1 Samuel 25:12-13
Sermon preached on January 24, 2010 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.
Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
Some people take credit for things or are proud of things they should not be. For example, there's a church in Halifax, Nova Scotia called Fort Massey. On their web page, has a section about the history of their congregation, part of which deals with some of the famous people who gave attended their church. I quote,
"Over the years many notable Haligonians worshipped at Fort Massey including Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables)"
Lucy Maud Montgomery was from Prince Edward Island and she spent a year working in Halifax and while there she attended Fort Massey. The reason they shouldn't brag about that is because Lucy Maud didn't particularly like Fort Massey. In her diary, on June 2, 1902, Lucy Maud wrote,
"Annie and I went to Fort Massey in the evening. I was not sorry that it was my last Sunday at Fort Massey for as a church I have no use for it. Church, indeed! I should call it cold storage! I have been going to it regularly ever since last fall and not one living soul in it, not even the minister has ever once spoken to me. I have taught in the Chinese school every Sunday evening and not one of the teachers has ever spoken to me. When Myrtie Clark introduced me to the Superintendent and told him I would take a class he said he was very glad. When I went to him last Sunday and told him I would have to give up the work as I was going away he said he was sorry. He did not even thank me for what I had done."
And they're bragging that Lucy Maud went there! Such should not be.
It's noteworthy that David is not like that. David was on his way to commit a great sin when Abigail intercepted him. He was going to kill Nabal and all his men. When he heard Abigail's words and came to his senses, he gave the credit to God. He did acknowledge Abigail's part in it but he correctly traced the his preservation to God. He said to Abigail, (verse 32)
"Praise be to the Lord,
the God of Israel,
who has sent you today to meet me."
There are great lessons for us in the passage before us, relating to how good God is to us and how we should be praising and thanking Him for it.
The first truth we should be clear on is the fact that
it was God who kept David from sinning.
David's words acknowledge that. So, too, do Abigail's words. In verse 26 she said to David,
"Now since the LORD has kept you,
my master, from bloodshed
and from avenging yourself
with your own hands…”
Both David and Abigail traced Abigail's actions to God's providence. They knew that He was in control of their destinies and that although He uses secondary things to fulfill His purposes—He is the One who is in control. David acknowledged this in Psalm 23 where He said that God was his shepherd. In that psalm he said, (verse 3)
"He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake."
In Psalm 4:8 he acknowledged that God alone made him,
"dwell in safey."
In Psalm 66:9 he said that God,
"he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping."
David knew that if he was going to be great, a king, a hero of the faith, an example to others, it was only because God, (Psalm 18:35)
"stoop(s) down to make me great."
Abigail could have taken the credit for herself. She could gave given credit to the servant who warned her. But no, she, too, gave the credit to God—the Lord, the faithful One who was the One who really sent her to stop David.
God stopped David from committing a great sin.
What David was planning to do to David would have been a great sin.
David was angry when Nabal insulted him. He was going to kill Nabal and all the men who were with him. David told his men to put on their swords and took 400 of them with him. He was going to Nabal to slaughter his whole household. Just before Abigail met him, David had said to his men, (verses 20-22)
"It's been useless—all my watching
over this fellow's property in the desert
so that nothing of his was missing.
He has paid me back evil for good.
May God deal with David,
be it ever so severely,
if by morning I leave alive one male
of all who belong to him!"
Now don't misunderstand me. Nabal deserved to die. The fact that the Lord put him to death shows that. Nabal had treated the Word of the Lord with contempt. He had treated David, the Lord's anointed, with contempt. He refused to give anything to David. Nabal deserved to die. But it was not David's place to kill him. It would have been a great mistake for David to kill Nabal and all his men. Abigail pointed that out to David. She said to him, (verses 30-31)
"When the LORD has done for my master
every good thing he promised
and has appointed him leader over Israel,
my master will not have on his conscience
the staggering burden
of needless bloodshed
or of having avenged himself."
There were two things wrong with what David was going to do. First, it would have meant that he was taking vengeance.
For David to kill Nabal it would have been a crime. The Mosaic Law forbid revenge. Leviticus 19:18 reads,
"Do not seek revenge
or bear a grudge
against one of your people,
but love your neighbor as yourself."
In spite of his contempt for David, David was not allowed to kill Nabal. Nabal was not a threat to David. He wasn't plotting to kill him or to harm him as such. All he was doing was failing to give him some supplies. David would be able to get supplies elsewhere. It's not like he and his men were going to starve because of what Nabal did. No. What Nabal did was insult David. If David had killed him it would have been because of the insult. It would have been needless. It would have shown that he didn't trust God.
