Reading 83/341, 1 Samuel 25-27

Three stories today. The middle story is a sort of repeat of an earlier story we had. The Jews often did this in the Old Testament. You may remember similar episodes with Abraham who twice, with 2 different kings, lied about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife. If both stories happened, then we are to understand that the reconciliation between Saul and David that takes place at the end of each story is very temporary. This sort of fits, because in both stories David shouts across to Saul. He never goes near him. It is as if Saul has to admit what he admits each time, but David still knows better than to trust him.

...1 Samuel...

Samuel died, and all Israel gathered themselves together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. David arose, and went down to the desert of Paran. There was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel, and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats, and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. The name of the man was Nabal [fool], and the name of his wife was Abigail [father’s joy], a woman of good understanding and beautiful face, but the man was churlish and badly behaved. He was of the house of Caleb. David heard in the desert that Nabal was shearing his sheep. David sent ten young men, and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name, and thus shall you say to him who lives there, ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, nor was there anything missing from them, all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let the young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on the feast day. Please give whatever you have on hand to your servants and to your son David.’” When David's young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and then they waited. Nabal answered David's servants, and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants who break away from their masters these days. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I know not where?” So David's young men turned on their way, and went back, and came and told him all these words. David said to his men, “Gird on every man his sword.” They girded on every man his sword, and David also girded on his sword, and there went up after David about four hundred men, and two hundred stayed with the baggage.

One of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the desert to greet our master, and he railed at them. But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything, as long as we went with them, when we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore know and consider what you will do, for evil is determined against our master, and against all his house, for he is such a worthless fellow that one cannot speak to him.” Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready-dressed, and five measures of parched grain, and one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. She said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband, Nabal. It happened that, as she rode on her donkey, and came down by the covert of the mountain, behold, David and his men came down toward her, and she met them. Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow has in the desert, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained to him, and he has returned me evil for good. God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if I leave of all that belongs to him by the morning light so much as one male.”

When Abigail saw David, she hurried, and alighted from her donkey, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground. She fell at his feet, and said, “On me, my lord, on me be the iniquity, and please let your handmaid speak in your ears. Hear the words of your handmaid. Please do not let my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him, but I your handmaid did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, seeing the Lord has withheld you from blood guiltiness, and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now therefore let your enemies, and those who seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal. Now this present which your servant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your handmaid, for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you all your days. Though men be risen up to pursue you, and to seek your soul, yet the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord your God, and the souls of your enemies, he shall sling out, as from the hollow of a sling. It shall come to pass, when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, that this shall be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. When the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your handmaid.” David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, that have kept me this day from blood guiltiness, and from avenging myself with my own hand. For in very deed, as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has withheld me from hurting you, if you had not hurried and come to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal by the morning light so much as one male.” So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house; behold, I have listened to your voice, and have accepted your person.”

Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, 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 drunk, so she told him nothing, either less or more, until the morning light. It happened in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, that his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. It happened about ten days after, that the Lord struck Nabal, so that he died. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from evil, and the evil-doing of Nabal the Lord returned on his own head.” David sent and spoke concerning Abigail, to take her to him as wife. When the servants of David had come to Abigail to Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, “David has sent us to you, to take you to him as wife.” She arose, and bowed herself with her face to the earth, and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” Abigail hurried, and arose, and rode on a donkey, with five ladies of hers who followed her, and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both of them became his wives. Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.

The Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Does not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert?” Then Saul arose, and went down to the desert of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the desert of Ziph. Saul encamped in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert, along the way. But David dwelt in the desert, and he saw that Saul came after him in the desert. David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul had definitely come. David arose and came to the place where Saul had encamped, and David saw the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his army, and Saul lay within the place of the wagons, and the people were encamped round about him. Then David spoke and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” So David and Abishai came to the people by night, and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the place of the wagons, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the people lay round about him. Then said Abishai to David, “God has delivered up your enemy into your hand this day, now therefore please let me strike him with the spear to the earth at one stroke, and I will not strike him a second time.” David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put forth his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?” David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put forth my hand against the Lord's anointed, but now please take the spear that is at his head, and the jar of water, and let us go.” So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul's head, and they got them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, nor did any awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen on them.

Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of the mountain afar off, a great space being between them, and David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Will you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered, “Who are you who cries to the king?” David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? And who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord, the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord. This thing is not good that you have done. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord's anointed. Now see where the king's spear is, and the jar of water that was at his head.” Saul knew David's voice, and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” He said, “Why does my lord pursue after his servant? For what have I done? Or what evil is in my hand? Now therefore, please let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it be the Lord that has stirred you up against me, let him accept an offering, but if it be the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord, for they have driven me out this day that I should not cling to the Lord's inheritance, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ Now therefore, do not let my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the Lord, for the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains.” Then said Saul, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no longer do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.” David answered, “Behold the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and get it. The Lord will render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness, because the Lord delivered you into my hand today, and I would not put forth my hand against the Lord's anointed. Behold, as your life was highly valued this day in my eyes, so let my life be highly valued in the eyes of the Lord, and let him deliver me out of all oppression.” Then Saul said to David, “Blessed are you, my son David. You shall do many things and shall surely prevail at them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.

David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul, there is nothing better for me than that I should escape into the land of the Philistines, and Saul will despair of me, to seek me any more in all the territories of Israel, so shall I escape out of his hand.” David arose, and passed over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife. It was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, and he sought for him no longer. David said to Achish, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, let them give me a place in one of the cities in the country, that I may dwell there, for why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day, which is why Ziklag belongs to the kings of Judah to this day. The number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months. David and his men went up, and made a raid on the Geshurites, and the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for those nations were the inhabitants of the land of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. David struck the land, and saved neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the donkeys, and the camels, and the clothing, and he returned, and came to Achish. Achish said, “Against whom have you made a raid today?” David said, “Against the Negeb of Judah, and against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites, and against the Negeb of the Kenites.” David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring them to Gath, saying, “Lest they should tell on us, saying, ‘So did David, and so has been his manner all the while he has lived in the country of the Philistines.’” Achish believed David, saying, “He has made his people Israel utterly to abhor him, therefore he shall be my servant forever.”

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