1 Samuel 25:2-11

Sermon preached on January 3, 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.

I hate seeing people do foolish things. On one of my very first days working as a stevedore a friend of mine did a very foolish thing. We had caught the lines of ship that was docking. We pulled up the hawser, the big rope from the ship and put it on the bollard, the short steel post on the wharf. After we put it on the bollard he made the mistake of trying to adjust it by putting his fingers between the rope and the bollard. But the mate on the ship had given the order to start the capstan, the machine that pulled the rope tight. In a split second my friend was screaming because his fingers were caught and were being crushed.

We've all done foolish things. I remember when I was teenager someone gave me a second hand rifle for hunting. I can't remember what kind it was but it was an old bolt action one. Shortly after I got it I went hunting with my grandfather, my dad, and a couple of my dad's friends. Just before we split up one of my dad's friends show me another way to cock the gun. He said you could just pull back on the bolt, and indeed, it had a little grip on it for your fingers. He said that that way it would make less noise. I thought it was a good idea and later my grandfather and I settled down near an apple tree to wait for some deer. When got settled I decided to pull back on the bolt like the guy had told me. But my fingers were cold and before I got it back all the way the bolt slipped out of my fingers and the gun went off. Thankfully, it was pointed in a safe direction and no one was hurt. But it gave us quite a scare and that was the last time I ever tried to cock it that way. It was a foolish thing to do. Looking back on it now, it even seems foolish to be sitting with a gun cocked.

But it's one thing to do something foolish and quite another to have a pattern of foolish behavior. When I was a youngster some of my friends would sometimes do incredibly dangerous things. On winter days when the streets were slippery some of them would grab onto the back bumper of a car that was going by and hold on and get a little ride. They'd be all crouched down so that the driver wouldn't see them and they'd go sliding down the street holding on to back of the car. They loved doing it and they did it over and over. It's a wonder none of them were killed or seriously injured.

They exhibited a pattern of foolish behavior which was much worse that doing one or two foolish things. It was the same with Nabal. In verse 25 Abigail said to David,

"May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal.
He is just like his name—his name is Fool,
and folly goes with him."

None of us what to be like Nabal, with folly going with us, exhibiting a pattern of foolish behavior. He is someone who we don't want to imitate, someone we don't want to be like.

But what made him foolish? In our text two characteristics of Nabal stand out. These are characteristics that we should avoid at all costs. This morning we're going to deal with the first one.

First, we see that

Nabal had a contempt for God's Word.

In 1 Samuel 16 we read that God told Samuel that He had rejected Saul as king. He instructed him to go to Jesse in Bethlehem and anoint one of his sons as king. When Samuel did so, God pointed out David to him and Samuel anointed David to be king over Israel.

Although it was not announced with trumpets and other fanfare, the news of it spread throughout Israel. I would even venture to say that it was common knowledge. For instance,
King Saul and his son Jonathan knew it. In 1 Samuel 23:17 Jonathan said to David,

"Don't be afraid.
My father Saul will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you.
Even my father Saul knows this."

Not only did Saul and Jonathan know it, but Abner, the commander of Saul's army, also knew it. We see this in 2 Samuel 3:8–10 from what he said after he got angry with Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, for accusing him of taking one of Saul's concubines. This was after King Saul was dead and the 10 northern tribes were still in rebellion against David. Ish-bosheth had been appointed king in place of is father Saul. Abner said to Ish-bosheth,

"Am I a dog's head—on Judah's side?
This very day I am loyal
to the house of your father Saul
and to his family and friends.
I haven't handed you over to David.
Yet now you accuse me of an offense
involving this woman!
May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely,
if I do not do for David
what the Lord promised him on oath
and transfer the kingdom
from the house of Saul and establish David's throne
over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba."

Abner was very aware of God's promise to David and he threw it in Ish-bosheth's face.

