The Kings — The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Part 4
David, Nabal and Abigail
“Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good. May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.” 1 Samuel 25:21-22
The story of David and the rich man, Nabal and his wife, Abigail, offers some important perspectives on integrity, fulfilling promises, and taking action when it is the right thing to do, regardless of the possible personal consequences. It is also a message to remind us that hasty retaliation can lead to doing harm to innocent people. Rash decisions often lead to unintended and sometimes life-altering consequences that can have long lasting negative effects for generations.
After the death of Samuel, during the years of fleeing from Saul, David and his men spent time in the northern desert (the Wilderness of Paran) and associated themselves with shepherds in the area, who were employed by a rich man named Nabal. This man had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was very wealthy. His wife’s name was Abigail a woman of beauty and understanding. [1 Samuel 25:3]
When David heard from the shepherds that their master, Nabal, was in Carmel he sent ten of his men to ask Nabal to provide some food for him and his men who were traveling on a feast day and needed food and animals for their sacrifice. David had a right to make this request because he and his men had shown kindness to the Nabal’s servants and protected them and their flocks in the desert from thieves and other assailants in the region. They did this in exchange for food. But Nabal was a harsh and surly man who lacked any sense of decency or fair play. He treated David’s servants with disdain and sent them away empty handed.
“Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” 1 Samuel 25:10-11
So, David called his men together to take up their swords and go with him to Moan to confront Nabal and kill him and all of his servants for Nabal’s ill treatment of them and refusal to provide them with food. But, one of the servants took the news to Abigail, the wife of Nabal, telling her how David and his men had treated them well while they were in desert, how they took nothing from them nor harmed them in any way, but defended them against others who threatened them. Now David had mustered his men and was heading to Moan to kill all of them and take whatever he would choose, even all the wealth of Nabal.
So, Abigail, when heard this she ordered that many times more provisions to be prepared for David and his men but she doesn’t tell Nabal about it.
She had her servants load up the carts with the food and wine and she went out to meet David before he reached the city. When she arrived, she dismounted her horse and fell on her face, and bowed down before him. She begged him, not to regard the disrespectful reception of her scoundrel husband, Nabal, whose name means ‘folly.” She was not with him when David’s servants came to him. She asks him to forgive her trespass of not knowing what was going on, but to please accept the provisions she brought for him and his men. She says to him that the Lord has now stayed his hand from committing a terrible offense against the men who did him no harm and saved him from shedding blood with his own hand because he will surely be king and will not now have this stain of innocent blood on his hands.
David acknowledges that had she not stopped him he would have acted hastily and by the morning not one of Nabal’s household would be alive and all of his wealth would have been plundered. Abigail prophesies concerning David’s reign as king and then prays that he will remember her when He becomes the king of Israel.
By intercepting David in his intent to kill Nabal and all of his servants, Abigail acted wisely and courageously. Her action was also the right thing to do, even though it meant acting in opposition to her wicked husband. She was not only preserving the lives of his servants but also his life as well.
Then she and her servants return to Nabal’s house and found him drunk in the midst of a big feast, but she told him nothing of what had happened that night, but in the morning she told him all. And hearing it, he suddenly has a stroke and by the morning he was dead.
After the death of Nabal, David sent his servants to ask Abigail to be his wife. She accepts his proposal. And David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel and they both became his wives.