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Poole's on 1 Samuel 25:32-44: Nabal's Death; Abigail's Marriage

Verse 32:[1] And David said to Abigail, (Gen. 24:27; Ex. 18:10; Ps. 41:13; 72:18; Luke 1:68) Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me…

[Blessed be the Lord] The commends the rest as the instruments of God, and as proceeding from Him (Martyr).

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel: Which by his gracious and singular providence so disposed matters that thou shouldst, come to me. He rightly begins at the fountain of this deliverance, which was God; and then proceeds to the instruments.

Verse 33:[2] And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast (1 Sam. 25:26) kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.

[And blessed be thou, וּבָר֥וּךְ טַעְמֵ֖ךְ[3]] Blessed (or worthy to be praised) be thy discretion (Montanus, thus Vatablus out of Jonathan). Thy counsel (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). Hebrew: thy taste (Piscator, Syriac). It is a Metaphor. For, as taste commends a food, so counsel a man (Piscator). Others: speech or address (Munster, Pagnine, Mariana). Hebrew: thy sense (Mariana). I am grateful for thy genial manners (Tigurinus in Malvenda).

Blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, that is, the Lord bless and recompense thee for this thy good advice. From coming to shed blood, which I had sworn to do. Hereby it plainly appears that oaths whereby men bind themselves to any sin are null and void; and as it was a sin to make them, so it is adding sin to sin to perform them.

Verse 34:[4] For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel liveth, which hath (1 Sam. 25:26) kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had (1 Sam. 25:22) not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

[Unless thou hadst come quickly…there had not remained, etc.,כִּ֣י אִם־נוֹתַ֧ר וגו״] That if there had remained to Nabal, etc. (Montanus, similarly Jonathan). If there shall remain, etc. (Septuagint). There would not have remained, etc. (Syriac, Pagnine, similarly Arabic, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius). You think, that there would have remained to Nabal one urinating, etc.? (Munster). Moreover, in the place of thou hadst come is put תָּבֹאתִי, which is a word composed of two tenses, the preterite and the future;[5] to indicate that she employed the highest diligence in coming (Mariana out of the Hebrews).

Hath kept me back from hurting thee; not that he intended to kill her, but the males only; as was noted in verse 22. But their destruction was a dreadful affliction and damage to her.

Verse 35:[6] So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, (1 Sam. 20:42; 2 Sam. 15:9; 2 Kings 5:19; Luke 7:50; 8:48) Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have (Gen. 19:21) accepted thy person.

[I have honored thy face] That is, I have pardoned thee of all things, since thou art most acceptable to me (Vatablus). Hebrew: I have lifted up thy face.[7] I have raised thee in thy fear for the salvation of thy house (Malvenda). I have accepted thy face. See the notes on Genesis 19:21 (Piscator). The things that thou hast said and brought are altogether acceptable to me (Vatablus).

Accepted thy person: that is, Showed my acceptance of thy person, by my grant of thy request: see Genesis 19:21.

Verse 36:[8] And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, (2 Sam. 13:23) 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.

[Like the feast of a king] Because of the abundance of foods, and the multitude of table companions (Menochius).

Like the feast of a king; as the manner was upon those solemn occasions. Sordid covetousness and vain prodigality were met together in him.

[She declared not a word to him] Concerning the intention of David, and her own intercession (Piscator). This was prudently done (Menochius). For, one must wait for the right moment (Mariana). Beware, lest remedies be turned into things injurious, which happens with excessive or untimely medicine: Pliny’s Natural History 17:27. Cleostratus to one speaking, οὐκ αἰσχύνῃ μεθύων, etc., Does it not shame thee to be drunken? to which he responds, Does it not shame thee to rebuke one drunken? Stobæus’[9] Anthology 2:34 (Gataker).

She told him nothing; he being then incapable of admonition, his reason and conscience being both asleep.

Verse 37:[10] 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.

[His heart died, etc.] Because of the gift sent, which so tormented that כִילַי/miserly man, that he was rendered insensible like a stone (Munster). He was stupefied after the likeness of a stone, that is, on account of fear, when he learned the danger into which he had fallen (Vatablus). He was stupefied in such a way that he lost all sense (which often happens in the case of fear, and sorrow [Sanchez, Tigurinus]), and that he fell into danger of sudden death (Piscator).