Abigail, Nabal's wife, also knew about the promise to David. When she intercepted David she said to him, (verses 28–31)

"Please forgive your servant's offense,
for the Lord will certainly make
a lasting dynasty for my master,
because he fights the Lord's battles.
Let no wrongdoing be found in you
as long as you liveÖ
When the Lord has done for my master
every good thing he promised concerning him
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.
And when the Lord has brought my master success,
remember your servant."

Thus it seems very likely that Nabal knew that Samuel had anointed David to be king over Israel. But he held it in little regard. When David asked him for some provisions, he replied,

"Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse?
Many servants are breaking away
from their masters these days.
Why should I take my bread and water,
and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers,
and give it to men coming from who knows where?"

Nabal had a contempt for the Word of the Lord. He didn't believe in God's promises. He thought they were all nonsense. He was not going to take from his wealth and give anything to David. He sent David's servants away empty, with the exception of a great insult.

Contempt for God's Word is deadly.

Verse 38 tells us that God struck Nabal down. Not only that, but in 2 Chronicles 36:15–16 Nabal's attitude is given as the reason why the Babylonians destroyed Judah and Jerusalem. It says,

"The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them
through his messengers again and again,
because he had pity on his people
and on his dwelling place.
But they mocked God's messengers,
despised his words and scoffed at his prophets
until the wrath of the Lord was aroused
against his people and there was no remedy."

Arrogance in the face of God's Word is foolish. When Sennacherib the King of Assyria invaded Judah and threatened Jerusalem he distained God's promises to Israel. In 2 Chronicles 32:17 we read,

"The king also wrote letters insulting the Lord,
the God of Israel, and saying this against him:
Just as the gods of the peoples of the other lands
did not rescue their people from my hand,
so the god of Hezekiah
will not rescue his people from my hand."

How foolish. That night the angel of the Lord destroyed all the fighting men and leaders and officials in the camp of the Assyrian king. He had to withdraw and return to his own land. Once there, his own sons killed him.

The attitude of Nabal and Sennacherib is prevalent in our society.

God's Word is mocked and despised and those who believe it are often portrayed in a very negative light. Christian teachings, like creation are distained. Just last week was watching the PBS program, Nova. They were playing an episode entitled, "What Darwin Didn't Know". In it they said that Darwin's idea of evolution was, (I'm not sure this is the exact quote, but this is the gist of it.)

"The greatest idea ever."

They delight in totally rejecting God's Word.

Rather than having contempt for God's Word, you should highly value it.

You should have great respect for God's Word and view it as necessary for your life. You should do what it says.

But someone may say,

"But how do I know it's true? How do I know that it's not all a bunch of hogwash like the Y2K doomsayers were predicting?"

You'll remember the Y2K doomsayers.

They were all nuts. I used to refer to them as "Y2 Kooks". Remember some of their prophecies? There was one guy who was supposed to be an expert in telecommunications and he said,

"I can absolutely guarantee you that you won't have phone service at 12:00 A.M. on January 1, 2000."

But that was nonsense. We did have phone service. It still worked. Some other doomsayers predicted that planes would fall out of the sky, that many of the systems in your cars that were computerized, like anti-lock brakes, wouldn't work. They told us that grocery stores would be out of things for months and that you should have a six month or years supply of things like toilet paper. Some of the more extreme Y2K doomsayers said that there would be riots in the cities, that banks wouldn't work and they advised people to move out to the country and put all their assets in gold and so on. They were absolute kooks. Y2K was not a major disaster. It was a non-event.

So someone might ask how we're different from the Y2 Kooks.

My short answer would be that Christianity is true where the Y2K alarmists were not.

But they would want proof.

So we have to go to the long answer. How do we know that Christianity is true? How can we prove it to people who don't believe, who don't accept it? They want proof. As one very vocal atheist has said, (D. Barker, Losing Faith in Faith)

"Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can't be taken on its own merits."

To that I would say,

"Not so. In fact, even if we could prove it to you, that wouldn't be enough for you."

You see, the false assumption that many people have today is that if you proved it to them, they would believe. If God spoke to them from heaven, if they saw some great miracle, then they would drop their unbelief and become followers of God.

