1Samuel died, and people from all over Israel gathered to mourn for him when he was buried at his home in Ramah. Meanwhile, David moved his camp to Paran Desert.
Abigail Keeps David
2-3Nabal was a very rich man who lived in Maon. He owned 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, which he kept at Carmel. His wife Abigail was sensible and beautiful, but he was from the Caleb clan and was rough and mean.
4One day, Nabal was in Carmel where his servants were cutting the wool from his sheep. David was in the desert when he heard about it. 5-6So 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. 7I'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. 8Ask 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, so please be kind and share some of your food with us.
9David's men went to Nabal and gave him David's message, then they waited for Nabal's answer.
10This 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. 11What makes you think I would take my bread, my water, and the meat that I've had cooked for my own servants and give it to you? Besides, I'm not sure that David sent you!
12The 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 400 followed David.
14-16Meanwhile, 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. 17He'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.
18Abigail quickly got together 200 loaves of bread, two large clay jars of wine, the meat from five sheep, a large sack of roasted grain, 100 handfuls of raisins, and 200 handfuls of dried figs. She loaded all the food on donkeys 19and 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.
20Abigail was riding her donkey on the path that led around the hillside, when suddenly she met David and his men heading straight at her.
21David 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. 22I 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 if I don't do it!”
23Abigail quickly got off her donkey and bowed down in front of David. 24Then she said:
Sir, please let me explain! 25Don'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, 26-27but 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.
28Please 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. 29The 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.
30The 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, 31and 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.
32David told her:
I praise the Lord God of Israel! He must have sent you to meet me today. 33And you should also be praised. Your good sense kept me from taking revenge and killing innocent people. 34If 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.
35David accepted the food Abigail had brought. “Don't worry,” he said. “You can go home now. I'll do what you asked.”
36Abigail 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. 37But 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. 38Ten days later, the Lord took his life.
39-40David 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
Abigail was still at Carmel. So David sent messengers to ask her if she would marry him.
41She bowed down and said, “I would willingly be David's slave and wash his servants' feet.”
42Abigail 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.
43David had earlier married Ahinoam from the town of Jezreel, so both she and Abigail were now David's wives. 44 Meanwhile, Saul had arranged for Michal to marry Palti the son of Laish, who came from the town of Gallim.
I love receiving gifts. Giving gifts is a gesture that people have used for centuries to express love, peace and forgiveness.
In this case, the gift offering that Abigail brought David changed the destiny for thousands of people in the city of Carmel. However it wasn’t the gift that brought the change to Abigail’s people – it was that the gift offering was received as acceptable to David.
Verse 35 tells us: “Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”
Peace offerings are only acceptable when the conditions are fully met by the person receiving the offering for the offence.
Many people believe we reap what we sow, as a universal principle. To use that principle in all situations is flawed. We have all done wrong on this earth and the things we’ve done are deserving of punishment. But God’s grace and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross presents us with an offer: an offer of peace, an offer of forgiveness, an offer of acceptance through Jesus for our atonement (forgiveness of our sins).
It’s not the offer that exclusively saves us; it’s our acceptance of that offer that brings peace and harmony into our lives
Abigail’s selfless act of putting others first saved the lives of thousands of people. Today, that sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross, was acceptable to God and therefore that gift offering – if we accept it – will save our lives.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending your Son as the perfect sacrificial gift. I pray that my life will always reflect my deep gratitude for the cross. Help me to live selflessly and generously, reflecting your loving character. And let my gifts of service make a difference in this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.