Verses 12–17

Here is, I. The report made to David of the abuse Nabal had given to his messengers (1 Sam. 25:12): They turned their way. They showed their displeasure, as became them to do, by breaking off abruptly from such a churl, but prudently governed themselves so well as not to render railing for railing, not to call him as he deserved, much less to take by force what ought of right to have been given them, but came and told David that he might do as he thought fit. Christ’s servants, when they are thus abused, must leave it to him to plead his own cause and wait till he appear in it. The servant showed his lord what affronts he had received, but did not return them, Luke 14:21.

II. David’s hasty resolution hereupon. He girded on his sword, and ordered his men to do so too, to the number of 400, 1 Sam. 25:13. And what he said we are told, 1 Sam. 25:21, 22. 1. He repented of the kindness he had done to Nabal, and looked upon it as thrown away upon him. He said, “surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness. I thought to oblige him and make him my friend, but I see it is to no purpose. He has no sense of gratitude, nor is he capable of receiving the impressions of a good turn, else he could not have used me thus. He hath requited me evil for good.” But, when we are thus requited, we should not repent of the good we have done, nor be backward to do good another time. God is kind to the evil and unthankful, and why may not we? 2. He determined to destroy Nabal and all that belonged to him, 1 Sam. 25:22. Here David did not act like himself. His resolution was bloody, to cut off all the males of Nabal’s house, and spare none, man nor man-child. The ratification of his resolution was passionate: So, and more also do to God (he was going to say to me, but that would better become Saul’s mouth, 1 Sam. 14:44; than David’s, and therefore he decently turns it off) to the enemies of David. Isa. this thy voice, O David? Can the man after God’s own heart speak thus unadvisedly with his lips? Has he been so long in the school of affliction, where he should have learned patience, and yet so passionate? Isa. this he who used to be dumb and deaf when he was reproached (Ps. 38:13), who but the other day spared him who sought his life, and yet now will not spare any thing that belongs to him who has only put an affront upon his messengers? He who at other times used to be calm and considerate is now put into such a heat by a few hard words that nothing will atone for them but the blood of a whole family. Lord, what is man! What are the best of men, when God leaves them to themselves, to try them, that they may know what is in their hearts? From Saul David expected injuries, and against those he was prepared and stood upon his guard, and so kept his temper; but from Nabal he expected kindness, and therefore the affront he gave him was a surprise to him, found him off his guard, and, by a sudden and unexpected attack, put him for the present into disorder. What need have we to pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation!

III. The account given of this matter to Abigail by one of the servants, who was more considerate than the rest, 1 Sam. 25:14. Had this servant spoken to Nabal, and shown him the danger he had exposed himself to by his own rudeness, he would have said, “Servants are now-a-days so saucy, and so apt to prescribe, that there is no enduring them,” and, it may be, would have turned him out of doors. But Abigail, being a woman of good understanding, took cognizance of the matter, even from her servant, who, 1. Did David justice in commending him and his men for their civility to Nabal’s shepherds, 1 Sam. 25:15, 16. “The men were very good to us, and, though they were themselves exposed, yet they protected us and were a wall unto us.” Those who do that which is good shall, one way or other, have the praise of the same. Nabal’s own servant will be a witness for David that he is a man of honour and conscience, whatever Nabal himself says of him. And, 2. He did Nabal no wrong in condemning him for his rudeness to David’s messengers: He railed on them (1 Sam. 25:14), he flew upon them (so the word is) with an intolerable rage; “for,” say they, “it is his usual practice, 1 Sam. 25:17. He is such a son of Belial, so very morose and intractable, that a man cannot speak to him but he flies into a passion immediately.” Abigail knew it too well herself. 3. He did Abigail and the whole family a kindness in making her sensible what was likely to be the consequence. He knew David so well that he had reason to think he would highly resent the affront, and perhaps had had information of David’s orders to his men to march that way; for he is very positive evil is determined against our master, and all his household, himself among the rest, would be involved in it. Therefore he desires his mistress to consider what was to be done for their common safety. They could not resist the force David would bring down upon them, nor had they time to send to Saul to protect them; something therefore must be done to pacify David.