I Samuel 25

 

 

 

 

DEATH OF SAMUEL

            (v. 1)

 

1 “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.”

And Samuel died. According to Josephus, Samuel had for

eighteen years been contemporaneous with Saul’s kingdom. If this

calculation, which probably rests upon some Jewish tradition, be at all

correct, we must include the years of Samuel’s judgeship in the sum total

of Saul’s reign (see on ch. 13:1), as evidently his fall was now

fast approaching. Samuel’s life marked the beginning of the second age of

Israelite history (Acts 3:24). Moses had given the people their law, but

Samuel in the schools of the prophets provided for them that education

without which a written law was powerless, and called forth also and

regulated that living energy in the prophetic order which, claiming an all

but equal authority, modified and developed it, and continually increased

its breadth and force, until the last prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, with

supreme and Divine power reenacted it as the religion of the whole world.

And as neither his educational institutions nor the prophetic order, whose

ordinary duties were closely connected with these schools, could have

flourished without internal quietness and security, Samuel also established

the Jewish monarchy, which was ideally also necessary, because the

Messiah must not only be priest and prophet, but before all things A KING!

(Matthew 2:1, 6; John 18:37). And side by side with the kingdom

he lived on to see the military successes of the first king, and the firm

establishment of the royal power; but to witness also the development of

that king into a despot, the overclouding of his mind with fits of madness,

the designation of his successor, the probation of that successor by

manifold trials, his ripening fitness under them to be the model of a

theocratic king, and his growth in power so as practically to be now safe

from all Saul’s evil purposes. And so in the fullness of time Samuel died,

and all Israel gathered together and made lamentation for him (see Genesis

50:10), and buried him in his house. The tomb at present shown as that

of Samuel is situated upon a lofty hill, the identification of which with

Ramah is very uncertain. Probably he was buried not actually in his house,

as that would lead to perpetual ceremonial defilement (Numbers 19:16;

Luke 11:44), but in some open spot in his garden (compare II Kings

21:18; II Chronicles 33:20). So Joab was buried in his own house

(I Kings 2:34). At Ramah. Thenius thinks that the prophets shared with the

kings the right of intramural burial.

 

Honor to the Dead  (v. 1)

 

The various points brought out in the brief reference are, the brevity of the notice

compared with the length of service, the ground of the public homage, the loss

and gain to Israel, the extent of influence revealed, and the temporary subsidence

of party conflicts.  Formulating the truths thus suggested, we see:

 

  • THAT THE SCANTY REFERENCE IN THE BIBLE TO THE

PERSONAL WORK AND DEATH OF GOD’S BEST SERVANTS IS IN

INSTRUCTIVE CONTRAST WITH THE RECORDS CONCERNING

CHRIST. Samuel’s life was long and immensely useful to the world by the

reformation wrought in Israel by the force of his character, and the

preparation made for prophetic teaching and stable government. A holier

and more devoted man was not found, and yet one verse tells us all about

his death and burial. The same reticence is true concerning Abraham,

Moses, Isaiah, and indeed all the most distinguished of men. They during

life spoke little of themselves, and referred little to their ancestors. The

apostles also live, labor, and die, and no stress is laid on their work and

death, a circumstance in keeping with the self-abnegation which never

made themselves prominent objects of faith. The contrast with Christ is

impressive. HE IS ALL AND EVERYTHING!   His self-reference is perfect

egotism if he be a mere human being ordained only in higher degree than

others to execute a Divine purpose. The exaltation of his name, work, and

death by the apostles is most natural and harmonious with the silence of the

Bible in relation to all others if He be really Divine. The question of His

personality cannot be settled by mere verbal discussions. Broad facts must be

considered, and these clearly determine the verbal sense where exegetes

may be supposed to differ. This kind of argument appeals to the common

sense of men, and accords also with the instinct of the Christian heart to

worship Christ.

 

  • THAT THE HONOR PAID TO THE DEAD, SO FAR AS REFERRED TO

IN SCRIPTURE, IS THAT DUE TO HOLY CHARACTER AND SERVICE.

The allusion here and elsewhere to a proper homage to the dead is clearly

associated with the holy life and conduct previously recorded in the sacred

narrative. There is a singular silence in the Bible with respect to any

honors paid to men, on account of the greatness supposed to consist in

warlike exploits. True greatness lies in good abilities being pervaded by a

spirit of piety, and consequently consecrated to the advancement of THE

KINGDOM OF GOD ON THE EARTH.  The value of a man’s life is to be

sought in the contribution he makes to the spiritual impulse by which the

world is brought nearer to God. The supreme honors often paid to mere

titular rank, to wealth, to military prowess, and even to bare learning, are

expressive of a human judgment which is discounted by the language of the

Bible, and will be reversed when, adjudged by the lofty standard of Christ,

every man shall receive according to the deeds done in the body.

 

  • THAT THE DEATH OF TRULY GOOD MEN IS BOTH A LOSS AND

A GAIN TO THE WORLD. Israel properly mourned because the “godly

manfailed, for the activity and personal influence of the greatest man of

the age henceforth would cease.  (Psalm 12:1)  We cannot say whether a good

man’s activity of spirit no longer operates as a power on men after his death —

probably it does if there be any truth in the conservation and persistence of

spiritual forces; but so far as survivors are concerned they are unconscious

of it, and, on the other hand, are henceforth more open to the action of

other visible influences. We lose much when good men die; yet we gain

something. The whole life becomes more impressive in death than during

its continuance. The germinal good sown in the heart by silent goodness

and actual effort is quickened around the grave into healthy growth. The

sobering, elevating influence of a sainted memory is a permanent treasure.

Many have to bless God for the death of His saints. Heaven becomes more

real to those whose beloved ones have gone before, and the levities of life

are subdued by the thought of our temporary separation from the “general

assembly.”  (Hebrws 12:23)

 

  • THAT THE REALITY AND EXTENT OF A GOOD MAN’S

INFLUENCE OVER OTHERS IS BROUGHT OUT IN DEATH MORE

THAN IN LIFE. The public homage paid to Samuel was the nation’s

response to his life’s appeal to the heart and conscience. Like Elijah, he no

doubt often deplored the degeneracy of the age, and questioned whether he

was doing any substantial good. This doubt is the common experience of

all God’s servants. They cannot see the incidence of the rays of light as

they silently fall on the dull heart of the people, though in theory they know

that every ray performs its part in the great spiritual economy of the

universe. But the subjects of holy influence do receive in some degree all

that comes forth from a consecrated life, and it often requires the removal

of a good man from this world to make manifest how strong a hold he has

had on the thought and feeling of others. There are many instances of this

in all grades of society.

 

When Charles Spurgeon died in January 1892, London went into mourning. Nearly 60,000 people came to pay

homage during the three days his body lay in state at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some 100,000 lined the

streets as a funeral parade two miles long followed his hearse from the Tabernacle to the Norwood Cemetery.

Flags  flew at half-staff and shops and pubs were closed.

 

Churches and families reveal the power of a character when that character

ceases to exercise its wonted energies. This should induce calmness and

confidence in all who strive to bless the world by a devoted life. Those who

exercise moral power are not always the best judges of its force and extent.

God mercifully keeps from our view some of the good we are doing, lest we

fall into the snare of the devil.

 

  • THAT MAN’S CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE SACREDNESS AND

MYSTERY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, WHEN AROUSED, is SUPREME

OVER EVERY THOUGHT AND FEELING. All Israel, embracing Saul,

David, the prophets, and the slanderers and conspirators at the court,

assembled around the grave of Samuel and wept. The strife and rivalries

of parties, the deadly feuds and cruel animosities of life, the most urgent of

human passions, were for the time set aside under the influence of that

deep, all-mastering feeling that human existence on earth is a sacred

mystery. The holiest and most honored are seen to succumb to the strong

hand which carries off the most worthless. Each asks, Is this the end? Is

there nothing beyond? If there is, what? Thus it is man’s reflectiveness,

awakened by the death of the great, which causes him to recognize at the

same time both his littleness and his greatness. The solemnity of having a

rational existence comes on all in presence of death. That we are made for

something far above what now engages our attention is forced on the

spirit, and our connection with an invisible sphere and final tribunal rises

into awful distinctness. This frequently recurring sense of the sacredness

and mystery of existence is a check on sinful tendencies, and furnishes

occasions for the application of the gospel to the hearts of men. Gospel

truth learned in early years will often assert its power in men as, leaving

awhile the contentions and sins of life, they stand by the open grave.

 

 

Samuel’s Death and Burial (v. 1)

 

“And Samuel died.”

 

1. The end of the great prophet’s life is recorded in brief and simple words.

This is according to the manner in which the death of men is usually

spoken of in the Scriptures. Whilst their life is narrated at length, their

death is either passed over in silence or mentioned only in a sentence, as of

comparatively little consequence in relation to their character, work, and

influence. There is one significant exception, viz., that of Him “who once

suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”

(I Peter 3:18)

 

2. In the last glimpse afforded of him before his decease he is described as

standing as one appointed over the company of the prophets,” and

occupied with them in celebrating the praises of God (ch. 19:20).

During the years that had since elapsed he was left unmolested by Saul; and

it is hardly likely that David ever ventured to Ramah again, although he

probably kept up indirect contact with his aged and revered friend

(ch. 22:5), and was often in his thoughts.

 

3. In connection with the mention of his death it is stated that “David arose

and went down” (from “the hold” in the hill of Hachilah, to which he had

returned from Engedi) “to the wilderness of Paran.” He may have done so

for reasons independent of this event, or without the knowledge of it; or

possibly because he feared that with the removal of Samuel’s restraining

influence Saul might renew his persecution. However it may have been, the

melancholy intelligence would speedily reach him.

 

4. “Samuel died.” Good and great as he was, he could not escape the common

lot of men. “One event happeneth to them all.” But that which comes as a judgment

to “the fool” (v. 38) comes as a blessing to the wise. “Precious in the sight of the

Lord is the death of his saints.”  (Psalm 116:15)  The news of it came upon the people

as a surprise and filled them with grief. “It was as if from that noble star, so long as it

shone in the heaven of the holy land, though veiled by clouds, there streamed a mild

beneficent light over all Israel. Now this star in Israel was extinguished” (Krummacher).

“Another mighty one had passed away. The very heart of the nation sighed

out its loving, weeping requiem. But who among them all mourned as that

son of Jesse, on whose head he had at God’s command poured the

anointing oil, as he arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran?

Doubtless in those waste places he heard again in living memory the echoes

of the prevailing cry of him who was so great among those that call upon

the name of the Lord. Doubtless his own discipline was perfected in this

new sorrow, but he learned in losing Samuel to lean more simply and alone

on Samuel’s God” (‘Heroes of Hebrews Hist.’). We have here:

 

  • THE DECEASE OF AN ILLUSTRIOUS MAN: saint, prophet,

intercessor, judge, restorer of the theocracy, founder of the monarchy.

“He was a righteous man, and gentle in his nature; and on that account he

was very dear to God” (Josephus). “Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, beloved

of the Lord, established a kingdom and anointed princes over his people.