His heart died within him, etc.: He was oppressed with grief, and fainted away through the fear and horror of so great a mischief, though it was past. As one who, having in the night galloped over a narrow plank, laid upon a broken bridge, over a deep river, when in the morning he came to review it, was struck dead with the horror of the danger he was in.

Verse 38:[11] And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.

[And when ten days had passed] For so many day he was lying down and wating away; so that all were able to see the judgments of God; and lest he be able to appear to have died a natural death (Martyr).

[He smote Nabal, and he died] Because of fear; which many also alleged to have been the cause of death for Marius, seven time Consul[12] (Grotius). He smote him, with another, extraordinary stroke (Tirinus, Sanchez). He was planet-struck (Josephus in Tirinus). Perhaps he died with the hardness of his heart only increasing (Sanchez). The ב [in בַּעֲשֶׂרֶת] means after, just as in Numbers 28:26;[13] Ecclesiastes 11:1:[14] after a decade of days (Piscator). [But others read, כַּעֲשֶׂרֶת, about ten.]

The LORD smote Nabal, etc.: God either inflicted some other stroke or disease upon him, or increased his grief and fear to such a height as killed him.

Verse 39:[15] And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, (1 Sam. 25:32) Blessed be the LORD, that hath (Prov. 22:23) pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath (1 Sam. 25:26, 34) kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath (1 Kings 2:44; Ps. 7:16) returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.

[Blessed be the Lord, who hath judged, etc.] Question: How does David rejoice over the death of Nabal? Response: He does not rejoice on account of the death of Nabal, as it was his calamity; for that proceeds from hatred, and savors of a soul yet exasperated with offense (Menochius), and it would be foreign to his charity (Martyr); therefore, he rejoice in the divine providence (Menochius), and over the justice of God, according to Psalm 58:10, …he shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance, etc. For, when the judgments of God are revealed, it belongs to the pious man to applaud them (Martyr, similarly Lyra). He gives thanks to God, that He did not permit vengeance to be taken by mortal hand, but that He Himself willed to be the avenger of the injury (Sanchez). It is not lawful to long for the destruction of one’s enemy from the Lord, and so neither to give thanks over his death (for the rational of both is the same). Therefore, when David gives thanks that God smote Nabal, it appears that he previously had that in his prayers, concerning which he gives thanks, namely, vengeance. Therefore, it is dangerous to imitate the examples of the holiest men, etc. Yet it is lawful, when we have discharged the offices of charity, to invoke the justice of God, that He might render to each according to his deserts; and the upright are able in a certain way to rejoice over the punishments of the wicked, because the love of God appears towards His believing children, etc. It is not doubtful, that David wished Nabal to repent: but, when it appeared otherwise to God, and it was evident that he was rejected by the Lord, he acquiesces in the righteousness of the judgments of God, and gives thanks (Calvin).

Blessed be the LORD, etc.: How could David rejoice at the death of his enemy? Answer: Although it may be said that he rejoiced not in Nabal’s death as such, but only in the declaration of God’s justice in punishing so great a wickedness; which was an honour to God, and a document, and therefore a benefit to mankind, and so a public good, and cause of joy; yet the matter is not weighty, if we confess that this was another instance of human infirmity in David, and that it is not proposed for our imitation, but for our caution. Yet it may be further said, that this was not purely an act of private revenge, because David was a public person, and anointed king; and therefore Nabal’s reproach cast upon David above, verses 10, 11, was a contempt of God, and of his ordinance and appointment; which was vindicated by this remarkable judgment. Hath kept his servant from evil, that is, from the sin of bloodshed and self-revenge, verse 33.

[He spoke to Abigail, בַּאֲבִיגַיִל] With Abigail (Pagnine). More correctly, concerning Abigail, etc. (Vatablus). He sent messengers; he did not go himself, 1. So that he might have her free consent. For, often many things are denied to messengers, which, if the prince should ask in person, could not be refused. 2. Lest, should he have been rejected, he be covered with shame (Martyr). He sent, not immediately after the death of Nabal, but with some space interposed, so that he might consult his own honor, and that of the woman (Martyr, similarly Menochius). Moreover, it was lawful for David to take her unto wife, for Michal had been take from him, and was prostituted to another[16] (Calvin).

