Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.
Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. And thus you shall greet him: Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favour in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”
When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited.
Comment: At first reading of this we discern several facts, but we really need to fill in the background a bit. In a wilderness area people allowed their animals to wander over fairly wide areas with several shepherds watching them. The owners did not live in the real wilderness and marauding tribespeople used to help themselves, in other words ‘steal’ the sheep. People (and here we can read David and his growing motley mob) acted on behalf of the owners protecting their goods. But then come shearing time when the mob had been collected together the people who had, maybe unasked, but nevertheless very helpfully kept the marauders off, went and expected and usually would be given a reward. So David sent his young men to collect a present.
Nabal, the owner of a large number of sheep, is described as a Calebite. Caleb, you may remember was Joshua’s friend. He was the ‘founding father’ of the Calebites. Caleb means ‘dog’, and was apparently often used of snappish, grumpy people and so maybe the word is used in a double sense here. Abigail had the beauty of face and of character, which caused the author to comment!
Now we have the scene set for the young men to face ‘Old Grumpy’.
Prayer: May people see something of Your character in me, Lord Jesus. I need Your help.