And.before his long sleep he made protestations in the sight of the Lord,

etc. And after his death he prophesied, and showed the king his end”

(Ecclesiasticus 46:13-20). He died:

 

Ø      In a good old age. At what age we know not; but long ago he spoke of

himself as “old and grayheaded (ch. 12:2). His protracted life was an

evidence of his self-control and piety, a mark of Divine favor, and a means

of extended usefulness. He was cut down not like “the flower of the field”

(Job 14:2), which blooms for a day and is gone, nor like the spreading forest

tree smitten by a sudden blast; but rather like the ripe corn, bending down

beneath its golden burden and falling under the sickle of the reaper; arid “as

shocks of corn are brought in in their season,” (Job 5:26) so was he

gathered to his people.”

 

Ø      At the proper time. When his appointed work was done, the new order

of things firmly established, and he could by his continuance do little more

for Israel, he was “taken away from the evil to come” (Isaiah 57:1) through

which the nation was to attain its highest glory. “He was the link which

connected two very different periods, being the last representative of a past

which could never come back, and seemed almost centuries behind, and also

marking the commencement of a new period intended to develop into

Israel’s ideal future” (Edersheim). “If David’s visible deeds were greater

and more dazzling than Samuel’s, there can be no doubt that David’s blaze

of glory would have been impossible without Samuel’s less conspicuous

but far more influential career, and that all the greatness of which the

following century boasts goes back to him as its real author” (Ewald).

 

Ø      In peaceful retirement:

 

o        removed from public strife,

o        under Divine protection,

o        surrounded by prophetic associates,

o        reviewing the past,

o        contemplating the present, and

o        awaiting the final change.

 

A holy and useful life is crowned with a peaceful and happy death.

 

Ø      In Divine communion, which constitutes the highest life of the good. In

God (with whom he had walked from his childhood, and whose inward

voice he had so often heard) he found his chief delight, to His will he

cheerfully submitted, and into His hands he committed his spirit in hope of

continued, perfect, and eternal fellowship. The ancient covenant to be “the

God” of his people overshadowed the present and the future; nor did they

suppose (however dim their views of another life) that he would suffer

them to be deprived by death of His presence and love “All live unto Him”

(Romans 14:8; Luke 20:38) and in Him. He “died in faith.” His decease

was like a peaceful summer sunset.

 

“Not the last struggle of the sun

Precipitated from his golden throne

    Holds, dazzling, mortals in sublime suspense;

But the calm exode of a man,

Nearer, but far above, who ran

   The race we run, when Heaven recalls him hence”

(W.S. Landor).

 

  • THE MOURNING OF A WHOLE PEOPLE. “And all Israel”

(represented by their elders) were gathered together” (out of common

veneration and love), “and lamented him (whom all knew and none would

see again), and buried him in his house at Ramah" (“the ancient and the

manor house,” so long his residence, and endeared to him by so many

tender associations). It was “a grievous mourning,” as when Jacob was

buried at Machpelah (Genesis 50:11; Acts 8:2). The honor rendered

to his memory was simple and sincere, very different from that which, it is

said, was paid to his dust in later times, when “his remains were removed

with incredible pomp and almost one continued train of attendants from

Ramah to Constantinople by the Emperor Arcadius, A.D. 401” (Delany,

1:148). But “of Samuel, as of Moses, it may be said, ‘No man knoweth of

his sepulchre unto this day’”  (Deuteronomy 34:6 - Stanley). The national

mourning was an indication of:

 

Ø      The high esteem in which he was held, on account of his great ability,

eminent piety, and beneficent activity — his integrity, firmness, gentleness,

consistency, disinterestedness, adaptability, and living communion with

God (ch. 2:30; Psalm 112:6). “A true Christian. may travel in

life under troubles and contempt; but mark his end, and you shall find (as

peace, so) honor.  Life is death’s seed time;  death life’s harvest. Here we

sow, so there we reap.  He that spends himself upon God and man shall

at last have all the honor that heaven and earth can cast upon him” (R. Harris).

 

Ø      The deplorable loss which had been sustained. “The men who had once

rejected Samuel now lamented him; when the light of his presence was

departed they felt the darkness which remained; when the actual energy of

his example had ceased to act they remembered the strength of his

principles, the consistency of its operation. There was a feeling common to

man. Whilst we enjoy the gift we ofttimes forget the Giver, and are

awakened only to the full consciousness of the value of that which we once

possessed by finding that we possess it no longer” (Anderson).

 

Ø      The unjust treatment which he had received, and which was now

regretted. His predictions had proved true (ch. 8:11-18), and his

course was fully vindicated. “The sorrow at his decease was the deeper,

the more heavily the yoke of Saul’s misgovernment pressed on them.”

 

Ø      The continued influence he exerted upon the nation. “The holy

expression stamped by him on the tribes of Benjamin and Judah remained

for centuries uneffaced. Never was a single man more instrumental in

sowing the soil of a district with the enduring seeds of goodness. It seems

to have been mainly through his influence that piety found a home in Judah

and Benjamin when it was banished from the rest of the country. (Would to

God that this would be true of states so inclined in the United States of today!

CY – 2016)   Humanly speaking David could never have been king if Samuel

had not prepared the way. He was to King David what John the Baptist was

to Christ.  Unquestionably he is to be ranked among the very greatest and

best of the Hebrew worthies” (Blaikie).  Like Abel, “ he being dead yet

speaketh.” (Hebrews 11:4)

 

“O good gray head which all men knew,

O voice from which their omens all men drew,

O iron nerve to true occasion true,

O fall’n at length that tower of strength

Which stood foursquare to all the winds that blew!

(Tennyson).

 

 

 

DAVID IN THE WILDERNESS OF PARAN (vs. 1-42).

 

DAVID ASKS A GIFT OF THE WEALTHY NABAL AND IS REFUSED

(vs. 1-13).

 

(v. 1 – continued)  David arose. This is not to be connected with the death of

Samuel, as though David had now lost a protector. But as he had fully 600

men with him, and his force was continually increasing, it was necessary

for him to roam over a wide extent of country in order to obtain supplies of

food. The wilderness of Paran. Paran strictly is a place in the

southernmost part of the peninsula of Arabia, a little to the west of Mount

Sinai; but there can be little doubt that it gave its name to the vast extent of

pasture and barren land now known as the desert of El-Tih (see I Kings 11:18).

Of this the wildernesses of Judah and Beersheba would

virtually form parts without the borders being strictly defined. We need not

therefore read “the wilderness of Maon,” with the Septuagint and many

commentators. On the contrary, we have seen that the hold in ch. 24:22

was the hill Hachilah in that neighborhood, and David now moved

southward towards the edge of this vast wilderness.

 

 

http://www.bibleplaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Nahal-Paran-from-south-tb042007533-bibleplaces.jpg

Wilderness of Paran – BiblePlaces.com

 

2 “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.”

A man in Maon. Though strictly by descent belonging to Maon

(for which see on ch. 23:24), his possessions — rather, “his

business,” “occupation” (see Genesis 47:3, and Ecclesiastes 4:3,

where it is translated work) — were in Carmel, the small town just north

of Maon, where Saul set up a trophy at the end of the Amalekite war (ch. 15:12),

and to which Abigail belonged (ch. 27:3). He is described as very great because

of his wealth arising from his large flocks of sheep and goats, which fed upon

the pasture land which forms the elevated plateau of Carmel, where he was

shearing his sheep, usually a time of lavish hospitality (II Samuel 13:23-24).

 

3 “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.”  Nabal, the word rendered fool in Psalm 14:1; literally,

“flat,” “vapid.” Abigail means “one who is the cause (father) of joy,” i.e.

one who gives joy. She, with her bright understanding and beautiful person

(the Hebrew word takes in much more than the countenance; see ch.16:18,

where it is rendered comely person), is in contrast with the

coarse, churlish man who was her husband. His name was either one which

he had acquired by his conduct, or if given him by his parents shows that

they were clownish people. He was of the house of Caleb. The written

text has, “he was according to his heart,” celibbo, i.e. a self-willed man, or

one whose rude exterior answered to his inner nature; but there are

linguistic difficulties in the way of this reading, and the Kri is probably right

in correcting calibbi, a Calebite, a descendant of Caleb, who had large

possessions assigned him in the neighborhood of Hebron (Joshua

15:13-19), which is only ten miles northwest of Carmel. The versions

support the Kri, though the Syriac and Septuagint render doglike — one

who, like a dog, though he has plenty, yet grudges others. The meaning of

the name Caleb is literally “a dog.”

 

4 “And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.”

5 “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:”

Though David had gone some distance southward of Carmel,

yet it was worth his while to send men to Nabal’s sheep shearing,

as the maintenance of his numerous force must have been a continual

difficulty. The large number, ten, also shows that he expected a liberal gift

of food. Probably such missions were not uncommon, and the large sheep

masters were glad to supply the wants of one who guarded their flocks and

defended them from the incursions of the desert tribes.

 

6 “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.” 7 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.  8 Ask thy young men,

and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favor 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.”  Say to him that liveth

in prosperity. The Hebrew is obscure, but the rendering of the Authorized Version

is untenable, and also very tame.  Literally it is, “Ye shall say to him, For life!”

Probably it was a colloquial form of greeting, and equivalent to “good luck,

“success,” life in Hebrew being sometimes used for prosperity. So Luther

translates it, and Rashi and the Babylonian Talmud are also in its favor. The

reading of the Vulgate, “To thy brothers” (be peace), is to be altogether rejected.

We hurt them not. Literally, “we caused them no shame” (see Judges 18:7), we

did nothing to vex and injure them. Really the words mean that David had

protected them, and enabled them to feed their flocks in safety. The fact

that David waited till the sheep shearing, when hospitality was the rule,

proves that he did not levy blackmail upon his countrymen, though

necessarily he must have depended upon them for the food indispensabIe

for the support of his men. A good day. I.e. a festive day, which should

bring us a share in thy prosperity. Thy son David. A title expressive of the

reverence due from the youthful David to his senior, and an

acknowledgment of Nabal’s superiority over his fugitive neighbor.

 

9 “And when David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal

according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.

They… ceased. Literally, “they rested;” i.e. either they remained

quiet awaiting Nabal’s answer, or sat down, as is the custom in

the East, for the same purpose.

 

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.  11 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?” 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.  (Compare Luke 12:16-21, especially v. 18 –

CY – 2016)  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.

 

 

Masters and Servants (v. 10)

 

“There are many servants nowadays that break away every man from his

master.” What Nabal said was probably the fact. Many servants did in that

unsettled time break away from their masters, preferring independence with

its risk and privation to servitude with its protection and provision. But the

imputation which he intended to cast upon them was either wholly unjust,

as in the case of David, or partially so, as in the case of many others. He

omitted to state that their conduct toward their masters was due to the

conduct of their masters toward them. People are never so ready to see and

condemn the faults of the class to which they belong as those of the

opposite class. Concerning masters and servants, consider:

 

  • THE NATURE OF THE RELATION. It has been aptly illustrated in the

following language:  “A party of friends, setting out together upon a

journey, soon find it to be the best for all sides that while they are upon the

road one of the company should wait upon the rest, another ride forward

to seek out lodging and entertainment, a third to carry the portmanteau, a

fourth take charge of the horses, a fifth bear the purse, conduct, and direct

the route; not forgetting, however, that as they were equal and independent

when they set out, so they are all to return to a level again at the journey’s

end” (Paley, ‘Mor. Philippians,’ book 3.). The relation is confined to life’s

journey alone.

