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When Abigail returned to Nabal, she found him in such a state of inebriety, after a great feast, probably at the conclusion of his sheep-shearing, that she was unable to communicate to him what had passed; but when he was sober, she told him; and the recollection of his danger, his sense of shame for the excess of which he had been guilty, or the immediate visitation of God, produced such an effect, that his heart died within him, and became as a stone, and he died in about ten days.
When David heard that Nabal was deadl, he said, blessed be God, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil : for Jehovah bath returned the wickedness of Nabal npon his own head.* And Abigail became the wife of David.
The malice and envy of Saul were not yet exhausted; for the Ziphites, who seem to have been always ready to do David a mischief, came to Gibeah, and told Saul that David hid himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is is before Jeshimon; upon which Saul took with him 3000 chosen men of Israel, and went to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph; and pitched in the hill of Hachilah, before Jeshimon, by the way; but David abode in the wilderness, and saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. David, therefore, sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.
C'pon this occasion it pleased Jehovah to afford David another opportunity of convincing Saul of the purity of his intentions; for being come to the place where Saul had encamped, he discovered a trench in which Saul's tent was pitched, with Abner, the son of Ner, the captain of his host; and the people were pitched round about him.
David, no doubt under the influence of the Spirit of God,
* 1 Sam. xxv. 39.
having enquired who would go down with him to Saul's camp, Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, and brother of Joab, expressed his willingness to do so. They accordingly went together in the night, and found Saul sleeping within the trench,* and his speart stuck in the ground at his bolster; but Abner and the people lay round about him. Abishai was anxious to put an end to this state of perpetual hostility at once, and asked David to permit him to smite Saul with his own spear, promising to do it so effectually, that it should not be necessary to repeat the blow; but David said, destroy him not; for who can stretch forth his hand against the anointed of Jehovah, and be guiltless ?
Determined, however, as David was not to injure Saul himself, he well knew what his destiny was to be ; for he immediately exclaimed, in the spirit of prophecy, “As Jehovah liveth, Jehovah shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or be shall descend into battle, and perish. Jehovah forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against Jehovah's anointed ; but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go. So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster : and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked : for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from Jehovah was fallen upon them.”+
David thought it right to make Saul acquainted with the danger to which he had again been exposed, and with the forbearance he had exercised towards him; and therefore went over to the other side, and stood on the top of a hill, afar off from Saul's camp, but within hearing, probably of a trumpet ;
Harmer, iii. 412. + An ensign of royalty. Harmer, i. 43. 1 Sam. xxvi. 12. Burder supposes the cruse to have been the same
as the ancient clepsydra, 0. L. 466.
$ Burder, 0. I., 467.
and he chose to make the communication by a somewhat taunting reproach upon Abner, who had so negligently slept upon his watch, and thereby endangered his monarch's life. “Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel ? Wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king ? For there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord. This thing is not good that thou hast done. As Jehovah liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the anointed of Jehovah. And now see where the king's spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster. And Saul knew David's voice, and said, is this thy voice, my son David ? And David said, it is my voice, my lord, 0 king. And he said, wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant ? for what have I done ? or what evil is in mine band ? Now, therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If Jehovah have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering : but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before Jehovah : for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of Jehovah, saying, go, serve other gods. Now, therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of Jehovah : for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains. Then said Saul, I have sinned: return my son David : for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: bebold I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. And David answered and said, Behold the king's spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it. Jehovah render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: fur Jehovah delivered thee into my hand to-day ; but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the anointed of Jehovah. And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the
of Jehovah, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation. Then
Saul said to David, blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail."
After this they separated, and Saul returned to his place ; and it does not appear that he ever pursued after David any more; for either at length convinced that God was resolved to preserve him from his vengeance, or, perhaps, really softened by this last act of forbearance, we find that even when some of his officious courtiers informed him that David had fled to Gath, Saul sought no more again for him.t
David too went on his way, not, however, placing much confidence in Saul's declaration; for he said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me, than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.”
David, went first to Achish, King of Gath, who received him, with all his family and armed bands, into his own city; but David, justly apprehending some dispute might arise, petitioned the Philistine monarch to give him Ziklag, with which request Achish complied; and that city, which bad been originally included in the lot of Judah, and afterwards assigned to the tribe of Simeon, but taken by the Philistines, became thus united to Judah ever after.
Whilst David kept bimself close in Ziklag, he received a considerable accession of strength; for there came to him several mighty men, armed with bows, who could use both the right hand and the left, in hurling stones, and shooting arrows out of a bow, and these were of the tribe of Benjamin, and of Saul's brethren, besides those of the other tribes.
* | Sam, xxvi. 15–25. + 1 Sam. xxvii. 4. 1 I Sam. xxvii. 1.
y Josh. xix. 3. II Chron. xii.
Josh. xv. 31.
David having invaded the Jeshurites, and the Gezerites, and the Amalekites, who were remnants of the old inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt, left neither man nor woman alive, and took away
the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel; and saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, with a policy wholly unworthy of his character, and the faith displayed by him upon other occasions ; lest they should tell on us, saying, so did David, and so will be his manner, all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.* On his return from this expedition, Achish enquired in what direction he had made his incursion; and David, with an unjustifiable equivocation, answered him, that he had been against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites. And Achish believed David, saying, he hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him, therefore he shall be my servant for ever.t
So confident was Achish of having secured the services of David, that when the Philistines shortly afterwards gathered their armies together, in order to invade the possessions of Israel, he called upon him and his men to march with them. David made no objection; but replied, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do, upon which Achish declared be should be perpetual captain of his guard.
The Philistine army having penetrated as far as Shunem, in the lot of Issachar, Saul collected the hosts of Israel, and encamped in Gilboa; but when he saw the number of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled; not the less, probably, from having ascertained that David and his troops were amongst their number, and from the apprehension that the time was now arrived when God
• 1 Sam. xxvii, 1l.
+ I Sam. xxvii. 13.