King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Samuel 25

Death of Samuel. (1) David’s request; Nabal’s churlish refusal. (2-11) David’s intention to destroy Nabal. (12-17) Abigail takes a present to David. (18-31) He is pacified, Nabal dies. (32-39) David takes Abigail to wife. (39-44)

1 Samuel 25 Audio:

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Death of Samuel

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.

David’s request; Nabal’s churlish refusal

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.

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.

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.

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?

David’s intention to destroy Nabal

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.

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 any thing, 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.

Abigail takes a present to David

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 on 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.

He is pacified, Nabal dies

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.

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.

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.

David takes Abigail to wife

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.

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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Samuel died. The Rabbins say four months before Saul. Seder, olam 13. T. — Others believe about two years; and suppose that he was 98 years old, twenty of which he had been judge: (C.) Salien says 38, and that he lived seventy-seven years. M. — On all these points the learned are divided. C. vii. 15. They are more unanimous in praising (H.) the conduct of this most holy statesman. Grotius compares him with Aristides. C. — But he Holy Ghost gives Samuel a far more glorious character. Eccli. xlvi. 16. &c. H. — Both he and his mother are figures of the two testaments. Anna becomes fruitful — Samuel is substituted in the place of Heli. The sterility of Anna represents the incapacity of the Synagogue, to produce living and virtuous children. She bears Samuel, the figure of Jesus Christ, who reunites in his person the royal and the sacerdotal dignity. But under another point of view, Samuel, how perfect soever, must give place to the more perfect David, the glorious type of Jesus Christ, and thus the Synagogue, notwithstanding all her prerogatives, must yield to the Church. See S. Aug. de C. xvii. 1. 4. Many of the ancients have looked upon Samuel as the high priest: but the generality have acknowledged that he was only a Levite, (C.) or an extraordinary priest, like Moses. H. — All Israel, or many from every tribe, assembled to attend his funeral; (T.) and all mourned for him, as they had done for Moses and Aaron. Salien. — House, or among his kindred, (T.) in a place which he had chosen for his tomb. This is called the house of the wicked for ever; but the just raise their hopes much higher, and await a more splendid palace above, and a glorious resurrection. H. — The would not bury Samuel in his dwelling-house, as it could not then be entered without incurring an uncleanness. C. — His bones were translated with great respect to Constantinople, and a noble mausoleum was built for them by the emperor Justinian. Procopius v. S. Jer. c. Vigil. T.

Ver. 2. Maon. Vat. Sept. has the same word in the preceding verse, instead of Pharan. H. — Possessions. Heb. “work.” Cattle then formed the chief source of riches. Carmel and Maon were not far from Pharan, in Arabia. C.

Ver. 3. Caleb, the famous companion of Josue. His name means, “a dog;” whence the Sept. “he was a Cynic.” Josephus, “he followed the manners of the Cynics,” who were remarkable for their impudence, like dogs. Caleb was of the same tribe as David, and ought to have been more favourable to him on that account, v. 6. H.

Ver. 7. Molested them. This deserved some acknowledgment, as they might have done it with impunity. But David had also been of service to Nabal’s men, as one of them told Abigail, v. 16—21.

Ver. 8. Good day, set aside for rejoicing, w hen the sheep were shorn. 2 K. xiii. 24.

Ver. 10. Masters. As if he had said, you and David are but fugitive slaves. C. — He might also insinuate, that David encouraged such practices. C. xxii. 2. H.

Ver. 11. Water, under which name all sorts of drinks are included. Nabal had plenty of wine, and was much intoxicated, v. 36. Sept. translate, “wine.” Syr. and Arab. “drink.” — Cattle. Heb. “victims,” which is a term used both for sacred and profane feasts.

Ver. 14. Rejected them. Heb. “flew against them.” Chal. “saw them with disgust.”

Ver. 17. Determined, and as if it had already taken place. C. xx. 7.

Ver. 18. Raisins. Hebrew tsimmukim, “dried raisins,” or clusters of an extraordinary size. Roger speaks of some gathered in the vale of Sorec, which weighed 25½ pounds. A.D. 1634. Sept. “a gomer of dry raisins.” Syr. and Arab. “a hundred cheeses.” — Cakes. Chal. “pounds.” Heb. is imperfect, two hundred…of figs. We must supply (C.) cakes, with the Prot. &c. or pounds, with the Chaldee, (H.) as each of the cakes perhaps weighed so much. M.

Ver. 19. Nabal. Knowing his churlish temper, and that he was drunk at this time, (v. 36. H.) she might be well excused from the ordinary laws which forbid a wife to dispose of her husband’s property, without his consent. The emergency left no time for consultation. She gave a part to save the whole. C.

Ver. 20. Foot. Heb. “in the obscurity,” or road covered with trees. Sept. “in the shade.” Chal. “on the side.” David was descending from the mountains of Pharan, at the same time.

Ver. 22. The enemies, is left out in some editions of the Sept. But David wishes all evils to himself, though, to avoid the ominous expression, he specifies his enemies, if he do not punish Nabal. — Leave. David certainly sinned in his designs against Nabal and his family, as he himself was afterwards sensible, when he blessed God for hindering him from executing the revenge he had proposed. Ch. — All. Chal. “any one who is come to the use of reason.” Syr. and Arab. “the least thing hanging upon the wall.” I will destroy the guilty, and plunder all the valuable effects. C. — But the Heb. Sept. &c. agree with the Vulg. and the meaning is, either that every man, or that every dog, and even the meanest things, should be enveloped in the general ruin. H. — The manners of men vary, but those of dogs are always the same. Hence, it is more generally supposed that this expression (C.) denotes that even dogs shall be exterminated, and consequently other things for which Nabal would have a greater affection. H. — Aurelian being irritated against the inhabitants of Thiane, swore, “I will not leave a dog in this town;” which all people explained as if he meant to leave nothing alive in it. But being afterwards moved with compassion at the distress of the people, he executed his threat literally, and killed all the dogs. Vopisc. See 3 K. xiv. 10. and xv. 29. and xxi. 21. and 4 K. v. 6. Bochart, Anim. ii. 55. Delrio, adag. 184. C. — The unhappy Geddes translates, “a dog,” to avoid the indelicate allusion. It would have been well if he had allowed himself no greater liberties! H. — The Heb. mashtin, may denote a shepherd’s or a mastiff dog. M.

