The whole nation had gathered for Samuelís funeral. After the funeral, David and his men did not return to En Gedi. Instead, they went back to Maon (25:1). They had previously been there (23:24). They knew that, during that period of the year, they could find work there as guards (25:16).
Nabal was one of the richest men in that region. His wealth depended upon the skill of the men whom he employed to look after his animals. They had to lead his sheep and goats through a dry region, to find food and water for them.
The places where they could find those things would vary through the year. Nabalís success was the result of their careful efforts.
Nabal was doing this in one of the most dangerous regions in ancient Israel. On the south side of Judah, there lived many groups of thieves and robbers. These men lived wholly or partly by what they could steal from Israelís people. Job 1:13-17 describes typical attacks by thieves in these regions. They gathered in large groups, then they attacked suddenly. They would take away all the animals at once. They would kill the men who were looking after those animals.
Israelís army was not active in the south of Judah because Saulís men were constantly fighting wars elsewhere. So Nabalís servants depended very much on whatever guards they could obtain. It was hard to find guards whom they could trust. Many men who offered themselves to be guards were in fact thieves. So when David brought his men into the region, Nabalís servants were very grateful for their help. Davidís men did not receive their full wages immediately. It was the custom that, at the proper time, David would arrange this with Nabal, on their behalf.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.