MEN BEHAVING BADLY …
… WOMAN SAVES THE DAY!
1 Samuel 25:1-44.
Life is a very complex tangle of relationships … family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, acquaintances, customers, clients, strangers … our paths cross with many others and life is such that we will at various time be insulted, hurt, rejected, criticized, ignored, victimised and so on.
Christians are not cut off from the realities of life – we do not live in a spiritual cocoon.
A very common experience is that we start off our spiritual life with enthusiasm and promise – a desire to know and serve God – like David to ‘have a heart for God’ – BUT then somewhere along the line we are spoiled and corrupted. We can so easily end up shipwrecked.
None of us is exempt from the potential of this process. Someone offends us, crosses us and we don’t get what we want and all our self-importance and ego surges to defend. And we set out to avenge our offended feelings and image!
If ever this applied to anyone it applied to David in his reaction to Nabal. If it was not for the intervention of a wise and gracious and courageous, not to mention, beautiful woman, David would have made a huge mistake.
So this is a story about MEN BEHAVING BADLY …. and about a WOMAN WHO SAVES THE DAY!
David and his band of followers moved out of the desert area around En-Gedi to an area called Maon. In the area lived a wealthy farmer named Nabal … his sheep and goats were out in the fields grazing. Israel is wild, rugged country – it still is, and not just geographically but also politically – wild groups of raiders would often fight with the shepherds and steal the stock – BUT David and his men were different and while they were in the area they protected the shepherds from these raiders.
It was customary, that when shearing time came, and a feast was held, those who had protected the sheep were rewarded for their protection. No law but like tipping a waiter for service given.
Nabal is shearing his sheep. So it is payday. David sends a delegation to Nabal … he sends warm greetings … wishes him well … and asks for some provisions.
1. NABAL THE FOOLISH FARMER.
Nabal is a wealthy man – 1000 goats and 3000 sheep – v.2 tells us that he is very wealthy – Heb. ‘heavy’ – this guy is loaded.
David is not asking for half his wealth – just a few provision for services rendered. NB that David doesn’t demand specific things or amounts … ………………. 1 Samuel 25:8 ……………. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’ ”
Listen to Nabal’s response … 1 Samuel 25:10-11
10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and my water, and my meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”
Nabal acts as if he has never heard of David – He not only refuses his request but he insults him … he lumps him together with the common criminals who are infesting the wilderness. He likens him to nothing more than a runaway slave!
Nabal is a self absorbed, egotistical fool. NB the number of times he uses the words ‘I’ – ‘my’ – ‘mine’ in v.11
Nabal’s name is very appropriate – it lit. means ‘fool’. Remember that in the Bible ‘fool’ is not someone who is simpleminded but someone who says ‘There is no God’ – not necessarily an atheist but a person who lives as if there is no God.
Nabal is also a harsh man – hard, stubborn and belligerent … 1 Samuel 25:3 3 His name was Nabal………… a Calebite, … surly and mean in his dealings. (NIV)
We might say that Nabal is not the most gracious man in the world!
His refusal and insult sparks a swift and violent reaction from David.
2. DAVID A RAGING REVENGER.
We are not exactly sure how long David and his men had been living in the wilderness – their provisions would have been meagre – they were looking forward to a few roasted lambs and some home baking. There are few beasts more irritable than hungry men.
ILLUS.: Remember when I was in the army – out on patrol for days in the desert in SWA [now Namibia] – coming back to base the patrol always got first place in line for food and the cooks would give bigger portions – because the camp commander knew that when men stomachs are full they are more manageable!!
When David’s hears the report of Nabal’s response he loses it. He is so angry. He is outrage. He wants vengeance. He is going to kill this rude, harsh, ungrateful fool. He is going with 400 armed men – to deal with a farmer and a few shepherds – a bit of overkill isn’t it??!
David over-reacts – doesn’t this touch a chord within each of us? someone hit us at a vulnerable spot – we feel hurt, insulted, snubbed, our pride is dented and we react, in fact we usually over-react. I know I have done it!!
When Saul was out to kill David he had been a model of patience and godliness … he had treated Saul with dignity as God’s anointed.
