1 Samuel 25-27
Contemporary English Version
Abigail Keeps David from Killing Innocent People
2-3 Nabal was a very rich man who lived in Maon. He owned three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, which he kept at Carmel.[c] His wife Abigail was sensible and beautiful, but he was from the Caleb clan[d] and was rough and mean.
4 One day, Nabal was in Carmel, having his servants cut the wool from his sheep. David was in the desert when he heard about it. 5-6 So he sent ten men to Carmel with this message for Nabal:
I hope that you and your family are healthy and that all is going well for you. 7 I’ve heard that you are cutting the wool from your sheep.
When your shepherds were with us in Carmel, we didn’t harm them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. 8 Ask your shepherds, and they’ll tell you the same thing.
My servants are your servants, and you are like a father to me. This is a day for celebrating,[e] so please be kind and share some of your food with us.
9 David’s men went to Nabal and gave him David’s message, then they waited for Nabal’s answer.
10 This is what he said:
Who does this David think he is? That son of Jesse is just one more slave on the run from his master, and there are too many of them these days. 11 What makes you think I would take my bread, my water, and the meat that I’ve had cooked for my own servants[f] and give it to you? Besides, I’m not sure that David sent you![g]
12 The men returned to their camp and told David everything Nabal had said.
13 “Everybody get your swords!” David ordered.
They all strapped on their swords. Two hundred men stayed behind to guard the camp, but the other four hundred followed David.
14-16 Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s servants told Abigail:
David’s men were often nearby while we were taking care of the sheep in the fields. They were very good to us, they never hurt us, and nothing was ever stolen from us while they were nearby. With them around day or night, we were as safe as we would have been inside a walled city.
David sent some messengers from the desert to wish our master well, but he shouted insults at them. 17 He’s a bully who won’t listen to anyone.
Isn’t there something you can do? Please think of something! Or else our master and his family and everyone who works for him are all doomed.
18 Abigail quickly got together two hundred loaves of bread, two large clay jars of wine, the meat from five sheep, a large sack of roasted grain, a hundred handfuls of raisins, and two hundred handfuls of dried figs. She loaded all the food on donkeys 19 and told her servants, “Take this on ahead, and I’ll catch up with you.” She didn’t tell her husband Nabal what she was doing.
20 Abigail was riding her donkey on the path that led around the hillside, when suddenly she met David and his men heading straight at her.
21 David had just been saying, “I surely wasted my time guarding Nabal’s things in the desert and keeping them from being stolen! I was good to him, and now he pays me back with insults. 22 I swear that by morning, there won’t be a man or boy left from his family or his servants' families. I pray that God will punish me[h] if I don’t do it!”
23 Abigail quickly got off her donkey and bowed down in front of David. 24 Then she said:
Sir, please let me explain! 25 Don’t pay any attention to that good-for-nothing Nabal. His name means “fool,” and it really fits him!
I didn’t see the men you sent, 26-27 but please take this gift of food that I’ve brought and share it with your followers. The Lord has kept you from taking revenge and from killing innocent people. But I hope your enemies and anyone else who wants to harm you will end up like Nabal. I swear this by the living Lord and by your life.
28 Please forgive me if I say a little more. The Lord will always protect you and your family, because you fight for him. I pray that you won’t ever do anything evil as long as you live. 29 The Lord your God will keep you safe when your enemies try to kill you. But he will snatch away their lives quicker than you can throw a rock from a sling.
30 The Lord has promised to do many good things for you, even to make you the ruler of Israel. The Lord will keep his promises to you, 31 and now your conscience will be clear, because you won’t be guilty of taking revenge and killing innocent people.
When the Lord does all those good things for you, please remember me.
32 David told her:
I praise the Lord God of Israel! He must have sent you to meet me today. 33 And you should also be praised. Your good sense kept me from taking revenge and killing innocent people. 34 If you hadn’t come to meet me so quickly, every man and boy in Nabal’s family and in his servants' families would have been killed by morning. I swear by the living Lord God of Israel who protected you that this is the truth.
