1 Samuel 25


The death of Samuel, 1.

The history of Nabal, and his churlishness towards David and

his men, 2-12.

David, determining to punish him, is appeased by Abigail,

Nabal's wife, 13-35.

Abigail returns, and tells Nabal of the danger that he has

escaped: who on hearing it is thunderstruck, and dies in ten

days, 36-38

David, hearing of this, sends and takes Abigail to wife, 39-42.

He marries also Ahinoam of Jezreel, Saul having given Michal,

David's wife, to Phalti, the son of Laish, 43, 44.


Verse 1. And Samuel died] Samuel lived, as is supposed, about

ninety-eight years; was in the government of Israel before Saul

from sixteen to twenty years; and ceased to live, according to the

Jews, about four months before the death of Saul; but according to

Calmet and others, two years. But all this is very uncertain; how

long he died before Saul, cannot be ascertained. For some account

of his character, see the end of the chapter. See Clarke on 1Sa 25:44.

Buried him in his house] Probably this means, not his

dwelling-house, but the house or tomb he had made for his

sepulture; and thus the Syriac and Arabic seem to have understood


David-went down to the wilderness of Paran.] This was either on

the confines of Judea, or in Arabia Petraea, between the mountains

of Judah and Mount Sinai; it is evident from the history that it

was not far from Carmel, on the south confines of Judah.

Verse 3. The name of the man was Nabal] The word nabal

signifies to be foolish, base, or villanous; and hence the Latin

word nebulo, knave, is supposed to be derived.

The name of his wife Abigail] The joy or exultation of my

father. A woman of sense and beauty, married to the boor

mentioned above, probably because he was rich. Many women have

been thus sacrificed.

Of the house of Caleb] vehu Chalibbi, "he was a

Calebite." But as the word caleb signifies a dog, the Septuagint

have understood it as implying a man of a canine disposition, and

translate it thus, καιοανθρωποςκυνικος, he was a doggish man.

It is understood in the same way by the Syriac and Arabic.

Verse 6. Peace be both to thee] This is the ancient form of

sending greetings to a friend: Peace to THEE, peace to thy

HOUSEHOLD, and peace to all that THOU HAST. That is, May both

thyself, thy family, and all that pertain unto thee, be in

continual prosperity!

Perhaps David, by this salutation, wished Nabal to understand

that he had acted so towards him and his property that nothing had

been destroyed, and that all had been protected; see

1Sa 25:15-17.

Verse 7. Thy shepherds which there with us, we hurt them not] It

is most evident that David had a claim upon Nabal, for very

essential services performed to his herdmen at Carmel. He not only

did them no hurt, and took none of their flocks for the supply of

his necessities, but he protected them from the rapacity of

others; they were a WALL unto us, said Nabal's servants, both by

night and day. In those times, and to the present day, wandering

hordes of Arabs, under their several chiefs, think they have a

right to exact contributions of provisions, &c., wherever they

come; David had done nothing of this kind, but protected them

against those who would.

Verse 8. Whatsoever cometh to thine hand] As thou art making a

great feast for thy servants, and I and my men, as having

essentially served thee, would naturally come in for a share were

we present; send a portion by my ten young men, for me and my men,

that we also may rejoice with you. Certainly this was a very

reasonable and a very modest request. This mode of address is not

unfrequent among the Hindoos: "O father, fill the belly of thy

son; he is in distress."

Verse 10. Who is David?] Nabal's answer shows the surliness of

his disposition. It was unjust to refuse so reasonable a request;

and the manner of the refusal was highly insulting. It is true

what his own servants said of him, He is such a son of Belial that

one cannot speak to him, 1Sa 25:17.

Verse 18. Took two hundred loaves] The Eastern bread is

ordinarily both thin and small; and answers to our cakes.

Two bottles of wine] That is, two goat-skins full. The hide is

pulled off the animal without ripping up; the places where the

legs, &c., were are sewed up, and then the skin appears one large

bag. This is properly the Scripture and Eastern bottle. There is

one such before me.

Five sheep] Not one sheep to one hundred men.

Clusters of raisins] Raisins dried in the sun.

Cakes of figs] Figs cured, and then pressed together. We receive

the former in jars, and the latter in small barrels; and both

articles answer the description here given.

Now all this provision was a matter of little worth, and, had it

been granted in the first instance, it would have perfectly

satisfied David, and secured the good offices of him and his men.

Abigail showed both her wisdom and prudence in making this

provision. Out of three thousand sheep Nabal could not have missed

five; and as this claim was made only in the time of

sheep-shearing, it could not have been made more than once in the

year: and it certainly was a small price for such important


Verse 20. She came down-and David-came down] David was coming

down Mount Paran; Abigail was coming down from Carmel.-Calmet.

Verse 22. So and more also do God] Nothing can justify this part

of David's conduct. Whatever his provocation might have been, he

had suffered, properly speaking, no wrongs; and his resolution to

cut off a whole innocent family, because Nabal had acted

ungenerously towards him, was abominable and cruel, not to say

diabolic. He who attempts to vindicate this conduct of David is,

at least constructively, a foe to God and truth. David himself

condemns this most rash and unwarrantable conduct, and thanks God

for having prevented him from doing this evil, 1Sa 25:32, &c.

Any that pisseth against the wall.] This expression certainly

means either men or dogs, and should be thus translated, if I

leave-any male; and this will answer both to men and dogs, and

the offensive mode of expression be avoided. I will not enter

farther into the subject: Bochart and Calmet have done enough,

and more than enough; and in the plainest language too.