When King Saul felt threatened he went and wiped out the entire town of Nob …now David is on the verge of become like Saul … out to get anyone who threatened his status.
“David! Where is your self-restraint … a few insulting words from a fool like Nabal and you have gone crazy!”
Doesn’t this expose something in us that should make us cringe. It shows how sinful the heart really is even when it has been renewed by grace!
This incident tells us that is doesn’t matter how long I have been a Christian or how many battles with temptation I may have won. I may have defeated sin in this and that area of my life yesterday BUT I can so easily fall flat on my face today!
ILLUS.: There is a saying in sports circles that you are only as good as your last game!
A similar principle operates in the spiritual realm … we may have been Christians for many years … struggled to overcome various sins and temptations and then at the pinprick of an insult we explode into vengeful attack mode! To show restraint in dealing with one person who is unkind or hateful is no guarantee that I will not explode at the next one who does it.
That is what David did … by his reaction David is behaving and becoming just like Nabal. The very thing that he despises is the very thing that he is succumbing to!!
Nabal is a fool and a vulgar man and that provokes David to react with like vulgarity … Listen to his crudity … you might not like this but this is what it says in the KJV … 1 Samuel 25:21-22 21 Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow [NABAL] hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good. 22 So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall. (KJV)
When we react in an ungodly way to ungodly insults we are becoming like the one you insulted or offended us.
So we have Nabal the ‘Fool’ and David the ‘Revenger’ … MEN BEHAVING BADLY!
And it would have ended in disaster and blood shed had it not been for the swift and wise intervention of a beautiful woman!
… A WOMAN SAVES THE DAY!
3. ABIGAIL A GRACIOUS GO-BETWEEN.
Abigail is Nabal’s wife … and what a contrast to her fool of a husband.
1 Samuel 25:3 3 ….. his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings. (NIV)
She is a lovely woman within and without. She is a wise woman whose decisions make good sense. She is governed by good-logical thinking rather than by her emotions. And if that weren’t enough she was also good looking.
She get a report from the servants that her foolish husband had insulted David and that he is on his way with 400 men to deal with it.
It is obviously common knowledge that she is the sensible wise one in the family – the servants know that they can go to her rather than to her husband. It makes you wonder who was the brains behind the accumulation of the wealth anyway!
The servants come to her. She is approachable. Her husband is not. She see her husband for what he is. She knows his weaknesses and at this moment he is weak and she doesn’t fight him but protects.
She doesn’t become all ‘super-spiritual’ – “I think I should pray about this!”
There is a time to pray and there is a time to act – this situation demanded action. BUT it is clear from the way she approaches David that she is a godly woman.
We can’t suddenly become spiritual when a crisis hit, we need to be developing our spiritual strength on and on-going basis – in worship and fellowship with God and with his people [the church] so that when a crisis hits we have the spiritual wisdom and courage to act decisively.
This was Abigail … and here she acts in favour of her spouse.
Some of the best counsel a man can get is from his wife, who knows him better than anyone else on earth. The best kind of help / direction / and ever rebuke often comes from our spouses. They know when to do it, how to do it and it is usually done with the right motives!!
If Nabal had consulted his wife in this matter the incident wouldn’t have occurred. BUT for Abigail to confront Nabal now would be suicidal and so she acts on his behalf .. without his knowledge!
There is some beauty that is only skin deep and is applied from without and sometimes it is accompanied by an empty head and a shallow life. NOT SO with Abigail who is both beautiful and wise!
She puts together a huge hamper and goes to meet David and his men.
She bows before David with reverence and respect. She doesn’t try to cover her husband’s foolishness or make excuses. BUT she takes the responsibility upon herself as the go-between / mediator. She stands BETWEEN NABAL AND DAVID bearing gifts of food and appealing to reason!
She also acts as a mediator BETWEEN GOD AND DAVID.
What she says to David can be summarized like this .. “David please, please don’t do this thing. It is not worthy of the future King of Israel. Remember God’s anointing on you. Remember God’s mercy to you. Don’t stoop to fighting personal grudge battles. Your task is to fight the battles of the Lord.”
