1 Samuel 25
David marries a fool’s widow
Samuel RIP1Samuel died. People came from all over to mourn him. They buried him at Ramah, his hometown. David moved his men to the Maon Desert  and camped there.
Nabal, rich and rude2At the time, there was a rich man from the town of Maon who did business in the nearby town of Carmel.  He owned 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. It was shearing season, and his workers were shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3The man’s name was Nabal.  He came from the family of Caleb.  Nabal was a natural grump with a mean streak and a crooked way of doing business. But he married a beautiful and intelligent woman, Abigail.
4David heard it was shearing time for Nabal’s flock.  5So David sent 10 of his men to Carmel with a message for Nabal. 6David told them to tell Nabal, “Peace to you and your family and everyone you care about. I hope everything goes well for all of you. 7I hear your shearers are busy these days. Your shepherds spent some time among us, grazing the flock near Carmel a while back. We didn’t hurt them. And we didn’t let anyone else hurt them, either. 8Ask your shepherds and they’ll confirm it. So, would you please welcome my men to your shearing festival and the celebration. Please give them whatever you can for your friend David and his men.”
9David’s men delivered the message to Nabal and then waited for his answer. 10Nabal said, “David who? Son of Jesse who? There are a lot of runaway slaves looking for a handout. 11I have a supply of bread and water and butchered meat for my shearers. Should I give it to men who come from who knows where?”
12David’s men returned to camp and delivered Nabal’s message to him. 13David yelled out to his men, “Strap on those swords! Every one of you!” And they did. So did David. He took 400 men with him and left 200 behind to guard the camp.
Abigail rushes to stop David’s attack14One of Nabal’s shepherds told Abigail, “David sent messengers to greet our master, but he insulted and humiliated them. 15These men were good to us when we grazed the flock near them. They didn’t hurt us. And we didn’t lose anything when they were near us. 16They surrounded us with their protection while we were out in the fields with the sheep. 17You need to know this. Because if something doesn’t change fast, our master and his entire household will suffer the consequence of his bad behavior. No one can talk to him about this because he’s got such a mean temper.”
18Abigail quickly pulled from the festival supplies:
- 200 loaves of bread,
- 2 large animal skins full of wine,
- 5 butchered sheep ready to cook,
- 1 50-pound (23-kg) sack of roasted grain 
- 100 clusters of raisins,
- 200 pressed cakes of dried figs.
Abigail bows to David20When Abigail reached the mountain path along a ravine, David and his men met her there.
21David had just complained to his men: “It was all a waste of time, protecting that guy’s property there in the desert. He lost nothing. But he repays our goodness with his good-for-nothingness. 22If I don’t kill him and every male in his family by morning, may God do worse to me.”
23When Abigail saw David, she quickly stepped down from her donkey and dropped face down in front of David.
24Bowing at his feet she pled, “Master, it’s all my fault. I’m your servant. Please listen to me. 25Don’t take that nasty man Nabal seriously. He is what his name says he is: a fool. That’s what “Nabal” means. Trouble follows him everywhere. I’m sorry but I didn’t get to meet the men you sent. 26As sure as the LORD’s alive and you are, too, I pray that your enemies will attract the same troubles that Nabal does. It seems clear that today the LORD has kept you from killing people out of revenge. 27Please accept this gift I bring you, as your servant. Share this with those who follow you.
28Please excuse me if I’m out of line, but I believe you will one day have a strong family with many descendants. And it’s because you are fighting on the LORD’s side and you always try to do what’s right. 29When people try to kill you, the LORD will surround you with his protection. Then he’ll get rid of your enemies as easy as you can load a rock into a sling and whip it out of sight. 30The LORD is going to make you ruler of Israel, as he promised. 31When he does, you won’t feel bad about what happened here today. And that’s because you chose not to kill innocent people out of revenge or for any other reason. When the LORD rewards you for that, please remember me.”
32David told Abigail, “Thank God, the LORD of Israel, for sending you to me today. 33Thanks for coming here and for bringing some common sense with you. You kept me from killing people so I could take revenge and save face. 34I’ll tell you something. As sure as the LORD lives, if you hadn’t come to meet me like this today, I would have killed every male in Nabal’s family by morning.”
35David accepted Abigail’s gift. Then he told her, “Go home in peace. I’ve taken your advice and granted your request.”
Nabal drops fast, dies later36Abigail went home to find Nabal happily drunk and celebrating like a king at the shearing festival he was hosting.
37The next morning, when Nabal sobered up, Abigail told him what happened while he was getting drunk. Nabal’s heart started to die and his body began to grow rigid as stone.  38Nabal died about 10 days later. The LORD saw to it.
David marries widow Abigail39When David heard Nabal was dead, he said, “Hallelujah and thank you LORD. You gave that man what he deserved for insulting me. And you kept me from the sin of killing him myself.” David sent Abigail a marriage proposal. 40David followed that up by sending his servants to Abigail at Carmel. They told her, “David sent us to escort you back to him as his wife.”
41Abigail bowed low and said, “I’m your servant, no better than a slave of David. I would gladly wash the feet of David’s servants.” 42Then she quickly climbed on her donkey and left to become David’s wife. She took five female servants with her, and they all followed David’s messengers.
43David also married a woman from the city of Jezreel, Ahinoam. 44Earlier, David had married Saul’s daughter, Michal. But Saul had since given her to another man, Palti the son of Laish. That family came from the city of Gallim. 
Some manuscripts say he camped in Paran Desert, a wasteland in the Negev. That’s in southeastern Israel along the border with what is now the country of Jordan. But Paran seems too far away to fit the storyline. Maon Desert is further north. The city of Maon is linked to the ruins of Khirbet Ma ‘in, about 20 miles (32 km) south of David’s hometown of Bethlehem—a day’s walk.
Carmel is linked to the ruins called Khirbet el-Kirmil, about a mile (1.6 km) north of Maon.
Nabal is Hebrew for “fool” (verse 25).
Caleb was one of the 12 spies Moses sent north to scout the Promised Land of Canaan, which is now Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories. Caleb was one of the good guys in the story, brave and trusting of God.
Shearing season is to a shepherd what harvest is to a farmer: payday. It’s a time of celebration, paying off debts, and hosting meals for shearers, family, and friends. David wanted in on this, for himself and his men.
Five seahs, roughly 35 liters or 32 quarts. Wheat kernels weight about 710 grams or 1.5 pounds per liter.
Some scholars speculate Nabal had a stroke or a heart attack or a panic attack that somehow paralyzed him. There’s irony in Nabal’s switch from a happy heart to a stone heart. God promises to do the opposite of that for Israel. He tells them that he will replace their sinful, stone cold hearts with tender and compassionate hearts led by the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Location of Gallim is uncertain. One contender is a few miles north of Jerusalem, on the outskirts of town. Isaiah 10:30 mentions Gallim, too.
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