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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 25

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-44

VII. Samuel’s death. David’s march into the wilderness of Paran. The history of the foolish Nabal and the wise Abigail

1 Samuel 25:1-44

1And Samuel died; and all the Israelites [Israel] were gathered together, and lamented him and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose and went down1 to the wilderness of Paran.2

2And 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 Hebrews 3:0 was shearing3 his sheep in Carmel. Now [And] the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail; and she was a woman [the woman was] of good understanding and of a beautiful countenance; but the man was churlish and evil 4in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.4 And David heard in the wilderness 5that Nabal did shear his sheep. And David sent out [om. out] ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel and go to Nabal and 6greet5 him in my name. And thus shall ye say to him that liveth6 in prosperity [om. that liveth in prosperity], Peace be both [om. both7] to thee, and peace be to 7thy house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. And now I have heard that thou hast shearers.8 Now thy shepherds which [om. which] were with us; we hurt9 them not, neither was there aught missing unto them all the while they were in Carmel. 8Ask thy young men and they will show [tell] thee. Wherefore let the young men find favor in thine eyes, for we come in a good day; give, I pray thee, whatsoever 9[what] cometh to thine hand unto thy servants10 and to thy son David. And when [om. when] David’s young men11 came they [and] spake to Nabal according to all 10those words in the name of David, and ceased.12 And Nabal answered David’s servants and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be [are] many 11servants13 nowadays that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my flesh [meat] that I have killed for my shearers, 12and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be? So [And] David’s young men turned [ins. to] their way, and went again [returned] and came and told 13him [ins. according to14] all those sayings. 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.

14But [And] one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of [from] the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed15 15on them. But [And] the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we anything, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were 16in the fields [field]. They were a wall unto us both by night and day all the while 17we were with them keeping sheep. Now therefore [And now] 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 [bad man] that a man [one] cannot speak to him.16

18Then [And] Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves and two bottles [skins] of wine and five sheep ready dressed and five measures [seahs] of parched corn and an hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs and laid them 19on [ins. the] asses, And she [om. she] said unto her servants [young men], Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But [And] she told not her husband Nabal. 20And it was so, as she rode [And she was riding] on the ass that she came down by [and descending into] the covert of the hill [mountain], and behold, David and his 21men came down [were coming down] against her, and she met them. Now [And] David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed17 of all that pertained unto him, and he hath requited 22me evil for good. So and more also do God unto the enemies of [om. the enemies of18] David if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light19 any that pisseth against the wall [any male].

23And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before 24David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,20 And fell at his feet,21 and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be [On me, even me, my lord, be the sin], and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the 25words of thine handmaid. Let not my lord, I pray thee [om. thee], regard this man of Belial [this bad man], even [om. even] Nabal. For, as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name and folly22 is with him. But I, thine handmaid, saw not the 26young men of my lord whom thou didst send. Now, therefore [And now], my lord, as the Lord [Jehovah] liveth and as thy soul liveth, seeing [om. seeing] the Lord [Jehovah] hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood [into blood-guiltiness] and from23 avenging [saving] thyself with thine own hand. [ins. And] now, Leviticus 2:0; Leviticus 2:07thine enemies and they that seek evil to my lord be as Nabal. And now, this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought24 unto my lord, let it even [om. even] be 28given unto the young men that follow my lord. I pray thee, forgive [Forgive, I pray thee] the trespass of thine handmaid; for the Lord [Jehovah] will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord [Jehovah], 29and evil hath not been [shall not be] found in thee all thy days. Yet [And] a man is risen25 to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul [life]; but [and] the soul [life] of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord [Jehovah] thy God, and the souls [life] of thine enemies, them [it] shall he sling out as out of 30the middle [sling out in the pan26] of a [the] sling. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord [Jehovah] shall have done [shall do] to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed [shall appoint] 31thee ruler over Israel, That this shall be no grief27 unto thee nor offence of heart unto my lord, either [om. either28] that thou hast shed blood causeless [causelessly] or [and] that my lord hath avenged himself [hath saved himself with his own hand]. But [And] when the Lord [Jehovah] shall have dealt [shall deal] well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.29

32And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel, which 33[who] sent thee this day to meet me; And blessed be thy advice [understanding30], and blessed be thou, which [who] hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood 34[into blood-guiltiness] and from avenging [saving] myself with my own hand. For [And] in very deed, as the Lord [Jehovah], God of Israel liveth, which [who] hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely [om. surely] there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning-light any 35that pisseth against the wall [any male]. So [And] 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.

36And 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 [and] he was very 37drunken, wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light. But [And] it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and [that] his wife had [om. had] told him31 these things, that [and] his heart died 38within him and he became as a stone. And it came to pass about ten days32 after, 39that the Lord [Jehovah] smote Nabal that [and] he died. And when [om. when] David heard that Nabal was dead [ins. and] he said, Blessed be the Lord [Jehovah] that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil, for [and] the Lord [Jehovah] hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail 40to take her to him to wife. And when [om. when] the servants of David were come [came] to Abigail to Carmel they [and] spake unto her saying, David sent us unto 41thee to take thee to him to wife. And she arose and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thy handmaid be [thy handmaid is] a servant to 42wash the feet of the servants of my lord. And Abigail hasted and arose and rode upon an [the] ass with five damsels of hers that33 went after her, and she went after the messengers of David and became his wife.

43David also [And David] took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of 44them his wives. But Saul had given [And Saul gave] Michal his daughter, David’s wife to Phalti the son of Laish, which [who] was of Gallim.


1 Samuel 25:1. Brief account of Samuel’s death.—And Samuel died.—The narrator supposed Samuel’s death to fall in the time of the events here related.—All Israel mourned him, not merely because his career as judge and leader up to the time of the establishment of the kingdom was fresh in the memory of the people, but because his political work as prophet and watcher over the kingdom had remained to the end of profound importance for the whole people, as is clear from his relation to Saul and David on the one hand, and his position as head of the prophetic community, on the other. At his burial the people were no doubt represented by their elders. As to such mourning for the dead see Genesis 50:10.—And buried him in his house at Ramah.—Not literally: “in his house,”—this “would not have accorded (Leviticus 19:16) with the Jewish purification laws” (Then.),—but in some space, court or garden (Matthew 27:60) belonging to the house. Grot.: “Sepulchres were then usually private, see Genesis 23:9; Genesis 50:5.” On such interments “in the house,” comp. 1Ki 2:34; 2 Kings 21:18; 2 Chronicles 33:20. Tradition puts the burial-place of Samuel on the height of Mizpah, where it is yet shown. The harmonization of this statement with our passage by regarding Ramah as a region (Pressel, s. v. “Ramah” in Herzog) is untrustworthy by reason of the untenableness of this geographical and topographical supposition and the distance of Mizpah from the city Ramah (comp. Nägelsbach in Herz. XIII. 399). In Ramah—“for the prophets seem, though we infer it only from this passage and 1 Samuel 28:3, to have shared with the kings the right of burial within the city” (Thenius).34