The she said something that struck at David’s heart and must have hit him between the eyes like the stone from his sling had hit Goliath between the eyes. … 1 Samuel 25:29 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. (NIV)
“Remember Goliath, David, how you went out in the power of the God of Israel!” David wasn’t doing that now.
David wasn’t about God’s business he was out to exact personal vengeance and if he didn’t stop he would damage his track record and he would have blood on his hands.
David has been out in the wilderness NOT to see how strong and resilient he is BUT how to discover the strength and faithfulness of God. When God puts us through the wilderness experience it is not to make us self-reliant and independent BUT rather to make us depend entirely on God himself.
Nabal was no Goliath. If David hadn’t stopped he would have been no better than Nabal. One fool in this story is enough.
Astonishingly David stops – listens – looks! Here on her knees between David’s army and Nabal is Beauty – Abigail speaks and she speaks God back into David’s life.
Peterson “ The accelerating momentum of the story is stopped and then reversed by Abigail, marginal Abigail. Abigail is marginal because she’s a women in a man-dominated world. Abigail is marginal because she is weaponless in a sword-rattling world.”
Abigail’s beauty both inward and outward – her action and her words – her beauty shows up David’s plunge into ugliness and he sees and he hears God again.
Her beauty puts David in touch with the Lord again, and with the beauty of the Lord. He suddenly realises who he is, what he is doing and what his life is for.
LESSONS FOR US>
Abigail brings David back in touch with God.
This is a beautiful picture of our Lord Jesus Christ – the one who is our mediator – who in all his beauty and splendour became the go-between between heaven and earth — and still fulfills that role. And calls us as his people – his church on earth [ together and individually] – to be ‘Abigails’, reflecting the beauty of the Lord to those who are making fool of themselves by living life without reference to God.
That is the lesson that Abigail teaches us.
There is another lesson that we can learn from David.
David responds to Abigail’s pleading!!
What a teachable spirit David has! Hears is David with his sword ready to kill YET he stops and listens to this woman without interrupting – and he changes! A man after God’s heart. He was willing to change! He was willing to admit he was wrong and change!
Sometimes we become angry and bitter and blind and we stubbornly refuse to change because we believe that we are right.
David was right that he had been wronged BUT he was wrong to be a revenger!
BUT David had the grace and a God-sensitive heart to stop and turn around when someone godly and wise gave him a ‘word in season’.
That is what we need to be like flexible and teachable. Because if we are not flexible and teachable we will end up being like Nabal – harsh and mean and foolish. David set out to deal with Nabal but that isn’t spirituality in that … all that would have done would be to reduce David to Nabal’s level.
When we are hurt / insulted / wronged in some way whether real or imaginary it is so easy to become wrapped up in ourselves and to want to attack to defend our egos or to erect a protective wall — BUT in so doing we can become so wrapped up in ourselves that we can entirely forget about God.
God doesn’t want us to be wrapped up in ourselves — he wants us to be wrapped up in Him … listen to what Abigail says in 1 Samuel 25:29 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. (NIV)
bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God – What a wonderful promise!
Colossians 3:2-3 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (NIV)
Learn to think like God and not like Nabal. As a Christian your life is wrapped up in Christ. Get God’s perspective on things – don’t fall into the trap of evaluating live from the perspective of ‘one who lives life with no reference to God and his word.
God honoured David and shortly afterwards Nabal died and David courted and married Abigail. If vengeance is required God will see to it in his time.
For our part we need to be teachable like David and wise and beautiful like Abigail.
MEN BEHAVING BADLY …
1 Samuel 25:1-44
1. NABAL – THE FOOLISH FARMER
~ he spurns a reasonable request
~ he insults a man with an army
2. DAVID – THE RAGING REVENGER
~ he over-reacts because his pride is hurt
~ past restraint is no guarantee against
… A WOMAN SAVES THE DAY!!
3. ABIGAIL – THE GRACIOUS GO-BETWEEN
~ between Nabal and David
~ between God and David
~ Abigail puts David back in touch
~ David is teachable / flexible