June 15, 2023
“David was in the wilderness of Ziph in Horesh when he saw that Saul had come out to take his life. Then Saul’s son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith...”
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“When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Praise the Lord who championed my cause against Nabal’s insults and restrained His servant from doing evil. The Lord brought Nabal’s evil deeds back on his own head.’ Then David sent messengers to speak to Abigail about marrying him.” 1 Samuel 25:39 (HCSB)
Nabal was rough and nasty. My Bible translation defines his name to mean “boorish.” We know he was wealthy because he had three thousand sheep and one thousand goats. Nabal’s men were busy holding a profitable (and festive) sheep-sheering time in Carmel. After all David had done to protect Nabal’s investments, his response to David’s plea was utterly disrespectful.
Of course, Nabal had never asked for David’s assistance, but it was only right to expect a wealthy man like Nabal to show generous appreciation for the services rendered. Nabal, didn’t simply say, “No.” He called David a no-account runaway slave and David’s men a bunch of nobodies who had no right to “my bread,” “my water,” and “my meat.” Such an ungrateful and selfish man deserved to be taught a lesson, but did he really deserve to die by the blade of David’s sword? Enter Abigail.
Acting as equal parts self-preservationist, Prophetess, and national adviser, Abigail intervenes on behalf of her family, her king, and her nation. The theme of today’s chapter is “restraint.” Abigail’s plea to David is truly directed by the Lord to restrain David, keeping him from doing something that would have foolishly jeopardized God’s plan for David, Israel, and ultimately the line of Messiah.
Today’s chapter teaches us how the Lord rescues His servants from their stupidity, restrains them from executing their sinful purposes, and how sometimes He graciously and firmly intercepts us on the road to foolishness. Not only does He do this for an anointed king, but His mercy extends to all His servants. We can all tell tales of how the Lord has constructed roadblocks on our journeys to foolish self-destruction!
God’s mercy sends frustration to our purposes. His kindness hinders our paths. It is essential that, like David, we respond rightly to such episodes of the Lord’s restraining us. Read chapters 24 and 25 back-to-back. Notice the contrast in David’s attitude between Saul and Nabal and how David compartmentalizes his faith. In chapter 24, he is the restrainer; he will not harm Saul or permit his soldiers to do so. In chapter 25, David must be restrained; he wants to shed Nabal’s (and all Nabal’s men’s) blood over an insult. All this because David responded in the flesh without consulting the Lord. This is a shadow of things to come, for a Hittite named Uriah would have done well to have paid attention to this account: David refuses to take personal vengeance on “the Lord’s anointed” but is most willing to liquidate a private Israelite. I remember times when I had seen God’s way clearly in some dilemma but missed it entirely in another situation where the same principles applied. We must always rely on God’s leading.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (HCSB)