Saul Continues to Pursue David

Text: I Samuel 25:1-27:12

Samuel Dies - I Samuel 25:1


Samuel now dies, leaving all of Israel to mourn his passing. He was buried in Ramah.

With Samuel’s passing, David moved to the Wilderness of Paran – the southernmost edge of Israel’s territory.

Wilderness of Paran (From Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, used with permission.)

Nabal’s Foolishness - I Samuel 25:2-38


Our story now moves to the area near the town of Maon, south of the town of Carmel. Apparently, David eventually drifts north from the Wilderness of Paran, though he is still in the southern region of Judah. In Maon was a wealthy man named Nabal. He was a descendent of Caleb but he did not share Caleb’s character. He was harsh and evil. Interestingly, his name means “fool” (I Samuel 25:25). His wife, Abigail, was very different. She was intelligent and beautiful.

As a courtesy, David and his men, while protecting their own possessions also protected Nabal’s herds (I Samuel 25:15-16). When it was time for Nabal to shear his sheep, a feast was typically held for everyone involved. Thus, David sent ten young men (who would not be seen as a threat) to greet the household and politely ask for a portion as Nabal saw fit. What was requested was a reasonable reward for the service that had been provided. After all, not every farmer has 600 warriors guarding his herds.
However, Nabal refused to recognize David. He knew something about David’s background because he called David a runaway servant who was hiding from his legitimate master. “Why,” he asked, “should I take food from my workers to give to vagabonds?” Nabal did not even bother to check with his servants to see if the men’s statements of protecting his flocks were true.
David became very angry at Nabal’s rude response. He called his men to war having the intention to kill all the males in Nabal’s household.
Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s servants, realizing what Nabal had done, ran to Nabal’s wife ( I Samuel 25:14-17). Even Nabal’s servants did not respect their master, calling him a worthless man who won’t listen to anyone.
Nabal’s wife was quite a contrast to the foolish man If ever a woman illustrated a virtuous wife, it was Abigail.
She did not delay in attempting to fix the problem (I Samuel 25:18-19). She loaded up generous provisions for David’s men and sent a servant ahead to tell David she was coming. She then rode out to meet David. She did not worry or fret about the problem. She did not wait for David to come to her. She met her problems face-on. Abigail ran into David in a remote mountain ravine (I Samuel 25:20).
She humbled herself before David (I Samuel 25:23). She could have been indignant or arrogant when confronting David, but instead she fell on her face. Too often people are caught up in arguing that they are right (Proverbs 25:8; 17:14). Humble pleading is the best solution in situations like this (Proverb 6:2-5; Galatians 6:1).
She took the blame for her husband’s foolishness and asked for forgiveness (I Samuel 25:24-28). We live in a society that looks to avoid responsibility. No one wants to be blamed for anything. Instead, they strive to fix the blame elsewhere. What a contrast! It wasn’t Abigail’s fault, but she took the blame, much like our Lord (Isaiah 53:5). Essentially, Abigail stated that since she knew her husband to be a fool, she was at fault for not keeping a closer eye on him.
She pointed out that her presence was the Lord’s hand at work to keep David from sinning. That might be a surprising point. David was about to sin? Yes, David was about to slaughter unarmed men because one man foolishly insulted him. David was guilty of being quick to anger (James 1:19-20). Nabal was not nice. He definitely was rude. But does rudeness deserve a death penalty? Did those shepherds whom David watched over deserve to die because they had a foolish master?
Abigail pointed out how the Lord has been with David, has blessed him, and will continue to bless him (I Samuel 25:28-31). The Lord purifies his servants who continue steadfastly in his will (Colossians 1:22-23). Abigail didn’t just scold David for straying from righteousness but pointed out that he was formed for nobler purposes. When we must point out the sins of others, don’t use it as an excuse to belittle, but a time to encourage them to rise to greater things. Consider how Paul wraps criticism with encouragement (Titus 3:1-8)
She pointed out the insignificance of Nabal’s offense. David, in his coming glory, would not want a memory of sin caused by a moment of anger to cloud his memories (I Samuel 25:30-31). We don’t want people to cry it is too late to avoid sin (Proverbs 5:12-14). We want our brethren to have a strong confidence as they look back on their lives that they did what was right (II Corinthians 1:12). Paul used this same sort of argument to brethren arguing with each other (I Corinthians 6:1-8). Are we to judge angels and can’t settle problems between brethren here on this earth? We have greater things to do. Squabbles are minor things.
The party at Nabal’s home continued with Nabal ignorant of how close he came to death. Abigail waited until Nabal sobered up the next day to tell him what had happened. The news shocked Nabal so badly that he became like a stone (i.e. he suffered a stroke). Ten days later he died. Nabal had rejected David’s blessing on him and his house, which included a wish for a long life (I Samuel 25:6). Ironically, Nabal received what he wanted.

For discussion:

  1. Notice in I Samuel 25:11 how many times Nabal refers to himself in this one statement. What point is being made?
  2. In Abigail’s speech to David, how often did she refer to David as “my lord”? Is there a significance to this?
  3. Who did Abigail save?
  4. Notice that David made an oath to kill all of Nabal’s men (I Samuel 25:22). Was it wrong for David to have broken his oath?
  5. Read David’s oath again carefully. Was David’s oath fulfilled?

David Marries Abigail and Ahinoam - I Samuel 25:39-43

Soon after Nabal’s death, David hears of it and praises God for protecting his honor and preventing him from sinning in his anger. God caused Nabal’s sin to return to him.
David then sent a marriage proposal to Abigail. Abigail responds humbly that she is willing to become a lowly maid in David’s household. She doesn’t hesitate and rides out to David with five maidservants, which emphasizes how wealthy she is. David then marries her.
At some other point in time, David also married Ahinoam from Jezreel. Jezreel is a small town in Judah (not to be confused with the larger city in Issachar). It is believed to have been located near Hebron.