Just like us, David was not allowed to take revenge. As we read in Romans 12:14, 17–21,
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right
in the eyes of everybody.
If it is possible,
as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my friends,
but leave room for God's wrath,
for it is written:
It is mine to avenge;
I will repay,' says the Lord.
On the contrary:
'If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty,
give him something to drink.
In doing this,
you will heap burning coals on his head.'
Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
Second, it would have been 'needless bloodshed'. If David had killed Nabal's men it would have been a crime because they weren't responsible for Nabal's actions. Consider the servant who reported Nabal's actions to Abigail. What fault was there in him? None. He knew that David's request was valid. He knew that Nabal should have helped David. If it was up to him he would have given the supplies to David. He would not have insulted David's men. This guy was a good servant. Indeed, he want to Abigail and pleaded with her to do something. So for David to kill Nabal's servants would have been a great crime. It would have been needless bloodshed.
If David had killed Nabal and slaughtered his men it was like it would have rendered David unfit to be king over Israel. It certainly would have been a great blemish on his record.
There are two great lessons for us here.
How wonderful it is that God often keeps us from slipping, from slipping down the slippery slope to destruction!
What a Savior we have in Jesus Christ. Every day we should be praising Him for His care over us. One of the great titles of our Lord Jesus is that of the "Good Shepherd". In John 10 Jesus twice referred to Himself by that title. In verse 11 He said,
"I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd
lays down his life for the sheep."
Then in verses 14 and 15 Jesus said,
"I am the good shepherd;
I know my sheep and my sheep know me…
and I lay down my life for the sheep."
The picture Jesus presented is that of a shepherd who is not only totally committed to his sheep, but one who will surely save them. He continued in verses 28–30,
"I give them eternal life,
and they shall never perish;
no one can snatch them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me,
is greater than all; no one can snatch them
out of my Father's hand."
There are many ways in which God protects us and saves us. We see one of them in our text. David was going to kill Nabal. Dale Davis writes, (1 Samuel, p. 260)
"The text teaches us how Yahweh rescues his servants from their own stupidity, how he restrains them from executing their sinful purposes, how sometimes he graciously and firmly intercepts us on the road to follyÖ What loving hands construct the roadblocks to our foolishness!"
God often does that for His people. He prevents them from going astray, prevents them from doing things that would destroy them.
We have many examples of this is Scripture. Remember when Joseph's brothers saw him coming to them and planned to kill him. They said, (Genesis 37:20)
"Come now, let's kill him
and throw him into one of these cisterns
and say that a ferocious animal devoured him.
Then we'll see what comes of his dreams."
They didn't want his dreams to come true. But if Joseph's dreams didn't come true, they wouldn't have been saved from the famine. Reuben prevented them from killing him with their own hands and suggested that they throw him into a cistern and let him die. He was planning on rescuing him and bringing him back to his father. But it was really God who prevented Joseph's death. Joseph later told his brothers that God sent him ahead of them into Egypt. God prevented the brothers from killing Joseph and instead allowed them to sell him into slavery into Egypt—so that God's plan to use Joseph to save them would come to pass.
In the book of Esther we read that Esther was afraid to do her duty, to speak to the king on behalf of her people because she risked her life by doing so. Esther was afraid. Esther was on the wrong road. But God goaded her into action. He wouldn't let her go down the road of inaction. God sent Mordecai to her. He said to her, (Esther 4:13–14)
"Do not think that because
you are in the king's house
you alone of all the Jews will escape.
For if you remain silent at this time,
relief and deliverance for the Jews
will arise from another place,
but you and your father's family
And who knows but that you have come
to royal position for such a time as this?"
We see something similar with Nathanael in the New Testament. He was not going to believe. When his brother Philip came to him and said, (John 1:45–48)
"We have found the one Moses wrote
about in the Law, and about whom
the prophets also wrote—
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
"Nazareth! Can anything good
come from there?"
He resisted the gospel. But Jesus stopped him from going down that road. When Jesus saw Nathanael He said,
"Here is a true Israelite,
in whom there is nothing false."
When Nathanael asked Him how He knew him, Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree before Philip called him. And so Nathanael believed.
In the book of Revelation we read that twice the apostle John bowed down to worship the angel who was showing him these glorious things. Twice the angel said to him, (Revelation 19:10; 22:9)
"Do not do it!"
God stopped John from doing something that was very wrong. How true what King Hezekiah said to God in Isaiah 38:17,
"In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;"
Christians, how you should praise and thank God for His goodness to you.
For those of you who are not Christians, what you should realize is that
this applies to you as well.
There are many examples in Scripture of God keeping people who were not in the covenant from certain sins. I'll just mention what God said to King Abimelech of Gerar after he took Abraham's wife Sarah. (Genesis 20:3)
"You are as good as dead
because of the woman you have taken;
she is a married woman."