But the problem with that is that it doesn't understand the problem of sin. Sin and rebellion against God is not just an intellectual problem. It is an intellectual problem, but it's much more than that. It's also a moral problem. The problem is not just with people's minds, but with their hearts.

Proof of the truth of Christianity would not be enough. This is obvious, we see it right from the beginning of Christianity.
Cain knew that God existed. He brought an offering to God. But God rejected it and told him how to offer an acceptable sacrifice. But what did Cain do? In spite of knowing that God existed, that he went out and killed his brother, Abel.

Pharaoh knew that God existed. God did many miracles in front of Pharaoh. But, rather than believe. Pharaoh hardened his heart.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law saw the miracles that Jesus did. Yet did they all believe? No. Very few of them believed. Again, the problem was not an intellectual one, but a moral one. You'll recall that after Jesus raised His friend, Lazarus, from the dead, that they plotted, not only to kill Jesus, but Lazarus as well. (John 12:9-11)

The problem with human beings is not that they don't have enough evidence that God exists, but the problem is that they are fallen. They are sinners in rebellion against God and this fall into sin has affected their minds, their hearts, their wills, their bodies. They would not believe even if God offered proof of His existence by doing some great miracle on their behalf.

Jesus taught this in Luke 16 in the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Both Lazarus and the rich man died. The rich man awoke in torment saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. The rich man was in torment and Lazarus was comforted. The rich man said to Abraham, (Luke 16:27–31)

"I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house,
for I have five brothers. Let him warn them,
so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

Abraham replied,

"They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them."

The rich man replied,

"No, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."

But Abraham replied,

"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,
they will not be convinced
even if someone rises from the dead."

What people need is not intellectual proof that Christianity is true, that God exists—that would not be enough.

You see, the way of salvation is through faith. In order to be saved you have to have faith in Jesus.

Faith is God's way. As we read in Ephesians 2:8–10,

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God— not by works,
so that no one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Or as we read in Hebrews 11:6

"And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him
must believe that he exists and that he rewards those
who earnestly seek him."

You see, we're sinners. We need not only to have our minds renewed, but we need new hearts. Only God can give that. As God said in Ezekiel 36:26–29,

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you
to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
You will live in the land I gave your forefathers;
you will be my people, and I will be your God.
I will save you from all your uncleanness."

Salvation is from God. It's all of Him. In order to receive it we must humble ourselves, we must ask Him to save us. We must praise Him and give Him glory and honor. We do that by faith, and yet faith is something that only God can give.

So you see, it's not enough to prove that Christianity is true or that God exists, that in itself would not help fallen man. They would still persist in their unbelief and rebellion against God. They need much more than that—they need new hearts and new minds.

If you're not a Christian, don't be looking for proof, don't be looking for a miracle. That in itself would do you no good. What you need is Jesus. The Scriptures point to Him. He invites you to Himself. In John 6:37 Jesus said,

"All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

Go to Jesus today.

For Christians, how you should value the Word.

Remember how Jesus met Satan's first temptation? Satan told him that since He was the Son of God, He should turn the stones into bread. But Jesus answered, (Matthew 4:4)

"It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

William Hendriksen paraphrases Jesus words, (Commentary on Matthew 4:4)

"Tempter, you are proceeding upon the false assumption that for a man, in order to appease hunger and keep alive, bread is absolutely necessary. Over against this erroneous idea I now declare that not bread but the creative, energizing and sustaining power of my Father is the only indispensable source of my, and of man's life and well-being."

The point is that we should trust in God and in His Word. Alfred Edersheim writes, (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 304)

"Jesus had overcome in the first temptation by simple, absolute, trust."

Trusting God, living by His Word is more important than anything else, even more important than having ordinary food. God's Word is food for your soul. It is your sustenance. As you live your life in 2010 you are to have great respect and reverence for the Word of the Lord.

Wise Abigail said to David,

"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."

As wise Solomon told us in Proverbs 3:5–6,

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."

God's Word is true. You can depend on it. May your attitude toward it be like that of David. He said, (Psalm 119:72)

"The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold."

Love it. Value it. Live it.