1 Samuel 25:2 sq. David’s affair with the rich land-holder and herd-owner Nabal of Maon, after he had gone down from his hitherto abode in the highland of Engedi farther south and into the wilderness of Paran. The Sept. (Vat.) has Maon instead of Paran, and this is taken as the original reading by Then., Ew., Bunsen, because the wilderness of Paran would be too far off (at least fifteen geographical miles) from Nabal’s residence (Thenius). But this supposition is “certainly unnecessary” (Win. s. v. 193, Rem. 1); for David, descending southward, withdrew into the northernmost part of this somewhat undefined wilderness, “which extended widely between the wilderness of Shur on the west, the present Jebel et-Tih on the south, the Edomite territory on the east, and the land of Canaan on the north” (Winer).35 Cler.: “the boundaries of this desert are not clearly defined.” Comp. Keil on Numbers 10:12. Probably the wilderness of Judah no longer afforded sustenance to David and his large body of six hundred men (Keil). Nabal is called a man of Maon because he dwelt in this city in the hill-country of Judah (Joshua 15:55). His business (see Exodus 23:6) on the contrary was in Carmel, where Saul had raised his monument of victory over the Amalekites, whence also came his wife Abigail, “the Carmelitess” (1 Samuel 27:3). It is the present Kurmul on the elevated plain of the highland of Judah, about a mile north of Maon [and ten miles south-east of Hebron.—Tr.]. It is thence easily understood how Nabal, living in the mountain-city Maon, had his herds on the high plain in Carmel. Thenius understands mount Carmel [in the north], because a mountain is spoken of in 1 Samuel 25:5; 1Sa 25:7-8; 1 Samuel 25:13; 1 Samuel 25:20; 1 Samuel 25:35, and because it is said that Nabal had his possessions, his herds, on Carmel, and the mountain-meadow would be specially wholesome for the sheep and goats. But, as to height, the place Carmel lay on a mountain-plain, which afforded the best pasture for the herds. Moreover, the distance of Mount Carmel from the scene of this history [nearly one hundred miles north-west.—Tr.] would exclude it. Maon, Carmel, Ziph, are named together in Joshua 15:55. Nabal’s claim to the title of “very great,” that is, rich man, is proved by the size of his herds (“three thousand sheep and one thousand goats”).—Sheep-shearing was usually accompanied by festivities, as now also on great estates. While the rich man was shearing at Carmel, David sent to him; the protasis begins with “and it came to pass, in the shearing” (וַיְהִי בִגְזז), 1 Samuel 25:3-4, is explanatory parenthesis, and the apodosis begins with 1 Samuel 25:5 (Then.).36 The statements of the names, Nabal, Abigail, and the descriptions of the persons are arranged chiastically: The woman good of understanding (sensible, wise) and beautiful of form—the man, on the contrary, hard, churlish of disposition and wicked in conduct. As to the last word of the verse, the Kethib or text (כְּלִבּוֹ) “according to his heart” would mean “following only the desire of his mind” (Maur.), that is, self-willed—which is, however, “linguistically impossible” (Buns.). The Qeri or marginal reading (כָּלִבִּי), “found also in some manuscripts and printed editions in the text” (Then.), is, with Targum and Vulgate, certainly preferable: “he was of the family of Caleb.” The two former statements sufficiently characterize his disposition; a third would be out of keeping with the simplicity of the description. On the other hand, the statement of his origin accords with his importance as a man “great” by his riches, and it is introduced as something new by the words “and he” (וְהוּא), which would not suit the continuation of the moral portraiture. Caleb had received for a possession the region of Hebron, near which Maon and Carmel lay (Joshua 15:13 sq.). Comp. 1 Samuel 30:14 : the southland of Caleb, a region in the south of Judah. The translation of the Sept., “a doggish, cynical man” (so Arab, and Syr.) and of Josephus leading a cynical life” (from כֶּלֶב a dog”) must be rejected. [So Boothroyd: “irritable as a dog” (Philipps.)—Tr.].

1 Samuel 25:4. As Nabal was a man rich in herds, it was worth while to send an embassy to him from some distance for the purpose indicated in the context. The distance would indeed be great and improbable, if with Thenius we took Carmel to be the mountain of that name. The stately number ten of the messengers shows the importance and solemnity of the embassy; such a solemn sending would not suit the proximity of “Maon,” David’s abode according to the reading of the Sept. In Carmel Nabal had a house (1 Samuel 25:35-36). The Sept. adds to Nabal: “the Carmelite,” taking the designation from 1 Samuel 30:5, where it belongs to Abigail. Ask in my name after his peace, give him friendly greeting. Comp. Exodus 18:7.

1 Samuel 25:6. Here the content and form of the greeting is exactly prescribed. First, the general wish: לֶחַי [Eng. A. V.: “to him that liveth (in prosperity”)]. The translation “to my brothers” (לְאַחַי, Vulg.), is impossible by reason of the following “thou;” it could only be “my brother” = “friend,” but it is an arbitrary conjecture. Some take the word (חַי) as adjective [“living,” so Eng. A. V.—Tr.]. Clericus joins it to the preceding “say” and renders: “to the living (say), if ye find him alive,” S. Schmid: “and thus shall ye say: to the living (that is, the living God) I commend thee.” But the first (Clericus) is superfluous, since in sending the messengers, David assumed that Nabal still lived; the latter (Schmid) is untenable because of the arbitrariness of the reference to God. Böttcher connects it with the “say,” and takes the Sing. (חַי) in the sense of “man” (as one possessing vigorous life), adducing the use of the Plu. (חַיִּים) and the Collective-form (חַיָּה) in the sense of “people,” as in 1 Samuel 18:18; Numbers 35:3; 2 Samuel 23:13. The meaning would then be: “Say to the living one,” that is, to the man. But the Sing, is never used in this sense. Against De Wette’s earlier rendering: “say to the well-living” [so Philippson and Eng. A. V.—Tr.] is the fact that the simple word will not bear this meaning [the addition of “well” or “in prosperity” is unwarranted.—Tr.]. The Sept. has “for this year” (εἰς ὥρας as in Genesis 18:10; Genesis 18:14), that is, mayest thou with thy house be in peace till the return of this happy day—a “tolerably far-fetched idea,” impossible as a translation of the text, and a mere makeshift to avoid the difficulty.—It is better (considering the difficulties) to take the word as Subst. = “life.” It is objected that only the Plu. is so used; but the Sing, is found not only in the formula of swearing “by the life of thy soul, of Jehovah,” but also in Leviticus 25:36 in the signification “life.” The phrase (לֶחַי), however, can then mean neither “for a long time, for many years” (Vulg. according to another reading, and Jos.), nor “for the life, the whole lifetime, forever” (Chald., D. Kimchi, Dathe); the expression does not allow these renderings, which introduce a foreign idea (long), unless we change the following letter (ו) into the suffix (ךָ) and read “for thy life.” But, instead of this bold and unsupported conjecture, it is better to take life (De Wette: zum leben “unto life”) as = “fortune, prosperity,” and to regard the expression as a popular form of congratulation, not found in the literary language; Luther: “success” (glück auf)! Maurer: “to life, that is, may it turn out well; may thy affairs be fortunate” [so Rashi, and apparently Talmud Bab., Berakoth fol. 55, 2.—Tr.]. We cannot admit such a congratulation is superfluous by reason of what follows (Then.), for the threefold special “peace” on Nabal, his house and his possessions is the unfolding of the general wish, the latter is the prelude, the former the triple chord. It may be freely rendered “thou shalt live” or “live thou long!” [Bib. Com. prefers to attach the following letter (ו) as suffix and render: “and ye shall say thus about his life,” which seems forced and unsatisfactory, though it accounts for the ו, which in its present position is disturbing. Cahen: ainsi pour la vie! “thus for life!” which is obscure. Wellhausen sees nothing better than “to my brother.” In support of the rendering which Erdmann adopts Gesenius cites the Arabic formula: “may God grant thee life!” The phrase cannot be said to have received a satisfactory explanation.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:17 sq. After the instruction to greet comes the direction how to present his earnest request to Nabal. Now I have heard that thou hast shearers.—These words correspond precisely to the real life, and can only be rightly understood when we recollect that the regularly recurring sheepshearing was one of the greatest events in the housekeeping of such an establishment. In accordance with the urgency of his request, which is due to his pressing need of sustenance for his men, David’s introduction is very circumstantial and is based on a captatio benevolentiæ; he reminds Nabal of the peaceful association of his men with Nabal’s herdsmen during his stay in the wilderness (“thy herdsmen were with us”), of the forbearance exercised by his warriors towards the unarmed herdsmen (“we did not injure them”—הֶכְלַמְנוּ as in Judges 18:7; on the form see Ges. § 53, 3 Rem. 6), and of the honorable disinterestedness with which his people had refrained from appropriating the property of others (“nothing was missing to them”). The last words may refer, however, to the protection afforded the herdsmen by David’s people against the predatory incursions of the neighboring desert-tribes; for such protection against thieving attacks (which came especially from the south) is expressly affirmed in 1 Samuel 25:16; 1 Samuel 25:21. “Thus, even in his outlawry, David showed himself the protector of his people” (Keil). Apart, therefore, from eastern custom, according to which such a request would seem no ways strange, David had a certain right to ask a gift from Nabal’s superfluity; he had indirectly no small share in the festal joy of Nabal and his house; “without some part of the superfluity of the inhabitants whom he protected, he could not have maintained himself with his army” (Ewald). And this must modify Stähelin’s remark (p. 19), that “this narrative shows that David blackmailed even his own countrymen, regarding himself, like an Arab sheikh, as lord of the desert where he lived.” For the rest Robinson remarks II. 429 [Am. ed. I., 498—Tr.] in reference to the permanence of customs in the East: “On such a festive occasion near a town or village, even in our own day an Arab Sheikh of the neighboring 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 the transcript of that of David.”—In a “good day,” that is, a festive, happy day; sheep-shearing was conducted like a festival (comp. Genesis 38:12; 2 Samuel 13:23), when feasts were held, strangers entertained, and portions given to the poor. Give what thy hand finds, that is, as much as thou canst, to thy servants and thy son David, an expression of deepest reverence and devotion, and of the piety of the younger man towards the older, in order that he might share in his paternal goodwill.

1 Samuel 25:9. The messengers executed their commission, making the request in David’s name. And they sat down, so we must translate the Heb. word (וַיָּנוּחוּ), not “they waited modestly for an answer” (Buns.), not “they were silent” (Vulg., Grot., De Wette). That they sat down is not a superfluous remark, but serves to complete the description, which is true to the reality in the smallest details. Formal sitting down is part of oriental custom in such visits; it is not necessary, therefore, to refer to their need of rest, though, after so long a journey, they need not have been weakly persons (Then.), to require rest. Thenius’ change of text so that this shall read “and he arose” (וַיָקָם after Sept. ἀνεπήδησε “he sprang up”) is improbable.

1 Samuel 25:10 sq. The insulting answer with which Nabal contemptuously rebuffed David’s ambassadors. Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse?—He knew him well; all the more insulting is this answer, whose meaning is: what do I care for David? what have I to do with him? There are many servants nowadays that break away every one from his master.—(The Art. stands here with Partcp., not with Subst., עֲבָדִים הַ׳, because the former alone is to be distinctly defined (Maurer)).—To his impertinent question Nabal adds a rude insult to David’s servants, whom he characterizes as good-for-nothing runaways, and also to David himself, to whose relation to Saul he maliciously alludes.

1 Samuel 25:11. Nabal speaks out his mean, niggardly mind (וְלָקַחְתִּי, Perf. with ו consec., here expressing future time, Ges. § 126, 6, Rem. 1). The whole sentence is to be taken as a question: Shall I take? The bread and water represents the necessary sustenance of life. The flesh stands for luxuries beyond mere necessaries. Instead of “water” the Sept. has “wine” in accordance with its arbitrary way of getting rid of difficulties. In the excitement of his avaricious soul, Nabal declares that he will give David and his men neither necessaries of life nor what he had killed for the feasting of his shearers.—[Bib. Com.: The mention of water indicates a country where water was scarce, Joshua 15:19. Or, “bread and water” may=“meat and drink.”—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:12. The report of this contemptuous and insulting rebuff.

1 Samuel 25:13. David determines to take bloody revenge for the insult and hostile reception. Nabal’s wicked response to his friendly and modest overture excites his anger. The following narrative shows that he herein sinned before God, but also how God’s wonderful providence saved him from the factual completion of his sin.

1 Samuel 25:14-22. Abigail, Nabal’s wife, goes to David.

1 Samuel 25:14-17. One of Nabal’s servants informs Abigail of what has occurred; he relates Nabal’s bearing towards David’s greeting (1 Samuel 25:14), describes the friendly protection they had had from David’s people (1 Samuel 25:15-16), asks Abigail’s counsel and help in respect to the danger that threatened her husband and his whole household, and excuses himself for applying to her by referring to Nabal’s bad character and inaccessibility to well-meant representations and requests.

1 Samuel 25:14. A lad of the lads.—The word “lad” (נַעַר), which is wanting in Sept. and Vulg. [which render, as Eng. A. V., “one of the lads.”—Tr.], is indeed a rounding of the phrase, but is not, for this reason, and because these translations have properly declined to transfer the phrase literally, to be regarded as the error of a copyist (Then.). בָּרֵך [lit. “to bless.”—Tr.] = “to congratulate, greet,” comp. 1 Samuel 13:10.—And he drove over them, that is, as above described, with insulting, angry words.—[Eng. A. V. “railed on them,” better “flew on them.”—Tr.] See on 1 Samuel 14:32, 1Sa 15:19.37

1 Samuel 25:15 is the confirmation of the words of 1 Samuel 25:8 : “ask thy young men, and they will tell thee.” The testimony of these youths to the friendly and helpful conduct of David’s men agrees exactly with what David told his messengers to say, 1 Samuel 25:7. On the phrase: “all the days of our walking with them” (כָּל־יְמֵי ה׳, Eng. A. V.: “conversant with them”), it is to be remarked, that sometimes, as here, substantives of time, place or manner stand in construct relation to a whole sentence (Ew., § 286, 3, 1).—The words: “while we were in the field” (Vulg., Syr., Arab.: “in the wilderness”), are not to be connected with the following (Sept., Syr., Then.), making “they were a wall to us” [1 Samuel 25:16] the apodosis, because then in the words: “as long as we were with them keeping the flocks,” there would be a second indication of time in the same sentence (comp. Zechariah 2:5).

1 Samuel 25:16. A wall, that is, a powerful protection against the wild beasts and the attacks of robbers from the Arabian desert.

1 Samuel 25:17. “Is determined” (כָּלָה), “is a thing settled,” as in 1 Samuel 20:9. It is not necessary on account of the “and he” (וְהוּא), which refers not to David, but to Nabal, to insert with the Sept. “thou” (אַתְּ) after “consider” (רְאִי), as Thenius insists, for such a contrast is not demanded. Nabal is described as a “bad man” [so should Eng. A. V. read instead of “son of Belial.”—Tr.], see on 1 Samuel 1:16; 1Sa 30:22; 2 Samuel 2:12; 1 Kings 21:10. “So that one cannot speak” (מִדַּבֵר=“from speaking”), or “he is too wicked for one to be able to speak to him.” This is the confidential expression of the estimation in which Nabal was held by his household and servants, comp. 1 Samuel 25:3.

1 Samuel 25:18 sq. To avert the impending danger, Abigail, on the representation and at the request of the faithful servant, sets out to go to David without her husband’s knowledge, with a rich present of various articles of food. They carried two hundred loaves of bread, two skins, not jars (De Wette), five prepared sheep, of parched corn (קָלִי, 1 Samuel 17:17=by-meat) five seahs=one and two-thirds ephahs (Then.). Sept. has five ephahs instead of five seahs, thinking the latter too little for so many people [the seah about one and a half pecks, ephah=about four and a half pecks.—Tr.]; but it would not be too little as entremets. We need not, therefore, with Ewald read five hundred seahs.—[Abigail’s present was intended not to supply David’s army, but to show her good-will.—Tr.]; one hundred cakes of dried grapes (צמ׳), two hundred cakes of pressed figs (דב׳).

1 Samuel 25:19. Her journey is described in the minutest particulars; she sends the servants on before with the present, herself following, riding on an ass, in order the better to superintend the movement.

