1 Samuel 25:32-35
Sermon preached on January 31, 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.
If you're driving down the highway and there's a seagull in the middle of your lane—what would you do? I know that most of you would slow down. That would be the normal thing to do. But a couple of years ago that's not how Heather reacted. She was coming home from work and there was a seagull in the middle of her lane eating some McDonald's French fries that someone had thrown out their window. She thought that the seagull would move. As I think about it, I guess if you're going to play a game of chicken you could pick lots of opponents that would be worse than a seagull. But this seagull either wasn't very bright or the french fries were particularly good and he waited too long to move and bang, she hit the seagull. He tried to fly away at the last second but he wasn't fast enough and the front of her car hit him. By that point Heather thought that there was nothing she could do and so she just kept driving home. Poor seagull! She drove through Canton and came home and parked her car in the garage and went in the house. About and hour later she and Natalia were going to go for a run and they went out in the garage and as Heather was walking in front of her car she noticed that the seagull was wedged in-between two slots in the grill of her car. When she looked at him closer the seagull suddenly opened its eyes. It was still alive. Can you imagine? I don't know if anyone noticed the seagull in her grill as she drove through Canton, but if they did it must have been quite a sight. I was away at the time but Chuck came over and freed the seagull and released it.
After that experience I told Heather that she just shouldn't assume that birds and other animals on the road are going to move out of the way. I don't know whether she need that admonition or whether she had learned the lesson on her own but since then she hasn't hit anything with her car—at least not anything that got stuck in her grill.
But how do you react when someone corrects you, tells you that you're on the wrong course? Some people don't like being told what to do and they often don't change. It was really funny one day when we were living in Lisbon and a friend of the girls dropped by for some consoling. He told us that he had just gotten two tickets for not wearing his seat belt. He got the tickets at the same police checkpoint five minutes apart. He was at home and decided to go to the store in Flackville. The police had a checkpoint between his house and the store and they were checking everyone for seatbelts. He didn't have his on and so they gave him a ticket. He then went on his way to the store, bought what he needed, got back in his car, neglected to put his seatbelt on and proceeded to go back home. He was stopped at the same checkpoint and got another ticket for not wearing a seatbelt. He hadn't learned at all from his first warning.
That story is funny but in a way it's somewhat typical. Sometimes we don't react the correct way to correction. Rather than turning from our wrong and sinful ways, we continue in them, even when we're warned not to. In the story before us David is a great example to us showing us how we should react to correction. In verses 32 and 33 we read that after Abigail intercepted him and urged him to turn from his evil course, he said to her,
"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
who has sent you today to meet me.
May you be blessed for your good judgment
and for keeping me from bloodshed this day
and from avenging myself with my own hands."
What a great way to react to admonition.
The great question is:
How do you react when someone confronts you when you're sinning or about to sin?
This is a very important question. It's an easy question to observe from a distance and from that distance I think that all of us would say,
"Of course, I'd react correctly. Other people might act incorrectly, but not me. I would be like David here before Abigail."
I hope we would all be like David. But the problem is that most people react the wrong way when they are confronted with sin. It's far easier to react that way. You'll remember what Jesus about Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37? This was His lament,
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets
and stone those sent to you,
how often I have longed to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
but you were not willing."
The people of Jerusalem had a history of reacting the wrong way to people who rebuked them. They killed the prophets God sent to them. They didn't like being told that they were wrong.
The people of Jerusalem weren't the only ones that we like that. The history of Israel is filled with examples. In Luke 11:47–49 Jesus summarized the situation. He said to the Pharisees,
"Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets,
and it was your forefathers who killed them.
So you testify that you approve
of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets,
and you build their tombs."
The letter to the Hebrews speaks of the suffering of the heroes of the faith at the hands of the people of Israel. In 11:35–38 he says of them,
"Others were tortured
and refused to be released, so that they might
gain a better resurrection.
Some faced jeers and flogging,
while still others were chained and put in prison.
They were stoned; they were sawed in two;
they were put to death by the sword.
They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,
destitute, persecuted and mistreated—
the world was not worthy of them.
They wandered in deserts and mountains,
and in caves and holes in the ground."
Why were the righteous treated like that? In part because they rebuked sin.
So we need to be careful. It's far easier to react the wrong way when someone confronts us with our sin. I would suggest that the vast majority of people do react the wrong way. Thus it's not enough to assume that we will react the correct way when someone confronts us when we are on the wrong path. Sin is deceptive and temptation is strong.
To help us know what the correct action is when we are confronted with sin or with a wrong path, we need to study David' reaction, and pray that God will give us grace to react like David did here. David's response consisted of three parts. First, he praised God for keeping him from sin. Secondly, he thanked Abigail for her intervention and prayed that she would be blessed because of what she had done. Thirdly, he turned from the evil path that he was on.
What a great reaction. Indeed, it's impossible to think of a better way of reaction to an admonition or rebuke.
