Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.Samuel dieth: David goeth to the wilderness of Paran, 1 Samuel 25:1. Nabal’s riches, 1 Samuel 25:2. His and his wife Abigail’s nature and condition, 1 Samuel 25:3. David requesteth of Nabal some relief for his camp: he entreateth David’s messengers scornfully. David is provoked, and mindeth to destroy him, 1 Samuel 25:4-13. Abigail understands it, 1 Samuel 25:14-17; taketh a present, 1 Samuel 25:18-22; and by her wisdom, 1 Samuel 25:23-31, pacifieth David, 1 Samuel 25:32-35. Nabal hearing of this, dieth, 1 Samuel 25:36-38. David taketh Abigail and Ahinoam to be his wives, 1 Samuel 25:39-43; Saul having given Michal to Phalti, 1 Samuel 25:44.
Buried him in his house, according to the manner of those times. See Genesis 23:9 50:5 Matthew 27:60. The wilderness of Paran, in the southern borders of the land of Judah, that so when occasion served, he might retire out of Saul’s dominions.
And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.Maon; a place in or near to the wilderness of Paran. See 1 Samuel 23:24.
Carmel; not that Carmel in Issachar, of which see 1 Samuel 15:12 1 Kings 18:19; but another in the tribe of Judah, near unto Maon, as appears from Joshua 15:55.
Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.This is added to aggravate his crime, that he was a degenerate branch of that noble stock of Caleb, and consequently of the tribe of Judah, as David was.
And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.Which times were celebrated with feasting and jollity. See 2 Samuel 13:23,24.
And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:No text from Poole on this verse.
And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.To him that liveth in prosperity, Heb. to him that liveth. Life is oft put for a prosperous and happy life, as in that prayer, Let the king live, 1 Samuel 10:24 1 Kings 1:25, and in other passages of Scripture, and other authors; for an afflicted and calamitous life is unworthy of the name of life, and is esteemed a kind of death, and oft so called, as 2 Corinthians 1:10 11:23. By this expression David both congratulates Nabal’s felicity, and tacitly minds him of the penury and distress in which David and his men now were.
To thine house, i.e. to all thy family.
Unto all that thou hast; to all thy goods. So David’s prayer is very comprehensive, reaching to his soul, and body, and wife, and children, and servants, and all his estate.
And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.Which, considering the licentiousness of soldiers, and the necessities which David and his men were oft exposed to, was no small favour and privilege, which Nabal was bound both ill justice, and gratitude, and prudence to requite.
Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.In a good day, i.e. in a day of feasting and rejoicing; when men are most cheerful and liberal; when thou mayst relieve us out of thy abundance without damage to thyself; when thou art receiving the mercies of God, and therefore obliged to pity and relieve distressed and indigent persons, Deu 12:12 14:26,29 15:7.
Unto thy servants to us who have been and still are ready to serve and guard thee and thine. Or the word servants may be only used as a word of respect, frequently used in Scripture, where inferiors speak to superiors, especially when they be suppliants, and beg some favour.
To thy son; so he calls himself, to show that respect and affection which he bore to Nabal, as being elder and wealthier than himself, and of the same tribe with himself, and a branch of so worthy a family as Nabal’s was.
And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.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.
Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?My water; he speaketh thus, either because in those hot and dry parts water was scarce and precious; or water is here put for any kind of drink, as bread is oft taken for all sorts of meat.
So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings.No text from Poole on this verse.
And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.Gird ye on every man his sword; having resolved and sworn to revenge himself of Nabal, as is expressed, 1 Samuel 25:21,22. By the stuff. See 1 Samuel 17:22 30:24.
But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them.One of the young men told Abigail; wisely considering the mischievous effects likely to follow so churlish a message.
But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields:No text from Poole on this verse.
They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.A wall, i.e. a defence against wild beasts, and robbers, and enemies.
Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.Evil is determined against our master; which it was easy to guess; either from some threatening expressions which David’s men used; or from the consideration of David’s great power, and that rage which so high a provocation was likely to produce in military persons.
A man cannot speak to him, to wit, without hazard to himself, and therefore I acquaint thee rather than him with this matter.
Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.Abigail took two hundred loaves; which she did without his leave, and against his mind, because it was a case of apparent necessity, for the preservation of herself, and husband, and all the family from imminent ruin. And surely that real and urgent necessity which dispenseth with God’s positive commands, might well dispense with the husband’s right in this case.
And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.I come after you; for she knew she could quickly over take them.
And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them.By the covert of the hill; in the lower part and under the shadow of the hill, or of the trees that grew upon it; so that David did not see her till she met him. David and his men came down, to wit, from another opposite hill.
Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.David had said; either in his journey, or as soon as he heard that reproachful answer.
This fellow; whom he thought unworthy to be named, for his barbarous ingratitude and churlishness.
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.Unto the enemies of David, i. e. Unto David himself. But because it might seem ominous and unnatural to curse himself, therefore by a figure called euphemismus, instead of David, he mentions David’s enemies. See 1 Samuel 20:16. The words may be thus rendered:
So and more also let God do for (the Hebrew lamed being very oft so used) the enemies of David, i.e. let God work for them, and give them as much prosperity and success as Nabal hath hitherto had. Or, let God utterly destroy their enemies; and especially myself, the chief of them, if I do not destroy this man.