 

Ø      It is, in some form or other, necessary and mutually beneficial. The

benefit received is really greater on the part of masters than servants.

 

Ø      It must of necessity vary with the circumstances of those among whom

it exists. Hence the Mosaic law tolerated and regulated a species of slavery

(though no Hebrew could become other than a “hired servant” for a

specified lime); but “no other ancient religion was ever so emphatically

opposed to it, or at least to all inhumanity connected with it, or made such

sure preparations for its abolition” (Ewald, ‘Antiquities’).

 

Ø      It always involves mutual obligations. These “nowadays” are often

neglected. The tie between master and servant (mistress and maid,

employer and employed) is not what it once was. There is less dependence

on the one hand, and less authority on the other. Each complains of the

other: “servants are careless and too independent;” “masters are too

exacting and selfish.” And the relation can only be what it ought to be by

their common submission to “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

 

  • THE DUTY OF SERVANTS (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25;

I Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; I Peter 2:18).

 

Ø      Obedience lowly, respectful, cheerful; always subordinate to the

supreme will of God. This is the first duty of a servant.

 

Ø      Diligence in performing the work given them to do, with attention and

earnestness, and in the best possible manner, “And be content with your

wages (Luke 3:14).

 

Ø      Faithfulness to the trust committed to them, seeking their masters’

interests as their own; honesty, thorough sincerity, “as the servants of

Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”  (Ephesians 6:6)

 

  • THE DUTY OF MASTERS (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).

 

Ø      Equity; giving to them “that which is just and equal,” and imposing upon

them no unnecessary burdens (Malachi 3:5; James 5:4).

 

Ø      Consideration, respect, courtesy, kindness, seeking their:

o        physical,

o        moral, and

o        spiritual welfare.

“Thou shalt not rule over thy servant with rigor” (Leviticus 25:43).

And a mere money payment is not all that a fellow creature is entitled to

expect, or an adequate compensation for his services.

 

Ø      Consistency; acting in accordance with their position, reproving wrong

doing, setting a good example, exercising their authority and influence as a

trust committed to them by God and in obedience to His will. Those who

expect to receive honor must seek to make themselves worthy of it.

 

  • LET BOTH LEARN:

 

Ø      To be less observant of the faults of others than of their own.

Ø      To be more concerned about fulfilling their duties than insisting on their

rights.

Ø      To look for their chief reward in the approval of God.

 

12 “So David’s young men turned their way, and went again, and came

and told him all those sayings.  13 “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, etc. David’s determination

was fierce and violent. No doubt Nabal’s insult irritated him, and possibly also the

rude outlaws round him would have protested against any other course; but

Nabal’s words, rude though they were, would not justify David in the rough

vengeance which he meditated. Abigail throughout her speech argues that David

was taking too violent a course, and one for which he would afterwards have

been sorry.

 

 

Honor to the Dead and Insult to the Living (vs. 1-12)

 

The facts are:

 

1. Samuel dies, and is buried at Ramah amidst the sorrow of Israel.

2. David, returning to the wilderness, sends a greeting to Nabal, a wealthy

man at Carmel, and asks for some favor to his young men on account of

the friendly aid recently rendered to Nabal’s shepherds.

3. Nabal, in a churlish spirit, sends an insulting reply, and refuses the request.

4. Whereupon David resolves on taking revenge for the insult.

 

The allusion here to the death of Samuel, while a necessary part of the history of

the age, seems to be introduced to prepare the way for the continuance of the

narrative concerning David, who now has become the principal figure in

the national life. We have to consider the teaching of the good man’s death

and the churlish man’s insult.

 

 

Insult to the Living (vs. 2-12)

 

The question arises, Why is it that this narrative of Nabal’s churlishness

occupies so prominent a place in the sacred records, seeing that so

adventurous a life as that of David must have abounded in striking

incident? Among, then, the topics suggested by the account of the churlish

man’s insult we may notice:

 

  • THE PRINCIPLE ON WHICH EVENTS ARE RECORDED IN

SCRIPTURE. Is this principle ascertainable? Can any hypothesis

concerning it be verified by an induction of facts? Granting an affirmative

reply to these questions, do we here get a harmony of Scripture superior to

that of literal agreement in details? Now, in dealing with such questions we

have to be guided by a few broad facts, such as, the order of Providence

among men is subservient to the working out of the redemptive purpose in

Christ; the redemptive purpose is wrought out through the instrumentality

of chosen servants, succeeding one another by Divine arrangement; events

touching the lives of these men affected the performance of their part in the

accomplishing of the purpose, in so far as they developed character or

brought the great principles for which they lived into conflict with

opposing principles; the Bible is designed to be a record of the events

which advanced the unfolding of the redemptive purpose, either directly, or

by indirectly shaping the character and conduct of those engaged in its

outworking, and forcing the Divine idea into sharp contrast with various

forms of evil. The attempt to find the principle of selection of facts for

incorporation in God’s record of the history of redemption in any other

direction must fail. The great thought of this Book of Samuel is the conflict

of THE MESSIANIC HOPE with opposing evils. Hence all through the life

of David we see that the “salvation of the Lord,” i.e. the great spiritual

reformation to be wrought as a prelude to a future and more blessed one,

was the issue at stake; and those events are evidently related which helped

it on, and such as were opposed to it. Principles are embodied in each of

these instances, and thus the relation of events to the unfolding purpose of

God is that quality in them which accounts for their insertion in the

Scriptures. The verification of this is an interesting study. It may suffice

here to note that when we consider the great influence on the life of David

of such a woman as Abigail, and therefore on his work for the world, we

can see the propriety of some account of her in relation to him, and we

shall see directly how completely Nabal’s churlishness was an illustration of

the groveling spirit which scorns such lofty spiritual aspirations as are

involved in working out THE DIVINE PURPOSE FOR MANKIND!

 

  • THE CAUSES AND CURE OF DOMESTIC INFELICITY. The

home life of Nabal was evidently not happy, arising partly from utter

diversity of taste, temperament, and culture, and partly from dissimilarity of

moral conduct and religious principle. A low, groveling disposition,

reveling in sensual indulgence and proud of wealth, could not but embitter

the life of a “woman of good understanding,” and of such fine spiritual

perceptions as are indicated by her words to David (vs. 27-31). There are

unfortunately many such homes. Wise and holy women are held to the

humiliation and sorrow of a lifelong bondage. In modern times the causes

of domestic infelicity are various:

 

Ø       fashion, that considers station before happiness;

Ø       love of wealth, that lays beauty, sweetness, and culture at the

 feet of mammon;

Ø      inconsiderate haste, acting on partial knowledge of character;

Ø      concern for a livelihood irrespective of moral qualities;

Ø      incompatible religious sentiments;

Ø      selfishness on the one side, seeking inordinate attention, and

neglect on the other,

Ø      heedless of the sacred bond.

 

In many cases the release is only in death, so utter is the desolation. So far

as Abigail was concerned, her discretion and self-command mitigated the

evils of her home; but the radical remedy is:

 

Ø      a renewal of the spirit, and

Ø      a turning of the life to God.

 

  • THE OBLIGATIONS OF WEALTH. That every talent imposes on

its possessor corresponding obligation is a first principle of morals and

religion. No man holds material wealth for himself. He is a member of

society, and bound to exercise his gifts for the welfare of others. The

common responsibilities attached to wealth therefore devolved on Nabal,

and no narrow, private views or acquired greed of gain could release him

from the laws of God, however irksome they might make obedience to it.

But there were special reasons why he was bound to allow David to share

in his plenty; for was he not known to be a man persecuted for

righteousness’ sake, of the same tribe as Nabal, admitted by the popular

voice to have been a benefactor by his prowess on behalf of the nation, the

guardian, by means of his men, of Nabal’s servants in a recent season of

peril, and regarded in Nabal’s house (vs. 27-31) and elsewhere as the

coming king, well fitted by his qualities to raise the spiritual and social

condition of the people? The modest request of David was just, and the

duty of the rich man was clear. The question of the obligations attaching to

the possession of wealth needs to be pressed home with earnestness and

elucidated with intelligence. The “love of money” is so strong in some as to

blind the intellect and harden the heart against a recognition of the proper

uses of it. No fixed standard can be set up for the distribution of wealth,

for the duties of giving and spending are relative to position and

surroundings. The first thing to recognize is that wealth is not for self-

indulgence or aggrandizement, but for the enrichment of all around. The

next is the cultivation of a kindly, generous spirit that looks tenderly on the

more needy, combined with a sound judgment as to the best means of

enabling many to enjoy the distribution of wealth as the recompense of

labor and skill. Above all, every man should, in a spirit of love and

gratitude:

 

Ø      lay all on the altar of God, and

Ø      see to it that a good proportion be devoted to the cause of Christ.

 

None have ever regretted consecrating wealth to God. But that is not

consecration to God which appropriates to religious uses when dependent

ones are lacking means of support (Mark 7:11). It would work a revolution

in the social condition of our country, and that of the mildest and most

beneficent kind, as well as give an immense impulse to the cause of religion,

did men of wealth but conscientiously estimate their obligations to God and

man, and act accordingly.

 

  • CONTEMPT FOR SPIRITUAL ASPIRATIONS. “Who is David?

and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants nowadays that break

away from their masters.” Thus did Nabal, knowing well who David was,

what course he had pursued, what trials had befallen him, and what high

spiritual anticipations were associated with his checkered life, express his

contempt for the coming king and his supposed mission in Israel. This was

clearly the case of a rich man:

 

Ø      fond of sensual indulgence,

Ø      boastful of his possessions,

Ø      indifferent to the culture, moral elevation, and spiritual prosperity

of his countrymen,

Ø      looking with scorn on the men who long for a higher form of life in

which purity, knowledge, and joy in God are prominent features.

 

He wanted to have nothing to do with “theorists,” “fanatics,” and men of that

type. The country was well enough, and the son of Jesse was not wanted.

The insult to the living was insult to man. Men are often only the exponents

of principles that survive when they are gone.  Samuel during his early

labors was the energetic exponent of the spiritual idea of God’s kingdom

as against the groveling conceptions of Israel’s function entertained by

the degenerate nation. Later David became its chosen representative, and in

this his anointing as a more worthy man than Saul had its significance. Those

who, like Jonathan, Gad, and Abiathar, identified themselves with David

became a party in the State devoted to the assertion of the higher hope,

while the men who prompted Saul to evil, the Ziphites, and now Nabal,

were the supporters of the low, earthly ideal of Israel’s life. Their

antagonism to David was, therefore, deeper than at first appears;

it was based on lack of sympathy with, and in fact positive dislike

of, the spiritual aspirations cherished by David, and which he in the

providence of God was destined largely to enunciate and realize. What is

meant by such as love thy salvation”? (Psalm 40:16). Evidently those

who are yearning for that great deliverance from evil which God was then

working out for Israel — typical of the wider deliverance which the true

King of Zion is now working out for men. And as men like Nabal despised

the holy aspirations of David, so do the same men now despise the

aspirations of those who think not their work done till spiritual religion is

universal. The Saviour heard men say, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?”