David sent, to wit, messengers; which he thought fitter than to go himself; partly because if he had met with a repulse, it had been less ignominious; and partly because he would leave her to her freedom and choice, and would not so much as seem to take her by violence. But this doubtless was not done immediately after Nabal’s death, but in some convenient space of time after it; though such circumstances be commonly omitted in the sacred history, which gives only the threads and most important passages of things.

Verse 40:[17] 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.

Verse 41:[18] And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let (Ruth 2:10, 13; Prov. 15:33) thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.

[She paid homage] Showing respect to David as if present in his servants, or acknowledging the blessing of David, and giving thanks to God for that (Menochius).

Let thine handmaid be a servant, etc.: She showed this reverence, and spake thus to them, as representing David’s person.

Verse 42:[19] And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her (Heb. at her feet;[20] 1 Sam. 25:27[21]); and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife.

[And she hasted, etc.] She did not consider the season, or the condition of David, or the power and fury of Saul, but only God’s promise made to David (Martyr, similarly Sanchez). I would not suppose that she proceeded to David with the messengers themselves, but somewhat later, etc. (Menochius).

She went after the messengers; not immediately, but some convenient time after they were gone. She considered not David’s present straits and penury, which she thought her plentiful estate might supply; nor his danger from Saul; but by a true and strong faith rested upon God’s promise made to David, not doubting but God would perform it.

[Damsels] Free-born female attendants. See the things said on Genesis 30:3 (Grotius).

Verse 43:[22] David also took Ahinoam (Josh. 15:56) of Jezreel; (1 Sam. 27:3; 30:5) and they were also both of them his wives.

[But also Ahinoam, etc.] He married Ahinoam before Abigail (Menochius out of Josephus, Martyr). For, 1. Wherever it is treated of the wives of David, Ahinoam is mentioned in the first place. 2. Amnon, the firstborn of David, was her son[23] (Menochius). Question: Why does David violate the law of God, Deuteronomy 17:17, let not the king multiply wives to himself. They respond, that it is understood of a great number of wives, not as if it were unlawful to have two or three: For, it follows, let him not multiply horses, etc. And they add that the law is understood of foreign wives. For it follows, who might turn his heart from God (Martyr). [Peter Martyr here disputes at length concerning Polygamy, whom see.]

Verse 44:[24] But Saul had given (2 Sam. 3:14) Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti (Phaltiel, 2 Sam. 3:15[25]) the son of Laish, which was of (Isa. 10:30) Gallim.

[He gave Michal to Phalti, etc.] Who is also Phaltiel, 2 Samuel 3:15 (Junius). Hence appears the unstable character of Saul; for, although he had previously acknowledge that he was going to be king, from whom he obtained by request, that he might have consideration for his family,[26] he now takes away his daughter, who was able to have been a bond for the preservation of trust and friendship (Sanchez). He took her away, 1. So that he might hurt David. 2. Because he was unwilling to appear to pursue his son-in-law. He thought that old affinity was able to be extinguished by that new marriage; but vainly, and foolishly (Martyr). It was not without the fault of Michal, who, although not divorced, married another, and lived in adultery, until she was recalled by David, 2 Samuel 3:14 (Menochius). Wherefore David took her back, with no divorce having happened, as it were (Grotius).

But, or for, as the Hebrew ו/vau is ofttimes used. For this seems to be added as a reason why David took other wives, because Saul had given his former wife to another man, that he might as far as he could extinguish all relation and kindred to him, whom he hated; and withal, cut off his hopes and pretence to the crown upon that account.

