for they are six hundred of them, and they are too many to relieve:

there be many servants nowadays that break away every man from his master; which words also the same writer thinks have no reference to David, only to his men; but they seem plainly to strike at David himself, and suggest that he had revolted from and rebelled against Saul his master, as well as received and protected fugitives and renegades, such as fled from their masters and from their creditors; see 1 Samuel 22:2.

And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the {e} son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.

(e) Thus the covetous wretches instead of relieving the needs of God's children, reviled their persons and condemned their cause.

10. Who is David, &c.] Cp. Jdg 9:38.Verses 10, 11. - There be many servants, etc. Nabal would scarcely have ventured to speak in so insulting a manner if David had been at Maon, but as he had moved with his men a long distance towards the south, he. gave free vent to his rude feelings without restraint. David was to him a mere slave who had run away from his master, Saul. My bread,... my water. These are the necessaries of life, while the flesh was the special luxury provided for the festival. David's ten young men would not literally carry water to him at so great a distance, nor did Nabal mean more than our phrase "meat and drink." The use, nevertheless, of water as equivalent to drink marks the value of water in the hill country, and also the abstemious habits of the people. When David heard in the desert (cf. 1 Samuel 25:1) that Nabal was shearing his sheep, which was generally accompanied with a festal meal (see at Genesis 38:12), he sent ten young men up to Carmel to him, and bade them wish him peace and prosperity in his name, and having reminded him of the friendly services rendered to his shepherds, solicit a present for himself and his people. לשׁלום לו שׁאל, ask him after his welfare, i.e., greet him in a friendly manner (cf. Exodus 18:7). The word לחי is obscure, and was interpreted by the early translators merely according to uncertain conjectures. The simplest explanation is apparently in vitam, long life, understood as a wish in the sense of "good fortune to you" (Luther, Maurer, etc.); although the word חי in the singular can only be shown to have the meaning life in connection with the formula used in oaths, נפשׁך חי, etc. But even if חי must be taken as an adjective, it is impossible to explain לחי in any other way than as an elliptical exclamation meaning "good fortune to the living man." For the idea that the word is to be connected with אמרתּם, "say to the living man," i.e., to the man if still alive, is overthrown by the fact that David had no doubt that Nabal was still living. The words which follow are also to be understood as a wish, "May thou and thy house, and all that is thine, be well!" After this salutation they were to proceed with the object of their visit: "And now I have heard that thou hast sheep-shearers. Now thy shepherds have been with us; we have done them no harm (הכלים, as in Judges 18:7 : on the form, see Ges. 53, 3, Anm. 6), and nothing was missed by them so long as they were in Carmel." When living in the desert, David's men had associated with the shepherds of Nabal, rendered them various services, and protected them and their flocks against the southern inhabitants of the desert (the Bedouin Arabs); in return for which they may have given them food and information. Thus David proved himself a protector of his people even in his banishment. וימצאוּ, "so may the young men (those sent by David) find favour in thine eyes! for we have come to a good (i.e., a festive) day. Give, I pray, what thy hand findeth (i.e., as much as thou canst) to thy servant, and to thy son David." With the expression "thy son" David claims Nabal's fatherly goodwill. So far as the fact itself is concerned, "on such a festive occasion near a town or village even in our own time, an Arab sheikh of the neighbouring desert would hardly fail to put in a word either in person or by message; and his message both in form and substance would be only the transcript of that of David" (Robinson, Palestine, p. 201).
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