Our reading today begins with the death of Samuel (25:1). The prophet that Israel looked to for guidance was gone, and now it was in the hands of the king to lead his people (but we will see Samuel again). David and his band of men are still on the run from Saul, but we see that they offer protection to the people of the land. In verses 3-8, we see what was customary in the ancient world, where bands of warriors would protect the servants and the flocks of wealthy families, and would expect compensation for their work. We see here that this Nabal, though apparently aware of the custom, finds enough plausible deniability to not take care of David and his men (vv. 9-11). This breach of custom usually resulted in the protectors taking by force what was due to them and then some, which David sets out to do (vv. 12-13).
It is here that we are introduced to Abigail, Nabal’s wife. One of Nabal’s servants heard his refusal to pay for the protection his men had received, and tells Abigail that bad things are about to happen because of his foolishness (vv. 14-17). So Abigail tries to make things right between Nabal and David (vv. 18-19). Abigail asks for David’s forgiveness on the grounds that her husband is ignorant (vv. 23-26) and offers David payment for his services (v. 27). Note in verses 28 and 30, Abigail recognizes that David is the true king. David applauds Abigail’s prudence and Godliness (vv. 32-34) and accepts her payment (v. 35). And after Nabal’s death shortly thereafter (v. 38), David praises God for judging rightly (v. 39), and take Abigail as his wife. In verses 43-44, we see the beginning of David’s (and his son’s after him!) snare: women.
In chapter 26, history repeats itself (as it tends to do, and as we have seen in the Bible many times before). First, the Ziphites again show their loyalty to Saul by informing on David (26:1 – see 23:19-20). Second, Saul comes with 3,000 men to hunt David (v. 2 – see 24:2). Third, and most importantly, God providentially gives David the opportunity to humble Saul (vv. 3-25). In verse 8, we see again that one of David’s men believes God has given David the opportunity to kill Saul. But David continues to entrust himself to God (vv. 9-10). So David again takes a tokens of his opportunity against Saul (v. 12). And we see that this was indeed all the providence of God. David then calls out Abner for his failure to protect the king (vv. 14-16). And a similar plea comes from David to Saul to that which we saw in Engedi (vv. 18-20 – see 24:9-15), and Saul again responds in repentance (v. 21), and recognizes David’s anointing as king (v. 25).
In chapter 27, history repeats itself yet again, as David flees to the Philistines in Gath (27:1-4 – see 21:10-15). Note that David knows that Saul’s repentance is again only temporary (v. 1). This time, David does not come alone, but with his men (v. 2). The animosity of Saul for David is now well-known, leading to David’s acceptance by the Philistines (v. 3). And David avoids further pursuit by Saul (v. 4). In verses 5-6, we see David’s cunning. He convinces the Philistines to give him land that becomes part of Judah. In verses 8-12, we see it again, as he uses his time in hiding to conduct raids against the inhabitants of the land, continuing the mandate given by God to Israel (v. 8-9). However, he convinces Achish that his raids are against Israel (v. 10), convincing him of David’s loyalty to him (v. 12).
Psalm 141 is believed to have been written by David while with the Philistines. David begins by calling on the Lord to hear (141:1). In verse 2, David understands that the outward sacrifices were to be evidence of the inward heart. His prayers are incense to God. His praise and worship are sacrifices to God. David then prays for God to keep him from sin and the enticements of the world (vv. 3-4). In verse 5, David again commits himself to God’s righteous judgment, which He will mete out to the wicked (vv. 6-7). But David is not among them! His refuge is God alone (v. 8). He is David’s protector (v. 9), and the righteous Judge (v. 10).