Colin Groom

Beauty and the Beast (Abagail and Nabal)

Some years after Samuel had anointed David, who was then just a young teenager, as the future king of God’s people, Israel, King Saul had grown to hate David and sought (tried) to kill him several times. David had to run!

After several serious attempts on his life David gathered around him several hundred young men who knew he was their future king and swore loyalty (no cheating) to David. They lived away from King Saul and even lived with a Philistine king for a while!

But while being around some shepherds who looked after their master’s flocks (3,000 sheep and 3,000 goats), David and his group were helpful in keeping away bandits and thieves so that they lost no sheep or goats.

Sometime later David heard that the rich owner Nabal, was shearing. Now at shearing time it is a time of hard work and ‘partying’, because the owner would soon come into much money from the sale of the wool. Food and wine was around in abundance.

David heard of this so he sent several men to Nabal to ask him for some food and wine (a handout-a gift) for watching over his shepherds especially because no sheep or goats had been lost for quite a while.

One translation I have –The Living Bible-says of Nabal and his wife: “His name was Nabal and his wife, a beautiful and intelligent woman, was named Abagail. But the man, who was descendant of Caleb, was uncouth, churlish, stubborn, and ill mannered. (Caleb would have been ashamed of him I am, sure).

Well, Nabal refused any thought of gifts or handouts and that was very bad for him- because he insulted David’s men –and David!!

They brought his words of refusal and insult to David who said
“Strap on your swords-we will go and teach this guy a lesson.”

A ‘lesson’ meant the death of him or some of his workers.


Note well; Insults are a very important part of the Middle East culture then, and still are today. Insults are not taken lightly and can lead to a death.

Well it happened that Abagail’s servants heard of Nabal’s insults to David and they told Abagail –and she knew what David would do. They said: ”You’d better think fast,for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family -he is such a stubborn lout that no one can talk to him.” (1 Sam.25:17 TLB)  And –it seems that Abagail knew that David was to be the future king too. That was very good.

She immediately loaded up several donkeys with ‘party goodies’ and headed for David and his men...on a peace mission and to avoid any fighting with Nabal. What a lovely woman!

She arrived –and bowed down with before David as befits a future king. She asked for forgiveness for her stupid husband and begged David not to kill anyone. She said: “I accept all blame in this matter, my Lord” she said. “Please listen to what I want to say. Nabal is a bad tempered boor, but please don’t pay any attention to what he said. He is a fool-just like his name means. But I didn’t see the messengers you sent.”   Abagail went onto praise David for his goodness and wished him well as the future king. (read her fine speech in ! 1 Sam 25:24-31. She truly was truly an intelligent woman.  

David praised her and thanked the Lord for her wisdom and good sense. Then she went home. She said nothing to Nabal because that night he was drunk. (drunk people do not hear wisdom or common sense).

Next morning when he was sober after a good night’s sleep she told him. Nabal had a stroke and was in bed for ten days –then he died. The scripture says:“…for the Lord had killed him.” (v38)

David heard of it- she was now a widow, so he sent for her and she agreed to become his wife...a beautiful and intelligent woman too. Good for David!

There could not have been any children from the marriage, otherwise Abagail would never have left them. And I wonder who got the money from all the wool of 3,000 sheep?

Message from this story: Take care with your words!

2 Samuel Chapter 25:1-44

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The Answerer

The Answerer - Peter Harris, answered children's questions from his many years of teaching "Scripture" classes.
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