Even though Abimelech had taken Sarah, he had not gone near her. He protested to God that Abraham had told him that she was his sister and that he had taken Sarah with a clear conscience and clean hands. God replied,
"Yes, I know you did this
with a clear conscience,
and so I have kept you
from sinning against me.
That is why I did not let you touch her."
If you're not a Christian you need to take this to heart. God has been so good to you. There is no doubt that so far He has kept you from sinning against Him in a way that could have possibly been so great that you would have been written off. He has been gracious to you. It is not too late for you to be saved. Go to Jesus today.
The second lesson we should see here is that
How much we need the Lord's help.
How weak and vulnerable we are.
To see this we just have to look at the bigger picture here. Satan is trying many different strategies to get David to sin, to get the Lord to forsake David. Saul was trying to kill David. This was a very great trial for David. Just before this we see that David had an opportunity to kill Saul and seize the kingdom. Saul was sleeping, unguarded in the very cave that David and his men were hiding in. David's men urged him to kill Saul. But David refused. He knew that that was not God's way. Instead he trusted in God to give him the kingdom. How noble David was. How trusting in God. As he would say to Abishai in the next chapter, when he again had an opportunity to kill Saul,
"Don't destroy him!
Who can lay a hand on the Lord's anointed
and be guiltless?
'As surely as the Lord lives,' he said,
'the Lord himself will strike him;
either his time will come and he will die,
or he will go into battle and perish.
But the Lord forbid
that I should lay a hand
on the Lord's anointed."
You'll remember that just before this incident with Nabal David was conscience stricken for merely having cut off a corner of Saul's robe.
In light of that, we might think that David was strong and invulnerable. If he could resist taking Saul's life when Saul was trying to kill him—that David could resist any insult. But the truth was far different. A murderous Saul could not get David to deviate from God's path, but the obnoxious fool, Nabal, could. How weak, vulnerable we are in ourselves. You can be so strong in one situation and yet so vulnerable in another situation that is almost exactly the same. We often lack what some people call, 'wisdom transfer'. David trusted God even when he faced great opposition from Saul, but he didn't trust God when he got insulted by Nabal.
This means that
you need to ask the Lord before you undertake anything.
You need to ask God to guide you no matter what situation you're in. How different David's behavior is here compared to chapter 23. There he asked the Lord to direct His path. There we read, (1 Samuel 23:1–2)
"When David was told,
'Look, the Philistines are fighting against
Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,'
he inquired of the Lord, saying,
'Shall I go and attack these Philistines?'
The Lord answered him,
'Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.'
After he had saved Keilah, David asked the Lord another question, whether King Saul would come down and seek to capture him at Keilah. God told him that Saul would. David then asked God if the citizens of Keilah would had him over to Saul. God told David that they would. So David made his escape from Keilah. In chapter 23, every step of the way, David was walking with God, seeking direction and guidance from God. He did not go astray. He did not sin. God directed him.
Surely we need to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) The great folly of acting on our own wisdom. The great folly of acting in haste. The great folly of letting your emotions get the better of you. Walk with God. Let Him guide you in every situation.
God is so wonderful in keeping us from slipping. This should greatly encourage you Christians to do your duty because
the way that God often keeps people from slipping is through people like Abigail and her servant.
We don't even know the name of the servant who went to Abigail and told her about Nabal's insult to David and urged her to do something about it. He was a nobody, possibly just a youth. But God used him to keep David from slipping to destruction. God used Abigail the same way.
What this means for you is that your work, your service for the Lord has meaning. 1 Corinthians 15:58
"Always give yourselves fully
to the work of the Lord,
because you know that
your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
God often uses your work to keep others from slipping, or if they do slip to stop them from slipping all the way.
Lastly, for Christians, yes, you may be wronged, you may be insulted, you may be mistreated and slandered—like David was by Nabal, but realize that that's okay.
David would have been okay if he had ignored Nabal's insult. And he was. Subsequent events proved that.
We don't have to vindicate ourselves. God will do that for us. As we read in Psalm 135:14,
"For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants."
So we can let ourselves be wronged and cheated. (1 Corinthians 6:7). We can let ourselves be insulted. As the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:20–25
"But if you suffer for doing good
and you endure it,
this is commendable before God.
To this you were called,
because Christ suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
that you should follow in his steps.
'He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.'
When they hurled their insults at him,
he did not retaliate;
when he suffered,
he made no threats.
Instead, he entrusted himself
to him who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins
in his body on the tree,
so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed.
For you were like sheep going astray,
but now you have returned
to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."