The pure and lofty aspirations of His life met with the reverse of a response

in groveling minds. Men do not object to a religion, but they do dislike a

holy religion.

 

 

ABIGAIL PACIFIES DAVID (vs. 14-35)

 

14 “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.  15 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:  16 They were a wall unto

us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.

17  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.”

One of the young men. Hebrew, “a lad of the lads,” i.e.

one of the servants (see on the word – ch. 1:24); when used in this

sense it has no reference to age (see ch. 2:17). This man was

probably some old and confidential servitor. To salute. Hebrew, “to bless”

(see ch.13:10; II Kings 4:29). He railed on them. Literally, “flew upon them

like a bird of prey.” We were not hurt. Literally, “not put to shame” (see on v. 7).

The language of a people always bears witness to their character,  and it is a

mark of the high spirit of the Israelites that they thought less of the loss than

of the disgrace of an injury. As long as we were conversant with them. Hebrew,

“as long as we went about with them.” In the fields. Really, “in the field,” the

wilderness, the common pasture land. A wall. I.e. a sure protection both against

wild beasts and Amalekite and other plunderers. A son of Belial. A worthless,

bad man (see on ch.1:16), so coarse and violent that it is hopeless to expostulate

with him.

 

 

Creed and Practice (vs. 13-17)

 

The facts are:

 

1. David, stung by the insult, prepares to take summary vengeance on Nabal.

2. A servant, overhearing his intention, reports it to Abigail.

3. He also relates to her the circumstances of David’s kindness to Nabal’s

men, and appeals to her for intervention, as he has no faith in Nabal’s

wisdom or generosity.

 

The course taken by David would ordinarily be termed natural for an Eastern

chieftain; that of the servant was more considerate than usually is found among

men of his class when placed in personal peril. Regarding the two causes

separately, we may express the teaching thus:

 

  • THERE IS AT TIMES A SAD DISPROPORTION BETWEEN THE

BELIEFS AND THE PRACTICE OF EVEN THE BEST OF MEN. David

was undoubtedly the most spiritually enlightened, patient, and devout man

then living. The psalms of the period indicate a wonderful faith in the care

and goodness of God, and his recent conduct had illustrated his patience,

generosity, and forbearance. The elevated tone of his language to Saul

(ch. 24:11-15), in which he commits his personal wrongs to God,

is worthy of New Testament times. The common faith of his life could not

but have been strengthened by the solemnities of the funeral from which he

had lately returned. Nevertheless David could not bear an insult and

ingratitude, but must in unholy zeal cease to trust his cause to God, and

avenge evil with his own hand. Sons of Zebedee live in every age, who

cannot wait the calm purpose of God to vindicate His saints, while at the

same time professing to be of a spirit born of heaven, and akin to that of

him “who when he was reviled, reviled not again.”  (I Peter 2:23)  This

falling below our ideal is a too common calamity in individual and Church

life. The question may rise whether we really believe what we say we do

when conduct does not harmonize therewith, for is not real faith influential?

The great verities of our Christian Scriptures, respecting:

 

Ø      Christ’s love,

Ø      our destiny,

Ø      the world’s spiritual need, and

Ø      the unspeakable importance of eternal  things,

 

are enough to enchain every soul to holy consecration that knows no

reserve. It is well that we estimate the disparity between creed and

conduct; the dishonor it brings, the harm to religion it entails, and the

effect of it on our prayers (James 5:16).

 

  • OUR STANDARD OF CONDUCT IS TO BE TAKEN NOT FROM

GOOD MEN, BUT FROM THE  EXPLICIT TEACHING OF SCRIPTURE

AND THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST. As we read the books of men with

reserve, and accept only that which accords with a standard of truth apart

from them, so our reading of the conduct of saints is to be discriminating.

They are often illustrious examples of good, but not our models. Our

conduct under analogous circumstances is not to be regulated by that of

David, but by the teaching which tells us not to “avenge” ourselves, but to

return good for evil, and even love our enemies. (Romans 12:17,19)

If men ask what this non-personal retaliation means, the answer is,

the life of Christ. That it is alien to human tendencies and often regarded

as unmanly does not make it less Christian. Very few persons “enter into

the kingdom of God in the sense of behaving in the world as Christ did.

Even Christian men sometimes speak as though it were madness to display

just the spirit of meekness, love, and compassion which marked His career

under provocation. Who dare say in the truest sense, “We have the mind

of Christ?” (I Corinthians 2:16

 

  • DISCRIMINATION AND PROMPTITUDE ARE VALUABLE

QUALITIES IN AVERTING EVILS INCIDENT TO HUMAN WRONG

DOING. The evil consequences of one great sin on the part of a good man

may be very serious, and, as in this case, calling for exceeding care if they

are to be averted. The conduct of the servant (vs. 14-17) is worthy of

imitation in many departments of life. He did not selfishly flee to secure

himself, but, reading well the purpose of David, thought of the safety of all,

formed a just estimate of Abigail’s tact and courage, and of Nabal’s

stupidity, and without delay laid before his mistress the provocation offered

to David. A wise and prompt servant is a blessing in a home. These

qualities go far to render men successful in life; and if more attention were

paid in early years to the development of them, many an one would be

saved from disaster, and the whole machinery of saints would move more

smoothly. May we not also see an analogy here to the case of a man who,

foreseeing spiritual calamity to others, promptly devises means of

delivering them from it?

 

  • PRACTICAL LESSONS:

 

Ø      We should be on the watch against sudden provocations of our unholy

tendencies, and we shall find an habitually prayerful spirit one of the best

aids to the immediate suppression of passion.

Ø      It is worth considering how much the Church and world have lost by

failure on the part of Christians to live out the spirit and precepts of Christ.

Ø      It is a question whether sufficient attention is paid to the suppression of

the love of fighting and taking of revenge in children, and how far literature

(TV today – CY – 2016) and customs foster these evils.

Ø      In cases of moral conduct prompt action is always best.

 

18 “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.  19 And she said unto her servants,

Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband

Nabal.  20 And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the

covert on the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her;

and she met them.”  Five measures of parched corn. The measure named

here, the seah, contains about a peck and a half. As this seems little, Ewald

reads 500 seahs, but probably it was regarded as a delicacy. Clusters of

raisins. Rather, as in the margin, lumps of raisins. The bunches of grapes

when dried were pressed into cakes. Sending her servants in front leading

the asses which carried the present, she followed behind, and met David as

she was coming down by the covert of the hill. Hebrew, “in secret of the

hill,” under cover of the hill, i.e. she met him as she was descending into

some glen into which he had entered from the other end.

 

21 “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.  22 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.”  David justifies his fierce

anger by referring to the services he had rendered Nabal, and which had been

requited so shabbily. For the phrase so do God unto the enemies of David see on

ch. 20:16.  A superstitious feeling probably lay at the root of this substitution of

David’s enemies for himself when thus invoking a curse.

 

23 “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,

24 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.  25  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.”  Abigail… fell before

David on her face. This very abject obeisance may have been grounded on her

belief in David’s future kingship, or it may simply mark the inferior position

held by women in those days (see v. 41). Her whole address is couched in very

humble terms. David (ch. 24:8) only stooped with his face to the ground

before Saul. Upon me. Abigail represents herself as the person really

guilty, on whom the iniquity, i.e. the punishment of the offence, must fall.

Nabal is a mere son of Belial, a worthless, bad man, whose name Nabal,

i.e. fool, is a sign that folly is with him, and accompanies all his acts. As a

fool he is scarcely accountable for his doings, and Abigail, whose wont and

business it was to set things to rights, saw not the young men, and so was

unable to save them from her husband’s rudeness.

 

26 “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.

27 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.”

Abigail begins her appeal by affirming that it was Jehovah

who thus made her come to prevent bloodshed; she next propitiates David

with the prayer that his enemies may be as Nabal, insignificant fools; and

finally asks him to accept her present, not for himself, — that would be too

great an honor, — but as good enough only for his followers. The first of

these affirmations is obscured by the rendering in the Authorized Version,

and should be translated, “And now, my lord (an ordinary title of respect,

like our sir), as Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, so true is it that

Jehovah hath withholden thee from blood guiltiness, and from saving thyself

with thine own hand; and now let thine enemies,” etc. The same words recur

in vs. 31, 33. Blessing. I.e. gift, present (see ch. 30:26). This beautiful

term shows the deep religiousness of the Hebrew mind. The gift is something

that comes not from the donor, but from God, in answer to the donor’s prayer.

 

28 “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.”

Forgive the trespass of thine handmaid. Reverting to her

words in v. 24, that the blame and punishment must rest on her, she now

prays for forgiveness; but the intermediate words in v. 26, emphasized in

v. 31, have raised her request to a higher level. Her prayer rests on the

ground that she was saving David from a sin, and that in his thirst for

vengeance he was bringing upon himself guilt. If the form of Abigail’s

address was most humble, the matter of it was brave and noble. A sure

house. I.e. permanent prosperity (see on ch. 2:35). Because my

lord fighteth. Hebrew, “will fight.” David was not fighting these battles

now because he was not yet enthroned as the theocratic king. It was Saul’s

business at present to fight “Jehovah’s battles,” either in person or by his

officers (ch. 18:17). The words, therefore, distinctly look

forward to the time when David as king will have the duty imposed upon

him of protecting Jehovah’s covenant people. Evil hath not been found

in thee. Hebrew, “shall not be found in thee,” i.e. when the time comes for

thee to take the kingdom no one shall be able to allege against thee any

offense by which thou hast lost thy title to the kingly office; nor afterwards

as king shalt thou be guilty of any breach of thy duty to Jehovah, Israel’s

supreme Ruler, so as to incur rejection as Saul has done.

 

29 “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.  30 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;

31 That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offense 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.”  Yet a man is risen.

Rather, “And should any one arise to pursue thee,” etc. The reference is of

course to Saul, but put with due reserve, and also made general, so as to include

all possible injury attempted against David. Bound in the bundle of life. Hebrew,

“of the living.” The metaphor is taken from the habit of packing up in a bundle

articles of great value or of indispensable use, so that the owner may carry

them about his person. In India the phrase is common; thus:

 

Ø      a just judge is said to be bound up in the bundle of righteousness;

Ø      a lover in the bundle of love.

 

Abigail prays, therefore, that David may, with others whose life is

precious in God’s sight, be securely kept under Jehovah’s personal care

and protection. In modern times the two words signifying “in the bundle of

the living” form a common inscription on Jewish gravestones, the phrase

having been interpreted in the Talmud, as also by Abravanel and other

Jewish authorities, of a future life. Shall He sling out, etc. In forcible

contrast with this careful preservation of David’s life, she prays that his

enemies may be cast away as violently and to as great a distance as a stone

is cast out of a sling. The middle is the hollow in which the stone was

placed. Ruler. i.e. prince. It is the word rendered captain in ch. 9:16; 10:1,

but its meaning is more correctly given here. Grief. The word

really means much the same as stumbling block, something which makes a

person stagger by his striking against it unawares. Abigail prays, therefore,

that when David has become prince, and so has to administer justice, this

violent and revengeful act which he was purposing might not prove a cause

of stumbling and an offense of heart to himself, by his conscience reproaching

him for having himself done that which he had to condemn in others.

