One day a family was conflicting and really going at one another. Dad and Mom were arguing both at each other and the children. The children were yelling and nitpicking at each other and having grumpy attitudes towards the parents. After most of the day continuing in this manner, the Mom suggested they take a break and write down their complaints on a blank piece of paper and then show the other person their written concerns. She thought it might help settle their emotions and focus communication to be healthier and more positive. The Dad agreed, so he got the paper and the Mom got the pens for them all to start writing.
Each member of the family had no trouble getting started. They wrote furiously for a several minutes. The husband would pause writing to look up at his wife, and then go back to writing. The wife responding with angry looks at her husband and then she would return adding to her list. The children followed their parents example with annoyed glances. The furious stares and feverish writing would continue for forty-five minutes. Finally, the children and Dad had finished the front of their page and stopped writing being ready to talk. However, the mother kept looking into the eyes of her husband and children, and coming up with more to write down, covering both sides of the paper. The children became weary and teary eyed, and the husband was growing defensive and distressed at his wife’s lengthy writing.
Finally, the Mom finished and they all exchanged sheets of paper, When the children looked at Mom’s paper, their hearts melted, and tears began to stream. Likewise, the husband was humbled. They all wanted to take their sheet back to rewrite their list. For the Mom’s paper, every line on both sides of the paper said, “I love you. I’m disappointed, but I love you.” When the rest of the family saw how much their Mom loved them, they wished they had never argued in the first place. Her care covered a multitude of sins.
A Mother’s love is transforming and a true treasure. This morning we express gratefulness to God for all the mothers.
Additionally, we are continuing our series for knowing the will of God. Previously we’ve looked at
- Romans 12 for being available as a living sacrifice and adaptable in the renewing of our minds from God’s word.
- Romans 14 with questions to shape our convictions: Does it worship God, weaken others, widen faith?
Today and next week we will examine these principles through case studies of real lives.
- Abigail (Abby) and Nabal
Today we are in 1Samuel 25 for doing God’s will when you’re around a fool.
EXAMINE 1Samuel 25
Following God’s will requires knowing your purpose (1Sam 25:1-3).
- David had been anointed king of Israel, yet he was not the actual king. Saul was still king and wanted no competition – so he pursued David multiple times to kill him. In the process, David could have killed Saul but chose to spare the kings life. David knew his identity as God’s servant not an earthly tyrant. So, David is traveling away from Saul into the wilderness of Paran.
- There’s a man named Nabal. Nabal’s identity is all earthly: very wealthy with 3000 sheep and 1000 goats. Additionally, we learn some other items about Nabal’s identity.
- Nabal’s wealth is mentioned before his name, indicating the type of individual.
- Nabal = fool. Who names their child “Fool”? Perhaps his character reputation shaped his name.
- Nabal was harsh and badly behaved. The idea is that he was hard to get along with, demanding and depraved, and likely greedy.
- Nabal was a Calebite. Caleb was a model example for Israel (Num 13-14; 14:24; Josh 14). This detail notes the likely source of Nabal’s inherited wealth, but he lacked the character of Caleb.
- Talent can get you a seat at the table but only character can keep you there.
- Nabal had married up – to Abigal. She was beautiful & brainy (discerning) woman; “she was lovely within and without”; life is unfair for this fool.
- God has created and gifted every person with a purpose. You have a calling…
- A calling to be God’s child and have contentment in Christ.
Contentment is being at peace not with your circumstances but with Christ in your circumstances.
- This world is not our home. Yearn and seek to know Christ and fellowship of His sufferings.
- Worry is not believing God will get it right; bitterness is believing God got it wrong (Keller).
- We can trust God. Take your worry and write it down as a prayer.
- Matthew 7:9-10 “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”
- Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also graciously give us all things?”
- A calling to serve God in the every day. God’s will is ordinary obedience more than extraordinary experiences.
- Women, your greatest identity is not as a wife or mother, but as a child of God. God is more important than your spouse and children, your career and clean house. Take time to know Jesus…
– If you don’t plan your calendar, someone or something else will.
– Husbands, schedule free time for your spouse to be and not do.
- Men, your greatest identity is not as a worker but as a worshiper.
– Live the life that you want to see in others.
– A faith legacy is more important fortune.
Following God’s will requires knowing your priorities (1Sam 25:4-31).
Just because you want to follow the will of God does not mean others do. We live in a world (even Christiandom) where people have differing priorities and preferences. We will not always agree and can expect conflict to occur. However, if we do not establish and maintain the right priorities then we will easily become distracted.
- 8) David’s priority was as a child of God and citizen of Israel. He protected Nabal’s property, verified by one of Nabal’s servants “the men were very good to us and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything in the fields as long as we went with them. They were a wall to us both night and day” (vv.15-16).
- David’s protection assumed future generosity by Nabal; a common cultural principle. So, he sent 10 men to greet Nabal and request provisions of food. He sought peace (6) but instead received contempt (v.10-11 “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take MY bread and MY water and MY meat that I have killed for MY shearers and give it to men who come from where I do not know?” Nabal was in the clear wrong for not paying favor to one who was fulfilling a service (Lev 19:13; Deut 24:15); yet David was not right in his revenge pursuit (Lev 19:18).
- David’s response to conflict was arrogance and aggression. “Every man strap on his sword… David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage” (v.13). 400 men to take out 1 gives definition to the word “overkill.”
- Arrogant leaders have a lot of baggage!
Provers 25:28 “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
- See 21-22 “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good.”).
- David was learning how to be a man and a king, which takes time and circumstance. Sometimes in order to achieve peace you have to endure seasons of conflict. But, in every circumstance we must remain teachable – and in this moment, David wasn’t… until Abigail intervenes.