Any that pisseth against the wall, i.e. any of the males, for they only do so; and of them this phrase is manifestly understood, 1 Kings 14:10 21:21 2 Kings 9:8; and men not wholly barbarous have generally spared women in such cases.
Quest. Why then was Abigail so much concerned and afraid?
Answ. Partly from humanity, and the horror of so general and dreadful a slaughter of her family and nearest relations; and partly because when the sword was once drawn, she knew not where it would rest, nor whether she should escape; for she knew nothing of this limitation of David’s threatening till she came to him.
And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,Not only in token of deep reverence, but as a most humble supplicant, as 2 Kings 4:27.
And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.Upon me let this iniquity be; impute Nabal’s sin to me, and, if thou pleasest, punish it in me, who here offer myself as a sacrifice to thy just indignation. This whole speech of Abigail is done with great artifice; and she doth here, by an absolute submitting to mercy, without any pretence of justification of what was done, (but rather with aggravation of it,) endeavour to work upon David’s generosity and good nature to pardon it; and, with great art, first would divert the punishment from her husband to herself, because she had then much more to say why David should spare her than why he should spare Nabal. And there was hardly any head of argument, whence the greatest orator might argue in this case, which she doth not manage to the best advantage, and most plausible insinuations for such an exigent.
Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.Let not my lord regard this man; his person and words deserve thy contempt, but not thy regard.
Man of Belial; for such he hath showed himself to be by this wicked and abominable carriage towards thee.
Folly is with him; his noted folly and stupidity is a more proper object for thy pity than anger. His sordid answer to thy servants did not proceed from any ill design, or deep malice, but from brutish sottishhess, and want of the understanding of a man in him. It may be thought a great crime, that she traduceth her husband in this manner; but this may be said for her, that she told them nothing but what they all knew concerning him, and that she only seemed to take away that which he never had indeed, to wit, his good name, that she might preserve that which he had, and which was more dear and important to him, even his life and soul.
Thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord; though I freely submit myself to the punishment in my husband’s stead, yet I was innocent of the crime.
Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.Seeing the Lord hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood; seeing God hath so ordered this business by his wise and wonderful providence, that I should accidentally and unexpectedly come to the knowledge of my husband’s vile and sordid carriage; and that I should come to meet thee, and find thee so gracious, as to give a favourable audience; and all this, that hereby he might withhold thee from the sin of blood-guiltiness.
Be as Nabal; let them be as contemptible and hateful as Nabal is and will be for this odious action; let them be as unable to do thee any hurt as he is; let them be forced to yield to thee, and implore thy pardon and favour, as Nabal now doth by my mouth; let the vengeance thou didst design upon Nabal and his family fall upon their heads, who by their constant and inveterate malice against thee, do more deserve it than this silly fool for this one miscarriage; and much more than all the rest of our family, who, as they are none of thine enemies, nor such as seek time evil, so they were no way guilty of this wicked action. And therefore spare these, and execute thy vengeance upon more proper objects.
And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.This blessing; so a gift or present is called here, and Genesis 33:11, and elsewhere; not only because the matter of it comes from God’s blessing, but also because it is given with a blessing, or with a good will.
Let it even be given unto the young men, as being unworthy of thine acceptance or use.
I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.The trespass of thine handmaid, i.e. which I have taken upon myself, 1 Samuel 25:21, and which, if it be not pardoned, but punished, the punishment will reach to me.
Will certainly make my lord a sure house, i.e. will give the kingdom to thee, and to thy house for ever, as he hath promised thee. And therefore let God’s great kindness to thee make thee gentle and merciful to others; do not sully thy approaching glory with the stain of innocent blood; but consider that it is the glory of a king (which thou art by God’s appointment, and shall ere long actually be) to pass by offences, and that it will be thy loss to cut off such as will shortly be thy subjects.
The battles of the Lord, i.e. for the Lord, and for the people of the Lord, against their enemies, especially the Philistines. And as that this is thy proper work, and therein thou mayst expect God’s blessing and help; so it is not thy work to draw thy sword in thy own private quarrel against any of the people of the Lord, and God will not bless thee in it.
Evil hath not been found in thee all thy days; though thou hast been oft aspersed, and charged with many critics, by Saul and others; yet thy innocency hath been and is evident to all men: do not therefore now by this cruel act of vengeance justify thine enemies’ reproaches, nor blemish thy great and just reputation.
Yet 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, as out of the middle of a sling.A man, to wit, Saul, though no way injured nor justly provoked by thee.
To seek thy soul, i. e. to take away thy life. In the bundle of life, or, in the bundle, i.e. in the society or congregation of
the living; out of which men are taken and cut off by death. The phrase is taken from the common usage of men, who bind those things in bundles which they are afraid to lose, because things that are solitary and unbound are soon lost. The meaning of the place is, God will preserve thy life; and therefore it becomes not thee unjustly and unnecessarily to take away the lives of any, especially the people of thy God and Saviour.
