This Chapter contains a great variety of contents, in its relation. Here is an account of the death of Samuel; the character and behaviour of Nabal towards David; the sin-preventing providence of God, in causing Nabal's wife, by her prudence, to avert the intended destruction of Nabal and his house, by David; the death of Nabal, and the wife of Nabal becoming afterwards, the wife of David.
1 Samuel 25:1
(1) ¶ And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
It is not said how Samuel died. The Holy Ghost hath thought it enough to record his death, without subjoining anything more. No doubt, he died in faith. In another scripture, the Holy Ghost hath said so. See Hebrews 11:13 with Hebrews 11:32. So died all the faithful! As they lived, so they died, waiting for the consolation of Israel. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs, prophets, all looking with an eye of faith to Him, and speaking of him, to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:38. Precious faith! so may it be my portion to live, and so to die; clasping Jesus in my arms, and dropping this tabernacle, in the moment while his name is the last word quivering on my lips, and he himself in my heart. See, Reader! how the memory of the faithful is blessed, in the lamentation over his remains. Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints: and precious in the sight of saints, is the death of each other. Psalms 116:15.
(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.
Probably Maon, was near the wilderness of Paran, in its borders. This is the wilderness which David refers to, when he said, Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, and dwell in the tents of Kedar. Psalms 120:5. Gracious souls! dwell often with ungracious companions, by necessity. A state of nature, is frequently spoken of under the similitude of Kedar. Song of Solomon 1:5.
(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.
The Holy Ghost hath been pleased to give the names of this married couple. Perhaps, to point out thereby more strikingly, their character. Nabal, signifies in its original, a fool. And Abigail, the joy of her father. Caleb, the progenitor of Nabal, was of a different spirit, of whom such honourable testimony is given in the holy word. Numbers 14:24.
(4) And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep. (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: (6) And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. (7) And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel. (8) Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.
Let the Reader observe, how poor David, though king elect, and long since anointed as such, was put to hard shifts and difficulties to live, for the common accommodations of this life. When the Reader hath duly pondered over this, let him not be surprised that kings elect in grace, should be exercised with difficulties also, in their way. Though Jesus hath made them kings and priests to God, and the Father; yet according to their high rank, they are proportionably exercised. I think (says Paul) that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 1 Corinthians 4:9. Highly dignified followers of the Lord! Count it, I charge you, honour, to be thought worthy to suffer shame for his name. Acts 5:41.
(9) And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. (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. (11) 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?
It is evident, that Nabal was no stranger to David's history, by this answer; or he could not have called him the son of Jesse, nor Saul's servant. But observe, in order to cover over his inhumanity under fair pretences, instead of speaking of David, the deliverer of his country, from the Philistines, and as one oppressed for his faithfulness, he calls him a runaway servant, and only the poor son of a poor father. It is astonishing to observe how the worst of men will find excuses, by way of justifying their conduct.
(12) ¶ So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings. (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.
The principal feature I would beg the Reader to remark in this part of David's conduct, is the evidence it carries with it, of the remains of indwelling corruption in the best of men. It is like a wound lurking under a covered skin: let it be touched beneath the surface, and out the matter comes. It was truly unkind in Nabal so to treat David's modest request. But this became no apology for David's unjust resentment. Oh, Reader! let you and I learn from it, that nature, even when renewed by grace, is renewed but in part. The body of sin and death still tends to corruption; though the inward man be renewed day by day.
(14) 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. (15) But 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 in the fields: (16) They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. (17) Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.
We should overlook the servant in this happy and seasonable advice, to remark the hand of God in it. How sweetly doth Joseph look beyond second causes, in the instance of himself and brethren, when the overruling providences of God had so arranged the events in his wonderful life, that their inhuman conduct in selling him for a slave was made the very foundation of his becoming their preserver. It was not you that sent me hither (said Joseph) but God. Genesis 45:8. Reader! depend upon it, you lose a thousand of the most precious enjoyments of life, if you do not continually take into your view the gracious overruling hand of God in all that concerns you. Every blessing is made doubly sweet, by thus beholding the Lord arranging and appointing a ll.
(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. (19) And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal. (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. (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. (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. (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, (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. (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. (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. (27) And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord. (28) I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days. (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. (30) 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; (31) That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.
I need not offer any comment, by way of explaining what is already so very plain; or of recommending what is so very beautiful in itself, in this conduct and address of Abigail, to the Reader's notice. But, while I would leave the Reader to his own reflections on this most interesting passage in the chapter, I cannot suffer him to pass on, without calling on him to remark with me, how very evident the wisdom and grace of God must have been working upon Abigail's mind, to induce this conduct. Oh, Sir! it is sweet, very sweet, to observe how a gracious God arrangeth and disposeth of a thousand things to bring about the purposes and counsels of his own will. Whether Abigail knew the Lord, or whether she did not, at this time, yet God was pleased to make her an instrument to save the shedding of blood, to protect and shelter the innocent from being included in the common calamity with the wicked, and to keep back his servant David from sin. Perhaps David referred to this instance when he expressed himself in that Psalm, of being kept from presumptuous sins. Psalms 19:13.