 

 

Wise Persuasiveness (vs. 18-31)

 

The facts are:

 

1. Abigail, aware of the danger, provides an ample present, and secretly

sends on her servants to prepare the mind of David for an interview.

2. On seeing David she humbly seeks an audience, and intimates that Nabal

was not to be regarded as of importance.

3. She pleads her cause by reminding David of the kind restraint of

Providence in keeping him from wrong, of Nabal’s utter unworthiness of

his notice, of the provision made for the young men, of his own integrity

and coining distinction, of his spiritual safety amidst trials, of the future

satisfaction of not having causelessly shed blood, and then begs that she

may not be forgotten in coming days of power.

 

This narrative may be considered in relation to Abigail and to David. In the

former it affords:

 

  • AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE ART OF PERSUASION. The course

pursued by Abigail was creditable to her courage, tact, piety, and loyalty to

truth. A more beautiful instance of the art of persuasion in the sphere of

private life is not found in the Bible. It may be considered in two ways:

 

Ø      In relation to the method adopted. This may be seen by noticing the line

of argument. David is, after a respectful act of obeisance, informed that the

omission of which he complained was without the knowledge of the person

who was largely responsible for acts of hospitality (v. 25). Then, with

exquisite delicacy, he is reminded of the sin of avenging self, and of the

goodness of God in restraining from it (v. 26). This appeal to the moral

sense is strengthened by an assurance that the offending person was far

beneath the notice of one so distinguished, and that dignity could well

afford to let him alone (v. 24). Moreover, the occasion which properly

roused his generous concern for hungry and deserving servants was passed,

as ample provision was at hand for them (v. 27). Passing from others,

David is assured of confidence in his Divine call and the integrity of his life,

despite all slanders (v. 28). And though persecution is hard to be borne,

yet he is reminded that full compensation is made in being securely kept by

God, and thus blessed with the spiritual life embraced in the everlasting

covenant (v. 29) — a blessing which wicked foes cannot share. To

crown all, he is led to think of the not distant day when, as king of God’s

people, he will enjoy the highest honors; and it is gently suggested that it

would be a pity to mar the joys of such a time by reflection on an act of

personal revenge by deeds of blood. A beautiful instance of what a wise,

holy woman can do when emergency arises.

 

Ø      In relation to the general principles involved. Persuasion is required in

the pulpit, the home, and the common intercourse of life; and observation

proves how much depends on the adoption of right principles in using it.

Some never succeed. The human soul can be successfully approached by

certain avenues only. To be successful there ought to be:

 

o        A tone and manner befitting the persons and the circumstances.

o        A clear but delicate reference to the governing sense of right; for

conscience properly addressed is sure to become an internal advocate

for us.

o        A readiness to meet every lawful claim and satisfy every generous

instinct; for heed is given to those who are zealous in doing right.

o        An evident appreciation of the actual position in which those are

whom we address; for confidence in our judgment and professed

sympathy is then awakened.

o        A gentle appeal to the most sacred religious hopes and aspirations

which, though unexpressed, may exercise a controlling power

over life.

o        Regard to the principle of self-interest as a force in life supplementary

to higher considerations. It is worth a study to become “wise to win

souls.”  (Proverbs 11:30)

 

  • AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE INFLUENCE ON TEMPER AND

CONDUCT OF RELIGIOUS CONSIDERATIONS. There was power in

Abigail’s argument derived from her appeal to David’s sense of the wrong

of revenge, and the assurance that his generous concern for his young men

was now unnecessary. But that which evidently touched David most was

her reference to his being the object of God’s love and care. To be

RESTRAINED BY A LOVING GOD,  to be in favor with Him amidst

the wrongs of evil men, to have an interest in the higher spiritual life

which is NOURISHED AND GUARDED BY GOD, was more than all

beside. How could one so richly and undeservedly blessed be revengeful

or act in any way unworthy of THE NAME OF GOD? The apostle adopts

the same line of argument when he, enjoining a spirit of forgiveness, reminds

his readers of THE FORGIVENESS WHICH THEY HAVE RECEIVED!

(Ephesians 4:32). If we would be humble, gentle, forgiving, and grateful,

let us consider what it is to have our “names written in heaven” (Luke 10:20),

and to be objects of a love from which nothing can separate us from. (Romans

8:38-39). A judicious use of such reflections and considerations is extremely

important in spiritual culture.  Men are deeply touched by the thought of

WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR THEM!  A little religious retrospect would

save many a man from yielding to violent impulses. The same result is

secured by cherishing due regard to our lofty aspirations. Those who are

to be raised to thrones will not do mean and wrongful deeds. Who can

estimate the influence of Christian anticipations on present conduct?

 

  • AN ILLUSTRATION OF DEEPENING FAITH IN MESSIANIC

PURPOSES. Men like Doeg, Cush, and the Ziphites might combine and by

slander seek to destroy faith in David’s integrity, and so seem to put back

the realization of the purposes for which he had been anointed; and the

Psalms reveal how these things sometimes depressed his spirit. But all this

time the more intelligent and devout saw clearly that he was the man to

build up the kingdom, and Abigail, by this beautiful revelation of her

confidence in his coming elevation to power, was only a revelation to him

of advancing faith. The strength thus brought to his heart reminds us of the

comfort evidently conveyed to the Saviour’s heart by Peter’s explicit

avowal (Matthew 16:16-17). And as time advances there will arise, as

a cheering set off to the scorners and detractors, superior minds bearing

witness to THE DIVINE TRUTH AND COMING TRIUMPH OF

CHRIST’S KINGDOM!  Equally so will confirmations rise up of the

call of the Christian to share in the higher service of the future.

 

  • GENERAL LESSONS:

 

Ø      A wise man will bring his impulses to the light of religious truth and

allow it to tone them down.

Ø      In cases of difficulty, where temper is concerned, a quiet, fervent spirit is

of great importance.

Ø      To have a place in the Lamb’s book of life is full compensation for the

ills we may suffer at the hands of men.  (Revelation 20:12,15)

 

 

The Bundle of Life (v. 29)

 

1. The bundle of life, or the living (the word bundle, tseror, being used

once before of the bag or purse of money which each of Joseph’s brethren

found in his sack of corn, Genesis 42:35), signifies the society or

congregation of the living out of which men are taken and cut off by death

(Barrett, ‘Synopsis of Criticisms’). It contains those who possess life,

continued and prosperous life, in the present world in the midst of the

dangers to which they are exposed, and by which others are taken away

from “the land of the living” (Isaiah 4:3). LIFE IS A GIFT OF GOD

 and its continuance is presumptive of His favor.

 

2. What is here desired and predicted concerning them is based upon their

moral distinction from other men. They are, like David, servants of God,

and differ from others, as David from Saul and Nabal, in their character and

conduct. They constitute the community of the godly in “this present evil world” 

(Galatians 1:4) and “their names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

 

3. They are of inestimable worth in the sight of God. He values all men

because of their capacity for goodness, but much more some on account of

their actual possession of it. Their worth surpasses all earthly possessions

and distinctions. “The whole system of bodies (the firmament, the stars, the

earth, and the kingdoms of it) and spirits together is unequal to the least

emotion of charity” (Pascal).

 

4. They are HIS SPECIAL POSSESSION; belong to Him in a peculiar manner,

because of what He had done for them “above all people” (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2)

and their own voluntary devotion to Him. “Know that the Lord hath set apart him

that is godly for Himself.” (Psalm 4:3)  “The Lord taketh pleasure in His people,

(Psalm 149:4)and calls them “my jewels” (Malachi 3:17).  (I highly recommend

Deuteronomy ch 32 v 9 – God’s Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this website – CY –

2016)

 

5. They live in INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH HIM!   A people near unto

Him” (Psalm 148:14); “bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God.”

 

6. They are preserved safely from the malicious designs of their enemies,

and from all evil. “Should a man arise to pursue thee and seek thy soul,

etc. The expression is derived from the common usage of men, who put

valuable things together and keep them near their persons to prevent their

being lost or injured. “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

 

7. They have a common participation in the strength and blessedness

afforded by His presence and favor. Their life is of the highest kind — life

in the truest, fullest sense, directly derived from Him who is “the Fountain

of life” (Psalm 36:9), and involving all real good. “In thy presence is fullness

of joy, at thy right hand, there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11.)

The life of others is but “a race to death,” and they are “dead while they live.”

 

8. They are designed for useful service; not merely to be looked upon and

admired, but employed according to the will of the owner. It is for this that

they are preserved.

 

9. They have “the promise of eternal life.” (I John 2:25)  Their spiritual fellowship

with God and with each other in this life is a down payment of its continuance and

perfection in the life to come. “God is not the God of the dead, but of the

living(Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38).  The pious Jew dies with

the words of the text upon his lips, and has them inscribed upon his tomb.

“Whosoever is so hidden in the gracious fellowship of the Lord in this life

that no enemy can harm him or injure his life, the Lord will not allow to perish,

even though temporal death should come, but will then receive him into

eternal life” (Keil). “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:18)

 

10. Their destiny (like their character) is the opposite of that of the

ungodly. “Concerning the bodies of the righteous it is said, ‘He shall enter

into peace; they shall rest in their beds’ (Isaiah 57:2); and of their

souls it is said, ‘And the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life

with the Lord thy God.’ But concerning the bodies of the wicked it is said,

‘There is no peace, saith God, to the wicked.’ (ibid. v. 21)And of their souls

it is said, ‘And the souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out, as out of the

middle of a sling’” (c. 29)(Talmud, quoted by Hurwitz).

 

 

The Bundle of Life and the Sling (v. 29)

 

The appeal of Abigail had all the more persuasiveness that she avowed her

sympathy with David’s cause, and her faith in the Divine purpose to make

him king. Such a conviction was by this time widely diffused in the land

among those who feared Jehovah and honored the prophet Samuel. We

have seen that it was confessed by Saul himself, and by Jonathan it was

cherished with generous pleasure. But Nabal would not have it mentioned

in his presence. In his eyes David was a mere runaway servant of the king

who had turned freebooter. His wife showed the vigor of her mind, the

clearness of her judgment, and the strength of her faith in not fearing the

displeasure of Nabal or the wrath of King Saul, but declaring her confident

belief that the Lord would raise David to be ruler over Israel. On this

ground she entreated him not to burden his conscience or sully his name

with a hasty deed of blood. What a power of figurative expression those

Eastern believers had; and not least those devout women whose spirits

were stirred by urgent occasions to ardent utterance — Deborah in her

triumph, Hannah in her song, Abigail in her appeal!

