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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 25

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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.

Samuel died - after a long life of piety and public usefulness, having left behind him a reputation which ranks him among the greatest of Scripture worthies. He stamped his own character on that of his age and country, being the foremost man, the great influential leader in the political, ecclesiastical, literary, and religious world. As a man, he was remarkable through life for his eminent holiness, his energy, and indefatigable activity, his dignified consistency, and his devotional habits, which, commencing in his childhood, grew with his growth and strengthened with his strength. As a magistrate, he embodied in all his public acts the principles of the theocratic constitution; and, called as he was to hold the reins of government at a time of newly-acquired liberty and independence from foreign domination, his uniform object was to realize among his countrymen the idea of the 'chosen generation, the holy nation, the royal priesthood, the peculiar people.' In relation to the Church, his influence was no less beneficial than lasting; for, at a period of great and prevailing corruption, he effected a thorough reformation of religion, re-establishing the authority of the Mosaic law, by enforcing the regular observance of the ordinances of worship, especially by instituting the schools of the prophets, from which a supply of young teachers, duly qualified for instructing the people in sacred knowledge and psalmody, was obtained, and in the formation as well as subsequent continuance of which a great step was taken in the progressive development of the scheme of grace (Edwards' History of Redemption').

In short, Samuel's ministry was an epoch in Israel (Acts 3:21; Acts 13:20); and many of the lessons taught, or measures contemplated by the prophet, and which David learned while resident with him at Naioth, were afterward introduced by that king, among other arrangements he made for improving the sacred music. It is difficult to determine with accuracy the period of Samuel's death. Dr. Horsley ('Biblical Criticism,' 1:, p. 335) says, 'That Samuel was dead at the time of David's final flight from the court of Saul, seems probable from this circumstance, that from this time forward it does not appear that David sought or received advice from Samuel. When he flees from the court he repairs to Nob, where he is entertained, not by Samuel, but by Ahimelech the priest.' But a closer approximation toward ascertaining the actual date of the prophet's death can be made than is furnished by this inferential reasoning. Josephus, in winding up the history of this judge, records ('Antiquities,' b. 6:, ch. 13:, sec. 5) that 'Samuel governed and presided over the people alone, after the death of Eli the high priest, twelve years, and eighteen years in conjunction with Saul the king.' Jahn ('History of the Hebrew Commonwealth') calculates that 'Samuel governed the nation forty years. Supposing Eli's death to occur in the 425th year after Joshua, and adding to these the 60 years between Eli and the close of Samuel's administration the sum is 485.' So that according to these data the prophet died in the 70th year of his age.

And all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him [ wayicpªduw (H5594) low (H3807a)] - and mourned for him. This verb is used for the most part with reference to the dead. Higher tribute could not be paid to the worth of a public magistrate. So powerful was the hold which the character and administration of Samuel had taken of the affections of the country, that all classes of people, high and low, volunteered to form a funeral procession, and carried him with almost royal honours to the tomb.

Buried him in his house at Ramah - i:e., not his dwelling-house, but a building contiguous to it, built as a family cemetery; his own mausoleum. The Hebrews took as great care to provide graves anciently as people do in the East still, where every respectable family has its own house of the dead; and often this is in a little detached garden, consisting of a small stone building, where there is no rock, resembling a house, which is called the grave of the family. It has neither door nor window (cf. 1 Kings 2:34; Job 30:23: see Jovett's 'Christian Researches in the Countries of the Levant').

David arose ... 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. Some, however, do maintain that as David is related in this passage to have departed from En-gedi immediately after receiving intelligence of Samuel's death, the one event followed the other, as cause and effect; for whatever influence the thought of the living prophet might have imposed on the wayward king was removed, now that the venerable man was dead; and as there was reason to apprehend that Saul's furious outbursts of jealousy and vengeance, formerly restrained, would become more frequent and vehement, David deemed it necessary for his safety to remove to a great distance. [The Vatican copy of the Septuagint has: katebee eis teen ereemon Maoon, went down to the wilderness of Maon. The Alexandrine has: ereemon Faran.]