35 David accepted the food Abigail had brought. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You can go home now. I’ll do what you asked.”
36 Abigail went back home and found Nabal throwing a party fit for a king. He was very drunk and feeling good, so she didn’t tell him anything that night. 37 But when he sobered up the next morning, Abigail told him everything that had happened. Nabal had a heart attack, and he lay in bed as still as a stone. 38 Ten days later, the Lord took his life.
39-40 David heard that Nabal had died. “I praise the Lord!” David said. “He has judged Nabal guilty for insulting me. The Lord kept me from doing anything wrong, and he made sure that Nabal hurt only himself with his own evil.”
David and Abigail Are Married
Abigail was still at Carmel. So David sent messengers to ask her if she would marry him.
41 She bowed down and said, “I would willingly be David’s slave and wash his servants' feet.”
42 Abigail quickly got ready and went back with David’s messengers. She rode on her donkey, while five of her servant women walked alongside. She and David were married as soon as she arrived.
43 David had earlier married Ahinoam from the town of Jezreel, so both she and Abigail were now David’s wives.[i] 44 Meanwhile, Saul had arranged for Michal[j] to marry Palti the son of Laish, who came from the town of Gallim.
David Again Lets Saul Live
26 Once again,[k] some people from Ziph went to Gibeah to talk with Saul. “David has a hideout on Mount Hachilah near Jeshimon out in the desert,” they told him.
2 Saul took three thousand of Israel’s best soldiers and went to look for David there in Ziph Desert. 3 Saul set up camp on Mount Hachilah, which is across the road from Jeshimon. But David was hiding out in the desert.
When David heard that Saul was following him, 4 he sent some spies to find out if it was true. 5 Then he sneaked up to Saul’s camp. He noticed that Saul and his army commander Abner the son of Ner were sleeping in the middle of the camp, with soldiers sleeping all around them. 6 David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Joab’s brother Abishai,[l] “Which one of you will go with me into Saul’s camp?”
“I will!” Abishai answered.
7 That same night, David and Abishai crept into the camp. Saul was sleeping, and his spear was stuck in the ground not far from his head. Abner and the soldiers were sound asleep all around him.
8 Abishai whispered, “This time God has let you get your hands on your enemy! I’ll pin him to the ground with one thrust of his own spear.”
9 “Don’t kill him!” David whispered back. “The Lord will punish anyone who kills his chosen king. 10 As surely as the Lord lives, the Lord will kill Saul, or Saul will die a natural death or be killed in battle. 11 But I pray that the Lord will keep me from harming his chosen king. Let’s grab his spear and his water jar and get out of here!”
12 David took the spear and the water jar, then left the camp. None of Saul’s soldiers knew what had happened or even woke up—the Lord had made all of them fall sound asleep. 13 David and Abishai crossed the valley and went to the top of the next hill, where they were at a safe distance. 14 “Abner!” David shouted toward Saul’s army. “Can you hear me?”
Abner shouted back. “Who dares disturb the king?”
15 “Abner, what kind of a man are you?” David replied. “Aren’t you supposed to be the best soldier in Israel? Then why didn’t you protect your king? Anyone who went into your camp could have killed him tonight.[m] 16 You’re a complete failure! I swear by the living Lord that you and your men deserve to die for not protecting the Lord’s chosen king. Look and see if you can find the king’s spear and the water jar that were near his head.”
17 Saul could tell it was David’s voice, and he called out, “David, my son! Is that you?”
“Yes it is, Your Majesty. 18 Why are you after me? Have I done something wrong, or have I committed a crime? 19 Please listen to what I have to say. If the Lord has turned you against me, maybe a sacrifice will make him change his mind. But if some people have turned you against me, I hope the Lord will punish them! They have forced me to leave the land that belongs to the Lord and have told me to worship foreign gods.[n] 20 Don’t let me die in a land far away from the Lord. I’m no more important than a flea! Why should the king of Israel hunt me down as if I were a bird in the mountains?”
