Chapter 25 begins with a closing note about the prophet Samuel. Given his stature in Israel’s story, the mention is curiously brief. This opens for two stories that help fill out our sense of David’s character. The second will feel similar to what we saw yesterday in the cave of Engedi. The first is a unique encounter between David, a worthless man, and his wife.
We saw yesterday that as David and his men roam the wilderness of Judah, they are providing a measure of security for its residents. While Israel has ostensible control of the region, Philistine raiding parties are still threatening life and property. Today David reaches out to Nabal, whose estate David had been protecting, and asks to share in a feast day with him. Given the size of David’s militia, it’s hard to fathom how much support David was expecting from Nabal, but Nabal – described as harsh and badly behaved, heaps insults upon David.
David is hot, and commands his men to strap on their swords. The story turns in two places. First, one of Nabal’s servants has the nerve to go to Nabal’s wife, Abigail, and warn her not only that David has a point, but that all of them are going to be wiped out. Second, Abigail goes to David, and in the longest speech attributed to a woman in the whole Old Testament, sways David by reminding him that “The LORD will certainly make [him] a sure house…” and will appoint him “…prince over Israel.”
As soon as this episode ends, we find that Saul is still on David’s tail, despite his confession in chapter 24 that he knows that David will “surely be king.” We’re also reminded that Saul’s army suffers either from disinterest or incompetence, and David is able to sneak into the camp at night and toy with Saul again. Saul is again convicted, repentant, and releases David with a blessing.
Take note of the interesting narrative structure of chapters 24 through 26. In the bookends, we have stories of David overriding the advice of his men – even chastising them – and refusing to kill the man he calls, “The LORD’s anointed.” However, in between, it is David who is rash, and who is kept from evil by the advice of another. As in all the Bible, we are dealing with human beings whose triumphs and flaws are on full display. Listen for connections throughout these stories today.
Our verse for this week is Isaiah 40:28: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.
1 Samuel 25 and 26. Now let’s read it!
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.