An odd chapter. I’m flying solo on it, I haven’t read any commentaries.
Starts with Samuel dying, very flatly reported and not referred to again. But the chapter is then about what kind of man is David. Samuel has been the voice of God, announcing god’s will. David is now on his own.
And the episode we’re thrown into has uncomfortable echoes of his greatest sin, his desire for Bathsheba.
In the last chapter David was noble and godly, full of grace. This chapter seems to exist to tell us not to get too carried away with him.
A greedy man, Nabal is married to a woman, Abigail, David finds attractive. So you gotta wonder about David’s motives when he sets a test to expose what a scoundrel nabal is, and then resolves to destroy him because of it.
God has given David power, military strength and resources to be king. Not to kill selfish men with gorgeous wives.
The intervention of God in the story saves David from his own abuse of power. First Abigail comes and pleads for nabal with gifts and apologies. Her eloquent beautifully brave persuasion is the heart of the chapter. I’d marry her myself!
David attributes her intervention to God saving all of Nabals men from slaughter.
Then in a convenient and literal Deus ex machina twist Nabal dies of a mysterious disease, which is also attributed to God. So, happy ending, David gets to marry Abigail, after she has demonstrated her worth, without a corrupting slaughter.
Yet. But his tendency towards lust and abuse of power has been foreshadowed.
And the narrative coolly notes that David married another wife as well, and that Saul traded his first wife Michal off to another king (remember her… She engineered his escape from the palace a few chapters ago). A reality faceslap worthy of Jane Austen, just when you were feeling all romantic.
A woman, Abigail, is the hero and voice of God in this story, but their lives, even the daughters of kings, pretty much sucked.