[Of Gallim] A city of the Benjamites (Menochius, similarly Junius, Piscator), not far from Gibeah of Saul, as it is gathered out of Isaiah 10:29, 30 (Malvenda out of Junius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר דָּוִ֖ד לַאֲבִיגַ֑ל בָּר֤וּךְ יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֧ר שְׁלָחֵ֛ךְ הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לִקְרָאתִֽי׃ [2] Hebrew: וּבָר֥וּךְ טַעְמֵ֖ךְ וּבְרוּכָ֣ה אָ֑תְּ אֲשֶׁ֙ר כְּלִתִ֜נִי הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ מִבּ֣וֹא בְדָמִ֔ים וְהֹשֵׁ֥עַ יָדִ֖י לִֽי׃ [3]טָעַם signifies to taste, or to perceive. [4] Hebrew: וְאוּלָ֗ם חַי־יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר מְנָעַ֔נִי מֵהָרַ֖ע אֹתָ֑ךְ כִּ֣י׀ לוּלֵ֣י מִהַ֗רְתְּ וַתָּבֹאתִי֙ לִקְרָאתִ֔י כִּ֣י אִם־נוֹתַ֧ר לְנָבָ֛ל עַד־א֥וֹר הַבֹּ֖קֶר מַשְׁתִּ֥ין בְּקִֽיר׃ [5] It appears to combine the perfect, וּבָאתְ, and the imperfect, וַתָּבֺאִי. [6] Hebrew: וַיִּקַּ֤ח דָּוִד֙ מִיָּדָ֔הּ אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־הֵבִ֖יאָה ל֑וֹ וְלָ֣הּ אָמַ֗ר עֲלִ֤י לְשָׁלוֹם֙ לְבֵיתֵ֔ךְ רְאִי֙ שָׁמַ֣עְתִּי בְקוֹלֵ֔ךְ וָאֶשָּׂ֖א פָּנָֽיִךְ׃ [7] Hebrew: וָאֶשָּׂ֖א פָּנָֽיִךְ׃. [8] Hebrew: וַתָּבֹ֣א אֲבִיגַ֣יִל׀ אֶל־נָבָ֡ל וְהִנֵּה־לוֹ֩ מִשְׁתֶּ֙ה בְּבֵית֜וֹ כְּמִשְׁתֵּ֣ה הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְלֵ֤ב נָבָל֙ ט֣וֹב עָלָ֔יו וְה֥וּא שִׁכֹּ֖ר עַד־מְאֹ֑ד וְלֹֽא־הִגִּ֣ידָה לּ֗וֹ דָּבָ֥ר קָטֹ֛ן וְגָד֖וֹל עַד־א֥וֹר הַבֹּֽקֶר׃ [9] Joannes Stobæus was a late-fifth century compiler of Greek antiquities. [10] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בַבֹּ֗קֶר בְּצֵ֤את הַיַּ֙יִן֙ מִנָּבָ֔ל וַתַּגֶּד־ל֣וֹ אִשְׁתּ֔וֹ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה וַיָּ֤מָת לִבּוֹ֙ בְּקִרְבּ֔וֹ וְה֖וּא הָיָ֥ה לְאָֽבֶן׃ [11] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֖י כַּעֲשֶׂ֣רֶת הַיָּמִ֑ים וַיִּגֹּ֧ף יְהוָ֛ה אֶת־נָבָ֖ל וַיָּמֹֽת׃ [12] Gaius Marius (c. 157-86 BC) was a Roman general, holding the office of consul an unprecedented seven times. [13] Numbers 28:26: “Also in the day of the firstfruits, when ye bring a new meat offering unto the Lord, after your weeks (בְּשָׁבֻעֹתֵיכֶם), ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work…” [14] Ecclesiastes 11:1: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days (בְרֹ֥ב הַיָּמִ֖ים).” [15] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע דָּוִד֮ כִּ֣י מֵ֣ת נָבָל֒ וַיֹּ֡אמֶר בָּר֣וּךְ יְהוָ֡ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר רָב֩ אֶת־רִ֙יב חֶרְפָּתִ֜י מִיַּ֣ד נָבָ֗ל וְאֶת־עַבְדּוֹ֙ חָשַׂ֣ךְ מֵֽרָעָ֔ה וְאֵת֙ רָעַ֣ת נָבָ֔ל הֵשִׁ֥יב יְהוָ֖ה בְּרֹאשׁ֑וֹ וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח דָּוִד֙ וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר בַּאֲבִיגַ֔יִל לְקַחְתָּ֥הּ ל֖וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃ [16] 1 Samuel 25:44. [17] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֜אוּ עַבְדֵ֥י דָוִ֛ד אֶל־אֲבִיגַ֖יִל הַכַּרְמֶ֑לָה וַיְדַבְּר֤וּ אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר דָּוִד֙ שְׁלָחָ֣נוּ אֵלַ֔יִךְ לְקַחְתֵּ֥ךְ ל֖וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃ [18] Hebrew: וַתָּ֕קָם וַתִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ אַפַּ֖יִם אָ֑רְצָה וַתֹּ֗אמֶר הִנֵּ֤ה אֲמָֽתְךָ֙ לְשִׁפְחָ֔ה לִרְחֹ֕ץ רַגְלֵ֖י עַבְדֵ֥י אֲדֹנִֽי׃ [19] Hebrew: וַתְּמַהֵ֞ר וַתָּ֣קָם אֲבִיגַ֗יִל וַתִּרְכַּב֙ עַֽל־הַחֲמ֔וֹר וְחָמֵשׁ֙ נַעֲרֹתֶ֔יהָ הַהֹלְכ֖וֹת לְרַגְלָ֑הּ וַתֵּ֗לֶךְ אַֽחֲרֵי֙ מַלְאֲכֵ֣י דָוִ֔ד וַתְּהִי־ל֖וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃ [20] Hebrew: לְרַגְלָהּ. [21] 1 Samuel 25:27: “And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lordהַמִּֽתְהַלְּכִ֖ים בְּרַגְלֵ֥י) אֲדֹנִֽי׃).” [22] Hebrew: וְאֶת־אֲחִינֹ֛עַם לָקַ֥ח דָּוִ֖ד מִֽיִּזְרְעֶ֑אל וַתִּהְיֶ֛יןָ גַּֽם־שְׁתֵּיהֶ֥ן ל֖וֹ לְנָשִֽׁים׃ [23] 2 Samuel 3:2; 1 Chronicles 3:1. [24] Hebrew: וְשָׁא֗וּל נָתַ֛ן אֶת־מִיכַ֥ל בִּתּ֖וֹ אֵ֣שֶׁת דָּוִ֑ד לְפַלְטִ֥י בֶן־לַ֖יִשׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִגַּלִּֽים׃ [25] 2 Samuel 3:15: “And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel (פַּלְטִיאֵל) the son of Laish.” [26] See 1 Samuel 24:20-22.


