Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 25

Introduction

NABAL AND ABIGAIL, 1 Samuel 25:1-44.

The episode of this chapter is a narrative so clear and simple as to require little textual comment; but it furnishes us several most interesting pictures of domestic life in the East, and also shows that David and his men were neither idle nor useless during all the time of their life in the wilderness.

1.Samuel died — This fact seems to have been recorded here because it occurred about this period of David’s wanderings.

Lamented him — And well they might, not only in view of his historical greatness and moral worth, but also in view of their past ingratitude to him. They probably felt that many of the disasters of Saul’s reign had befallen them because they rejected Samuel and clamoured for a king like the nations.

Buried him in his house — In the buryingplace belonging to his house, perhaps in the court or garden immediately contiguous thereto, where, like Joseph of Arimathea, (Matthew 27:60,) he may have had his tomb prepared long before his decease.

Wilderness of Paran — This bounds the wilderness of Judah on the south. See on Genesis 21:21, and Numbers 10:12.

Verse 2

2.Carmel — Not the noted promontory of this name in Central Palestine, on the seacoast of the Mediterranean; but one of the cities of Judah about six miles, south of Hebron and one mile northwest of Maon, where Saul erected his monument. 1 Samuel 15:12. See also Joshua 15:55. Nabal’s work kept him most of the time at Carmel, though his residence was at Maon, and therefore it was at Carmel that David sent his young men to greet him. 1 Samuel 25:5.

Verse 3

3.Churlish — Harsh, stern, cross, and surly.

Of the house of Caleb — Who inherited Hebron. Joshua 14:13; Joshua 15:13. The Septuagint renders כלבי, Calebite, by κυνικος, doggish.

Verse 6

6.That liveth in prosperity — It is better to regard the word לחי as a salutation, For life! that is, Health! Prosperity! Then render: Thus shall ye say, Health! Peace be both to thee, etc.

Verse 8

8.We come in a good day — A day of festivity and rejoicing. The occasion of sheep-shearing was accompanied with a festal meal, and the owner of the flocks was expected to deal liberally with all who had helped care for his possessions. Compare 2 Samuel 13:24.

Give I pray thee — “On such a festive occasion near a town or village, even in our own time, an Arab sheik of the neighbouring desert would hardly fail to put in a word, either in person or by message; and his message, both in form and substance, would be only the transcript of that of David.” — Robinson.

Verse 9

9.Ceased — Rather, as the margin has it, they rested. They sat down to wait the fulfilment of their request.

Verse 16

16.A wall unto us both by night and day — This shows that David used his men not for purposes of plunder, but for the protection of the helpless. The son of Jesse therefore had a just claim on Nabal for the services he had rendered him.

Verse 17

17.Son of Belial — See note on 1 Samuel 1:16.

Verse 20

20.Covert of the hill — A concealed place in the fastnesses of the mountains, away from human habitation.

Verse 22

22.Any that pisseth against the wall — Here this proverbial expression first occurs, and we give the reader the several opinions on it. Bochart, Rodiger and Keil understand by the phrase a male person. But it is a sufficient objection to this opinion that in the East, men perform this office of nature in a sitting posture. And were this objection removed, there is no apparent reason for characterizing men generally by this term. For similar reasons we regard as unsatisfactory the opinion that a little boy is meant. More plausibility attaches to the explanation of Ephraem Syrus, Vatablus, and others, that the expression characterizes a dog. But it seems clear from 1 Kings 14:10; 1 Kings 16:11, and some other passages, that persons are intended; and Jahn, Furst and others have well inferred that, from being primarily applied to dogs, which are thus fittingly characterized, the expression was at length used of slaves and persons of the lowest class. Thus the phrase would be used contemptuously of an enemy whom one designed utterly to exterminate. He would cut off an entire household, even to the lowest, most insignificant, and contemptible member. Compare marginal references.