1 Samuel 25:20. Her meeting with David. In the covert, a hidden place in the mountain. It was “probably a depression between two peaks of a mountain” (Keil), so that David’s march, in the main upward, was here downward, and he encountered Abigail’s train, which was also moving downward.—[Wellhausen’s objection to this explanation as topographically taking too much for granted, seems unfounded, and there is no need for taking the verb (יָרַד) in the general sense of “pursuing one’s way.”—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:21-22. A parenthetical explanation of David’s feeling and motive in making this movement. אָמַר = “had said.”—Only to deception [Eng. A. V. “surely in vain”], that is, only to be deceived in my just expectations, have I kept, etc. (comp. 1 Samuel 25:16), so that nothing was missed, he is indebted to me for the undiminished possession of his herds. David had a right to expect grateful requital from Nabal, instead of which Nabal returned him evil for good.

1 Samuel 25:22. Oath of vengeance. In this formula [“God do so to me and more also,” etc.], the divine punishment is commonly invoked on the swearer: “God punish me if,” etc. (comp. 1 Samuel 14:44; 1 Samuel 20:13). In some cases it is invoked on the person addressed, as in 1 Samuel 3:17.—[But there it is for failure in the person addressed, and, in general, the curse is invoked on the person failing to do something mentioned.—Tr.]—But here the curse is directed against persons not present; the sense is: God shall punish David’s enemies, if I take not this vengeance on them; so surely as God will not let this evil go unpunished, will I, etc. Instead of “enemies” (לְאוֹיְבֵי) Then, reads, after Syr. and Arab.: “his servant” (לִעַבְדּוֹ); but these versions have evidently substituted this reading to avoid the difficulty of the text.—[In spite of the support of Vulg. and Chald. (and indirectly of Syr. and Arab.), the word “enemies” must be omitted with Sept., being here meaningless and disturbing, and the curse must be considered as invoked on David’s own head. Erdmann’s defence of the text is far-fetched and unavailing. See “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]—Mingentem ad parietem, that is, “every male.” Bähr on 1 Kings 14:10 : “The expression may have been taken originally from dogs, and it is certainly not an honorable designation of the male sex, being used every-where (1 Kings 16:11; 1 Kings 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8) of those who are cast out and exterminated.”—[See Ges., Thes. s. v. שִׁין, where the authorities are quoted, and decision given for the meaning “male person,” and not “mean, insignificant male”—Tr.]—David swears to root out Nabal and all the males of his house in revenge for the insult to his person, which he regards as a sin against the Lord in whose service he is.—[There is not the least evidence that David so regarded, or had a right so to regard Nabal’s fault; he acted under a weak, human impulse of unworthy revenge, from which he was estopped by God’s mercy.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:23-31. Abigail’s address to David.

1 Samuel 25:23 sq. In the most circumstantial manner five things are first mentioned as to Abigail’s conduct on meeting David, before the narrative comes to her words, which in their form and content confirm what is said in 1 Samuel 25:3 of her understanding. Her mode of doing reverence to David is based on her conviction that he is the divinely chosen future king of Israel, comp. 1 Samuel 25:30. This conviction had spread not only in the king’s house (Saul included), but also among the people.—On me, me, my lord, be the blame (בִּי אֲנִי, see Ges., § 121, 3). At the outset she gives the matter such a turn that David has to deal with her only, and is obliged to put Nabal out of sight. At the outset she assuredly opposes to David’s vengeance the contradictory statement, that, on the one hand (1 Samuel 25:25), she did not see David’s servants and knew nothing of Nabal’s contemptuous behaviour, and, on the other hand, she takes all the blame on herself. “Think not,” she says, “of the bad man, Nabal; for he is what his name signifies: foolishness is his companion (עִמּוֹ with him).” Here, as often happens, foolishness appears connected with wickedness and ungodliness. “Consider me alone as the guilty person with whom thou hast to do.” She does not, however, ask for pardon and forbearance; this she does not do till 1 Samuel 25:28; till then she urges what may turn David away from his revenge; from there on she points out to him the blessing he will receive from the Lord if he grants her request. 1 Samuel 25:26-27. She begins with “and now” each of the three sentences with which she introduces the petition, and seeks to secure David’s favor for it. First, indicating the highest point of view in which, as a God-fearing woman, she regards this meeting with the vengeful David, she affirms that God has thus restrained him from committing a grievous sin. (אֲשֶׁר is not here the superfluous ὅτι of indirect discourse, but is (Then.) dependent on the double חֵי־.) So true as—so true is it—the Lord hath kept thee from coming into blood-guiltiness and saving thyself. David would have brought the crime of blood on himself, and with his own hand against God’s will and command have procured help for himself.—Then she says: May all thy enemies be as Nabal, such fools as he; that is, thou standest under God’s protection and guidance, so that all who as thine enemies will, like Nabal, do thee evil, shall like him become fools, and fall under God’s punishment. Seb. Schmid: “whosoever does good to his enemies, and takes not vengeance on them, him will God Himself avenge, as it is said, Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Thirdly, she says, 1 Samuel 25:27 : And now, this present … blessing (בְרָכָה) = gift of blessing, 1 Samuel 30:26; Genesis 33:11. It is a delicate feature of her wise and skilful procedure that she offers the present, with which she designs to make good her husband’s neglect by dispensing what he ought to have offered, not to David himself, but to his men. On the: in the retinue of my lord comp. Exodus 11:8; Judges 4:10 (Keil).

1 Samuel 25:28. Forgive the trespass of thy handmaid.—With this brief word, which rests on that other: “on me be the blame,” she now makes her request for forgiveness and sparing. The following words to 1 Samuel 25:31 inclusive contain the promise of the divine blessing which, by fulfilling this request, David will receive instead of the curse that would follow revenge. Her personal affair serves her as occasion to speak to David of the future of his house and his life, and, indeed, she belongs to the prophetic women who, like Hannah, filled with the Spirit of the Lord, share in the theocratic inspiration and in the prophetic outlook into the future development of the theocracy. She says to David that the Lord would not leave the fulfilment of her request unrequited: 1) For the Lord will make my lord a sure house. Since she is sure of David’s call to the kingship of Israel, she means by “sure house” permanent kingly rule in his house. Comp. the divine promise, 2 Samuel 7:8 sq. [Bib.-Com. compares Rahab’s faith and foresight, Joshua 11:9-13, and cites Abigail as an illustration of how faith and reason may concur now in leading men to Christ. “In connecting her prayer for forgiveness with the reference to David’s future reign, she is asking for complete pardon to be in force then.”—Tr.] 2) For my lord will fight the battles (wars) of the Lord. On the expression “wars of the Lord,” comp. 1 Samuel 18:17. In the celebrated warrior, who has fought and conquered in the name and power of the Lord, she sees the future royal hero, who, in the wars which the covenant-God as King of His people will wage against their enemies, will prove himself God’s champion. 3) And no evil will be found in thee all thy days. “Evil” (רָעָה) is here misfortune,” not “wickedness” (Mich., Dathe). She does not mean to say: “Thy hand will not be stained with wickedness, as would be the case if thou tookest revenge for this insult;” she says that in 1 Samuel 25:31. Here she predicts for him safety and good fortune as the gift of the Lord.

1 Samuel 25:29 attaches itself in its content to this third affirmation. The text reads “hath arisen” or “arises” (וָיָּקם), instead of which we must, with Then, and Böttch., after Tanchum, read it as Impf. (וְיָקֹם): And should a man arise.… Though she knows that Saul is persecuting David, she yet with delicate reserve expresses herself hypothetically. In relation to what precedes the sense is: “Though such a misfortune should come upon thee that some one should rise against thee … yet it will not continue.” [The text, however, as rendered in Eng. A. V., gives a good sense, and, as the fact was so notorious, the more open reference to Saul’s persecution could not be considered as an offence against delicacy. Bib.-Com., interpreting the sense properly, renders: “Though a man is risen … yet,” etc.—Tr.] What is bound in a bundle is safely kept. The bundle of the living [Eng. A. V. life] with the Lord is thus the figurative expression for those whose life is under the protection of God’s love. In contrast with the wicked human power, which might seek after his life, she points him to the safe preservation of his life which is involved in the inclusion of his person in the community of the godly, whose life—that is, their temporal-earthly life, since she is not speaking here of the eternal life beyond, to which Keil finds here an indirect reference38—is preserved inviolable in God’s hand. Then the contrast: But the life of thy enemies will he sling out in the pan of the sling—an energetic expression for the divine rejection in contrast with gracious preservation. The “pan” of the sling is the hollow for the reception of the missile. See Genesis 32:26 [hollow of the thigh].