For discussion:

  1. Did David violate Proverbs 24:17?
  2. Why did David send men with his marriage proposal instead of going himself?

Saul Gives David’s Wife, Michal, to Palti - I Samuel 25:44

Gallium (from

Meanwhile, David’s first wife, Michal, was given Palti by Saul. This probably took place at an earlier time and was just now brought up since David was marrying other women. Whether Michal had gone willingly or not is unknown. Palti lived in Gallim, a small town between Gibeah and Jerusalem.

David Has Another Chance to Kill Saul - I Samuel 26:1-25

The people living in the town of Ziph decided to report David’s location to Saul. Ziph has been located. It was located between Hebron and Carmel. They reported that David was hiding on a hill named Hachilah.
Saul soon comes with 3,000 men to search for David. He camped by the road near the hill. David was alerted to Saul’s coming and he sent out spies to note the movement of Saul’s army. While David stayed hidden. Saul’s choice of a base was easily seen and accessible. Saul and his general, Abner, were sleeping in the center of his army.

Ziph (from

David proposed entering the camp to Ahimelech and Abishai and Abishai, David’s nephew, agreed to go with David. Saul was sleeping with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abishai saw this as a God-given opportunity to eliminate Saul. He suggested that he take Saul’s spear and kill him. He was positive he could do it in a single thrust. But David stops him because Saul was appointed by God to be king. Killing Saul would incur sin. Saul would eventually die by God’s hand, or by natural death, or in battle but David was not going to speed up the day of his death. Instead, David took Saul’s spear and water jug and they left the camp. They were not caught because God had put everyone in the camp to sleep.

David crossed the valley and stood on top of a mountain. This put a good deal of distance between him and Saul’s army and if he had to flee, Saul’s men would have to run uphill while he was running down the mountain. David hailed the army and Abner in particular. David taunts Abner for not taking enough precautions in guarding Saul. David’s questions imply that Abner was not man enough for his duties. He holds a high position in the kingdom; yet, he failed to protect the king. He points out that someone had come into their camp seeking to destroy the king and they were unaware of it. Surely, David said, that neglect deserved the death penalty. He then asks them to note that Saul’s spear and water jug are missing and are with him.
Saul calls out and asks if it is David. Saul shows a change in heart by calling David his son. David responds and calls Saul his lord and king. David again asks Saul why he is hunting his servant and what evil Saul accuses him of committing. If God is behind this, then David will bring God an offering. If men are stirring Saul against David then David accuses the men of trying to push him away from God. David calls himself a flea, that is a creature who is so insignificant that killing him would bring about no value. He says the search for him is like men hunting a partridge. In regards to the partridge, Adam Clarke on I Samuel 26:20 states, "It is worthy of remark that the Arabs, observing that partridges, being put up several times, soon become so weary as not to be able to fly; they in this manner hunt them upon the mountains, till at last, they can knock them down with their clubs. It was in this manner that Saul hunted David, coming hastily upon him, and putting him up from time to time, in hopes that he should at length, by frequent repetitions of it, be able to destroy him." There is also a subtle wordplay being used by David. Abner had asked “Who calls?” (I Samuel 26:14). The Hebrew word for “partridge” is the same term, “the one who calls.”
Saul admits that he has sinned and while David could have harmed him, David chose not to do so. Saul realizes he has been acting foolishly. He invites David to return. David doesn’t directly decline the invitation but tells Saul to send a young man to fetch his spear. Just as David values Saul’s life, David declares that God values David’s life and God will recuse David from all distress.
Saul blesses David and acknowledges that David will accomplish much. They then go their separate ways.

For discussion:

  1. Why did David not return with Saul? Why didn’t David tell Saul he wasn’t going to return with him?

David Decides to Return to Philistine Territory - I Samuel 27:1-4

Created with BibleMapper

Though David appears to have convinced Saul to stop hunting him, David is not convinced Saul will ever truly stop. He is more certain that Saul will eventually succeed in killing him. In his despondency, he resolves to go into the land of the Philistines, even though earlier he was told to remain in Judah (I Samuel 22:5). Even great men have moments of weakness and make mistakes. David illustrates this on several occasions. Here he shows a weakness in faith and comes up with a "solution" to solve his problem without consulting God.
David and his 600 men, along with their families, move into Philistine territory and ally themselves with Achish, the king of Gath. It appears that David was correct that Saul’s “change of heart” was temporary because Saul had returned to hunting David, but stopped when he heard that David was out of the country.

For discussion:

  1. Why was David’s reception by Achish different from his previous appearance? (I Samuel 21:10-15)

David Is Given Ziklag - I Samuel 27:5-7

David proposed to Achish to have a country city for him and his men so that he would not inconvenience the king. Achish gave David Ziklag, which was near the border of the Philistine territory. David stayed with the Philistines for sixteen months.

David Attacks Israel’s Enemies - I Samuel 27:8-12

David began a campaign against enemies of Israel who lived in this region. When Achish, a king of the Philistines, asked David where he had been battling, David only mentioned the region. He never stated who he was fighting. Achish just assumed it was against the Israelites because it was Israelite territory. Since David made sure no one survived his raids, a word never got back to Achish to let him suspect he made the wrong conclusion. He assumed that David would be so hated in Israel that David would be serving him for the rest of his life.

For discussion:

  1. Did David lie to Achish?
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