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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 27

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-12


DAVID AND ABIGAIL (1 Samuel 25:0 )

The romance of this chapter has a setting like this: The Wilderness of Paran on the south was a common pasture like our prairies, and for this reason open to marauders from among the Arabs.

David and his men must have been a protection to their countrymen from such incursions, and in the habit of receiving practical acknowledgments of their service.

Nabal was a rich sheep owner who must have been indebted to them, and “good business,” to say nothing of gratitude, should have induced him to contribute to David’s need without asking, and his refusal to do so was a violation of established custom.

This does not justify David’s bloodthirsty action, but explains it.

The “bottles of wine” (1 Samuel 25:18 ) were goatskins holding a large quantity.

The “bundle of life” (1 Samuel 25:29 ) is a poetic expression alluding to the security of the person to whom it is applied.

The last phrase of verses 22 and 34 should be rendered “any man child.” When Nabal’s “heart died” (1 Samuel 25:37 ), it means that he fainted at the thought of his narrow escape, the shock ultimately ending his life (1 Samuel 25:38 ).

David’s taking Abigail to wife was in accordance with eastern custom. He was the head of a clan, Abigail seemed to recognize him as the successor of Saul (1 Samuel 25:30 ), and such an one fancying a woman for his wife had a right to command her submission to his will. Abigail seems to have been very willing, however.

Polygamy was wrong, (1 Samuel 25:44 ), but, because of the condition of the times, God seems to have permitted it (Matthew 19:3-9 ).

DAVID AND ABNER (1 Samuel 26:0 )

Why David returns to Hachilah (see 1 Samuel 23:19 ) is not clear, especially when he was near his old enemies, the Ziphites.

“Within the trench” (1 Samuel 26:7 ), means “within the place of the wagons” (see Revised Version). The encampment was a circle, the wagons and the men lining it, and the place of the leader being in the center. “His bolster” is the same as “his head.”

In explanation of verse 13 we are told that the air of Palestine enables the voice to be heard at a great distance. (Compare Judges 9:7 .) David’s heroic strategy gave good ground for his sarcastic inquiry of Abner (1 Samuel 26:14-16 ).

Saul repents again and makes more promises; but he has broken so many hitherto that David’s confidence is not restored (1 Samuel 26:25 ).

DAVID AND ACHISH (1 Samuel 27:0 )

David’s resolution (1 Samuel 27:1 ) was probably wrong (see 1 Samuel 22:5 ), but God overruled it for good by making it contribute to the final destruction of Saul.

“Achish” seems to have been another than he named in the earlier chapter, and there is likelihood that he invited David into his territory. Perhaps it was good policy to do so in view of the feud between David and Saul, and his warlike purposes toward the latter.

Ziklag belonged originally to Canaan and was given to Israel, but never conquered or occupied by the latter. It was far in the south on the border of Philistia, just northeast of Beersheba.

“Road” (1 Samuel 27:10 ) should be rendered “raid.’ David deceives Achish in what he says, for instead of destroying the king’s enemies, he really did away with the king’s allies and engaged in awful slaughter to conceal it (1 Samuel 27:11-12 ).

As in other cases we must not suppose God endorses this because it is in the record or because it was done by one of His servants.

Some of ourselves are in point. Though redeemed by the blood of Christ, and indwelt by God’s Sprit, what unsatisfactory instruments do we make in His service, and how often we bring dishonor on His name. Yet He loves and bears with us and, though He chastens, still uses us.

It is one of the proofs of the creditability of the Bible that it tells us the whole truth about a man. If it were false it would be covering over the defects of its heroes; but as it is, both the Old and New Testament never compromise the facts for the sake of a good appearance. And very grateful we should be therefore.


1. How may Nabal have become indebted to David?

2. How would you explain David’s polygamous relations with Abigail?

3. Do you know where Paran, Hachilah, Ziph and Ziklag are located?

4. What was the name of Saul’s chief captain?

5. Name a strong, incidental proof of the Bible, suggested in this lesson.

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 27". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/1-samuel-27.html. 1897-1910.
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