1 Samuel 25:30 is the protasis, 1 Samuel 25:31 the apodosis. In the words: And when the Lord shall appoint thee ruler over Israel, Abigail shows that she is acquainted with God’s choice and calling of David to be king of Israel. This she had probably learned through personal acquaintance with those prophetic circles, her spiritual affinity with which is shown by her words. Here she looks out beyond the attacks of his enemies to the goal of his divine calling which David has reached. Then (1 Samuel 25:31) “this will not be a stumbling-block and vexation of heart to thee that thou didst shed blood without cause, and also that my lord with his own hand helped himself.” The word “this” (זֹאת) does not refer to the request for forgiveness in 1 Samuel 25:28 (Keil), but to the two following facts, namely, bloodshed and self-help. The sense is: After obtaining the kingdom, thou wilt not have a bad conscience in the recollection of having shed innocent (innocent, that is, in respect to such revenge) blood, and depended on thyself for help. In the words: And when the Lord shall do good to my lord, she briefly includes all her wishes and hopes for David, that to her so deeply-grounded request for forgiveness (1 Samuel 25:28) she may in conclusion attach the thought of future prosperity. (וְהֵיטִיב is to be taken as condition or hypothetical indication of the desired result).

1 Samuel 25:32-35. David’s answer and conduct to Abigail.

1 Samuel 25:32. Thankful acknowledgment that the Lord had sent her to him. So, in his whole life even in errors and faults David knows himself to be under the oversight and guidance of the divine providence.

1 Samuel 25:33. Having given due honor to the Lord, he praises Abigail’s wisdom and her opposition to his purpose so displeasing to the Lord. He acknowledges that she has restrained him from bloody revenge and ungodly self-help, and confesses his sin and guilt in forming such a plan.

1 Samuel 25:34. His discourse advances rapidly to the declaration (which strengthens that thankful acknowledgment) that, but for her interposition, he would have exterminated Nabal’s house. “For otherwise” (וְאוּלָם), Vulg. alioquin, “otherwise” [Eng. A. V. “in very deed”].—By the life of the Lord, the God of Israel, who, etc., I swear that if thou, etc., that nothing would have remained.—The thought that the Lord had brought her to meet him is here completed by the parenthetic declaration: God the Lord has here Himself interfered with my purpose, and through thee prevented the execution of the wicked deed.39

1 Samuel 25:35. David accepts the present, and dismisses Abigail with the assurance that her request is granted. “To accept the person” (נָשָׂא פָנִים) = “to have regard to,” Genesis 19:21.

1 Samuel 25:36-38. Nabal’s death.

1 Samuel 25:36. Abigail finds Nabal in the revel of a feast.—Like a king’s feast, as rich and luxurious. Compare the description of the rich man, Luke 19:0. “Merry on account of it,” that is, the feast. The reference (in עָלָיו) to the feast (Maur., De W., Keil), as in Proverbs 23:30, answers better to Nabal’s thorough self-abandonment to pleasure than the reference to his person: “within him” [so Eng. A. V.]; and this view is confirmed by the following words: he was very drunken. 1 Samuel 25:37. Not till next morning, when the wine was gone out of him, that is, not by vomiting, but by the gradual passing off of the debauch, can Abigail tell him what has happened. The choleric man is so affected by it that he has an apoplectic stroke. The cause of this is neither horror at his loss (Then.), for Abigail’s gift to David was insignificant, nor at the danger, hitherto unsuspected, which threatened him (Cler., Mich.), for this could not surprise him, he must have contemplated its possibility when he dismissed David’s messengers,40—but the violent anger and vexation of the passionate man (always hard and inflexible), because his right had been usurped, his authority as master ignored, and the whole business transacted by his wife against his will with the hated David.—His heart … stone; here we must retain the text [“he became a stone”], and not render with the VSS.: “as a stone” (Then.)., the strong hyperbole of the text corresponding to the preceding expression: “his heart died,” and the reading of these VSS. being obviously an explanatory change [so Eng. A. V.].

1 Samuel 25:38. It is expressly said, that Nabal’s death, which did not occur till ten days after the stroke, was a dispensation of the Lord. As an execution by God’s hand, this death is here, though not expressly in words (as in 1 Samuel 25:39), yet in the connection represented as a punishment for his ungodliness.

1 Samuel 25:39-42. Abigail David’s wife.

1 Samuel 25:39. In Nabal’s sudden death David recognizes God’s judgment for the insult offered him, over against the revenge which he himself would have taken, from which the Lord estopped him in order Himself to exercise vengeance. This rests on the thought that the insult offered David was also offered to the Lord, since David was the Lord’s Anointed, and represented the Lord’s cause. The figure is of a case in law, which is settled by the judicial decision. The “law-cause of my reproach,” that is, the reproach offered me, on account of which the Lord had to appear against Nabal as Judge and Avenger. Connect the “from the hand” with “pleaded” [רָב], not with “my reproach,” and render pregnantly [Germ. zeugmatically.—Tr.]: “he has conducted my cause to a conclusion out of the hand,” that is, he has collected the costs from the condemned person, and has settled the matter by the infliction of the proper punishment.”—And the wickedness of Nabal. The connection shows that these are the words of David, not of the narrator (Then.).

1 Samuel 25:40. David’s formal application for the hand of Abigail.

1 Samuel 25:41. With the expression of the deepest devotion in gesture and word, according to oriental custom, she declares herself ready to become David’s wife.

1 Samuel 25:42. She sets out with a small train, “five damsels,” her ordinary retinue (הַהֹלֽכוֹת ל׳), to follow David’s servants and become his wife.

1 Samuel 25:43-44. Appendix concerning David’s matrimonial and domestic relations, occasioned by the account of his marriage with Abigail.—And Ahinoam David had taken from Jezreel, that is, before his marriage with Abigail (Then.); Jezreel is not the city in Issachar (Joshua 19:18), but in the hill-country of Judah (Joshua 15:55-56), near Maon, Carmel and Ziph. “And these two also,” where “also” (גַּם) refers to Michal, 1 Samuel 18:28.

Ver.44. Saul “had given” (נָתַן, as the “had taken” above, in Pluperf. sense) Michal to Palti (2 Samuel 3:18) to wife. Gallim, in Benjamin, between Gibeah of Saul and Jerusalem, Isaiah 10:30.


1. The universal mourning among the whole people at Samuel’s death is a sign that they had preserved the deepest impressions and influences of his reformatory work, and honored in him, even after his withdrawal from public labors, the great restorer of the genuine theocracy. Their sorrow at his decease was the deeper, the more heavily the yoke of Saul’s misgovernment pressed on them. “It was as if from the noble star, as long as it shone in the heaven of the holy land, though veiled by clouds, there streamed a mild, beneficent light over all Israel. Now this star was extinguished in Israel” (F. W. Krummacher).
2. Self-help by one’s own might through revenge is as sinful and ungodly when one knows or supposes that he has suffered insult for the Lord’s sake, or in His service, as when one feels his own honor violated. There is always thus a headstrong and impatient anticipating of God’s counsel and work in the interest of passion, opposition to the fundamental law, according to which God’s justice, not man’s revenge, is the guardian of moral order, and every man receives what is his in the right time and way, according to the attitude of his heart to God. By his excitable temperament, which tends to overflow in passion, David is in great danger of setting himself against the supreme tribunal of divine justice, and taking vengeance into his own hands instead of leaving it to God. “For the first time we find him not master of his spirit, overborne by the passion, which is indeed a natural trait of his character.—He purposes to break the peace, to seize the property of others, and to stain his hands with the blood of peaceful, yea, kindred citizens. This time surely he had not prayed, nor inquired of the Lord through the ‘Light and Right’ [Urim and Thummim]. If he had executed what his wrath suggested—and it was not his doing if it went no farther than suggestion—he would have given the death-blow to his honor and his cause” (F. W. Krummacher).

