1 Samuel died. Everyone in Israel gathered to mourn for him, and they buried him at his home in Ramah. David left and went to the Desert of Paran.
A man from Maon was very wealthy. He had property in Carmel and owned one thousand goats and three thousand sheep. He was in Carmel shearing them. 3
The man's name was Nabal,*
and his wife's name was Abigail. She was a wise and beautiful woman, but her husband was cruel and treated people badly. He was a descendant of Caleb. 4
David was in the wilderness, and he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. 5
So David sent ten of his young men and told them, “Go and see Nabal at Carmel. Greet him in my name, and say hello from me. 6
Tell him, ‘I wish you a long life! Peace to you and your family, and may everything you do prosper. 7
Now I've heard that you are busy shearing. When your shepherds were with us, we didn't mistreat them, and nothing belonging to them was stolen all the time they were in Carmel. 8
Check with your men and they'll confirm it. Please be kind to my men, especially since we've come on this day of celebration. Please give whatever food you can to us and to your good friend David.’ ”
9 David's young men arrived, gave Nabal this message from David, and waited for his reply.
10 “Who does this ‘David, son of Jesse’ think he is?” Nabal replied. “Nowadays there are many servants on the run from their masters! 11 Why should I take the bread and water I've supplied, and the meat I've slaughtered for my shearers, and hand it over to these strangers? I don't even know where they're from!”
12 So David's men turned around and went back the way they came. When they got back they told David everything Nabal had said.
13 “Everyone, put on your swords!” David ordered. They all put on their swords, and David did too. About four hundred followed David, while two hundred remained behind to guard their gear.
14 In the meantime one of Nabal's men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, “David sent some messengers from the wilderness to bring greetings to our master, but he only insulted them. 15 David's men were always very good to us and they never mistreated us. All the time we were out in the fields with them nothing was stolen from us. 16 They were like a protective wall to us, both day and night, during the whole time we were with them looking after the sheep. 17 You should know what happened and consider what you should do about it. Disaster is about to strike our master and his whole family, but he's so obnoxious no one can talk sense into him!”
18 Abigail quickly gathered together two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already slaughtered, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes, and then loaded everything on donkeys. 19 She told her men, “Go on ahead. I'll follow you.” But she didn't say anything to her husband Nabal.
20 As Abigail was riding her donkey through a mountain valley, she saw David and his men descending towards her, and she met them. 21 David had just been complaining, “So much for my protecting everything that belonged to this man in the wilderness! Nothing at all was stolen from him, and yet what does he do? Pay me back evil for good! 22 May God punish me very severely if I leave even a single one of his men alive by morning!”
23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off the donkey, and bowed before him, her face to the ground. 24 Falling at his feet in respect, she said, “Sir, I accept full responsibility for what's happened. Please listen to what I, your servant, have to say. 25 Please don't concern yourself with this worthless man Nabal. His name means ‘fool,’ and he is really foolish! As for me, your servant, I didn't even see the men you sent.
Now, sir, as the Lord lives and as you live, the Lord has kept you from shedding blood and from taking your own revenge. Sir, may your enemies and those who want to do you harm be like Nabal. 27
Please accept this present that I, your servant, have brought to you, sir, and give it to your men. 28
Please forgive any offense that I, your servant, have committed, for the Lord is sure to set up a dynasty for you that will last for a long time, because you, sir, fight the battles of the Lord. Wickedness should not be found in you as long as you live.† 29
If anyone pursues you and tries to kill you, then your life will remain bound up with those the Lord your God looks after, safe in his care. But he will throw away the lives of your enemies like stones from a sling. 30
So when the Lord has done for you, sir, everything good he promised, and has made you ruler over Israel, 31
you won't have feelings of remorse or a guilty conscience over unnecessary bloodshed or of taking your own revenge. And when the Lord has done these good things for you, sir, please remember me, your maidservant.”
32 Then David said to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33 May you be rewarded for your wise decisions, for preventing me from shedding blood today and taking my own revenge. 34 On the contrary, as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you hadn't rushed to meet me, then definitely not a single one of Nabal's men would have been left alive by dawn.”
35 David accepted from Abigail what she had brought him, and told her, “You may go home in peace, because I agree with your advice and grant your request.”
When Abigail got back home to Nabal, he was in the house, partying like a king. He was feeling very merry, and he was very drunk. So she didn't tell him anything until the morning. 37
When Nabal had sobered up the next morning, his wife told him what had happened. When he heard what she had to say he had a heart attack and was paralyzed.‡ 38
About ten days later the Lord struck Nabal down and he died.
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the Lord who has supported me against Nabal's insult and has kept me from doing evil. For the Lord made Nabal's wickedness fall back on himself.” Then David sent a message to Abigail, asking for her to marry him.
40 When David's men arrived at Carmel, they said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to bring you back to become his wife.”
41 She stood up, then bowed down low, and said, “I am David's maidservant. I am prepared to serve and to wash the feet of my master's servants.” 42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, with her five female servants, went back with David's men and became his wife. 43 David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. So they both were his wives. 44 However, Saul had given his daughter Michal, David's wife, to Paltiel, son of Laish. He was from Gallim.