Chapters 24 and 26 are virtually identical in their plot. Both begin with The first king of Israel More learning of David’s hideout (24:1; 26:1); narrate David’s refusal to harm Saul, “the LORD’s anointed” (24:6, 10; 26:11); and conclude with Saul’s recognition that Second king of Israel, David united the northern and southern kingdoms. More is to be the next king (24:17-22; 26:21, 25). As such, they frame chapter 25, which relates the death of Samuel (v. 1).
All three stories portray David’s nobility and magnanimous nature. This is clearly indicated in the sparing of Saul’s life, not once but twice. The story of foolish Nabal (“fool” in Hebrew) and his clever wife Abigail also contributes to this impression.
- David understandably asks for provisions in return for the protection he has afforded the wealthy Nabal and his shepherds (25:2-8).
- Nabal, true to his name, refuses, betraying a selfish and ungrateful nature (vv. 9-11).
- Upon hearing Nabal’s response, David prepared to annihilate every male in Nabal’s household (vv. 12-13, 21-22).
- Fortunately, Abigail, Nabal’s clever wife, stepped in to prevent David’s reckless show of force against her foolish husband: first by arranging a meeting (vv. 18-20) and then, in a magnificent speech, convincing David to relent by reminding him that since the Lord has previously kept David from incurring bloodguilt (by sparing Saul?), it would be foolish to jeopardize his future position as “prince over Israel” by acting recklessly now (vv. 23-31).
- Later, Abigail told her husband what she had done and “his heart died within him”; ten days later, “the LORD struck Nabal, and he died” (vv. 33-38). The story ends with David’s courting of, and marriage to, Abigail (vv. 39-42).