How could David have such a good reaction? I believe that there's one thing that was responsible for it. David realized that through God's grace he had just dodged a bullet.
David realized that his sinful actions would have led him to great misery. He realized that he might have lost the kingdom.
Saul lost the kingdom because he sinned against God. David saw that he had just avoided doing the same.
One of the things that can help us have the same reaction as David is to have a good understanding of where sin leads—to misery and destruction. After Abigail intercepted David he knew that he had narrowly escaped losing the kingdom. It was nothing less than innocent blood that would have been on his hands. He knew he had narrowly escaped.
Thus for us
one thing that we need to develop is a good understanding that sin has consequences.
Many in today's society will tell you that there is no such thing as sin. Many will tell you to do what you want. They will tell you that there is no God and that you're foolish listening to His commands. There's a story about Madalyn Murray O'Hair that illustrates this. I quote, (Ungodly: The Passions, Torments, and Murder of Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, By Ted Dracos p. 14-15)
"one evening in the early spring of 1946 an intense Midwestern electrical storm with Old Testament fury exploded outside the flimsy walls of the house. As a bolt of lightning hit nearby, followed by a huge crash of thunder, the pregnant Madalyn announced she was going to go out into the maelstrom and 'challenge God to strike me and this child dead with one of those lightning bolts.'""With family members gathered, she went into the stormy night, looked up—her face illuminated by pulses of lightening, perhaps wet with rain as well—and she shook her fist at the sky, cursing God. She cursed Him so violently and extravagantly so that He would have no choice but to strike her down for her blasphemies. But, for whatever reason, God was reluctant to take His cue from Madalyn, and she swaggered back into the house, elated, proclaiming her survival as incontrovertible proof that God did not exist."
Poor Madalyn Murray O'Hair. In 1996 she, her son and her granddaughter were murdered and their bodies hidden. Sin has consequences—for all of us. Sin leads to misery, to suffering, to death. As we read in Proverbs 5:3–5,
"For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave."
Proverbs 7:21–23 also speaks of adultery. It says,
"With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life."
That's true of any sin, not just adultery.
Even for a Christian sin has consequences. After David committed his terrible sin with Bathsheba, Nathan the prophet said to him, (2 Samuel 12:9–14)
"Why did you despise the word of the Lord
by doing what is evil in his eyes?
You struck down Uriah the Hittite
with the sword and took his wife
to be your own.
You killed him
with the sword of the Ammonites.
Now, therefore, the sword
will never depart from your house,
because you despised me
and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite
to be your own.
This is what the Lord says:
'Out of your own household
I am going to bring calamity upon you.
Before your very eyes I will take your wives
and give them to one who is close to you,
and he will lie
with your wives in broad daylight.
You did it in secret,
but I will do this thing in broad daylight
before all Israel.'
Then David said to Nathan,
'I have sinned against the Lord.'
Nathan replied, 'The Lord has taken away your sin.
You are not going to die.
But because by doing this you have made
the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt,
the son born to you will die.'"
What consequences sin had for David.
Adam and Eve sinned. Misery came. They were driven out of the garden. Their son Abel was murdered by his own brother. Adam and Eve both died. People departed from God and only thought about their own pleasure. God sent the flood and destroyed them. Sodom and Gomorrah sinned. They were destroyed. Consider the Israelites in the wilderness. They rebelled against the Lord and instead of boldly going up to take possession of the promised land, they talked of stoning Moses and Aaron and choosing new leaders to take them back to Egypt. God said to them, (Numbers 14:28–35)
"As surely as I live, declares the LORD,
I will do to you the very things
I heard you say:
In this desert your bodies will fall—
every one of you twenty years old or more
who was counted in the census
and who has grumbled against me.
Not one of you will enter the land I swore
with uplifted hand to make your home,
except Caleb son of Jephunneh
and Joshua son of Nun.
As for your children that you said
would be taken as plunder,
I will bring them in to enjoy the land
you have rejected.
But you—your bodies will fall in this desert.
Your children will be shepherds here
for forty years,
suffering for your unfaithfulness,
until the last of your bodies lies in the desert.
For forty years—one year for each
of the forty days you explored the land—
you will suffer for your sins
and know what it is like
to have me against you.'
I, the LORD, have spoken,
and I will surely do these things
to this whole wicked community,
which has banded together against me.
They will meet their end in this desert;
here they will die."
I could go on and on. King Saul, King Ahab, King Herod. Sin has consequences. It is the way to ruin. We are sinners by nature, and Ephesians 2:3 tells us that because of that we are 'objects of wrath'. Sin has consequences. The beginning of the book of Revelation has these words, (Revelation 1:3)
"Blessed is the one who reads
the words of this prophecy,
and blessed are those who hear it
and take to heart what is written in it,
because the time is near."
One of the great themes of Revelation is that sin has very bad consequences—those who sin and oppose Jesus Christ are going to suffer many things and be cast into the lake of fire.
