Some people just seem to be begging for harm to come to them—the guy who flies down the highway at ninety miles per hour, the kids who play outside during a thunderstorm, the woman who shoplifts a few things here and there. Nabal, whose name appropriately means “fool,” would have found good company with these people.
Nabal was a wealthy landowner who lived in Carmel, about fifteen miles west of En-gedi on the Dead Sea, the area where David and his men were hiding from Saul. David’s men had been careful not to harass Nabal’s servants as they looked after his huge flocks of sheep and goats, and David’s men even provided protection for Nabal’s flocks against bandits in the area (1 Samuel 25:15–16). So when the time came for Nabal to shear his sheep and reap the profits, David sent his men to ask for a gratuity. Nabal, true to his name, refused—and it was only the shrewd intervention of his wife that kept David from completely wiping out Nabal and his men.
In the end, Nabal was struck dead by the Lord (1 Samuel 25:37–38), and David married his widow. David’s wife Abigail, Nabal’s widow, was later captured and carried off by Amalekites who raided the town of Ziklag while David was away. Ziklag had been given to David while he sought refuge from Saul in Philistia. When David learned about Abigail’s capture, he quickly mobilized his men and pursued the Amalekites and destroyed them, recovering Abigail and the other captives. (1 Samuel 30.)