 

  • THE FIGURE OF SAFETY. A soul bound up in the bundle of life with

Jehovah. What could a Nabal’s churlishness, or even a Saul’s pursuit, avail

against a man whose life God guarded by night and day? If we use

Abigail’s phrase we extend its meaning. The question with her was of

David’s preservation to fill the throne of Israel; but it is not for us under

the New Testament to set our hearts on earthly rank. (“And seekest thou

great things for thyself?  Seek them not: - Jeremiah 45:5) Our treasure is in

heaven. Our inheritance is reserved for us till our Lord’s return. Our days

are few and uncertain. But we have an eternal life, freely given to us in

Christ Jesus; and the bundle of life means for us the unity of all the living

ones in Christ, the totality of the life which “is hid with Christ in God.”

(Colossians 3:3)  They who are bound up therein have been taken out of the

bundles of sin and death, extricated from what is evil and therefore doomed

to destruction, and have been by the power of the Holy Ghost joined to Christ

and the Church. Happy day that sees this done! Strong security that follows!

Who is he that can harm us if we are Christ’s, bound up in the

bundle of life with God our Saviour?

 

  • THE FIGURE OF REJECTION. Abigail made no further reference to

Nabal. He was her husband, and in no case could he be formidable to

David. All she asked was that the son of Jesse would magnanimously

overlook his churlishness. But the whole country rang with reports of the

angry pursuit of David by the king’, and Abigail predicted that his enemies

would have discomfiture and rejection from the Lord his God. With rare

felicity of allusion she spoke of their souls as flung away, as a stone is cast

out of the middle of a sling.” The very mention of the weapon with which

David had gained his first great success must have stirred his faith and

courage. The figure, as the history shows, was remarkably appropriate to

the career of David’s chief enemy, Saul. “As he that bindeth a stone in a

sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool” (Proverbs 26:8). Now

honor had been given to Saul. He was anointed and exalted to the throne,

and yet was at heart unwise and disobedient. So was the stone laid in the

pan of a sling. After a while we see the stone whirled round in the sling, i.e.

we see Saul troubled and tossed — wayward, disturbed, passionate,

insanely jealous. The end was now drawing near, and the stone was about

to be east out of the sling in despair and death on Mount Gilboa (ch. 31).

On vs. 32-33 Dr. South has left us a sermon entitled, ‘Prevention of sin

an invaluable blessing.’ In the “application” of it the preacher shows that a

much higher satisfaction is to be found from a conquered than from a

conquering passion. “Revenge is certainly the most luxurious morsel that

the devil can put into a sinner’s mouth. But do we think that David could

have found half the pleasure in the execution of his revenge that he

expresses here upon the disappointment of it? Possibly it might have

pleased him in the present heat and hurry of his rage, but must have

displeased him infinitely more in the cool, sedate reflections of his mind.”

Another point which South enforces is that the temper with which we

receive providential prevention of sin is a criterion of the gracious or

ungracious condition of our hearts. “Whosoever has anything of David’s

piety will be perpetually plying the throne of grace with such like

acknowledgments as — Blessed be that Providence which delivered me

from such a lewd company or such a vicious acquaintance! And blessed be

that God who cast stops and hindrances in my way when I was attempting

the commission of such and such a sin; who took me out of such a course

of life, such a place, or such an employment, which was a continual snare

and temptation to me! And blessed be such a preacher and such a friend

whom God made use of to speak a word in season to my wicked heart, and

so turned me out of the paths of DEATH and DESTRUCTION,  and saved

me in spite of the world, the devil, and myself!”

 

32“And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel,

which sent thee this day to meet me:  33 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.  34  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.

35  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.”  David, in his thankful acknowledgment of

Abigail’s remonstrance, sees in it the hand of Jehovah the God of Israel, who

had sent her, i.e. stirred her up to come. He commends also her advice,

literally, her “taste,” i.e. wisdom, discretion. It is the word rendered

behaviour in ch. 21:13. But for this prudent conduct on her part in thus

coming to meet him on the way, he solemnly assures her on oath that nothing

could have saved Nabal and every male in his household from death. Finally, he

accepts her present and dismisses her with the assurance that all was forgiven.

 

 

Moral Restraints (vs. 32-33)

 

1. Between the purpose to transgress and the intended act of transgression

there is usually an interval, and in that interval there may occur physical

restraints, rendering the act impossible but not affecting the purpose or

disposition; or moral restraints, affecting the purpose, and often altering it

and thereby preventing the act. The latter alone truly tests and reveals the

character. And of this nature was the restraint put upon David when he

was on his way to inflict vengeance on Nabal and his household for the

affront which he had received.

 

2. His terrible purpose seems surprising after his forbearance toward Saul

(ch. 24:7, 22). But the conquest of temptation is not unfrequently the occasion of

subsequently succumbing to it. This happens when any one supposes that he is no

longer in danger from it, and ceases to watch against it, and depend on God for his

safe keeping. “David was not secure against the temptation to personal vengeance

and to self-help, although he had previously resisted it. The lesson of his own

weakness in that respect was all the more needed that this was one of the most

obvious dangers to an ordinary Oriental ruler (ibid. v. 21). But David was not to

be such, and when God in His good providence restrained him as he had almost

fallen, He showed him the need of inward as well as of outward deliverance, and

the sufficiency of His grace to preserve him from spiritual as from temporal dangers”

(Edersheim). Consider special moral restraints as:

 

  • MUCH NEEDED EVEN BY A GOOD MAN, because of:

 

Ø      External incentives to sin. The language of Nabal was adapted to excite

anger and revenge, as his servant plainly perceived (v. 17).

 

Ø      Sudden impulses of passion, under which one of ardent temperament

especially is in danger of taking a rash oath (v. 22), and rushing towards

its accomplishment without fully considering what he does, or “inquiring

of the Lord” whether it is right.

 

Ø      Natural deficiency of strength to resist temptation, and natural liability

to self-deception. Reason and conscience should always hold the rein, but

how often is it torn from their grasp by fiery passions! David probably also

thought for the moment that it was right to avenge the wrong which had

been done; but even if Nabal’s offence were the greatest conceivable, he

was not yet constituted king and judge of the people, much less ought he

to inflict so fearful a vengeance for a private offence. “Lord, what is man?

(Psalm 8:4)  What need have we to pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation!

 

  • VARIOUSLY VOUCHSAFED ACCORDING TO HIS NEED. What

is most needed is the restoration of reason and conscience to their proper

place and power, and this is often brought about by:

 

Ø      Providential circumstances, leading to reflection and the recognition of

the will of God.

 

Ø      Wise and faithful counsel (v. 26-31), indicating that will, addressed

to conscience, and persuading to the adoption of a worthier course.

 

Ø      Inward influence, exerted by the Spirit of God, giving the inclination and

strength to walk in “the good and right way.” “Lo, all these things worketh

God oftentimes with man,” etc. (Job 33:28-29). And with him whose heart

is not “fully set to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) He worketh not in vain.

 

  • GRATEFULLY ASCRIBED BY HIM TO GOD. “Blessed be the

Lord God of Israel,” etc. He is grateful to the messenger of God, but first

and chiefly to God Himself; and his gratitude is sincere and fervent on

account of:

 

Ø      The evil which has been prevented.

Ø      The good which has been conferred.

Ø      The abounding mercy which has been experienced.

 

Do you think that any one will praise God in heaven with so loud a voice

as I shall?” said one (who had been speaking of the course of flagrant

transgression from which by Divine mercy he had been reclaimed). “Yes,”

was the reply, “I hope to do so, because by Divine mercy I have been kept

from it.” “It is not a converting, but a crowning grace; such an one as

irradiates and puts a circle of glory about the head of him upon whom it

descends; it is the Holy Ghost coming down upon him in the ‘form of a

dove,’ and setting him triumphant above the necessity of tears and sorrow,

mourning and repentance, the sad after-games of A LOST INNOCENCE

 (South, Prevention of Sin an Invaluable Mercy’).

 

 

Restraining Mercy (vs. 32-35)

 

The facts are:

 

1. David, recognizing the hand of God, expresses his sense of his mercy

and blesses Abigail for her advice.

2. He perceives, in the light of her remonstrance, the terrible evil of the

passion that had swayed him.

3. Accepting her present, he dismisses her in peace.

 

The success of Abigail’s wise conduct was now assured in a good man being saved

the guilt and shame of acting at variance with his professed trust in God; and

while duly honoring the instrument of deliverance, God’s restraining

mercy is fully brought into prominence. Notice:

 

  • RESTRAINING MERCY IS A FACT IN EVERY LIFE. This instance

was conspicuous, but David elsewhere acknowledges the constant keeping

of his God (Psalm 19:13; 141:9). We owe much to God for what we are not

and do not, as also for what we are and do. “By the grace of God I am what

I am” (I Corinthians 15:10) applies to prevention as well as endowment. Every

man is conscious of carrying within him a power of evil in excess of what finds

outlet in deeds, and its repression is due not only to human wisdom and

strength. The conditions of social life that check the development of inward

sinfulness are of God as truly as the truth we cherish that we may not sin

against Him (Psalm 119:11). The friends who counsel and warn, the

ordinances that tend to weaken the force of evil and nourish holiness, are

the agencies of the same gracious God who endowed us with the helping

conscience to which they appeal. If occasional providences, be they

disasters or personal interventions, draw special attention to the unseen

hand, they do not render the restraint at other times less real because they

are more steady and gentle. There is a spirit that strives silently with man

and holds him back FROM RUIN!

 

  • OUR RECOGNITION OF RESTRAINING MERCY IS MORE

PRONOUNCED WHEN WE HAVE PASSED THROUGH UNUSUAL

TEMPTATIONS. Temptations are common experience (I Corinthians 13:10),

but sometimes they come in “like a flood.” The admission of God’s kindly and

constant restraint is an item of daily belief (and relief – CY – 2016), attended

with more or less gratitude; but when the soul has been brought face to face

with a terrible sin by the force of violent impulses, and kept from committing

it by what is called a narrow chance, then the good hand of God is distinctly

recognized. In the lull of the storm we see clearly the rocks on which character

well nigh made shipwreck. The light of truth reveals whither we were going,

and the soul is aghast at the spectacle. In the lives of most there have been

occasions when we were on the very verge of destruction, or, like David,

were about to mar our consistency and usefulness by a sad transgression.

The refined spirit of a Christian shrinking in horror at the very thought of

what might have been cannot but say, “Blessed be the Lord God;” and

where human instruments have been employed, a benediction falls on them

for their kindly aid. These acts of recognition, so full of gratitude and joy,

are but faint indications of that inexpressible joy and gratitude when, in

survey of all life’s dangers, the soul will praise the “mercy that endureth

forever.”  (Psalm 136:1-26)

 

  • A PROPER RECOGNITION OF RESTRAINING MERCY IS

ATTENDED WITH A CALM AND STEADY ATTENTION TO THE

DUTIES OF OUR SPIRITUAL POSITION. David, as chosen servant of

God, quietly accepts the gift of Abigail, and, dismissing her, reverts to the

normal course of trusting in God and biding his time. He lived out his true

character all the better for this narrow escape. It is the natural effect of

mercy, when recognized, to render us more true to our holy calling in

God’s service. We go on our way with stronger determination to submit to

His will, whatever it may bring, and to live in closer fellowship with Him.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      Our spiritual life acquires more elevation and tone by periodically

reflecting on God’s restraining mercy.