Verse 28. And evil hath not been found in thee] Thou hast not

committed any act of this kind hitherto.

Verse 29. Shall be bound in the bundle of life] Thy life shall

be precious in the sight of the Lord: it shall be found in the

bundle of life; it shall be supported by Him who is the Spring and

Fountain of life, and ever be found united to those who are most

favoured by the Almighty.

Them shall he sling out] Far from being bound and kept together

in union with the Fountain of life, he will cast them off from

himself as a stone is cast out from a sling. This betokens both

force and violence.

Verse 37. His heart died within him, and he became as a stone.]

He was thunderstruck, and was so terrified at the apprehension of

what he had escaped, that the fear overcame his mind, he became

insensible to all things around him, probably refused all kinds of

nourishment, and died in ten days.

Verse 39. To take her to him to wife.] It is likely that he had

heard before this that Saul, to cut off all his pretensions to the

throne, had married Michal to Phalti; and this justified David in

taking Abigail or any other woman; and, according to the then

custom, it was not unlawful for David to take several wives. By

his marriage with Abigail, it is probable he became possessed of

all Nabal's property in Carmel and Maon.

Verse 43. David also took Ahinoam] Many think that this was his

wife before he took Abigail; she is always mentioned first in the

list of his wives, and she was the mother of his eldest son Ammon.

Of Jezreel] There were two places of this name; one in the tribe

of Issachar, the other in the tribe of Judah.

Verse 44. Phalti] Called also Phaltiel, 2Sa 3:16.

Of Gallim.] Probably a city or town in the tribe of Benjamin;

see Isa 10:30. It is likely therefore that Saul chose this man

because he was of his own tribe.

IN this chapter we have the account of the death of Samuel, who

from his infancy had been devoted to God and the service of his

people. He was born at a time in which religion was at a very low

ebb in Israel, as there were but very few prophets, and no open

vision-scarcely any revelation from God. Those who might be called

prophets had no regular ministry of God's word; they were

extraordinary messengers sent for a particular purpose, and not

continued in the work any longer than the time necessary to

deliver their extraordinary message.

Samuel is supposed to have been the first who established

academies or schools for prophets, at least we do not hear of

them before his time; and it is granted that they continued till

the Babylonish captivity. This was a wise institution, and no

doubt contributed much to the maintenance of pure religion, and

the prevention of idolatry among that people.

Samuel reformed many abuses in the Jewish state, and raised it

to a pitch of political consequence to which it had been long a

stranger. He was very zealous for the honour of God, and supported

the rights of pure religion, of the king, and of the people,

against all encroachments. He was chief magistrate in Israel

before the appointment of a king, and afterwards he acted as prime

minister to Saul, though without being chosen or formally

appointed to that station. Indeed, he seems on the whole to have

been the civil and ecclesiastical governor, Saul being little more

than general of the Israelitish forces.

In his office of minister in the state, he gave the brightest

example of zeal, diligence, inflexible integrity, and

uncorruptedness. He reproved both the people and the king for

their transgressions, with a boldness which nothing but his sense

of the Divine authority could inspire, and yet he tempered it with

a sweetness which showed the interest he felt in their welfare,

and the deep and distressing concern he felt for their

back-slidings and infidelities.

He was incorrupt; he received no man's bribe; he had no pension

from the state; he enriched none of his relatives from the

public purse; left no private debts to be discharged by his

country. He was among the Hebrews what Aristides is said to have

been among the Greeks, so poor at his death, though a minister of

state, that he did not leave property enough to bury him. Justice

was by him duly and impartially administered, and oppression and

wrong had no existence.

If there ever was a heaven-born minister, it was Samuel; in

whose public and private conduct there was no blemish, and whose

parallel cannot be found in the ancient or modern history of any

country in the universe.

Let ministers of state who have sought for nothing but their own

glory, and have increased the public burdens by their improvident

expenditure; who have endeavoured, by their wordy representations,

to dazzle and elude the people, and impose false grandeur in the

place of true greatness and solid prosperity; who have oppressed

the many, and enriched the worthless few; fall down at the feet

of THIS heaven-born man, and learn, from this immaculate judge of

Israel, what a faithful servant to his king, and an incorruptible

minister of state, means, and in retiring from their high

station, or in going to appear before the judgment-seat of God,

see whether, in the presence of their king, and in the face of the

thousands of their people, they can boldly say, "Behold, here am

I! Witness against me before the Lord and before his anointed.

Whose ox have I taken? Whose ass have I seized? Whom have I

defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, by the imposition of heavy taxes

for the support of needless expenses, and the payment of venal

men? Or of whose hand have I taken any bribe to blind my eyes?

Scrutinize my conduct, examine the state of my family, compare

their present circumstances with what they were previously to my

administration, and see if you can find aught in my hands." See

1Sa 12:1, &c.

O, how seldom in the annals of the world, from the assembled

heads of the great body politic, can the departing prime minister

hear, "Thou hast not defrauded us, thou hast not oppressed us;

neither hast thou taken aught of any man's hand! " This voice call

be heard from Gilgal; but of what other minister can this be

spoken but of Samuel the seer, who was the gift of God's mercy to

the people of Israel; whose memory was too precious to be

intrusted to public monuments, but stands, and alas; almost unique

in the BOOK OF GOD? Of Daniel, and his administration, I shall

have occasion to speak elsewhere.

A prime minister, deeply devoted to God and faithful to his king

and to his country, is so rare a character in the world, that when

he does occur, he should be held up to public admiration. But I

have no parallel for Samuel. See the notes on 1Sa 12:1-25 and on

1Sa 24:6.

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