21 “David, you had the chance to kill me today. But you didn’t. I was very wrong about you. It was a terrible mistake for me to try to kill you. I’ve acted like a fool, but I’ll never try to harm you again. You’re like a son to me, so please come back.”
22 “Your Majesty, here’s your spear! Have one of your soldiers come and get it. 23 The Lord put you in my power today, but you are his chosen king and I wouldn’t harm you. The Lord rewards people who are faithful and live right. 24 I saved your life today, and I pray that the Lord will protect me and keep me safe.”
25 “David, my son, I pray that the Lord will bless you and make you successful!”
David in Philistia
Saul went back home. David also left, 27 1 but he thought to himself, “One of these days, Saul is going to kill me. The only way to escape from him is to go to Philistia. Then I’ll be outside of Israel, and Saul will give up trying to catch me.”
2-3 David and his six hundred men went across the border to stay in Gath with King Achish the son of Maoch. His men brought their families with them. David brought his wife Ahinoam whose hometown was Jezreel, and he also brought his wife Abigail who had been married to Nabal from Carmel. 4 When Saul found out that David had run off to Gath, he stopped trying to catch him.
5 One day, David was talking with Achish and said, “If you are happy with me, then let me live in one of the towns in the countryside. I’m not important enough to live here with you in the royal city.”
6 Achish gave David the town of Ziklag that same day, and Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since.
7 David was in Philistia for a year and four months. 8 The Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites lived in the area from Telam to Shur[o] and on as far as Egypt, and David often attacked their towns. 9 Whenever David and his men attacked a town, they took the sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and the clothing, and killed everyone who lived there.
After he returned from a raid, David always went to see Achish, 10 who would ask, “Where did you attack today?”[p]
David would answer, “Oh, we attacked some desert town that belonged to the Judah tribe.” Sometimes David would say, “Oh, we attacked a town in the desert where the Jerahmeel clan lives” or “We attacked a town in the desert where the Kenites[q] live.” 11 That’s why David killed everyone in the towns he attacked. He thought, “If I let any of them live, they might come to Gath and tell what I’ve really been doing.”
David made these raids all the time he was in Philistia. 12 But Achish trusted David and thought, “David’s people must be furious with him. From now on he will have to take orders from me.”
- 25.1 at his home: Hebrew “in his house.” Family tombs were sometimes underneath the house or in the courtyard of the home.
- 25.1 Paran Desert: Hebrew; some manuscripts of one ancient translation “Maon Desert.”
- 25.2,3 Carmel: About one mile north of Maon in the Southern Desert of Judah.
- 25.2,3 from the Caleb clan: Or “behaved like a dog.”
- 25.8 celebrating: Cutting the wool from the sheep was a time for celebrating as well as for working.
- 25.11 servants: Hebrew “shearers,” the servants who cut the wool from the sheep.
- 25.11 I’m not sure. . . sent you: Or “I don’t know where you come from.”
- 25.22 me: One ancient translation; Hebrew “my enemies.”
- 25.43 wives: Having more than one wife was allowed in those times.
- 25.44 Michal: David’s first wife (see 18.20—19.17).
- 26.1 again: See 23.19.
- 26.6 Abishai: Hebrew “Abishai the son of Zeruiah.” Zeruiah was David’s older sister, so Abishai and Joab were David’s nephews (see 1 Chronicles 2.12-17; 2 Samuel 17.25 and the note there).
- 26.15 Anyone. . . tonight: Or “Someone went into your camp to kill him tonight.”
- 26.19 gods: In ancient times it was often believed that gods (even the God of Israel) could only be properly worshiped in their own countries, and only a country’s gods should be worshiped in that country.
- 27.8 lived. . . Shur: One ancient translation; Hebrew “had lived for a long time in Shur.”
- 27.10 Where. . . today: A few Hebrew manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and three ancient translations; most Hebrew manuscripts “Didn’t you make a raid today?”
- 27.10 Jerahmeel. . . Kenites: These were clans of the Judah tribe.