3. God rules and watches with such paternal special providence and care over those that humbly look to His guidance that, when they are in danger through their own flesh and blood of falling into sin, He raises up persons to guide them by exhortation, warning, and instruction into the right way, He enlightens and strengthens them by His word, so that they see in good time their moral danger and how to avoid it, and go firmly on, and at last praise the Lord for such gracious preservation. “David praised God that He had kept him from sin, and yet saved his honor.—So well does everything at last turn out with those who give heed to God and their own heart. God receives them when they fall, and raises them up when they are cast down; but the ungodly, who listen to nothing and hate instruction, cool their wrath and perish” (Roos).—“That David, like every human being, was not free from desire of revenge, to which he was especially exposed from his liveliness of feeling, is shown in 1 Samuel 25:0. But there is needed only a slight rousing of his conscience, and he says to Abigail (1 Samuel 25:31-32): ‘The Lord be praised who hath sent thee to meet me to-day. And blessed be thy discourse, and blessed be thou,’ etc. And what Abigail could do, could not the presence of the Holy One have done, before whom he stood when he sang his Psalm?” (Hengst., 4:302.)

4. Abigail belongs to the prophetic personages of this time, and takes a prominent place among the pious women of the Old Covenant. In contrast with her ungodly, doltish, hard-hearted, thankless, avaricious, purse-proud, rough, and riotous husband, she is deeply pious, clever and intelligent, thankful, generous, humble, of noble disposition and fine tact, intellectual, and gifted with pleasing and winning speech.—Solomon says: “By wise women the house is builded, but a foolish woman destroys it.” This word finds a noble confirmation in Abigail as housewife in respect to this perverse man sunk in sordid avarice and gross materialism.—“Where do we find in all the heathen world a woman comparable with Abigail, the daughter of the wilderness? Unfortunate, indeed, she is. Ah, her house, however blessed with earthly goods, is no Bethany-cottage. With deep sorrow she must call her rude, Mammon-serving husband a ‘fool.’ But she bears with him in patient, hopeful love and faithfulness, and doubtless often lifts holy hands to God for him. So for him she goes to David, like a sacrificial lamb taking her husband’s misdeed on herself. She holds up also to David the grievous sin with which he would have laden himself if he had carried out his purpose against the man.—Indeed the truth and sincerity, the dovelike simplicity united to sanctified wisdom, which appears in the childlike-pious address of the noble woman, is worthy of our liveliest admiration. Who can fail to see that here already the Spirit from above was working mightily? Is it not almost as if in her we heard an advanced disciple of the Gospel speak? Has not her word: ‘Thou shalt be bound in the bundle of the living of the Lord’ been long naturalized in the language of the whole Christian congregation as a favorite expression, and as the designation of the most precious thing that man can desire on earth?” (F. W. Krummacher).—“What wisdom, what humility, what free-heartedness, what order we find in her words! How well she knew how to speak to David’s heart! How well her whole discourse was suited to her position as woman! I know no example of eloquence that excels this. Doubtless she had not studied eloquence in the schools, but the Spirit of God alone made her such an orator. God put wisdom into her heart, and it flowed out in wise discourse” (Roos).—Abigail appears as an organ of the Spirit of God, the prophetic spirit breathes through her words, and she speaks to David in the manner of the prophets. She sees clearly and declares to David with vigorous, heart-searching, and conscience-piercing words, that his high-handed, revengeful purpose is against God’s law and order; she convinces him of his deep guilt, and brings him to acknowledge that she is God’s instrument to save him from a wicked deed which would have cast a dark shadow over his future life; she announces his future royal calling and his lofty mission therein as hero to wage the wars of the Lord against the enemies of God’s people, earnestly exhorts him to walk conformably to the glory and holiness of this calling, predicts under this condition the continuance of the royal dignity in his house (comp. 2 Samuel 7:0), and promises him the rich blessings of the favor of God. Thus in her is presented the type of the guardian watch-office of prophecy in relation to the royal office. Abigail could so speak only as moved or filled by the prophetic Spirit; and the means thereto was her personal relation to the prophetic circles, whose centre Samuel was till his death and to which all truly God-fearing persons attached themselves. As the prophetic community was at this time of great importance for awakening and cherishing a new religious-moral life in the people, it cannot be surprising if we meet with personages, like Abigail, among the people, filled and illuminated with the prophetic Spirit.


Chap. 25. J. Disselhoff: Let the righteous smite me kindly and reprove me: 1) Even the beloved of the Lord, when he watches not his heart, falls into wrath that deserves reproof; 2) The gracious God sends His beloved ones the deserved reproof through some human mouth; 3) The way in which any one receives reproof shows how far he is a man after God’s own heart.

1 Samuel 25:1. Remember your teachers, etc. Hebrews 13:7. [The aged man is laid aside, and sinks out of the popular view; and when at length he dies, people are startled as they recall how great a man he was in his prime, how great a work he did. It is something to live so that one’s death will be truly mourned by a whole people. The old, who sadly think themselves forgotten, may find solace not only in reviewing the past, but also in the persuasion that yet once again they will be vividly remembered; while the younger should strive to anticipate the feelings of that coming time, and show respect and affection while it can be fully enjoyed.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:2 sqq. Cramer: Wealth, consideration, power, and good fortune, are nothing without wisdom (Proverbs 17:16). Therefore we should prefer wisdom and virtue to all temporal things; for riches and rank do not help against folly.—Schlier: What does money help us, when we make Mammon our idol, and know only how to rake and scrape and get rich? How well it would be if we did but once believe that money is not man’s fortune, and that with all riches we may yet be unfortunate people.—[Hall: Even the line of faithful Caleb will afford an ill-conditioned Nabal. Virtue is not, like unto lands, inheritable.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:10 sq. Berl. B.: The fountain of his speech is avarice, and the stream is malignity. So the rich of the world are often haughty and unfriendly, and thereby show themselves to be true Nabals or fools, as Christ also named that rich farmer.—Schlier: Let us not look at Nabal, we will rather think of ourselves.—There is nothing that releases us from the duty of thankfulness, let the other person be as he will. To whomsoever you owe thanks, to him you should also show your thanks. And such ingratitude is doubly a wrong, when the fault on the other’s part, because of which you refuse the thanks, is only an imagined fault, when you have only a wicked grudge against him, as Nabal considered David a seditious person, although he was the most faithful subject of the king.—[Scott: When worldly men are determined not to relieve the necessitous, they often excuse themselves by railing; by charging the vices of some poor persons upon all; and by representing almsgiving as an encouragement to idleness, impertinence, and extravagance: nor are the most excellent characters any defence against such undistinguishing invectives.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:13. Starke: How subject are the best of God’s saints to weak passions! Ye who are pious, recognise this fact, and diligently call on God for the government of His Spirit (Jeremiah 10:23). Schlier: If wrong is done us, we will commit vengeance to the Lord, and will be afraid of all self-revenge. He who suffers injuries and commits his revenge to the Lord, is a righteous man; but it is unmanly to give free course to one’s revenge, and to do what flesh and blood prompts.—Berl. B.: David here felt something quite human, and fell into sudden heat at the affront offered him, and the contemptuous ingratitude of the rude arch-churl. His passions started up, and most of all because Nabal had treated him shamefully when he had done him no hurt. In such a case it may well be said: “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).—[1 Samuel 25:13. Henry: “Is this thy voice, O David?” Can this man after God’s own heart speak thus unadvisedly with his lips? … .Is this he who, but the other day, spared him who sought his life, and yet now will not spare anything that belongs to him who had only put an affront on his messengers? Lord, what is man! What need have we to pray, Lord, “lead us not into temptation!” 1 Samuel 25:18 : Henry: The passion of fools often makes those breaches in a little time, which the wise, with all their wisdom, have much ado to make up again.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:19. Starke: Silence has its time, speech has also its time. Well for those who know how to suit themselves thereto (Ecclesiastes 3:7 sq.).

