1Samuel 25:2-42

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 24, 2002


We’ve been looking at all kinds of “hero stories” through the book of 1Samuel.  Today we’re going to look at a different type of hero.  This one is a woman.

:2 there was a man  … in Carmel

CarmelKarmel – “garden-land; This is not the mount Carmel in northern Israel, but this is a town in the mountains on the west side of the Dead Sea and south of Hebron.

greatgadowl – great; in importance; great, distinguished (of men). Probably the idea is that the man was wealthy.

shearinggazaz – to shear, mow.

:3 Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail … the man was churlish … he was of the house of Caleb.

NabalNabal (naw-bawl) – “fool”.  It’s amazing that his parents would have named him this.  Yet this is his name.

Abigail‘Abiygayil – “my father is joy” or “the joy of her father”. Abigail has two outstanding qualities:  She is a very smart woman with good insight and understanding.  She is very beautiful, a good-looking gal.

goodtowb – good, pleasant, agreeable

understandingsekel – prudence, insight, understanding

Abigail was a pretty smart cookie.

beautifulyapheh – fair, beautiful, handsome

countenanceto’ar – shape, form, outline, figure, appearance

Not only was Abigail sharp, but she was good looking too.

churlishqasheh – hard, cruel, severe, obstinate

evilra‘– bad, evil

Caleb – this man was a descendant of the great hero, Caleb, of the tribe of Judah. The name “Caleb” means “dog”, and so the Septuagint uses the Greek word kunikov (dog, doggish), from which we get our word “cynic”. Being a descendant from Caleb might have given him a sense of privilege, but I’m sure Caleb wouldn’t have been proud to have this man as a descendant of his.


Don’t be a Fool

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about “fools”, the English word is found 78 times!
There are several words for “fool” in the Hebrew. The type of “fool” that Nabal is NOT is “stupid”, the guy with a lot of air between the ears. He probably was not blonde.

foolish[email protected] – simplicity, naivete; it comes from pathah, meaning “to be spacious”, probably as in lots of air in the head and no brains. It is often translated “simple” or “naïve”.

fool‘eviyl (from a word meaning “to be perverse”) – be foolish, foolish; of one who despises wisdom; of one who mocks when guilty; of one who is quarrelsome; of one who is licentious

fool[email protected] – fool, stupid fellow, dullard, simpleton, arrogant one. Strong’s says, fat, stupid or silly.

The Blonde and the Lawyer
A blonde and a lawyer are seated next to each other on a flight from LA to NY. The lawyer asks if she would like to play a fun game? The blonde, tired, just wants to take a nap, politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks. The lawyer persists and explains that the game is easy and a lot of fun. He explains, “I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5.00, and vise versa. Again, she declines and tries to get some sleep. The lawyer, now agitated, says, “Okay, if you don’t know the answer you pay me $5.00, and if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500.00.” This catches the blonde’s attention and, figuring there will be no end to this torment unless she plays, agrees to the game. The lawyer asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the earth to the moon?” The blonde doesn’t say a word, reaches into her purse, pulls out a $5.00 bill and hands it to the lawyer. Okay says the lawyer, your turn. She asks the lawyer, “What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four legs?” The lawyer, puzzled, takes out his laptop computer and searches all his references, no answer. He taps into the air phone with his modem and searches the net and the library of congress, no answer. Frustrated, he sends e-mails to all his friends and coworkers, to no avail. After an hour, he wakes the blonde, and hands her $500.00. The blonde says, “Thank you,” and turns back to get some more sleep. The lawyer, who is more than a little miffed, wakes the blonde and asks, “Well, what’s the answer? “Without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the lawyer $5.00, and goes back to sleep. And you thought all blondes were dumb.
fool nabal – foolish; senseless.  There are several ideas behind this word.
1.  Insensitive – this is a person who doesn’t care about other people.

Peter told men how they are to treat their wives:

(1 Pet 3:7 KJV)  Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Men are to study their wives.  Get to know everything about them.  Treat them as fragile, expensive, fine china.

