David “heard that Nabal was shearing sheep” (1 Samuel 25:4) in Carmel. During a recently completed stay in the Desert of Maon (1 Samuel 23:24–25), David had used his men to act as a security force for this relative’s servants and animals (1 Samuel 25:16). Now during the present festive time of taking profit from the animals that David and his men had protected, David “sent ten young men” bearing a treaty-like personal statement to his wealthy kinsman. This statement included a blessing on Nabal and his servants, a review of the history of the relationship between David’s group and Nabal’s group, and a request for fair compensation.
- First, David instructed his men to extend a blessing to Nabal and his household, wishing the man “long life” and “good health.”
- Second, David’s men were to remind Nabal that during the time they protected the wealthy man’s servants and flocks, David’s forces “did not mistreat them,” and “nothing of theirs was missing” (1 Samuel 25:7).
- Third, David’s men were to make a request for an unspecified but appropriate gift to be given in return for the protection provided and also as a gesture of support and goodwill during this “festive time.”
In 1 Samuel 25:9–13 Nabal, the fool, responded to this message delivered “in David’s name” (1 Samuel 25:9) in a manner consistent with his “harsh and evil” (1 Samuel 25:3) character. Rather than supporting David, arguably the most famous (and from Saul’s perspective infamous!) member of his tribe at this time, Nabal snubbed and insulted David. He rejected the significance of “this son of Jesse” (1 Samuel 25:10) and implied that David and his troops were nothing more than a band of rogue slaves who had broken “away from their masters.”