The wilderness of Paran - stretching from Sinai to the borders of Palestine, in the southern territories of Judah. 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 the 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.

Verse 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.

There was a man in Maon. This city, which belonged to the tribe of Judah (John 15:55 ), was situated on the brow of a conical hill, now Tell Ma'in, which is covered with ruins. It lay two days' journey from Zoar, and 25 miles southeast of Hebron.

In Carmel, [ ba-Karmel (H3760)] - in the park (fertile or cultivated region: see the note at 1 Samuel 15:12: cf. 2 Chronicles 26:10), near Maon, now Kurmul. The district takes its name from this town (see Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 2:, p. 200; Van de Velde, 2:, pp. 77-79).

The man was very great. His property consisted in cattle, and he was considered wealthy, according to the ideas of that age.

He had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats. Similar are the possessions of his modern successors, the Jehalin Arabs, who have no herds of large cattle, but flocks of sheep and goats (Wilson's 'Lands of the Bible,' 2:, p. 710).

Verse 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.

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.'

Verse 4

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

Verse 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:

And David sent out ten young men ... 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 to a town or village, even in our own time, an Arab sheikh of the neighbouring 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, 'Biblical Researches,' 2:, p. 201).

Verses 6-9

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

Who is David? ... Nabal's answer seems to indicate that the country was at that 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 usage of the place.

Verses 11-12

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?

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

Two hundred abode by the stuff. This addition to his followers was made after his return into Judah (see the note at 1 Samuel 22:2).

Verses 14-17

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

Then Abigail made haste. The prudence and address of his wife was the means of saving himself and family from utter destruction. She acknowledged the demand of her formidable neighbours; 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 - goat-skins, capable of holding a great quantity.

Parched corn, [ qaaliy (H7039)]. It was customary to eat parched grain when it was fully grown, but not ripe (see the note at Leviticus 2:16; Leviticus 23:14; Ruth 2:14).

And laid them on asses, [ `al (H5921) hachªmoriym (H2543)] - on the donkeys, perhaps in piles or heaps (see the note at 1 Samuel 16:20; Judges 15:16).

Verse 19

And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.

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.

Verse 20

And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

Now David had said ...

Verse 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.

So and more also do God unto the enemies of David. In making this vow utterly to destroy Nabal's house, David committed sin. The fulfillment of it by the execution of his vindictive threat was clearly opposed to the will of God.

Verse 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,

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.

Verse 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. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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 - signifying fool, gave pertinence to his wife's remarks.

Verse 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.

Let thine enemies ... be as Nabal - be as foolish and contemptible as he.

Verses 27-28

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

The soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life - an Orientalism, expressing the perfect security of David's life from all the assaults of his enemies, under the protecting shield of Providence, who hath destined him for high things.

Verses 30-31

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;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 32

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

David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord. Transported by passions, and blinded by revenge, he was on the eve of perpetrating a great injury; and, 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 prevented him Contracting the guilt of bloodshed.

Verses 33-35

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

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 similar hilarity.

Verse 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.

In the morning ... his wife ... told him these things. He probably fainted, from horror at the perilous situation in which he had unconsciously placed himself; and such a shock had been given by the fright to his whole system, that he rapidly pined and died.

Verse 38

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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. 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 (1 Samuel 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; and the fact of a woman in her wealthy circumstances so willingly forming a matrimonial relation with David, shows that the position he occupied, while expatriated in the wilderness, was far more elevated and comfortable than is generally imagined.

Verses 40-43

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 44

But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.

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 throne.

Phaiti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim, [ ben (H1121) Layish (H3919)]. Some render this, 'native of Laish,' which was close to, and dependent upon, Gallim. The position of this town is unknown, though from the places with which Isaiah has associated it (1 Samuel 25:30), it was probably in the territory of Benjamin. The name "Gallim" was probably derived from the vicinity of bubbling springs.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-samuel-25.html. 1871-8.
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