- Arrogant leaders have a lot of baggage!
- David’s priorities became self-motivated rather than serving God or others.
We can serve selfishly too… with a clock in our hand counting the minutes / or counting the years of service to boast about… or we can serve with a ruler in our hand to measure how much we accomplish. While evaluation is wise, the motivation behind our actions is important.
- 14-17 One of Nabal’s servants told Abigail. Apparently, he knew the madness of his master and the astuteness of Abigail.
- You may not have a title or means to impact a situation. However, you may know someone who does and that can make all the difference. Further, you can focus on the impossibility or your potential influence. The best and most powerful act of influence is prayer. Of all the life-building, soul-stirring, leader-acting practices we can do – prayer is the difference. The temple veil was split open, which no one can sew back, and we have the privilege and access to God’s power.
- Fight your problems with prayer.
- Fight your people enemies in prayer.
- 18-31 Abigail listens then leaps (made haste) to action. She gathers and gives David 200 loaves of bread and 2 skins of wine, 5 sheep already prepared, 35 quarts of grain, 100 raisin clusters, and 200 fig cakes.
- This narrative is a hint of sacrificial offering. And interestingly, it’s Abigal (a woman) who is making the atonement/propitiation to forgive the sin of Nabal.
- We also have a side reminder of the value of food and hospitality to overcome challenges and conflict.
- NT teaching is “overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21)
- Abigail approaches David with humility. She refers to herself as David’s “servant/handmaid” six times and calls him “my lord” She admits that David and his men have suffered wrong at the hand of Nabal – she knows her man for good or bad, “a worthless fellow and folly is with him” (1Sam 25:25).
> How often does a person enter conflict situation by initiating an ask of forgiveness (v.28).
- Abigail appeals to David’s legacy & character. She tells David that God sent her to stop him from murdering a man in anger, 26. She tells David that if he kills Nabal in anger it will hang over his legacy like a dark cloud. If he does what his anger is telling him to do, he will regret it forever. She appeals to the spiritual side of David (v.31)!
Proverbs 29:22 “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.”
- Imagine a teacher in classroom having 100 boxes with each box full of 1,000 pencils; plenty for the whole year. Any time a child broke/lost/finished a pencil, they could get another one without asking or complaint. After the first couple weeks you could imagine children having to remember they could easily replace their pencil. However, if after several months – or nearing end of school year – a child was having fits over a lost pencil, it would show the child is more focused on negative problems than positive priorities. NOTE: My illustration is not relating to children of special needs of any sort – simply illustrating a larger principle about how adults can do the same in misplaced priorities.
à How many of us can be focused on pencil problems than God’s promises & priorities? All of us!
ex. When white dress shirt is turned pink, when toilet seat is up but you need down, when appt runs 10 min late, stuck in traffic, when you’re blamed for action you didn’t commit, etc…
à How should you respond? Refocus…
- Our priorities are to love God and love people. In the impulsive moments of life we can be tempted to take or rake… take for our own pleasure or rake people with anger, bitterness, and revenge. Instead we should be makers of people… As Abigail saw David not for who he was in that moment, but who he should and could be in the future. Likewise, we need to be makers of people into the image of Christ.
*** Isn’t this what we love about MOM’S?
Following God’s will requires knowing your pride (1Sam 25:32…).
- David was humbled by Abigail’s winsome mediation, and he praised God for her (v.32-33).
- David’s short fuse was forgiven; character kept intact, his legacy protected. David’s intended actions would have likely spiraled into consequences he would never have been able to overcome. Sin always oversteps its welcome into our lives. As possible, we must learn to not only avoid sin but be attentive to areas where we are tempted to sin.
- Abigail knows Nabal’s pride is full… he’s drunk. She waits to explain all that has happened until Nabal slept and became sober. Abigail’s wisdom and discernment shines again, showing she understand not just what to do, but when and how to do it.
> >> Sometimes our message is right but our method is wrong.
- Abigail tells Nabal she spared their life with David, and he has a heart attack. Either he became enraged at Abigail and the loss of his supposed possessions, or he had panic attack from realizing the destruction that could have occurred – either way, he died.
- David was confrontable and teachable, but Nabal was not insecure. Which are you?
Parents must cultivate confrontability in their children.
Proverbs 15:31 “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.”
- In Abigail, we learn we need others who can hold us accountable. I need the church and the church needs me.
- We need Abigail’s to lovingly confront.
- Jonathan’s to stand by us when all others walk out.
- Jethro’s to ask us hard questions.
- Paul’s to avoid flattery and build our faith.
- Timothy’s to be our protégé and pass on the work.
– After Nabal dies, David marries Abigail (25:40).
- Nabal repays good with evil… that’s irrational.
- David repays evil with more evil… that’s typical.
- Abigail repays evil with grace… that’s remarkable… that’s what Jesus does for us.
- Abigail is like Christ – mediating for guilty (25:17, 25), willing sacrifice (25:18), atoning and taking blame (25:24), peacemaking (25:26-28), silent in midst of fools (25:36), speaks wisely (25:29), declares kingdom & prophecies David’s future (25:30-31), servant to wash feet (25:41), rose from “death” after Nabal unto David (25:42).
- What petty / pencil problems are you focused that you need to refocus on what can and should in the promises of God?
- What evil is happening to you that Christ is calling you to return with good? Ask for His strength to do so.
- Are you aware of the Abigail-likeness in your life through Jesus? Jesus is waiting for you to see the circumstances and people placed in your life to redirect you toward Him.
 Charles Swindoll, David.