Although 1 Samuel 24 closes with Saul repenting of his sinful pursuit of David, David was left to roam the Wilderness of Paran depending upon the kindness of local farmers to provide life’s necessities for him and his men. Among the many farmers David may have approached for supplies, Nabal was especially noteworthy. Nabal was a man of significant wealth. He had the resources to help David and his band but Nabal “was harsh and evil in his dealings” (1 Sam 25:3; contra the theme of Psalm 112). Nabal had a miserly spirit, even refusing to share some of his bounty with David and his troops on a feast day (1 Sam 25:1-11). Nabal’s excuse to David’s men was that he did not know David and if he were to provide sustenance for him, it would be like aiding a slave who had run from his master (1 Sam 25:9-11).
David responded in rage, and if it weren’t for the intervention of Abigail, he may have sinned greatly (1 Sam 25:12-17, 21-22). Word of David’s anger motivated Abigail, Nabal’s wife, to hurry and supply the needs of David and his troops (1 Sam 25:18). In Abigail’s humble plea for mercy upon her husband, she stopped just short of confronting David for his vengeful plans saying, “It is the LORD who kept you from participating in bloodshed and avenging yourself by your own hand” (1 Sam 25:26); “Throughout your life, may evil not be found in you” (1 Sam 25:28); and “When the LORD does for my lord all the good He promised and appoints you ruler over Israel, there will not be remorse or a troubled conscience for my lord because of needless bloodshed or my lord’s revenge” (1 Sam 25:30-31a). Upon hearing of all that Abigail had done during the feast, Nabal had a seizure and within days the Lord had struck Nabal dead (1 Sam 25:38). In the end, David took the “intelligent and beautiful” (1 Sam 25:3; see Proverbs 31) Abigail as his wife (1 Sam 25:39-44).
With the lesson of the Lord’s vengeance fresh in his mind, David was further motivated to have mercy upon Saul (1 Samuel 26). After being informed again by the Ziphites of David’s locale (see 1 Sam 23:19-29), Saul came out after David in the Wilderness of Ziph (1 Sam 26:1-3). David and Abishai approached Saul and his troops as they were resting and Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. Let me thrust the spear through him into the ground just once. I won’t have to strike him twice!” (1 Sam 26:8). But David was purposed on mercy, taking only the spear and water jug that were beside Saul, whom the Lord had caused to fall into a deep sleep (1 Sam 26:11-12). David climbed to safety and shouted down at Saul and his troops (1 Sam 26:13-16), calling God as his protector saying, “May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his loyalty. I wasn’t willing to lift my hand against the LORD’s anointed, even though the LORD handed you over to me today” (1 Sam 26:23).
These chapters of 1 Samuel and Psalms show the degree of opposition David faced before he received the full rights of the throne. In the storyline of Scripture, David prefigures Jesus Christ, who also faced great opposition while awaiting His throne. The author of Hebrews wished to encourage his audience to endure their present suffering in light of the way David—and Christ—endured theirs. In Heb 11:32-34, he placed David with the judges of Israel and the prophets, lauding them for their courageous faithfulness in times of danger (Heb 11:32-34). He reminded his audience that David and the faithful of Israel were like a great cloud of witnesses cheering them on in the race of faith as they kept their eyes on Jesus, “who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne” (Heb 12:2).