2.  Unreasonable – a person you can’t talk to without being insulted or offended.

A “fool” has harsh, lying words.  Solomon wrote,

(Prov 17:7 KJV) Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

Could someone talk to you in a way that will make you change your mind about something?  Do you ever seriously consider the ideas and opinions of others?

3.  Ungodly

David writes about the “fool”,

(Psa 14:1 KJV)  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool (nabal) hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

There is nothing so insensitive or foolish as the person who refuses to acknowledge God.

Personally, as science continues to advance, I find it amazing that there are still people who would refuse to acknowledge the existence of our Creator God.  The huge Human Genome project has worked for years to decipher our genetic DNA coding, all to show how incredibly complex the human being is.  The complexity itself speaks of a designer.


Many years ago Sir Isaac Newton had an exact replica of our solar system made in miniature.  At its center was a large golden ball representing the sun, and revolving around it were small spheres attached at the ends of rods of varying lengths.  They represented Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and the other planets.  These were all geared together by cogs and belts to make them move around the “sun” in perfect harmony.

One day as Newton was studying the model, a friend who did not believe in the biblical account of creation stopped by for a visit. Marveling at the device and watching as the scientist made the heavenly bodies move on their orbits, the man exclaimed, “My, Newton, what an exquisite thing!  Who made it for you?”  Without looking up, Sir Isaac replied, “Nobody.”  “Nobody?” his friend asked.  “That’s right!  I said nobody!  All of these balls and cogs and belts and gears just happened to come together, and wonder of wonders, by chance they began revolving in their set orbits and with perfect timing.”

If it could be so obvious with something like a simple mechanical device, how about the complexity of the human eye, the human ear, or the functioning of the various human internal organs?

:4 And David heard…that Nabal did shear his sheep.

The ancient Romans used to just pluck the wool off the sheep. Here, the wool was cut off of the sheep, and it was done sometime around June or July. It was followed by a feast (Gen. 38:12), a time of celebrating the abundance that God had given.

:7 neither was there ought missing unto them

Having been a shepherd, while David had been in the area, he had acted to protect Nabal’s shepherds while they were in the fields. David had been in the Maon area earlier (1Sam. 23:24-25). 

:9 give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand

This is not an unreasonable thing for David to request in that he had been a help to Nabal. David doesn’t ask for anything specific, just whatever Nabal would care to give. David asks with humility and respect, calling himself “thy son”.

:9 And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.

David’s servants don’t add anything or elaborate on what David has asked them to say.

:10 there be many servants …that break away

Nabal answers with disrespect. He accuses David of being a rebellious servant, having rebelled against Saul.

:11  give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?

Nabal seems to be insinuating that David’s men were “bastards”, that no one knew who their father was.

Nabal doesn’t seem to have minded that David’s men had protected his shepherds and flocks, but he doesn’t want to lift a finger to help David in return.

Nabal is one of these guys who are so hard to get along with that you just can’t talk with him without him offending you.

:13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword.

It seems to me that David has simply hit his limit. He’s been abused and accused. And he’s not going to take it anymore, least of all from this “fool”.  This is NOT a good thing.  David is NOT responding correctly.

David splits up his men. Four hundred will go with him to confront Nabal, two hundred stay back at camp.

When Saul first began to reign over Israel, there were only two swords among all the Israelites: Saul’s and Jonathan’s. Now with David’s band of men, every man has a sword.

:14 … he railed on them.

railed‘iyt – to scream, shriek; swoop upon, rush upon (“he jumped all over the guys”)

It seems to me that some of Nabal’s servants realize what a fool he is, and that Abigail was the one with the wisdom in the family.

:15neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them

were conversanthalak – to go, walk, come. (NLT) Nothing was stolen from us the whole time they were with us.

:16 They were a wall unto us both by night and day

There could have been attacks from the Philistines, who had just plundered the city of Keilah. There could also have been attacks from Ishmaelites who lived out in the wilderness, or from wild animals.

:17  evil is determined against our master…he is such a son of Belial

David isn’t going to stand for being insulted like this.

Belial[email protected]‘al – worthless, good for nothing, unprofitable. I find it interesting that Abigail doesn’t seem to be offended at this young man calling her husband a “son of Belial”.