1 Samuel 25:22. Berl. Bib.: David here completely changes into a barbarous man, and forgets himself altogether. If this purpose had been carried into execution, Saul would for the first time have had a just cause for pursuing him as a disturber of the public peace.

1 Samuel 25:23 sqq. Schlier: Men’s wrath is a frightful enemy, and works not the righteousness of God, and yet there is a means of making this enemy no longer hurtful, namely, a friendly, loving word.—Let us especially when one falls into wrath observe well whether we cannot perhaps quiet such wrath by a mild, gentle word. A word spoken in season, and with an eye to the Lord, is not in vain.—When we are on a bad way, the Lord comes not in miracles and signs to bring us to good ways, but He interposes through men. He warns us through parents and friends and other connections, and their word is the Lord’s word.

1 Samuel 25:27. Starke: Free and rich gifts bring blessing with them; therefore give, and it is given to you (2 Corinthians 9:5-6).—Osiander: 1 Samuel 25:29. Our life is not in the power of our enemies, except so far as God permits it them (Job 2:6).—[1 Samuel 25:31. Henry: When we are tempted to sin, we should consider how it will appear in the reflection. Let us never do anything for which our own conscience will afterward have occasion to upbraid us.—Taylor: Only a woman could have managed such a negotiation as this so smoothly and successfully; but only a God-fearing woman would have managed it so as to bring David to a sense of the sinfulness of the act which he had been about to commit.

1 Samuel 25:32-35. Hall: A good heart is easily stayed from sinning, and is glad when it finds occasion to be crossed in ill purposes.—Wicked vows are ill made, but worse kept. Our tongue cannot tie us to commit sin. Good men think themselves happy, that since they had not the grace to deny sin, yet they had not the opportunity to accomplish it.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:36-38. Schlier: So true it is that sin is ruin to the people. What multitudes think that with avarice one can get rich, and yet avarice is a root of all evil; how many think by hard-heartedness and selfishness to get on, and yet thereby every one is only building up his own misfortune; what multitudes think that if they should give themselves up to excesses, they would get pleasure and enjoyment therefrom, and yet all good-living comes only of evil.—[Hall: It was no time to advise Nabal, while his reason was drowned in a deluge of wine. A beast, or a stone, is as capable of good counsel as a drunkard. O that the noblest creature should so far abase himself as for a little liquor to lose the use of those faculties whereby he is a man!—“O that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!”—Tr.]

1 Samuel 25:39 sqq. Schlier: It is a good thing to trust in the Lord and give up everything to Him. All self-revenge in every case comes of evil; but to contain one’s self, to suppress one’s wrath, to turn over vengeance to the Lord, brings good fortune and blessing.

[1 Samuel 25:2-11. Nabal: 1) His advantages: a) Of excellent family (1 Samuel 25:3, comp. Joshua 14:6; Joshua 15:13); b) Very wealthy; c) Having a wife most remarkable not only for personal beauty (1 Samuel 25:3), but for thoughtfulness, energy, tact and grace. 2) His faults: a) Avaricious and stingy in the extreme; b) Yet ostentatious of his wealth (1 Samuel 25:36); c) A drunken sot; d) A fool; e) Rude and insulting habitually (1 Samuel 25:17). What a son of Caleb! what a husband for Abigail! 3) His ignoble end. Remembered for his faults, and from his connection with the men he insulted.

[1 Samuel 25:23-31. A specimen of the soft answer that turneth away wrath: 1) She takes the blame on herself, so as to divert attention from the offender (1 Samuel 25:24). 2) She extenuates the offence, and makes amends for it, as far as the circumstances admit (1 Samuel 25:25; 1 Samuel 25:27). 3) She delicately assumes that the wrathful purpose will be abandoned through divine influence (1 Samuel 25:26). 4) She turns the angry man’s mind towards a future of great and sure prosperity, through Jehovah’s blessing (1 Samuel 25:28-29). 5) She declares that in that happy time he will be glad he did not to-day incur blood-guiltiness (1 Samuel 25:30-31). The sum of the whole is that she makes him forget his wrath in thoughts of Jehovah and of the brilliant future which Jehovah has in reserve for him. The result appears in 1 Samuel 25:32-33.

[1 Samuel 25:32-33. South: “Prevention of sin is one of the greatest mercies that God can vouchsafe a man in this world.” South a) shows the danger that sin unprevented may never be pardoned, and b) argues that prevention is better than pardon; and in the “Application,” urges a) that a higher satisfaction is to be found from a conquered than from a conquering passion; b) that the temper with which we receive providential prevention of sin is a criterion of the gracious or ungracious disposition of our hearts; c) that we ought thankfully to acquiesce in any providential crosses, since these may be the instruments of preventing grace.—Tr.]


[1][1 Samuel 25:1. Some MSS. have simply “went,” יֵלֵךְ instead of יֵרִדִ.—Tr.]

[2][1 Samuel 25:1. This reading is well defended by Erdmann against the Sept. “Maon” which is preferred by Wellh. and Bib. Comm.—Tr.]

[3][1 Samuel 25:2. Eng. A. V. here follows the Vulg., factum est ut tonderetur grex eius. But the exacter rendering seems to be: “and he was, when he was shearing his sheep, in Carmel” (so Cahen, Philippson, and apparently Sept.). On the other hand the Syr. takes וַיְהִי in the sense: “and it came to pass,” the rest of the clause being the Relative protasis, 1 Samuel 25:3-4 parenthesis, and 1 Samuel 25:5 the apodosis: “and it came to pass, when he was shearing, etc., (and the name … his sheep), that David sent, etc.” This construction is adopted by Then., Erdmann, and in part (1 Samuel 25:3) by Cahen. To this Wellh. properly objects that 1 Samuel 25:2 is closely connected with 1 Samuel 25:3, and 1 Samuel 25:4 with 1 Samuel 25:5, and that the proposed construction would require the suffix וֹ to בִּנְןן. The Heb. text (simple Inf.) is confirmed by Sept. and Chald. and perhaps by Syr. (Partcp. without following Pron.), and it is to be noticed that the Greek has ἐγενήθη (as in 1 Samuel 25:20) and not ἐγένετο, which is the usual rendering of the pleonastic or anticipatory וַיְהי (as in 1 Samuel 25:37-38). Statements, more naturally conceived by us as parenthetic, are frequently put in Heb. in the form of continuous narration.—Tr.]

[4][1 Samuel 25:3. So the Qeri. The Kethib or text is discussed by Erdmann in Expos.—Tr.]

[5][1 Samuel 25:5. Literally: “ask him as to peace.” On the pointing of שְׁאֶלְתֶּם see Ges. Gr., § 44, 2 Rem. 2.—Tr.]

[6][1 Samuel 25:6. לֶחָי֑. In the impossibility of determining the form and sense of this word it seems better to omit the certainly wrong rendering of Eng. A. V. (though it is adopted by Philippson), especially as the word, whatever its meaning, cannot affect the general sense of the clause. See Erdm. in Expos.—Tr.]

[7][1 Samuel 25:6. This “both” is intended as translation of ו, but this letter must be stricken out, or, possibly, attached to preceding word (Bib. Com.).—Tr.]

[8][1 Samuel 25:7. So the Heb. and the VSS., except Sept. which reads: “that thy shepherds are now shearing for thee,” connecting the following הָר׳ with the Partcp., which the connection does not allow. Yet the Heb. phrase sounds curt and strange. We should expect “thou art shearing,” or, “they are shearing for thee.”—Tr.]

[9][1 Samuel 25:7. The Seghol of the ה is a neighboring form to Chireq, both being degradations (the latter more advanced) of the original Pattach.—Tr.]

[10][1 Samuel 25:8. Sing. in some MSS. and Edd., “thy servant, namely, thy son, David,” perhaps from failure to see the application to David’s young men. Sept. omits the word.—Tr.]