With the Lord thy God, i.e. in the hand and custody of God, who, by his watchful providence, preserves this bundle, and all that are in it; and time in a particular and singular manner, as being thy God in a peculiar way and special covenant. God himself will hide and keep thee in the secret of his presence, Psalm 31:20, where no hand of violence can reach thee. And therefore all the attempts of Saul or others against thee are vain and ridiculous. For who can destroy whom God will keep?
Them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling; God himself will cut them off suddenly, violently, and irresistibly; and cast them far away, both from his presence, and from thy neighbourhood, and from all capacity of doing thee any hurt.
And it shall come to pass, when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;No text from Poole on this verse.
That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.Nor offence of heart unto my lord; thy mind and conscience will be free from all the torment which the guilt and shame of such an action would cause in thee. By which, she cunningly insinuates what a blemish this would be to his glory, what a disturbance to his peace and felicity, if he proceeded to execute his purpose; and withal implies how sweet and comfortable it would be to him to remember, that he had for conscience to God denied himself, and restrained his passions.
That thou hast shed blood causeless; which she signifies would be done if he should go on. For though Nabal had been guilty of abominable rudeness, uncharitableness, and ingratitude; yet he had done nothing worthy of death, by the laws of God or of man. And whatsoever he had done, the rest of his family were innocent.
That my lord hath avenged himself; which is directly contrary to God’s law, Leviticus 19:18 Deu 32:35, compared with Romans 12:19.
When the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid; when God shall make thee king, and I shall have occasion to apply myself to time for justice or relief, let me find grace in thy sight, and so let me do at this time. Or, and the Lord will bless my lord, and recompense thee for this mortification of thy passion, and thou wilt remember thine hand-maid, i.e. thou wilt remember my counsel with satisfaction to thyself; and thankfulness to me.
And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:Which by his gracious and singular providence so disposed matters that thou shouldst, come to rule. He rightly begins at the fountain of this deliverance, which was God; and then proceeds to the instruments.
And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.Blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, i.e. the Lord bless and recompense thee for this thy good advice.
From coming to shed blood, which I had sworn to do. Hereby it plainly appears that oaths whereby men bind themselves to any sin are null and void; and as it was a sin to make them, so it is adding sin to sin to perform them.
For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.Hath kept me back from hurting thee; not that he intended to kill her, but the males only; as was noted in 1 Samuel 25:22. But their destruction was a dreadful affliction and damage to her.
So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.i.e. Showed my acceptance of thy person, by my grant of thy request: see Genesis 19:21.
And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.Like the feast of a king; as the manner was upon those solemn occasions. Sordid covetousness and vain prodigality were met together in him.
She told him nothing; he being then incapable of admonition, his reason and conscience being both asleep.
But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.He was oppressed with grief, and fainted away through the fear and horror of so great a mischief, though it was past. As one who, having in the night galloped over a narrow plank, laid upon a broken bridge, over a deep river, when in the morning he came to review it, was struck dead with. the horror of the danger he was in.
And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.God either inflicted some other stroke or disease upon him, or increased his grief and fear to such a height as killed him.
And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.How could David rejoice at the death of his enemy?
Answ. Although it may be said that he rejoiced not in Nabal’s death as such, but only in the declaration of God’s justice in punishing so great a wickedness; which was an honour to God, and a document, and therefore a benefit to mankind, and so a public good, and cause of joy; yet the matter is not weighty, if we confess that this was another instance of human infirmity in David, and that it is not proposed for our imitation, but for our caution. Yet it may be further said, that this was not purely an act of private revenge, because David was a public person, and anointed king; and therefore Nabal’s reproach cast upon David above, 1 Samuel 25:10,11, was a contempt of God, and of his ordinance and appointment; which was vindicated by this remarkable judgment.
Hath kept his servant from evil, i.e. from the sin of bloodshed and self-revenge, 1 Samuel 25:33.
David sent, to wit, messengers; which he thought fitter than to go himself; partly because if he had met with a repulse, it had been less ignominious; and partly because he would leave her to her freedom and choice, and would not so much as seem to take her by violence. But this doubtless was not done immediately after Nabal’s death, but in some convenient space of time after it; though such circumstances be commonly omitted in the sacred history, which gives only the threads and most important passages of things.
And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife.No text from Poole on this verse.
And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.She showed this reverence, and spake thus to them, as representing David’s person.
And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife.She went after the messengers; not immediately, but some convenient time after they were gone. She considered not David’s present straits and penury, which site thought her plentiful estate might supply; nor his danger from Saul; but by a true and strong faith rested upon God’s promise made to David, not doubting but God would perform it.
David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives.No text from Poole on this verse.
But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.But, or for, as the Hebrew vau is ofttimes used. For this seems to be added as a reason why David took other wives, because Saul had given his former wife to another man, that he might as far as he could extinguish all relation and kindred to him, whom he hated; and withal, cut off his hopes and pretence to the crown upon that account.