David and Nabal the Fool
Samuel died. All the Israelites met together and mourned his death. They buried him at his home in Ramah.
Then David moved to the desert of Maon.* Maon This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “Paran.” There was a very rich man living in Maon. He had 3000 sheep and 1000 goats. That man was in Carmel taking care of some business. He went there to cut the wool from his sheep. This man’s name was Nabal. Nabal This name means “foolish.” He was from Caleb’s family. Nabal’s wife was named Abigail. She was a wise and beautiful woman, but Nabal was a mean and cruel man.
David was in the desert when he heard that Nabal was cutting the wool from his sheep. David sent ten young men to talk to Nabal. He told them, “Go to Carmel. Find Nabal and tell him ‘Hello’ for me.” David gave them this message for Nabal: “May you and your family be well and all that you own be well. I heard that you are cutting wool from your sheep. Your shepherds were with us for a while, and we did nothing wrong to them. We never took anything from your shepherds while they were at Carmel. Ask your servants and they will tell you this is true. Please be kind to my young men. We come to you now, at this happy time. Please give these young men anything you can. Please do this for me, your friend friend Literally, “son.” David.”
David’s men went to Nabal. They gave his message to Nabal, 10 but Nabal said, “Who is David? Who is this son of Jesse? There are many slaves who have run away from their masters these days. 11 I have bread and water, and I have the meat I killed for my servants who cut the wool from my sheep. But I won’t give them to men I don’t even know.”
12 David’s men went back and told him everything that Nabal had said. 13 David’s response was, “Put on your swords.” So David and his men put on their swords. About 400 men went with David while 200 of them stayed with the supplies.
Abigail Prevents Trouble
14 One of Nabal’s servants spoke to Nabal’s wife Abigail. The servant said, “David sent messengers from the desert to meet our master, but Nabal was rude to them. 15 These men were very good to us while we were out in the fields with the sheep. David’s men were with us the whole time, and they never did anything wrong to us. They did not take anything from us. 16 His men protected us night and day. They were like a wall around us—they protected us while we were with them caring for the sheep. 17 Nabal was foolish to say what he did. Terrible trouble is coming to our master and all his family. You need to think of something to do.”
18 Abigail quickly gathered up 200 loaves of bread, two full wine bags, five cooked sheep, about a bushel§ about a bushel Literally, “5 seahs” (36.5 l). of cooked grain, about 2 quarts* about 2 quarts Literally, “1 omer” (2.2 l). of raisins, and 200 cakes of pressed figs. She put them on donkeys. 19 Then Abigail told her servants, “Go on. I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband.
20 Abigail rode her donkey down to the other side of the mountain. She met David and his men coming from the other direction.
21 David was saying, “I protected Nabal’s property in the desert. I made sure not one of his sheep was missing. I did all that for nothing. I was good to him, but he was rude to me. 22 I swear, I swear Literally, “May God do so and so for David’s enemies if ….” I won’t let even one man in Nabal’s family live until tomorrow morning.”
23 Just then Abigail arrived. When she saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down with her face to the ground in front of him. 24 Abigail fell at his feet and said, “Sir, please let me talk to you. Listen to what I say. Blame me for what happened. 25 I didn’t see the men you sent. Sir, don’t pay any attention to that worthless man, Nabal. His name means ‘Foolish,’ and that is what he is. 26 The LORD has kept you from killing innocent people. As surely as the LORD lives and you as well, may your enemies and anyone else who wants to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is. 27 Now, I am bringing this gift to you. Please give these things to your men. 28 Please forgive me for doing wrong. I know the LORD will make your family strong because you fight his battles. People will never find anything bad about you as long as you live. 29 If someone chases you to kill you, the LORD your God will save your life. But he will throw away your enemies like a stone from a sling. 30 The LORD promised to do many good things for you, and he will keep his promises. He will make you leader over Israel. 31 So don’t do anything that would make you guilty of killing innocent people. Please don’t fall into that trap. Please remember me when the LORD blesses you.”
32 David answered Abigail, “Praise the LORD, the God of Israel. Praise God for sending you to meet me. 33 God bless you for your good judgment. You kept me from killing innocent people today. 34 As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, if you hadn’t come quickly to meet me, not one man in Nabal’s family would have lived until tomorrow morning. But the Lord prevented me from hurting you.”
35 Then David accepted Abigail’s gifts. He told her, “Go home in peace. I have listened to your request, and I will do what you asked.”
Nabal’s Death
36 Abigail went back to Nabal, who was in the house. He had been eating like a king, and he was drunk and feeling good. So Abigail told Nabal nothing until the next morning. 37 The next morning, Nabal was sober, so his wife told him everything. He had a heart attack and became as stiff as a rock. 38 About ten days later, the LORD gave him a stroke and Nabal died.
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the LORD! He judged Nabal to be wrong for insulting me and kept me from doing something wrong. The LORD made Nabal pay for what he did.”
Then David sent a message to Abigail and asked her to be his wife. 40 His servants went to Carmel with this message, “David sent us to get you. He wants you to be his wife.”
41 Abigail bowed her face to the ground. She said, “I am willing to be your slave woman, even if it is only to wash the feet of my master’s servants.”
42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and brought five of her maids with her. They followed David’s messengers. So Abigail became David’s wife. 43 David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. Both Ahinoam and Abigail were David’s wives. 44 David was also married to Saul’s daughter Michal, but Saul had taken her away from him and had given her to a man named Palti, son of Laish. Palti was from the town named Gallim.

*25:1 Maon This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “Paran.”

25:3 Nabal This name means “foolish.”

25:8 friend Literally, “son.”

§25:18 about a bushel Literally, “5 seahs” (36.5 l).

*25:18 about 2 quarts Literally, “1 omer” (2.2 l).

25:22 I swear Literally, “May God do so and so for David’s enemies if ….”