(32) ¶ And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: (33) And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand. (34) For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
I have often admired, and every renewed opportunity of reading these delightful words of David again makes me to admire, still more and more, the pious sentiments which David utters in contemplating the mercies he then was receiving. I desire the Reader to remark with me, how precious a strain of the most devout affections they breathe, while he reverenced the gracious hand of God in this sin-preventing providence. He first, as is most suitable and proper, looks up and acknowledges the hand of God. Blessed (says he) be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me. Having blessed God as the Author, he next looks with gratitude to the means: Blessed (says he) be thy advice. And lastly he looks to Abigail as the honoured instrument in the Lord's hand to restrain, blessed be thou. Here's blessing upon blessing, in that he had been kept from sin, and his corrupt nature had not been suffered to embrue his hands in blood. I know not what the Reader's feelings are upon this occasion, while beholding the restraining grace and mercy of God towards his servant; but for my own part I desire to look up and ascribe the whole of my preservation and safety from the commission of all evil to the same source, the over-ruling and restraining grace of God in Christ Jesus. See 1 Peter 1:5. Sweet is that prayer of Jesus: John 17:11.
(35) So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.
How delightful the issue of an affair which appeared at first so alarming.
(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. (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. (38) And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.
The awful departure of Nabal, is enough in itself to strike terror to every unawakened, unregenerated soul. The Lord smote Nabal, it is said. The Holy Ghost hath not recorded anything more of this man. This is indeed more than enough to show the folly and madness of sin. How awful a death! Like another rich man we read of, whose last account is, that he died and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes in torments. From such an end good Lord deliver us! Luke 16:22-23.
(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.
What must have been the thoughts of David when these tidings were brought him. Reader! it is a blessed thing when God's people can leave all their affairs with their God. The apostle's advice is founded on this; Romans 12:19-21.
(40) 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. (41) And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord. (42) And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. (43) David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives. (44) But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.
These historical relations are thrown in at the close of this Chapter, because though not immediately interesting, yet they form a part in the after circumstances of David's history.
READER! let us not dismiss our review of this chapter, nor close the book which records the death of Samuel, without first paying due tribute to a memory so truly valuable. I would for once methinks pass over the consideration of many other beauties contained in this Chapter, in order to gather suitable reflections from the tomb of the prophet. It pleased the Lord to call Samuel to be his servant in a day of great departure from the Lord. And the Lord was pleased to call him home at a season when corruption abounded. Surely it was a time when such a man was most needed. Saints and servants of the Lord who are eminent in their day and generation, are the salt, the light, and pillars of the earth. When they are gone, their vacancies form sad gaps in the church. How different a death from that of Nabal! while the one dies unlamented, unpitied, disregarded: the name of Samuel ever lives in remembrance, and his memory is blessed.
But let us not stop here. Do I not see in Samuel a type of the ever blessed Jesus! Not only as a prophet, but as a priest, a ruler, a judge, a deliverer in Israel? Was Samuel promised of the Lord as his very name Samuel implied? and was not our Jesus the very promised seed, in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed? Was Samuel coveted by his mother, and as instantly lent or returned unto the Lord from the womb; and do we not feel our minds in this view, directed to the contemplation of him, who in all ages was the earnestly sought and longed for, the desire of all nations, and who was given as a covenant of the people, dedicated to God, and consecrated in the service of redemption, from his miraculous birth. Yes, blessed Jesus! the outlines of thy unequalled character thou wert pleased to have marked out in the several servants of thine, which ministered in thy church before thy coming. The early call of Samuel, and his being appointed to the prophetical office; his ministry, his unkind treatment, and rejection by the people; his benevolent labours, prayers, and intercessions for Israel; these, and many other circumstances which marked his life, became typical of thee, and thy divine mission, when for the government, instruction, and redemption of thy people, thou camest on earth as the almighty prophet of thy church, and as the faithful priest whom God the Father promised to raise up, that should build him a sure house, and become his anointed forever. Oh, blessed Jesus! the gift of our God and Father unasked; and here as in a thousand other instances, infinitely surpassing all the Samuel's thy servants, be thou to me both prophet, priest, and king! Do thou now by the rich anointing of thy blessed Spirit, graciously teach me of thyself and of thy Father: guide me and lead me into all truth, and when thou hast accomplished all thine holy will and pleasure concerning me in this my day and generation; Lord, take me home to thyself to behold thy glory, that where thou art there may I be also.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 25". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany