1 Samuel 25: Why did his parents name him "fool"?

1 Samuel 25: Why did his parents name him "fool"?

The Journey is not “fooling around” — sign up for The Bible Project now.

The Journey is not “fooling around” — sign up for The Bible Project now.

How would you feel if your name meant “fool”?

His name was Nabal, which means “fool” in Hebrew (what were his parents thinking?). David sends his men to ask for provisions from the wealthy Nabal, since David had done him a service by protecting his shepherds. However, Nabal lives down to his name, giving them nothing and dismissing them by asking, “Who is this David?”

David’s response is “Put on your swords.” All that saves Nabal is his wife Abigail who is as wise as he is foolish. Hearing that an angry David and his army are approaching, she brings them provisions, bows humbly before David, and takes the blame for offending him on herself. Abigail recognizes that the Lord is with David, and asks for forgiveness and mercy in the Lord’s name. David forgives her, knowing that the Lord has sent her to him.

When Abigail returns to Nabal and tells him how close he came to death at the hand of David, Nabal grows ill. Ten days later, the Lord strikes him dead. When David hears of it, he sends for Abigail and makes her one of his wives.

Next Steps

In all this, the Lord is in control. He sends Abigail to David. He softens David’s heart. He (not David) takes vengeance on Nabal. When one will not listen to God he is a fool who dies. When one does listen, she is blessed by God.


God of generosity, keep us from the foolishness of greed and selfishness.

Dr. Gary Holloway is guest writing for The Journey Bible Project Blog.


Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway. 

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