Ø      From an experience of deliverance from fearful moral perils we may

enlarge our knowledge of the possibilities of life, and find increased

reasons for habitual watchfulness.

 

 

     DEATH OF NABAL AND MARRIAGE OF DAVID AND ABIGAIL

     (vs. 36-42).

 

36 “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.  37 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.  38 And it came to

pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.”

For he was very drunken. Hebrew, “and he was very drunken.” This was not the

cause of his heart being merry, but the result; he gave himself up to enjoyment

till he became drunken, and then his merriment was over. When Abigail came

back he was stupefied by drink, and it was not until the next day, when his

debauch was passing off, that he was capable of being told what his wife had

done. And when Abigail recounted to him David’s fierce resolve, and how she

had pacified him, he seems to have given way to a fit of violent indignation,

flying out possibly at her as he had at David’s messengers (v. 14), the result

of which was an attack of apoplexy (cerebral hemorrhage or stroke), and after

lying in a state of insensibility for ten days, he died.

 

39 “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.

40 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.  41 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.  42 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.”  Hath pleaded the cause of my

reproach. In the causes tried at the gate of an Israelite city the friends of the

accused both pleaded his cause, defended him from wrong, and punished any

who had wronged him. So God had avenged David, while preventing him by

Abigail s interference from avenging himself (see ch. 24:13). As a widow’s

legal mourning seems to have lasted only seven days, David, on hearing of

Nabal’s death, sent messengers to Abigail at Carmel to ask her in marriage.

He was probably moved to this not merely by her sensible conduct, but

also by the news that Michal had been given to another. She expresses her

willingness in true Oriental fashion by saying she was ready to perform the

most abject menial duties, even for his servants, and at once with five

maidens proceeds to join him. It is a proof that David considered himself

practically secure against Saul’s attempts that he thus married and allowed

women to accompany his small force, as their presence would not only

impede the rapidity of his movements, but also implies a certain amount of

ease and comfort for their maintenance.

 

 

Abigail (vs. 14-42)

 

Of her family and early life nothing is recorded. When first mentioned she

was the wife of the wealthy and churlish Nabal. It was an ill-assorted

union, probably due (like most Oriental marriages) to parental

arrangement. She was distinguished by a beautiful countenance and form,

and (what is not always associated therewith) by a beautiful mind and

character, embodying the ideal of womanhood (Proverbs 31:10-31).

“Where do we find in all the heathen world a woman comparable with

Abigail, the daughter of the wilderness?” She was a woman of:

 

1. Superior intelligence, practical wisdom, prudence, tact, and good

management. “Of good understanding” (v. 3). The part she took in the

affairs of her husband is evident from the servants telling her of the

threatening danger (v. 17), and her apology (v. 25). Her discretion was

also shown in her reserve (v. 19).

 

2. Prompt decision, energy, and activity. “Abigail made haste,” etc. (v. 18).

Not a moment was lost, and she was promptly obeyed.

 

3. Unaffected humility, meekness, modesty, and self-devotion. “She fell

before David on her face,” etc. (vs. 23, 41). Her meekness and patience

must have been greatly tried by the temper of Nabal, and had doubtless

previously averted many a disaster.

 

4. Noble generosity and sacrifice. “Two hundred loaves,” etc. (v. 18).

She felt that no sacrifice was too great to save her husband and his

household. “David’s men and David felt that these were not the gifts of a

sordid calculation, but the offerings of a generous heart. And it won them,

their gratitude, their enthusiasm, their unfeigned homage” (Robertson).

 

5. Conciliatory, faithful, eloquent speech, and pacifying, beneficent

influence (vs. 24-31). Having taken the blame upon herself (as

intercessor), and referred to her husband “with that union of playfulness

and seriousness which above all things turns away wrath” (Stanley), she

directed the thoughts of David to God, by the leadings of whose

providence she had been sent to divert him from his purpose, utters the

wish that He to whom vengeance belongs would avenge him, humbly begs

the acceptance of her offering for his young men, and beseeches his

forgiveness. Then (assuming her prayer to be granted) she assures him of

the brilliant future that awaited him, inasmuch as he would fulfil the

purposes of Jehovah, and not his own; that, should any one seek to do him

harm, Jehovah would preserve him in safety, and punish his adversaries;

and that when he should be “ruler over Israel it would be a source of

comfort, and not of trouble, to him that he had not shed blood causelessly,

nor taken vengeance into his own hand. Finally she says, “And Jehovah will

do good to my lord, and thou wilt remember thine handmaid” (for good)

— “remember the things which I have spoken” (Dathe). No dissuasions

from revenge could be more effective.

 

“When a world of men

Could not prevail with all their oratory,

Yet hath a woman’s kindness overruled.”

 

“Doubtless she had not studied eloquence in the schools, but the Spirit of

God alone made her such an orator. God put wisdom into her heart, and it

flowed out in wise discourse” (Roos).

 

6. Exalted piety; faith in the righteousness and goodness of God, His

overruling providence, and the establishment of His kingdom (see the song

of Hannah), devotion, spiritual insight, manifested in this appeal, and in her

whole conduct (Proverbs 31:26, 30). It is not surprising that, after the

death of Nabal, “David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to

him to wife” (v. 39).

 

 

  ADDITIONAL PARTICULARS RESPECTING DAVID’S MARRIED LIFE

    (vs. 43-44).

 

43 “David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of

them his wives.  44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife,

to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.”  Besides Abigail, David also

took to wife Ahinoam of Jezreel, a small village among the hills of Judah

(Joshua 15:56), and not the better known town of that name in the tribe of

Issachar. Ahinoam was the name also of Saul’s wife (ch. 14:50). They were

also…his wives. I.e. besides Michal. She had been given by Saul to Phalti

the son of Laish, called Phaltiel in II Samuel 3:15, where we read of

his lamentation at her being torn from him by Ishbosheth in order that she

might be restored to David. Gallim is described in Isaiah 10:30 as being

situated between Gibeah of Saul and Jerusalem.

 

 

Contrasts, Patience, and Domestic Ties (vs. 36-44)

 

The facts are:

 

1. Abigail, finding Nabal in the midst of a drunken revel, refrains from

speaking of her interview with David.

2. In the morning, on her relating what had transpired, he became

insensible, and soon after dies.

3. On hearing of his death David recognizes afresh the mercy that had

restrained him, and sees the wisdom of leaving judgment TO THE LORD!

4. David, deprived of his wife Michal, though possessed of Ahinoam, seeks

to take Abigail to wife, and she, accepting his advances, consents.

 

The sacred narrative is wonderfully effective in making David the central

figure amidst the diversity of detail alluded to, and thus indicates the unity of

principle on which it is framed, as well as foreshadows the higher

presentation of Christ as the one figure, discernible by the eye of faith,

amidst the varied teachings of Scripture. The manifold teaching of this

section, while associated with David as the central figure, may be most

conveniently represented under three heads. We have here:

 

  • CONTRASTS OF CHARACTER. Nabal may be regarded as an

instance of a type of character well known in every age:

 

Ø      low in taste,

Ø      devoted to material gains,

Ø      insensible to lofty spiritual aspirations,

Ø      the miserable victim of disgusting habits,

Ø      exercising a pernicious influence, and

Ø      coming to an end dishonorable and ruinous.

 

Grades of this character may be found, but the essential features of it are:

 

Ø      sensuality,

Ø      irreverence, and

Ø      earthliness.  (James 3:15)

 

The chapter presents us with three characters agreeing in a common contrast

to this:

 

Ø      Abigail’s,

Ø      David’s,

Ø      Samuel’s.

 

Each of these, in the sphere allotted by Providence, stands out as the very

opposite of Nabal.  That which formed the inspiring power in them was

intelligent devotion to the higher interests of life and strong faith in the

Divine purpose that was being worked out in Israel. The reference in v. 1

to the honorable burial of Samuel, and in vs. 36-38 to the disgraceful end

of Nabal, as well as the intermediate references to David and Abigail, show

that the contrast of characters lies in four things:

 

Ø      spirit,

Ø      aims,

Ø      influence, and

Ø      end.

 

All characters may be tested by these criteria. The spirit is either:

 

Ø      devout,

Ø      reverent,

Ø      trustful, and obedient, or:

o       groveling,

o       profane,

o       alien to God.

 

The aim in life is the creation of the spirit, and is either to:

 

Ø      promote individual and public righteousness in association with

God’s purpose in the Messiah, or:

Ø      gather wealth and find transitory gratification.

 

The influence is either to:

 

Ø      elevate,

Ø      inspire, and

Ø      enrich the world with what is best and enduring, or:

o       to drag down,

o       embitter, and

o       brutalize mankind.

 

The end, as in the case of Samuel, is either:

 

Ø      peace, honor, and future blessedness, or

Ø      wretchedness, dishonour, and future woe. In every age and locality

where truth is loved and rejected these opposite tendencies and issues

are found, and it would be instructive and impressive to develop with

illustrations from history the gradations of contrast. The clue to

contrasts:

 

o       in taste,

o       habit, and

o       final condition,

 

 is to be sought in the state of the spirit in its relation to God.

“The carnal mind is enmity against God.”  (Romans 8:7)

“You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and

 sins.”  (Ephesians 2:1)

 

  • THE JUSTIFICATION OF PATIENCE. It is possible to take David’s

words (v. 39) as expressing thanks for preservation from sin, and at the

same time pleasure that his churlish enemy was now smitten; but the sense

more congruous with the circumstances seems to be that he was, on

reflection, more and more grateful for Divine restraint; and the fact that

God had, without His agency, done what seemed to Him best was evidence

that man need never hasten to vindicate himself by violent measures, but

may be patient under wrong. He was glad that God, and not he, had

vindicated right. Events in the course of Providence will justify abstention

from evil even under strong provocation. Many a man, patiently repressing

violent passions, and content to endure rather than savagely avenge wrong,

has lived to see the day when God, in some unlooked for way, has visited

the wrong doer with chastisement, and then, while thankful for restraint, he

is able to see in the Divine conduct a justification of the patience once so

hard to exercise, and that seemed to men of the world so inexpedient and

weak. And here comes out the great truth that the meek and quiet virtues

enjoined by Christ are always justified by Providence, though at the time

they are exercised they seem to be contrary to human nature. This is but a

branch of a still wider truth, that all holiness of feeling and conduct is in the

issue coincident with self-interest. Utility may not be the basis of morality,

but in its broadest sense, taking in endless existence and future relations, it

is exemplified in the effects. A few observations may suffice on this subject:

 

Ø      It often requires much effort to be truly virtuous. David felt it harder to

abstain from avenging wrong than to avenge it. The positive side of his

virtue was patient trust in THE JUSTICE OF GOD and the impulses of

the old man are against this. Very often personal losses and social

disadvantages attend our patient endurance of evil, and these set into

operation our strong feelings of resentment, our estimate of profit and

loss, and our professed love of right.  (The devil hits us the hardest like

he did to Jesus when he offers us the whole world [which it really isn’t

his to give] if we would but fall down and worship him.  Matthew 4:8-9 –

CY – 2016)

 

Ø      All such virtue has the promise of success. To trust in God, to be patient

in tribulation, and kindred qualities are pregnant with victory. Right feeling

and conduct per se have a tendency, as Butler has shown, to ultimate

happiness; and the ordinations of Providence are all subordinate to the

vindication of right.