[11][1 Samuel 25:9. Some MSS. read עַבְדֵי “servants,” indicating a certain vacillation in the use of these synonyms.—Tr.]

[12][1 Samuel 25:9. Erdmann: “sat down,” Chald., Vulg., Philippson, Cahen, Wellhausen as Eng. A. V., Bib. Comm.: “rested.” Syr. eludes the difficulty (as it often does) by omitting the word. For various text-words which Sept. (ἀνεπήδησε) may have had before it see Schleusner s. v. If we retain the Heb., the rendering of Eng. A. V. is as good as any other; for the impression made on us is that Nabal’s answer followed immediately on the delivery of the message (so that there was no occasion to rest), and, if a considerable time (as a night) had intervened between message and answer, it would probably have been mentioned. Yet the passage is not satisfactory; we do not expect to be informed here that David’s messengers ceased when they had said their say, or sat down to rest; we should rather look for some intimation of churlish bearing on Nabal’s part, which, however, cannot well be found (even by changing our word) in the present form of the Heb. text.—Tr.]

[13][1 Samuel 25:10. Wellh. inserts the Art. before ע׳, yet Heb. (perhaps the conversational language particularly) allowed latitude in this respect.—Tr.]

[14][1 Samuel 25:12. So Heb., Chald., Sept. and Erdmann (gleich); the כ is omitted by Syr., Arab. and Vulg. which last Eng. A. V. probably follows.—Tr.]

[15][1 Samuel 25:14. Or, “flew on them.” See the Exposition. Chald. and Syr. “was disgusted with them” (from קיּץ or קוּט)—Tr.]

[16][1 Samuel 25:17. The rendering of the Syr. is strange: “he was with the shepherds.” Is this a copyist’s erroneous repetition of the end of the preceding verse?

[17][1 Samuel 25:21. Sept. (“we prescribed not”) and Theodotion (“we demanded not”) take this wrongly as 1 plu. Impf. (in the Coislin. it is Sing.), where Symmachus has διεΦώνησεν in the sense of “perished” (see Schleusner), Vulg. periit.—Tr.]

[18][1 Samuel 25:22. The sense of the common formula requires the omission of this phrase, for the insertion of which there is no good reason here. It is not improbable, as Wellhausen suggests, that it was added by a copyist who saw that in fact David had not carried out his scheme of destruction, and would thus avert the imprecation from his head to that of his enemies. But such an imprecation is always to be considered as resting on two conditions: 1) if it be wrong, it must be withdrawn, and 2) if its occasion be removed, it is null and void.—Tr.]

[19][1 Samuel 25:22. The word “light” (אוֹר) is omitted in Sept., Syr., Vulg., and in many MSS. and Edd.; it was perhaps introduced by a copyist from 1 Samuel 25:34.—Tr.]

[20][1 Samuel 25:23. We should here expect אָרְצָה as one MS. has it.—Tr.]

[21][1 Samuel 25:24. In this description of Abigail’s demeanor (1 Samuel 25:23-24) the עַל “on” before רַנְלָיו and the two prostrations are somewhat difficult. The difficulty is removed by the Sept. which omits the second “fell” (1 Samuel 25:24). But here we should probably maintain the harder reading, and it is likely that Abigail's anxiety and trepidation made her movement somewhat elaborate and complicated.—Tr.]

[22][1 Samuel 25:25. Aquila: ἀπόῤῥευσις (see Ges., Thes. on נָכֵל), on which says Schol. (in Schleusner): ’Ακύλας ἡρμήνευσεν�’ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γὰρ λογισμοῦ ὑποῤῥέοντός τε καὶ σβεννυμένου, τὸ τῆς�.—Tr.]

[23][1 Samuel 25:26. We here expect the מֵ to be repeated before the Inf.—Tr.]

[24][1 Samuel 25:27. The fem. form (see 1 Samuel 25:35) is found in some MSS. and Edd., and in some is given as Qeri.—Tr.]

[25][1 Samuel 25:29. Erdmann: “should a man arise.” Sept. has the Fut. The rendering of Eng. A. V. seems to suit the connection better.—Erdmann: “the bundle of the living,” which is the same in general meaning with Eng. A. V.—Tr.]

[26][1 Samuel 25:29. So the Heb., Sept. and Syr. The general meaning is clear, but the VSS. vary in the rendering. Chald: “As those who sling stones in a sling.” Vulg.: inimicorum tuorum anima rotabitur quasi in impetu et circulo fundœ. The Heb. is difficult, but perhaps for that reason better retained.—Tr.]

[27][1 Samuel 25:31. Commonly now rendered “stumbling-block.”—Wellh. would regard לֵב as clerical repetition of לְךָ and לַאדֹנִי as courtly correction of the latter, and would omit these two words. This would give the simple rendering: “This will not be to thee an offence and a stumbling-block” (Sept. σκάνδαλον), and get rid of the apparently cumbrous “to my lord.” Yet here again simplifying corrections are suspicious.—Tr.]

[28][1 Samuel 25:31. The “either” is translation of ו, which is better stricken out.—The construction seems to require us to supply “his hand” (ידוֹ) as in 1 Samuel 25:26; 1 Samuel 25:33).—Tr.]

[29][1 Samuel 25:31. The Sept. adds flatly and indelicately “to do good to her.”—Tr.]

[30][1 Samuel 25:33. Thy “good sense, discretion.”—Tr.]

[31][1 Samuel 25:37. The Arab. VS. and some MSS. insert “all” (כֹּל).—Tr.]

[32][1 Samuel 25:38. Wellh. rejects the Art. as the time is not defined, but the Heb. allows in such cases definiteness of statement.—Tr.]

[33][1 Samuel 25:42. The Partcp. has the Art., and so we render better: “the five, etc., that went.” Sept. omits the Art., which may be a repetition from the preceding ה; but the Heb. gives a good sense. The Partcp. is not necessarily predicate, but may be subject along with “Abigail.”—Tr.]

[34][Bib. Com. compares the death and burial of Moses, Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Deuteronomy 34:8.—Tr.]

[35][So Mr. Hayman in Smith’s Bib. Dict., Art. “Paran,” who suggests that the skirts of the great wilderness may have passed (without well-fixed dividing lines) under different names, Zin, Maon, etc.—Tr.]

[36][On this construction see “Text. and Gram.,” where a different view is taken.—Tr.]

[37]Instead of וַיָעַט Thenius proposes to read וָיָקט because several VSS. so render, Sept. ἐξέκλινεν απ’ αὐτῶν, Sym. ἀπεστράφη, Vulg. aversatus est eos; but this is unsafe, for 1) to the phrase: “he was disgusted with them,” we must then give the sense: “he treated them with contempt” (Then.), which the substituted verb does not permit, and 2) it is tolerably clear that these VSS. read wrongly ויּט from נטה in the transitive sense: “to turn one's self”=“thrust out of the way,” Job 24:4; comp. Amos 2:7, “lead aside,” 2 Samuel 3:27, “repulse,” Psalms 27:9.

[38][So Abarbanel], Targ., Talmud Shab. 152, 2; Chag. 12, 2; Pirk. El. 34 (Philippson).—Tr.]

[39] מְהַָרַע—Inf. Const. Hiph. from כִּי ּרָעַע is dependent on a verb of affirmation which is to be supplied from the connection. The repetition of the כִּי is occasioned by the parenthesis “unless thou.” The strange form תָּבֹאתִי, Impf. with termination of Perf., is either a clerical error for תָּבֹאִי, perhaps arisen from the following word, in which the final בִי is preceded by א (Then.); comp. Olsh. Gr., pp. 452, 525; or, according to Ew. §191 c, a strengthened form of 2 fem. Impf. as תָּבוֹאתָה, Deuteronomy 33:16 (Keil).

[40][Not necessarily. It seems not unlikely that fright had something to do with his seizure.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 25". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-samuel-25.html. 1857-84.
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