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William Shepard

The Wife of Nabal

David and his followers went back to the wilderness of Maon. There was a rich man in that neighborhood, named Nabal, who had a great many sheep and goats. David and his followers looked after Nabal's flocks, and would not allow any one to come near them, or to molest his shepherds. When shearing-time was come, David sent ten messengers to Nabal, telling him of the good care he had taken of his sheep, and asking him for food as a small return for all he had done. But Nabal was a foolish and ill-natured man, and he asked, "Who is David?" When they answered, he was the son of Jesse, Nabal cried that there were many servants that had run away from their masters as David had done, but he would not give such people any assistance.

When the messengers returned to David with these words, he was very angry, and he swore that he would that night destroy the house and all the possessions of Nabal. By this time he had six hundred men under his command. He told four hundred to arm themselves and come with him.

Nabal had a very wise and prudent wife, whose name was Abigail. She had learned from the young men of David's message, and of how it had been received, and she was grieved at it. When her husband, who had become drunk with wine, was fast asleep, she saddled her asses and loaded them with all sorts of presents and went in search of David. She met him as he was coming down a hill at the head of his four hundred men. And she got down from the ass and bowed down before him with her face to the ground, and entreated him not to mind the words of Nabal. Then she asked him to accept the presents she brought with her. David's anger was calmed by what the woman said, and he took her presents and spoke kindly to her, and suffered her to return home in peace.

Now when Nabal recovered from his drunkenness, his wife told him of the danger he had been in. He was greatly frightened by her story, so that all the strength went out of his body, and he sickened and died within ten days. When David learned that Nabal was dead, he said that he had only received his proper punishment, but for himself he rejoiced that God had preserved him from going down to Nabal's house in his anger and staining his hands with blood.

And David loved Abigail, and invited her to come and live with him and be his wife. She said to his messengers that she was not worthy of so great an honor, but she would do as David said. So she came with all her servants, and was married to him.