Verse 25

25.Nabal’ his name, and folly’ with him — In the Hebrew there is a play upon the words, the word for folly being nebalah; Nabal is his name and nebalah is with him.

Verse 26

26.The Lord hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood — By providentially bringing Abigail in his way to appease him with presents and words of prudent counsel. David’s dark purpose against Nabal was rash and unjustifiable; for, though certainly treated with contempt, he had suffered no wrongs sufficient to demand such bloody vengeance as he had purposed in his heart.

Be as Nabal — Be such a fool as he is, for that is sufficient punishment in itself.

Verse 28

28.Forgive the trespass of thine handmaid — The trespass of coming unbidden into thy way and opposing thy purposes.

For — This casual particle refers to what is implied in the preceding words. Thou canst afford to forgive, for the Lord, etc.

Verse 29

29.A man is risen to pursue thee — Saul. All David’s persecutions and his royal destiny, seem to have been fully known to Abigail. She may have learned them from some prophet during one of her journeys to the tabernacle. Shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord — “The metaphor is taken from the custom of binding up valuable things in a bundle, to prevent their being injured. The words do not refer primarily to eternal life with God in heaven, but only to the safe preservation of the righteous on this earth in the grace and fellowship of the Lord. But whosoever is so hidden in the gracious fellowship of the Lord in this life that no enemy can harm him or injure his life, the Lord will not allow to perish, even though temporal death should come, but will then receive him into eternal life.” — Keil.

Sling out — Hurled away and scattered where they may not be found. Vivid contrast to being gathered and bound together in “the bundle of life.”

Verse 31

31.This’ no grief unto thee — An act of cruel bloodshed might have been an occasion of anguish to him at a later day, but an act of forgiveness and mercy never.

Verse 36

36.A great feast in his house — The continuation of the festival of his sheep-shearing, of which David had sought to share a part.

Verse 37

37.His heart died within him — Through vexation, as some suppose, that his wife had so far complied with the desires of David; but more likely through excessive terror at learning the danger from which he had so narrowly escaped.

He became as a stone — Utterly paralyzed with horror and fear.

Verse 38

38.The Lord smote Nabal — With another stroke, similar in nature to the first, but much more terrible, and which resulted in putting an end to his life. Interpreters have generally, and very naturally, supposed it to have been a stroke of apoplexy.

Verse 39

39.My reproach — The disgrace and contempt David received from Nabal.

David sent’ to take her to’ wife — How soon after Nabal’s death is not said, but probably not long. She doubtless mourned, according to custom, a set time for her husband, (comp. 2 Samuel 11:26,) but the haste with which, seemingly, David consummated his marriage with her as ill agrees with our notions of propriety as does his polygamy with our Christian law of marriage.

Verse 41

41.To wash the feet — To perform the most humble services.

Verse 42

42.She’ became his wife — And shared his varying fortunes during his life in the wilderness, and afterwards at Ziklag and Hebron. 1 Samuel 27:3; 1 Samuel 30:5; 2 Samuel 2:2.

Verse 43

43.Ahinoam — Who also shared his fortunes, and was the mother of his eldest son, Amnon. 2 Samuel 3:2.

Of Jezreel — Not the Jezreel of Central Palestine, which fell to the tribe of Issachar, (Joshua 19:18,) but a city somewhere in the vicinity of Carmel and Maon. Joshua 15:56. Its site has not been identified with any modern town.

Both of them his wives — see note on 1 Samuel 1:2.

Verse 44

44.Saul had given Michal’ David’s wife, to Phalti — Hoping thereby to cut off one of David’s pretensions to the throne, and to attach a new family to his cause. Compare the restoration of Michal to David, 2 Samuel 3:14-16, where the son of Laish is called Phaltiel.

Gallim — This place is mentioned Isaiah 10:30, in connection with several towns in the tribe of Benjamin, and was probably somewhere between Gibeah and Michmash; but its site is now unknown.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 25". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-samuel-25.html. 1874-1909.