Thus this means that
One of the most important things you can do is to develop a fear of God, a fear of displeasing Him, a fear of sinning against Him.
You need to see the wrong path for exactly what it is—the way of death, the way of misery, the way of ruin.
That's why David was so thankful. That's why he praised God. That's why he turned he turned from his sin wholeheartedly. In verse 35 we read about David's reaction to Abigail's intercession.
"Then David accepted from her hand
what she had brought him and said,
'Go home in peace.
I have heard your words
and granted your request.'"
David changed course. He stopped his murderous course and went back to where he had come from. He shows us that when you are on the wrong road you need to reverse course.
Consider how he viewed Abigail.
He asked that Abigail be blessed.
He said to her,
"May you be blessed for your good judgment
and for keeping me from bloodshed this day
and from avenging myself with my own hands."
When someone confronts you because you're on the wrong path, don't get angry with them. Rather you should recognize that they've been sent from the Good Shepherd to keep you from evil. You should greatly value their counsel, like David did Abigail's.
Those who rebuke wisely are such good friends. As we read in Proverbs 25:12
"Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold
is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear."
Abigail did David much good. But sadly, many people don't realize that people who rebuke them with biblical counsel are the best friends they will ever have. Instead of considering them friends, they consider them enemies. King Herod and Herodias are good examples of this reaction. You'll remember that John the Baptist rebuked Herod for living with Herodias. His beheading can be traced back to the rebuke. In Mark 6:17–19 we read,
"For Herod himself had given orders
to have John arrested,
and he had him bound and put in prison.
He did this because of Herodias,
his brother Philip's wife,
whom he had married.
For John had been saying to Herod,
'It is not lawful for you
to have your brother's wife.'"
Both Herod and Herodias wanted to kill John the Baptist because of this. In Matthew 14:5 we read,
"Herod wanted to kill John,
but he was afraid of the people,
because they considered him a prophet."
But Herodias wasn't afraid. When she got her opportunity she acted and had her daughter ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. John was beheaded because Herod and Herodias decided to kill the messenger. They got angry at the messenger instead of turning from their sinful ways.
When you're confronted with sin, the key thing is not to get angry with the messenger, but to get angry with your sin, with the wrong path that you are on. Hate the sin. Get angry about your stupidity in going on the path to sin. See the utter foolishness of the path you were on.
This is very important.
You must hate the sin. You must see where it was leading.
Again, the key is to turn from your sin wholeheartedly. You need to hate it.
Time after time he was admonished when he was on his sinful path. God even used a donkey to do it. How did Balaam react to those rebukes? Every time he gave superficial, outward obedience to them. But inwardly he hung on to the desire. As we read in 2 Peter 2:15, he,
"loved the wages of wickedness."
Each time he was rebuked Balaam changed his outward behavior. But his heart was never in it. He never hated the sin. Poor Balaam. He perished. As 2 Peter 2:18 says about people like him,
"These men are springs without water
and mists driven by a storm.
Blackest darkness is reserved for them."
If you are going to live—you need to see sin for what it is, for what it does, for where it leads.
This is especially applicable to those of you who are not Christians.
It's not enough to merely see where sin leads, you need to turn from it and turn to Jesus.
Some people don't hate the messenger, the merely ignore them. You'll remember that after he became king, David told his army commander to count the people. Joab rebuked David. He said, (2 Samuel 24:3)
"May the LORD multiply his troops
a hundred times over.
My lord the king,
are they not all my lord's subjects?
Why does my lord want to do this?
Why should he bring guilt on Israel?"
We don't read that David got angry with Joab or that he tried to kill him, or relieve him of his position of army commander. It seems that David merely ignored him. We read,
"The king's word, however, overruled Joab;
so Joab left and went throughout Israel
and then came back to Jerusalem."
That's not enough. David still sinned.
So often in the Bible we see people who see the awful consequences of sin, and even become moved, or afraid, yet don't turn from their sin. We have two examples of this in Paul's preaching in the book of Acts. In Acts 24:24-25 we read,
"Several days later Felix came
with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess.
He sent for Paul and listened to him
as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.
As Paul discoursed on righteousness,
self-control and the judgment to come,
Felix was afraid and said,
'That's enough for now!
You may leave.
When I find it convenient, I will send for you.'"
Felix saw where sin lead, and he became afraid, but he stopped short. He didn't believe in Jesus. It was the same way with King Agrippa. In Acts 26:28 King Agrippa said to Paul,
"Do you think that in such a short time
you can persuade me to be a Christian?"
They didn't hate their sin. It seems they perished. Don't let that happen to you.
Lastly, for Christians,
how you ought to be praising God for keeping you.
David said to Abigail.
"Praise be to the Lord,
the God of Israel,
who has sent you today to meet me.
Christians, give praise to God for His kindness to you. He keeps you. How thankful you ought to be for that.