1 Samuel 24

“I’m No Rebel”

When Saul came back after dealing with the Philistines, he was told, “David is now in the wilderness of En Gedi.” Saul took three companies—the best he could find in all Israel—and set out in search of David and his men in the region of Wild Goat Rocks. He came to some sheep pens along the road. There was a cave there and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were huddled far back in the same cave. David’s men whispered to him, “Can you believe it? This is the day God was talking about when he said, ‘I’ll put your enemy in your hands. You can do whatever you want with him.’” Quiet as a cat, David crept up and cut off a piece of Saul’s royal robe.

Immediately, he felt guilty. He said to his men, “God forbid that I should have done this to my master, God’s anointed, that I should so much as raise a finger against him. He’s God’s anointed!” David held his men in check with these words and wouldn’t let them pounce on Saul. Saul got up, left the cave, and went on down the road.

Then David stood at the mouth of the cave and called to Saul, “My master! My king!” Saul looked back. David fell to his knees and bowed in reverence. He called out, “Why do you listen to those who say ‘David is out to get you’? This very day with your very own eyes you have seen that just now in the cave God put you in my hands. My men wanted me to kill you, but I wouldn’t do it. I told them that I won’t lift a finger against my master—he’s God’s anointed. Oh, my father, look at this, look at this piece that I cut from your robe. I could have cut you—killed you!—but I didn’t. Look at the evidence! I’m not against you. I’m no rebel. I haven’t sinned against you, and yet you’re hunting me down to kill me. Let’s decide which of us is in the right. God may avenge me, but it is in his hands, not mine. An old proverb says, ‘Evil deeds come from evil people.’ So be assured that my hand won’t touch you.

“What does the king of Israel think he’s doing? Who do you think you’re chasing? A dead dog? A flea? God is our judge. He’ll decide who is right. Oh, that he would look down right now, decide right now—and set me free of you!”

When David had finished saying all this, Saul said, “Can this be the voice of my son David?” and he wept in loud sobs. “You’re the one in the right, not me,” he continued. “You’ve heaped good on me; I’ve dumped evil on you. And now you’ve done it again—treated me generously. God put me in your hands and you didn’t kill me. Why? When a man meets his enemy, does he send him down the road with a blessing? May God give you a bonus of blessings for what you’ve done for me today! I know now beyond doubt that you will rule as king. The kingdom of Israel is already in your grasp! Now promise me under God that you will not kill off my family or wipe my name off the books.”

David promised Saul. Then Saul went home and David and his men went up to their wilderness refuge.

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1 Samuel 25

To Fight God’s Battles

Samuel died. The whole country came to his funeral. Everyone grieved over his death, and he was buried in his hometown of Ramah. Meanwhile, David moved again, this time to the wilderness of Maon.

There was a certain man in Maon who carried on his business in the region of Carmel. He was very prosperous—three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and it was sheep-shearing time in Carmel. The man’s name was Nabal (Fool), a Calebite, and his wife’s name was Abigail. The woman was intelligent and good-looking, the man brutish and mean.

David, out in the backcountry, heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep and sent ten of his young men off with these instructions: “Go to Carmel and approach Nabal. Greet him in my name, ‘Peace! Life and peace to you. Peace to your household, peace to everyone here! I heard that it’s sheep-shearing time. Here’s the point: When your shepherds were camped near us we didn’t take advantage of them. They didn’t lose a thing all the time they were with us in Carmel. Ask your young men—they’ll tell you. What I’m asking is that you be generous with my men—share the feast! Give whatever your heart tells you to your servants and to me, David your son.’”

David’s young men went and delivered his message word for word to Nabal. Nabal tore into them, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I’m going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I’ve never laid eyes on? Who knows where they’ve come from?”

David’s men got out of there and went back and told David what he had said. David said, “Strap on your swords!” They all strapped on their swords, David and his men, and set out, four hundred of them. Two hundred stayed behind to guard the camp.

Meanwhile, one of the young shepherds told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, what had happened: “David sent messengers from the backcountry to salute our master, but he tore into them with insults. Yet these men treated us very well. They took nothing from us and didn’t take advantage of us all the time we were in the fields. They formed a wall around us, protecting us day and night all the time we were out tending the sheep. Do something quickly because big trouble is ahead for our master and all of us. Nobody can talk to him. He’s impossible—a real brute!”

Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep dressed out and ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes, and she had it all loaded on some donkeys. Then she said to her young servants, “Go ahead and pave the way for me. I’m right behind you.” But she said nothing to her husband Nabal.

As she was riding her donkey, descending into a ravine, David and his men were descending from the other end, so they met there on the road. David had just said, “That sure was a waste, guarding everything this man had out in the wild so that nothing he had was lost—and now he rewards me with insults. A real slap in the face! May God do his worst to me if Nabal and every cur in his misbegotten brood aren’t dead meat by morning!”

As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and fell on her knees at his feet, her face to the ground in homage, saying, “My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him.

“I wasn’t there when the young men my master sent arrived. I didn’t see them. And now, my master, as God lives and as you live, God has kept you from this avenging murder—and may your enemies, all who seek my master’s harm, end up like Nabal! Now take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to my master, and give it to the young men who follow in the steps of my master.

“Forgive my presumption! But God is at work in my master, developing a rule solid and dependable. My master fights God’s battles! As long as you live no evil will stick to you.

If anyone stands in your way,
    if anyone tries to get you out of the way,
Know this: Your God-honored life is tightly bound
    in the bundle of God-protected life;
But the lives of your enemies will be hurled aside
    as a stone is thrown from a sling.

“When God completes all the goodness he has promised my master and sets you up as prince over Israel, my master will not have this dead weight in his heart, the guilt of an avenging murder. And when God has worked things for good for my master, remember me.”

And David said, “Blessed be God, the God of Israel. He sent you to meet me! And blessed be your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and taking charge of looking out for me. A close call! As God lives, the God of Israel who kept me from hurting you, if you had not come as quickly as you did, stopping me in my tracks, by morning there would have been nothing left of Nabal but dead meat.”

Then David accepted the gift she brought him and said, “Return home in peace. I’ve heard what you’ve said and I’ll do what you’ve asked.”

When Abigail got home she found Nabal presiding over a huge banquet. He was in high spirits—and very, very drunk. So she didn’t tell him anything of what she’d done until morning. But in the morning, after Nabal had sobered up, she told him the whole story. Right then and there he had a heart attack and fell into a coma. About ten days later God finished him off and he died.

When David heard that Nabal was dead he said, “Blessed be God who has stood up for me against Nabal’s insults, kept me from an evil act, and let Nabal’s evil boomerang back on him.”

Then David sent for Abigail to tell her that he wanted her for his wife. David’s servants went to Abigail at Carmel with the message, “David sent us to bring you to marry him.”

She got up, and then bowed down, face to the ground, saying, “I’m your servant, ready to do anything you want. I’ll even wash the feet of my master’s servants!”

Abigail didn’t linger. She got on her donkey and, with her five maids in attendance, went with the messengers to David and became his wife.

David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. Both women were his wives. Saul had married off David’s wife Michal to Palti (Paltiel) son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

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