Ver. 24. Iniquity, or the punishment of this fault, v. 28. C. — She wishes to divest the mind of David from the consideration of her husband’s incivility; and, after condemning it herself, insinuates that it would be unbecoming for a great king to mind so insignificant an enemy, v. 28. H. — Thus the emperor Adrian, and Louis XII. would not resent the affronts which they had received before they were raised to that high dignity. T.

Ver. 25. The king, is not in Heb. Sept. &c. David’s title was not yet publicly acknowledged. C. —But Abigail plainly alludes to it, v. 28. H. — Name. Nabal, in Hebrew, signifies a fool. C. — Thus she extenuates his fault, by attributing it to a deficiency in understanding.

Ver. 26. To thee. She felicitates David on not having put his design in execution. C. — Theodoret thinks he might lawfully have done it; but others believe that the fault bore no proportion with the intended punishment. T. — As Nabal, devoid of sense. Abigail displays the eloquence of nature. C.

Ver. 27. Blessing, or present. M. See 2 Cor. ix. 5. C.

Ver. 28. House. Thy family shall long continue in the enjoyment of the royal power. Chal. “an established kingdom.” H. — Lord, as his general. — Evil. Do no manner of injustice. Heb. “and evil hast not been found,” &c. Hitherto thy life has been irreproachable. C.

Ver. 29. Bundle. Such things are more secure than those which are loose. W. — Of the living, or predestinate, over whom Providence watches in a particular manner. She seems to allude to the method of carrying pieces of silver in bundles. Prov. vii. 20. Chal. “the soul of my lord shall be in the treasury of the lives of the age, before the Lord God.” C. — It shall be preserved for length of days, like something most precious, (H.) while the wicked shall be in continual danger and anxiety, like a stone in a sling. Zac. ix. 15. By substituting c for b in Heb. the sense may be still more striking: “the soul of my lord shall be preserved like a living (precious, serviceable,) stone. But the soul of thy enemies shall be whirled in a sling.” The Hebrews had a great esteem for slingers, so that this comparison would be sufficiently noble. A living stone is often mentioned both is sacred and in profane authors. 1 Pet. ii. 4. Virgil Æneid i. 171. Vivoque sedilia saxo.

Ver. 30. Israel, a thing which all expected, and even Saul himself. C. xxiv. 21.

Ver. 31. Scruple. Heb. “scandal,” or sin, for David might defend himself, but ought not to attack or take revenge, like a king. Grot. — Innocent. Many of Nabal’s family were such, and even his fault did not deserve death. Heb. “shed blood without cause.” C. — Handmaid, who has suggested this good advice. M. — David was so much pleased with her prudence and beauty, that he afterwards married her.

Ver. 32. Speech. Heb. “advice, or wisdom.” Sept. “conduct.” C.

Ver. 35. Face. I have been pleased with thy coming, and granted thy request. H. — David had sworn with too much haste. C. — “It is sometimes wrong to perform what has been promised, and to keep an oath.” S. Amb. Off. i. C. ult.

Ver. 36. Morning. Admirable pattern of discretion, and how reprimands may be made with advantage. C. — A medicine given at an improper time often does harm. Plin. xvii. 27. When a person said to Cleostratus, “Are you not ashamed to get drunk?” he replied, “Are you not ashamed to rebuke a drunken man?”

Ver. 37. Stone. Stupified at the thought of the imminent danger to which he had foolishly exposed himself. So the poets represent Niobe as metamorphosed into a stone, at the hearing of her children’s death. T. — Josephus intimates that Nabal was killed by the malignant influence of the stars, sideratus. Ant. vi. 14. Thus, says he, David “learnt that no wicked person can escape the vengeance of God, and that Providence does not neglect human affairs, and abandon them to chance.”

Ver. 39. Blessed be, &c. David praises God on this occasion, not out of joy for the death of Nabal, (which would have argued a rancour of heart) but because he saw that God had so visibly taken his cause in hand, in punishing the injury done to him; whilst, by a merciful providence, he kept him from revenging himself. Ch. Ps. lvii. 10.

Ver. 41. Thy servant. She speaks to David’s representatives, as if he had been present. H. — The marriage was proposed probably a month or two after the death of Nabal; and Abigail followed the messengers, in a short time. M.

Ver. 43. Took, or “had taken before,” according to Josephus. Hence she is placed first, (C.) as the mother of David’s first-born, Amnon. 2 K. iii. 2. M. — Michol, whom he married first, had no children. H. — Jezrahel, a city of Juda. M. Jos. xv. 56. — There was another more famous place of this name is Issachar.

Ver. 44. Phalti, or Phaltiel, 2 K. iii. 15. Saul violated all laws by so doing, and David took her back when he came to the throne, which he could not have done if he had given her a bill of divorce. Deut. xxiv. 4. C. — Michol was not blameless in living thus with another man. M. — The Rabbins say that a sword hindered Phalti from approaching her. Horn in Sulp. — Gallim, a city of Benjamin. Isai. x. 30. C.