:18 …two bottles of wine…five sheep ready dressed …

two hundred loaves – flat cakes like pita bread.

two bottles of wine – Adam Clarke: “That is, two goat-skins full. The hide is pulled off the animal without ripping up; the places where the legs, etc., were are sewed up, and then the skin appears one large bag. This is properly the Scripture and Eastern bottle.”

five sheep read dressed – five sheep that had already been slaughtered and ready to cook.

five measures of parched corn – or, five “seahs” of roasted grain. a little less than one bushel (5/6 of a bushel), a little less than the size of the average office trashcan.

A “seah” was about 1/3 of an ephah.  An ephah is estimated to be somewhere between 3/8 and 2/3 of a bushel.  A bushel is equivalent to 2,100 cubic inches, a little larger than the size of the average office trashcan.

an hundred clusters of raisins – raisins. nice.

two hundred cakes of figs – figs were dried and pressed into lumps. She takes two hundred of these.

This is a nice gift to bring, but certainly not huge or anything that Nabal couldn’t afford. The guy had 3,000 sheep. Certainly he could afford to give David and his men five sheep.

:19 Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.

Abigail sends the servants ahead of her with the gift for David. This is similar to what Jacob did when he met his brother Esau. He sent a gift ahead of him so that when he met Esau, Esau would be in a good mood and not kill him. She wants David to be in a good mood before she meets him and tries to apologize for her husband.


Teaching your husband a lesson

The Bible does give women instruction on how to teach their husbands a lesson.
(1 Pet 3:1-6 NASB) In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, {2} as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. {3} And let not your adornment be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; {4} but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. {5} For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. {6} Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
Gals, the preferable way to teach your husband is through your submission.  It’s not by insulting him or taking control of the household.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t share your ideas or opinions.  Sarah is held up as an example, and she told Abraham what to do all the time.  But at some point you need to let your husband learn to make good decisions, and that means letting him fail every once in a while.  If you never let him make any decisions, how’s he ever going to grow to be the man God wants him to be?


There can be a time to intervene

Even though the “norm” is for a wife to submit, there will be times like with Abigail and Nabal, where a wife is doing the right thing by stepping up and protecting the family.
But it’s the exception, not the standard.  If a gal is always “stepping in” to take over, the man will never learn.
John Gill writes, “no doubt she was directed by the Spirit of God to do what she did; and this being an extraordinary case, is not to be drawn into an example.”
Caution: Be careful about doing things behind another person’s back, especially your spouse.
Usually, if you are doing things behind their back, you’re the one in trouble.

:20 she came down by the covert on the hill

(NLT) As she was riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, she saw David and his men coming toward her.

:21 Now David had said, Surely in vain …

Before David meets Abigail, he has made these statements to his men.

:22 if I leave …by the morning light any that …

This could be one of several ideas:

It could refer to “males”, that David will destroy all the men before morning.

It could refer to “dogs”, that David wouldn’t leave as much as even a dog alive.


Deal with anger

Don’t try and justify David’s anger. He’s gone too far with his anger.
Paul writes,
(Eph 4:26-27 KJV) Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: {27} Neither give place to the devil.
David has a right to be angry, after all he has been insulted. But wiping out every living thing is hardly the appropriate response.
What do I do with my anger?  Paul writes,
(Eph 4:31-32 KJV)  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: {32} And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Paul implies that we have the ability to simply “put away” our anger.  You don’t have to hold on to it.  Have you ever been angry with someone, then the phone rings and you answer all nice and sweetly, “Hello, who is this?”

We also need to learn to deal with the root of our anger and learn to forgive others.

:24  Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be


Bearing the sin of others.

