1. Samuel died—After a long life of
piety and public usefulness, he left behind him a reputation which
ranks him among the greatest of Scripture worthies.
buried him in his house at Ramah—that
is, his own mausoleum. The Hebrews took as great care to provide
sepulchers anciently as people do in the East still, where every
respectable family has its own house of the dead. Often this is in a
little detached garden, containing a small stone building (where there
is no rock), resembling a house, which is called the sepulcher of the
family—it has neither door nor window.
David arose, and went down to the wilderness of
Paran—This removal had probably no connection with the
prophet's death; but was probably occasioned by the necessity of
seeking provision for his numerous followers.
the wilderness of Paran—stretching
from Sinai to the borders of Palestine in the southern territories of
Judea. Like other wildernesses, it presented large tracts of natural
pasture, to which the people sent their cattle at the grazing season,
but where they were liable to constant and heavy depredations by
prowling Arabs. David and his men earned their subsistence by making
reprisals on the cattle of these freebooting Ishmaelites; and,
frequently for their useful services, they obtained voluntary tokens of
acknowledgment from the peaceful inhabitants.
2. in Carmel—now Kurmul. The district
takes its name from this town, now a mass of ruins; and about a mile
from it is Tell Main, the hillock on which stood ancient Maon.
the man was very great—His property
consisted in cattle, and he was considered wealthy, according to the
ideas of that age.
3. he was of the house of Caleb—of
course, of the same tribe with David himself; but many versions
consider Caleb ("dog") not as a proper, but a common noun, and render
it, "he was snappish as a dog."
4-9. Nabal did shear his sheep, and David sent out
ten young men, &c.—David and his men lurked in these
deserts, associating with the herdsmen and shepherds of Nabal and
others and doing them good offices, probably in return for information
and supplies obtained through them. Hence when Nabal held his annual
sheep-shearing in Carmel, David felt himself entitled to share in the
festival and sent a message, recounting his own services and asking for
a present. "In all these particulars we were deeply struck with the
truth and strength of the biblical description of manners and customs
almost identically the same as they exist at the present day. On such a
festive occasion, near a town or village, even in our own time, an Arab
sheik of the neighboring desert would hardly fail to put in a word
either in person or by message; and his message, both in form and
substance, would be only a transcript of that of David" [Robinson].
1Sa 25:10-13. The Churlish
Answer Provokes Him.
10-12. Nabal answered David's servants, …
Who is David? &c.—Nabal's answer seems to indicate that
the country was at the time in a loose and disorderly state. David's
own good conduct, however, as well as the important services rendered
by him and his men, were readily attested by Nabal's servants. The
preparations of David to chastise his insolent language and ungrateful
requital are exactly what would be done in the present day by Arab
chiefs, who protect the cattle of the large and wealthy sheep masters
from the attacks of the marauding border tribes or wild beasts. Their
protection creates a claim for some kind of tribute, in the shape of
supplies of food and necessaries, which is usually given with great
good will and gratitude; but when withheld, is enforced as a right.
Nabal's refusal, therefore, was a violation of the established usages
of the place.
13. two hundred abode by the stuff—This
addition to his followers was made after his return into Judah (see
1Sa 25:14-35. Abigail
14-18. Then Abigail made haste—The
prudence and address of Nabal's wife were the means of saving him and
family from utter destruction. She acknowledged the demand of her
formidable neighbors; but justly considering, that to atone for the
insolence of her husband, a greater degree of liberality had become
necessary, she collected a large amount of food, accompanying it with
the most valued products of the country.
bottles—goatskins, capable of holding
a great quantity.
parched corn—It was customary to eat
parched corn when it was fully grown, but not ripe.
19. she said unto her servants, Go on before me;
behold, I come after you—People in the East always try to
produce an effect by their presents, loading on several beasts what
might be easily carried by one, and bringing them forward, article by
article, in succession. Abigail not only sent her servants in this way,
but resolved to go in person, following her present, as is commonly
done, to watch the impression which her munificence would produce.
23. she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell
before David on her face—Dismounting in presence of a
superior is the highest token of respect that can be given; and it is
still an essential act of homage to the great. Accompanying this act of
courtesy with the lowest form of prostration, she not only by her
attitude, but her language, made the fullest amends for the disrespect
shown by her husband, as well as paid the fullest tribute of respect to
the character and claims of David.
25. Nabal—signifying fool, gave
pertinence to his wife's remark.
26. let thine enemies … be as
Nabal—be as foolish and contemptible as he.
29. the soul of my lord shall be bound in the
bundle of life with the Lord thy God—An Orientalism,
expressing the perfect security of David's life from all the assaults
of his enemies, under the protecting shield of Providence, who had
destined him for high things.
32-35. David said to Abigail, Blessed be the
Lord—Transported by passion and blinded by revenge, he was on
the eve of perpetrating a great injury. Doubtless, the timely
appearance and prudent address of Abigail were greatly instrumental in
changing his purpose. At all events, it was the means of opening his
eyes to the moral character of the course on which he had been
impetuously rushing; and in accepting her present, he speaks with
lively satisfaction as well as gratitude to Abigail, for having
relieved him from bloodshed.
1Sa 25:36-44. Nabal's
36. he held a feast in his house, like the feast
of a king—The sheep-shearing season was always a very joyous
occasion. Masters usually entertained their shepherds; and even Nabal,
though of a most niggardly disposition, prepared festivities on a scale
of sumptuous liberality. The modern Arabs celebrate the season with
37, 38. in the morning … his wife had told
him these things, that his heart died within him—He probably
fainted from horror at the perilous situation in which he had
unconsciously placed himself; and such a shock had been given him by
the fright to his whole system, that he rapidly pined and died.
39-42. the Lord hath returned the wickedness of
Nabal upon his own head—If this was an expression of
pleasure, and David's vindictive feelings were gratified by the
intelligence of Nabal's death, it was an instance of human infirmity
which we may lament; but perhaps he referred to the unmerited reproach
25:10, 11), and the contempt
of God implied in it.
David sent and communed with Abigail, to take
her to wife—This unceremonious proceeding was quite in the
style of Eastern monarchs, who no sooner take a fancy for a lady than
they despatch a messenger to intimate their royal wishes that she
should henceforth reside in the palace; and her duty is implicitly to
obey. David's conduct shows that the manners of the Eastern nations
were already imitated by the great men in Israel; and that the morality
of the times which God permitted, gave its sanction to the practice of
polygamy. His marriage with Abigail brought him a rich estate.
44. Michal—By the unchallengeable will
of her father, she who was David's wife was given to another. But she
returned and sustained the character of his wife when he ascended the