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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And 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.
In his house at Ramah - Probably in the court or garden attached to his dwelling-house. (Compare 2 Chronicles 33:20; 2 Kings 21:18; John 19:41.)
The wilderness of Paran - The Septuagint has the far more probable reading "Maon." The wilderness of Paran lay far off to the south, on the borders of the wilderness of Sinai Numbers 10:12; 1 Kings 11:18, whereas the following verse 1 Samuel 25:2 shows that the scene is laid in the immediate neighborhood of Maon. If, however, Paran be the true reading, we must suppose that in a wide sense the wilderness of Paran extended all the way to the wilderness of Beersheba, and eastward to the mountains of Judah (marginal references).
2And 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.
Carmel - Not Mount Carmel on the west of the plain of Esdraelon, but the Carmel close to Maon (marginal references).
Shearing his sheep - Which was always a time of open-handed hospitality among flock-masters Genesis 38:12-13; 2 Samuel 13:23-24.
3Now 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.
4And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.
5And 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:
6And 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.
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.
7And 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.
8Ask 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.
9And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.
10And 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.
11Shall 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?
The mention of water indicates a country where water was scarce (compare Joshua 15:19). Or "bread and water" may be equivalent to "meat and drink."
12So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings.
13And 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.
14But 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.
Railed on them - The marginal reading, "flew upon them," is nearer to the original.
15But 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:
16They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
A wall - To protect them from the attacks of the Bedouins, etc. They had been as safe with David's men around them as if they had been dwelling in a walled town.
17Now 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.
18Then 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.
Two bottles - Rather, "two skins," each of which would contain many gallons. These leather vessels varied in size according to the skin they were made of, and the use they were to be put to. The smaller and more portable kind, which may not improperly be called bottles, were made of the skin of a kid: larger ones of the skin of a he-goat. The Arabs invariably to this day carry their milk, water, etc., in such leather vessels. One skin of wine was a handsome present from Ziba, sufficient for David's household 2 Samuel 16:1. The provisions were all ready to Abigail's hand, having been provided for the sheep-shearing feast.
19And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
20And 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.
The covert of the hill - Probably a defile or glen, literally a "secret place," as in 1 Samuel 19:2. She was riding down into this glen from one side, while David and his men were descending the opposite hill. It is perhaps mentioned that she came by this "secret place," because she chose this path to escape the observation of her husband or of anyone else.
21Now 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.
In vain - i. e., under false expectation.
22So 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.
The concluding phrase denotes the utter destruction of a family, and is rightly explained to mean "every male," perhaps with the idea, "down to the very meanest member of the household."
23And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,
24And 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.
25Let 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.
26Now 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.
The passage should be rendered as follows: "And now my lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth," it is "the Lord" that "hath withholden thee from coming" into blood-guiltiness (as in 1 Samuel 25:33), "and from saving thyself with thine own hand;" and "now" all "thine enemies" shall be as Nabal (whom she considers as utterly impotent to hurt David, and as already thoroughly humbled before him), and (so shall be) all "that seek evil to my Lord."
27And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.
28I 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.
For the Lord will make ... a sure house - Compare 1 Samuel 2:35, and 2 Samuel 7:16; 1 Kings 11:38. Abigail's firm persuasion of David's kingdom stands upon the same footing as Rahab's conviction of God's gift of Canaan to the Israelites Joshua 2:9-13. Both testified to God's revelation and their own faith. This is doubtless the reason why Abigail's speech is recorded.
29Yet 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.
In the bundle - Rather, "the bag," in which anything precious, or important to be preserved, was put, and the bag was then tied up (compare Genesis 42:35).
The souls ... shall he sling out - The comparison is especially appropriate as addressed to David, whose feat with his sling was so celebrated 1 Samuel 17:49.
30And 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;
31That 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.
32And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:
33And 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.
34For 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.
35So 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.
36And 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.
37But 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 became as a stone - Probably his violent anger at hearing it brought on a fit of apoplexy to which he was disposed by the drunken revel of the night before. After lying senseless for ten days he died.
38And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.
39And 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.
40And 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.
There is no note of the exact interval that elapsed between Nabal's death and David's hearing of it, or, again, between David's hearing of it and his message to Abigail; nor is there any reason to suppose that the marriage took place with unbecoming haste. The widow of such a husband as Nabal had been could not, however, be expected to revere his memory. After the usual mourning of seven days, she would probably feel herself free to act as custom allowed. (See 2 Samuel 11:26.)
41And 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.
42And 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.
43David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives.
In the list of David's wives Ahinoam is mentioned first 2 Samuel 3:2; 1 Chronicles 3:1. But this may be only because her son was the first-born. David's now taking two wives was an indication of his growing power and importance as a chieftain. The number was increased to six when he reigned in Hebron 1 Chronicles 3:1, and still further when he became king of all Israel 2 Samuel 5:12-13. See 1 Samuel 1:2 note.
Of Jezreel - Not the well-known city of Samaria, which gave its name to the plain of Esdraelon, but a town of Judah, near Carmel (marginal reference).
44But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.
Saul's giving Michal to Phalti was intended to mark the final rupture of his own relations with David (compare Judges 14:20; 2 Samuel 3:7; 2 Samuel 16:21). Phalti or Phaltiel Was compelled by Abner to restore Michal to David 2 Samuel 3:15.
Gallin - A city of Benjamin, and in the neighborhood of another town called Laish.