Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 25

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of 1 Samuel 25)

Verse 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.

Lamented him — Those have hard hearts, that can bury their faithful ministers with dry eyes, and are not sensible of the loss of them who have prayed for them, and taught them the way of the Lord.

Verse 2

[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.

Carmel — In some part of this wilderness Israel wandered, when they came out of Egypt. The place would bring to mind God's care concerning them, which David might now improve for his own encouragement.

Verse 3

[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.

Abigail — That is, the joy of his father: yet he could not promise himself much joy of her, when he married her to such an husband: it seems, in inquiring, (no unfrequent thing) more after his wealth, than after his wisdom.

Caleb — This is added to aggravate his crime, that he was a degenerate branch of that noble stock of Caleb, and consequently of the tribe of Judah, as David was.

Verse 4

[4] And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.

Shear sheep — Which times were celebrated with feasting.

Verse 6

[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.

Prosperity — By this expression David both congratulates Nabal's felicity, and tacitly minds him of the distress in which he and his men were.

Verse 7

[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.

We hurt not — This considering the licentiousness of soldiers, and the necessities David and his men were exposed to, was no small favour, which Nabal was bound both in justice, and gratitude, and prudence to requite.

Verse 8

[8] Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.

A good day — That is, in a day of feasting and rejoicing; when men are most chearful and liberal; when thou mayst relieve us out of thy abundance without damage to thyself; when thou art receiving the mercies of God, and therefore obliged to pity and relieve distressed and indigent persons.

Verse 17

[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.

Can not speak — But he flies into a passion.

Verse 18

[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.

Abigail took, … — This she did without his leave, because it was a case of apparent necessity, for the preservation of herself, and husband, and all the family from imminent ruin. And surely, that necessity which dispenseth with God's positive commands, might dispense with the husband's right, in this case.

Bottles — Casks or rundlets.

Verse 22

[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.

Enemies of David — That is, unto David himself. But because it might seem ominous to curse himself, therefore instead of David, he mentions David's enemies. But is this the voice of David? Can he speak so unadvisedly with his lips? Has he been so long in the school of affliction, and learned no more patience therein? Lord, what is man? And what need have we to pray, lead us not into temptation.

Verse 24

[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.

And said, … — Impute Nabal's sin to me, and if thou pleasest, punish it in me, who here offer myself as a sacrifice to thy just indignation. This whole speech of Abigail shews great wisdom, by an absolute submitting to mercy, without any pretence of justification, of what was done, (but rather with aggravation of it) she endeavours to work upon David's generosity, to pardon it. And there is hardly any head of argument, whence the greatest orator might argue in this case, which she doth not manage to the best advantage.

Verse 25

[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.

Nabal is his name — Nabal signifies a fool.

Verse 26

[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.

As Nabal — Let them be as contemptible as Nabal is, and will be for this odious action; let them be as unable to do thee any hurt as he is; let them be forced to yield to thee, and implore thy pardon, as Nabal now doth by my mouth: let the vengeance thou didst design upon Nabal and his family fall upon their heads, who, by their inveterate malice against thee, do more deserve it than this fool for this miscarriage; and much more than all the rest of our family, who, as they are none of thine enemies, so they were in way guilty of this wicked action. And therefore spare these, and execute thy vengeance upon more proper objects.

Verse 27

[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.

Blessing — So a gift or present is called here, and elsewhere; not only because the matter of it comes from God's blessing; but also because it is given with a blessing, or with a good will.

Unto the young men — As being unworthy of thine acceptance or use.

Verse 28

[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.

The trespass — That is, which I have taken upon myself, and which, if it be punished, the punishment will reach to me.

Sure house — Will give the kingdom to thee, and to thy house for ever, as he hath promised thee. And therefore let God's kindness to thee, make thee gentle and merciful to others; do not sully thy approaching glory with the stain of innocent blood; but consider, that it is the glory of a king, to profit by offences: and that it will be thy loss to cut off such as will shortly be thy subjects.

The battles — For the Lord, and for the people of the Lord against their enemies; especially, the Philistines. And as this is thy proper work, and therein thou mayest expect God's blessing; so it is not thy work to draw thy sword in thy own private quarrel against any of the people of the Lord; and God will not bless thee in it.

Evil hath not, … — Though thou hast been charged with many crimes by Saul and others; yet thy innocency is evident to all men: do not therefore by this cruel act, justify thine enemies reproaches, or blemish thy great and just reputation.

Verse 29

[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.

A man — Saul though no way injured.

Thy soul — To take away thy life.

Bundle of life — Or, in the bundle: that is, in the society, or congregation of the living; out of which, men are taken, and cut off by death. The phrase is taken from the common usage of men, who bind those things in bundles, which they are afraid to lose. The meaning is, God will preserve thy life; and therefore it becomes not thee, unnecessarily to take away the lives of any; especially of the people of thy God.

With the Lord — That is, in the custody of God, who by his watchful providence, preserves this bundle, and all that are in it; and thee in a particular manner, as being thy God in a particular way, and special covenant. The Jews understand this. not only of the present life, but of that which is to come, even the happiness of departed souls, and therefore use it commonly, as an inscription on their grave-stones. "Here we have laid the body, trusting the soul is bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord." Sling out - God himself will cut them off suddenly, violently, and irresistibly; and cast them far away; both from his presence, and from thy neighbourhood, and from all capacity of doing thee hurt.

Verse 31

[31] That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.

No grief — The mind and conscience will be free from all the torment which such an action would cause in thee. By which, she intimates, what a blemish this would be to his glory, what a disturbance to his peace, if he proceeded to execute his purpose: and withal implies, how comfortable it would be to him to remember, that he had for conscience to God, restrained his passions.

Causeless — Which she signifies would be done if he should go on. For though Nabal had been guilty of abominable rudeness, and ingratitude; yet he had done nothing worthy of death, by the laws of God or of man. And whatsoever he had done, the rest of his family were innocent.

Avenged — Which is directly contrary to God's law, Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 32:35.

Then — When God shall make thee king, let me find grace in thy sight.

Verse 32

[32] And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:

The Lord — Who by his gracious providence so disposed matters, that thou shouldst come to me: He rightly begins at the fountain of his deliverance; and then proceeds to the instruments.

Verse 33

[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.

From coming, … — Which I had sworn to do. Hereby it plainly appears, that oaths whereby men bind themselves to any sin, are null and void: and as it was a sin to make them; so it is adding sin to sin to perform them.

Verse 35

[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.

Accepted — That is, shewed my acceptance of thy person, by my grant of thy request.

Verse 36

[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.

A feast — As the manner was upon those solemn occasions. Sordid covetousness, and vain prodigality were met together in him.

Told nothing — As he was then incapable of admonition, his reason and conscience being both asleep.

Verse 37

[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.

His heart died — He fainted away through the fear and horror of so great a mischief though it was past. As one, who having in the night galloped over a narrow plank, laid upon a broken bridge, over a deep river; when in the morning he came to review it, was struck dead with the horror of the danger he had been in.

Verse 38

[38] And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.

Smote — God either inflicted some other stroke upon him, or increased his grief and fear to such an height, as killed him.

Verse 39

[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.

Blessed, … — This was another instance of human infirmity in David.

David sent — But this doubtless was not done immediately after Nabal's death, but some time after it; though such circumstances be commonly omitted in the sacred history; which gives only the heads, and most important passages of things.

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