 

Ø      Personal and general history show that patient trust in God’s justice is

honored. Martyrs have found it better to leave their cause to God. The

results of their endurance are perpetual, and most blessed and powerful.

Every Christian can see in his own life that God does not forsake His

saints, but turns their patient trust to His honor and glory, and the higher

education of the individual and the race. Events will justify religious

feeling in any form. It answers in every way TO BE LIKE CHRIST!

 

  • THE DOMESTIC FACTOR IN LIFE. The details concerning Nabal

are given because of David’s place in the history of redemption, and for the

same reason we have an account of David’s domestic relationships. It is

well known that the domestic tie is of extreme importance in every life.

(It will be eventually  A NATIONAL AND WORLDWIDE TRAGEDY

that the breakup of the home in America is producing at present.  Unless

there is repentance, the world cannot and will not survive the COMING

JUDGMENT OF THE LORD GOD!  Men are helped or hindered, blessed

or cursed, by the kind of influence that sways the home. Considering how

much the general character is affected by the development of the tender and

pure feelings proper to home life, the loss to the world arising from

DOMESTIC MISERIES is INCALCUABLE!   What a change in society

were our toilers blessed in the person of their wives with the love, the

refinement of feeling, and the intelligent Christianity which

knows how to make home a welcome, cheery place! Men like Nabal would

be much worse were it not for the restraining influence of an Abigail.

David’s public and private career was necessarily the better for the

presence in his home of such a woman, though the elevating influence of

her character was impaired by his adoption of polygamy. Many are the

counteracting influences under which the best of men develop, and

Scripture, by thus calling attention to David’s domestic affairs, gives us a

clue to some of the circumstances amidst which his virtues and failings

appeared. The extreme importance of the domestic factor in life should

urge to care in contracting alliances, in the maintenance of a spirit at home

in harmony with the sacred character of the marriage bond, and in

rendering home life subservient to a faithful and efficient discharge of one’s

calling in life (Ephesians 5:22-33; I Peter 3:1-7). (This is IMPOSSIBLE

IN A WORLD OF LTA [living together arrangement] and GAY AND

LESBIAN MARRIAGES! – CY – 2016)  The question of marriage is a

delicate one, and needs to be handled with great care, but it is

doubtful whether the Church has in her pastors and teachers done as much

for the education of the people on the subject as is required. A wise pastor

will know how to incorporate earnest Scripture teaching with his ordinary

ministrations without intruding into the privacies of life, and wise parents

have it in their power to save their sons and daughters from many troubles

by first winning confidence, and then judiciously aiding to right decisions.

 

  • GENERAL LESSONS:

 

Ø      In order to form a correct estimate of a life we must take into account

THE END, and the bearing of the principles cherished on THE

ENDLESS EXISTENCE beyond the grave.

Ø      The cure for some of the ills of modern life is in making home more

attractive to those now seeking unhallowed joys elsewhere.

Ø      A nation careful of the purity and fullness of domestic life WILL

SURVIVE THOSE MAKING LIGHT OF THESE QUALITIES –

(a la – those who are causing the “destruction of the world!”

Revelation 11:18 – CY – 2016)

 

 

 

David’s Activity and Advancement (vs. 1-44)

 

“And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran (v. 1).

Samuel was dead. Saul was becoming more and more incapable of fulfilling

the duties of his high office. Meanwhile David was being prepared by

Divine providence to grasp the scepter when it fell from his hand and wield

it in a nobler manner. He was the rising sun of the new era. And we see in

this chapter numerous signs of his peculiar qualification for his future rule

and of his gradual progress towards it; such as, e.g.:

 

1. The strict discipline which he exercised among his men. Those 600

warriors dwelt in the neighborhood of Nabal’s shepherds, and could easily

have supplied their wants from the flocks kept by the latter; but “the men

were very good to us,” said one of them, “and we were not hurt, neither

missed we anything,” etc. (v. 15). “He was bringing his wild followers

under a loving discipline and government which they had never

experienced; he was teaching them to confess a law which no tyrant had

created, no anarchy could set aside” (Maurice).

 

2. The valuable service which he rendered to his people. “They were a wall

unto us both by night and day” (v. 16). He employed his followers

(whom he could not lead against Saul without incurring the charge of

rebellion) in protecting those who were occupied in honest industry against

the plundering Bedouin, and thus doing the work which had been left

undone by the king. There is no place or position but affords opportunity

for useful work. Even an outlaw may be serviceable to his country.

 

3. The perfect equity of the claim he made. His defense of the sheep gave

him a right to some share in them; and he was justified in voluntarily

undertaking it by the condition of society at the time and his own peculiar

position. The reply of Nabal, in its application to David, was destitute of

justice, truth, and charity (vs. 10-11).

 

4. The respectful consideration he showed in urging his claim. He did not

make it unseasonably, but waited till “a good day” (a festive occasion on

which men were usually disposed to be generous), and then sent ten young

men to offer him a courteous greeting, state the case, and humbly seek as a

favor what might have been demanded as a right (vs. 6-8). He appealed

to what was noblest and best in the man.

 

5. The conscious power which he displayed. “Greet him in my name” — a

name well known in Israel as that of a faithful, though persecuted, servant

of Jehovah. Not a word escaped his lips, indeed, on this or any other

occasion concerning his royal destiny. But he knew the strength of his

position (see ch. 26.), which was very different now from what it was at

the beginning of his wanderings, was manifested in his whole bearing, and

especially in the marriage relationships into which he entered (vs. 42 44).

 

6. The increased renown, which he had acquired. The words of Abigail

(vs. 28-31) expressed the growing conviction of the godly in Israel that

David was destined to be their theocratic ruler. She may also have

received certain information of his anointing and destination through

Samuel, or one of the pupils of the prophets” (Keil).

 

7. The Divine restraint by which he was kept from doing what would have

imperiled or interfered with his future honor and happiness (v. 26).

When God has an important place for a man to fill, he prepares the way to

it and prepares him for it, and a part of his preparation consists in his being

taught faithful cooperation with the Divine purposes.

 

 

The Prosperous Fool (vs. 2-39)

 

“Now the name of the man was Nabal (v. 3; “a son of Belial,” v. 17;

Nabal is his name, and folly is with him,” v. 25). This chapter is like a

picture gallery in which are exhibited the portraits of Samuel and the elders

of Israel, David and his men, with the Bedouin marauders in the

background; Nabal, the wealthy sheep owner, his sheep shearers and boon

companions, Abigail and her maidens, and Ahinoam of Jezreel (mother of

Amnon, the eldest son of David). Let us pause and look at one of them —

Nabal. “As his name is, so is he;” a fool, i.e. a stupid, wicked, and godless

man. “According to the Old Testament representation folly is a correlate of

ungodliness which inevitably brings down PUNISHMENT! (Keil) He is such

an one as is described by the Psalmist (Psalm 14:1), often mentioned by

the wise man (Proverbs 17:16; 19:1; 21:24), called a churl by the prophet

(Isaiah 32:5-7), and referred to by our Lord in the parable (Luke 12:13-21).

What a contrast between his appearance and that of Samuel!

 

·         HIS ADVANTAGES WERE GREAT.

 

Ø      He belonged to a good family. “He was of the house of Caleb,” who

wholly followed Jehovah God of Israel,” and had “a part among the

children of Judah.” But he inherited none of the better qualities of his

illustrious ancestor. “A good extraction is a reproach to him who

degenerates from it.” Religious privileges also (such as he enjoyed from

his connection with Israel), unless rightly used, only serve to increase

condemnation.

 

Ø      He possessed an excellent wife; “a woman of good understanding and of

a beautiful countenance,” prudent, generous, and devout. “A prudent wife

is from the Lord” (Proverbs 19:14). But many a man is little benefited

by the gift. His worldly prosperity may be increased by her skilful

management of his household (vs. 14, 25), whilst his spiritual condition is

not improved by her example, counsel, and prayers. The persistently bad

are hardened by their intimate intercourse with the good.

 

Ø      He enjoyed immense prosperity. “The man was very great (wealthy),

and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats,” a palatial

residence in Maon, and a house at Carmel (Kurmul), where his business lay

(vs. 2, 36). He may have inherited his wealth, or he may have had

wisdom enough to know how to make and keep it, industrious himself, and

profiting by the industry of others; it is not improbable from his language

concerning slaves (v. 10) that he was one of those usurers and

oppressors from whose exactions many of David’s men sought to free

themselves by flight (ch. 22:2). “Here we may see the fickle and

uncertain state of the world” (Willet); “the wicked in great power”

(Psalm 37:35), and the good oppressed (Psalm 73:10). But “a

man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he

possesseth (Luke 12:15). His abundance should make him:

o      thankful to God and

o      generous to men.

It has often, however, the reverse effect, and “the prosperity of fools

shall destroy them” (Deuteronomy 8:10-20; Proverbs 1:32).

 

·         HIS CHARACTER WAS WORTHLESS. “The man was churlish”

(hard and harsh) and evil in his doings (v. 3).

 

Ø      He had evidently no thought of God as:

 

o        the living, ever-present One,

o        thetrue King of Israel,

o        the Author and Preserver of his life,

o        the Giver of all his blessings,

o        the moral Ruler to whom he was responsible for their proper

employment.

What was material and sensible was to him the only reality.  He recognized

in practice no will superior to his own, and lived “without God in the world.”

(Ephesians 2:12)

 

Ø      He was regardless of the claims of other people; despising those who

were beneath him in social position, headstrong, and resentful of every

word which his servants might say to him in opposition to his way and for

his good (v. 17); illiberal toward the needy, unjust and ungrateful,

requiting evil for good” (v. 21); disparaging the character and conduct

of others (vs. 10-12), and railing upon them (v. 14) in coarse and

insulting language. “His wealth had not endowed him with common sense;

but, like many in our own day, he imagined that because he was in affluent

circumstances he might with impunity indulge in rude, ill-mannered sneers

at all who were around him” (W.M. Taylor).  (Sounds like one of our political

candidates in rough form.  CY – 2016)

 

Ø      He lived for himself alone; regarding his wealth as his own (“my bread

and my water,” etc.), using it only for himself; making an ostentatious

display (“the feast of a king”), and indulging in intemperance, “the

voluntary extinction of reason.” “So is he that layeth up treasure for

himself, and is not rich toward God.”  (Luke 12:21)

 

·         HIS END WAS MISERABLE (vs. 36-39).

 

Ø      He was overtaken by death very suddenly and unexpectedly, and when

HE WAS UNPREPARED FOR IT!   “Thou fool, this night thy soul

shall be required of thee,” etc.  (Luke 12:20)

Ø      He suffered the natural penalty of the course which he had pursued.

3. He was consigned to his grave without honor. Whilst “all Israel

mourned” for Samuel, none lamented him.

 

  • LEARN THAT: The inequalities of men’s earthly position disappear in the

     light of TRUTH and ETERNITY!

 

 

 

 

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