The Bible – Old Testament
Samuel died, and all Israel gathered to mourn him; they buried him at his home in Ramah.Then David went down to the desert of Maon.
There was a man of Maon who had property in Carmel; he was very wealthy, owning three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. At this time he was present for the shearing of his flock in Carmel.
The man was named Nabal, his wife, Abigail. The woman was intelligent and attractive, but Nabal himself, a Calebite, was harsh and ungenerous in his behavior.
When David heard in the desert that Nabal was shearing his flock,
he sent ten young men, instructing them: “Go up to Carmel. Pay Nabal a visit and greet him in my name.
Say to him, ‘Peace be with you, my brother, and with your family, and with all who belong to you.
I have just heard that shearers are with you. Now, when your shepherds were with us, we did them no injury, neither did they miss anything all the while they were in Carmel.
Ask your servants and they will tell you so. Look kindly on these young men, since we come at a festival time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can manage.'”
When David’s young men arrived, they delivered this message fully to Nabal in David’s name, and then waited.
But Nabal answered the servants of David: “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? Nowadays there are many servants who run away from their masters.
Must I take my bread, my wine, my meat that I have slaughtered for my own shearers, and give them to men who come from I know not where?”
So David’s young men retraced their steps and on their return reported to him all that had been said.
Thereupon David said to his men, “Let everyone gird on his sword.” And so everyone, David included, girded on his sword. About four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.
But Nabal’s wife Abigail was informed of this by one of the servants, who said: “David sent messengers from the desert to greet our master, but he flew at them screaming.
Yet these men were very good to us. We were done no injury, neither did we miss anything all the while we were living among them during our stay in the open country.
For us they were like a rampart night and day the whole time we were pasturing the sheep near them.
Now, see what you can do, for you must realize that otherwise evil is in store for our master and for his whole family. He is so mean that no one can talk to him.”
Abigail quickly got together two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of pressed raisins, and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on asses.
She then said to her servants, “Go on ahead; I will follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
As she came down through a mountain defile riding on an ass, David and his men were also coming down from the opposite direction. When she met them,
David had just been saying: “Indeed, it was in vain that I guarded all this man’s possessions in the desert, so that he missed nothing. He has repaid good with evil.
May God do thus and so to David, if by morning I leave a single male alive among all those who belong to him.”
As soon as Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the ass and, falling prostrate on the ground before David, did him homage.
As she fell at his feet she said: “My lord, let the blame be mine. Please let your handmaid speak to you, and listen to the words of your handmaid.
1 Let not my lord pay attention to that worthless man Nabal, for he is just like his name. Fool is his name, and he acts the fool. I, your handmaid, did not see the young men whom my lord sent.
2 Now, therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as you live, it is the LORD who has kept you from shedding blood and from avenging yourself personally. May your enemies and those who seek to harm my lord become as Nabal!
Accept this present, then, which your maidservant has brought for my lord, and let it be given to the young men who follow my lord.
Please forgive the transgression of your handmaid, for the LORD shall certainly establish a lasting dynasty for my lord, because your lordship is fighting the battles of the LORD, and there is no evil to be found in you your whole life long.
3 If anyone rises to pursue you and to seek your life, may the life of my lord be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God; but may he hurl out the lives of your enemies as from the hollow of a sling.
And when the LORD carries out for my lord the promise of success he has made concerning you, and appoints you as commander over Israel,
you shall not have this as a qualm or burden on your conscience, my lord, for having shed innocent blood or for having avenged yourself personally. When the LORD confers this benefit on your lordship, remember your handmaid.”
David said to Abigail: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today.
Blessed be your good judgment and blessed be you yourself, who this day have prevented me from shedding blood and from avenging myself personally.
Otherwise, as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from harming you, if you had not come so promptly to meet me, by dawn Nabal would not have had a single man or boy left alive.”
David then took from her what she had brought him and said to her: “Go up to your home in peace! See, I have granted your request as a personal favor.”
When Abigail came to Nabal, there was a drinking party in his house like that of a king, and Nabal was merry because he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all before daybreak the next morning.
But then, when Nabal had become sober, his wife told him what had happened. At this his courage died within him, and he became like a stone.
About ten days later the LORD struck him and he died.
On hearing that Nabal was dead, David said: “Blessed be the LORD, who has requited the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and who restrained his servant from doing evil, but has punished Nabal for his own evil deeds.” David then sent a proposal of marriage to Abigail.
When David’s servants came to Abigail in Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you that he may take you as his wife.”
Rising and bowing to the ground, she answered, “Your handmaid would become a slave to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.”
She got up immediately, mounted an ass, and followed David’s messengers, with her five maids following in attendance upon her. She became his wife,
and David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. Thus both of them were his wives; but Saul gave David’s wife Michal, Saul’s own daughter, to Palti, son of Laish, who was from Gallim.
1  Fool is his name: Nabal in Hebrew means “a fool.”
2  Abigail anticipates that some misfortune will shortly overtake Nabal, as in fact it does (⇒ 1 Sam 25:37-38).
3  The bundle of the living: the figure is perhaps taken from the practice of tying up valuables in a kerchief or bag for safekeeping. Abigail desires that David enjoy permanent peace and security, but that his enemies be subject to constant agitation and humiliation like a stone whirled about, cast out of the sling, and thereafter disregarded.