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Sep 12, 2023

William Gouge's Domestical Duties: 'Behold another evidence of Christ's admirable love to the church, and of the near union between Christ and her. The former was that she was his body. This, that she is his wife: well might the church say as Abigail did, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord: [1 Samuel 25:41] and as the prodigal child, make me as one of thine hired servants: [Luke 15:19] or as the Baptist, I am not worthy to stoop down to unloose thy shoe-latchets. [Mark 1:7] What a favor then is it to be made his spouse, his wife, his Queen. Great was the favor which Ahasuerus showed t…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Sep 12, 2023

Henry Scudder's Christian's Daily Walk: 'Directions how to bear all afflictions well.

But whether your crosses and afflictions be imaginary only, or real; whether from God immediately, or from man, whether light or heavy, follow these directions: 1. Be not transported with passion and anger, like proud Lamech, Genesis 4:23-24, and froward Jonas, Jonah 4:7-9. 2. Be not overwhelmed, or sullen with grief, like covetous Ahab, 1 Kings 21:4, and foolish Nabal, 1 Samuel 25:37. But, 3. Bear them patiently. 4. Bear them cheerfully and thankfully. 5. Bear them fruitfully.'


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Sep 12, 2023

Thomas Boston's Doctrines of the Christian Religion: 'They should watch over one another. This is living as being heirs together of the grace of life, 1 Peert 3:7. They should stir up one another to duties and good works; and happy are they who so prove monitors to one another, 2 Kings 4:9-10. They should warn one another of what appears sinful in their way, and so not suffer sin upon them, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. If men see a spot on their face, they will tell them of it; but spots in the conversation are most dangerous. But withal special care must be taken that there be no bitterness mixed with it, for that mars the operation; the season must b…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Sep 12, 2023

Robert Hawker's Poor Man's Portion: '"And above the firmament, that was over their heads, was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone, and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it." Ezekiel 1:26

It forms the most satisfying consideration to the breast of the faithful, that every event and every providence concerning the people of God is as much directed, arranged, and determined, as the purposes of redemption themselves. The covenant is "a covenant ordered in all things and sure." He who hath undertaken and completed salvation for them, hath no less secured the means that shall infallibly accomplish the end; and all things, how…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Sep 12, 2023

Matthew Henry: 'As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear, Proverbs 25:12. Abigail was a wise reprover of David's passion, and he gave an obedient ear to the reproof, according to his own principle (Psalm 141:5): Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness. Never was such an admonition either better given or better taken.

I. David gives God thanks for sending him this happy check to a sinful way (1 Samuel 25:32): Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent thee this day to meet me. Note, 1. God is to be acknowledged in all the kindnesses that our friends do us either for…

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