Abigail wants to pay for the sin of Nabal.  She wants David to consider her to be the sinner and let her pay for the crime.
Paul did this with a runaway slave named Onesimus.  He wrote to Onesimus’ master, Philemon and said,
(Phile 1:18 KJV) If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
Ultimately, this is what Jesus did for us.  Just as Abigail is going to make peace with David by paying for Nabal’s sins, Jesus made peace with God for us by paying for our sins.  This is why He died on the cross.  We can come to have a relationship with God not by our own efforts, but when we come to trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross.
(Rom 5:10 KJV)  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

:25 for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name

folly[email protected] (just like his name, “Nabal”) – senselessness, folly; disgraceful folly; of immorality, profane actions


Protect the family not the foolishness

It doesn’t sound as if Abigail thinks too highly of her husband. But keep in mind, she is saving his life. If she didn’t love Nabal, why would she be trying to save him?  She doesn’t make excuses for his sin, she admits it.

:27 let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.

The “blessing” is the food she has brought.

She is saying that the gift probably isn’t good enough for David, but perhaps it might at least be something for David’s servants.

:28 the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house

sure‘aman – (Niphal) to be established, be faithful, be carried, make firm; to be carried by a nurse; made firm, sure, lasting; confirmed, established, sure

:28  my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD


Fight God’s battles, not your own ones.

Abigail knows that David has fought God’s battles, but here he’s fighting his own battle.  He’s getting into trouble.

:29 the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God

The Jews have taken this phrase to be referring to eternal life. The Jewish paraphrase, the Targum, translates this as, “the soul of my lord shall be treasured up in the treasury of eternal life, before the Lord thy God”. Ryrie: The figure is taken from the custom of binding valuables in a bundle to protect them from injury. God cares for His own as a man does his treasure.

:30 shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;

She knows that David will one day become king.

:31 that thou hast shed blood causeless

She is trying to keep David from ruining his reputation. If David wipes out Nabal, he will gain the same type of reputation that Saul has, someone who is quick to anger.

:34 except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me

David knows that if Abigail hadn’t shown up, he would have done something foolish himself.  Four times in this chapter this word “haste” is connected to Abigail (vs. 18, 23, 24, 42)


Don’t wait too long

David was just minutes or hours away from doing a stupid thing.
If Abigail hadn’t acted as quick as she had, it would have been too late.

:36 he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king

This is the feast that accompanies the sheep shearing. He knows how to party.

:36 Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken:


The fool is drunk

It’s not surprising that Nabal is drunk.
Being drunk is a cheap, destructive substitute for what God wants to do in your life.
People drink for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s to try and make the pain go away. Sometimes it’s just to try and find happiness.
Being drunk can temporarily help us forget our problems, but in the morning, they all come back.
God has the answer.
(Eph 5:18 KJV) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
The emptiness, the powerlessness, the hurt, the sorrow can all be resolved through the Holy Spirit. He gives you strength and help to either change the problems or endure them.
And you don’t feel lousy in the morning. Don’t settle for Satan’s cheap substitute.

:36 wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.

She knows that nothing serious can happen until Nabal is sober.

:37 his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.

It sounds like he either had a heart attack or a stroke. Some have suggested that when he finds out how much Abigail gave to David, that this caused the reaction. I think that perhaps the realization that David almost wiped him out caused the shock.

:39 the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head


Let God take care of it

David has already learned to let God handle revenge.
He has learned this while Saul has been trying to have David killed. David had a chance to kill Saul, but he found that he couldn’t do it, and he said,

(1 Sam 24:12 KJV) The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.

Paul wrote,

(Rom 12:17-21 NLT) Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. {18} Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. {19} Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, "I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it," says the Lord. {20} Instead, do what the Scriptures say: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you." {21} Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

David has known this principle. He’s obeyed this principle with Saul.

But he needs to learn the lesson again. This time with the “fool”.

:39 David …communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.

communeddabar – (Piel); to speak; to promise. David proposes to Abigail. Here’s another warning from the story of Abigail.


Don’t be dreaming of David

You might feel as if you’re married to “Nabal”, a “fool”, an insensitive person.
And then a “David” comes along, a nice, caring, loving person. And you start thinking of how Abigail ended up with David.
Don’t go there.
Abigail doesn’t do the things she does hoping that Nabal will keel over and she’ll end up with David. Her actions are done to save her family.
Don’t give up on your home. Don’t give up on your marriage.

:41 bowed herself on her face to the earth

Abigail responds with humility. She feels she could only be a servant of David.