Abigail’s soft answer turns David’s wrath

From our daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 25-27
April 3, 2019

 

As we continue through 1 Samuel, we see a great contrast between Israel’s current and future king, with two men taking very different attitudes toward their kingdoms and God’s role in establishing them. On the one hand, David continually refuses to take what God has promised him at his own initiative. He says as much in 1 Samuel 26:10-11″

“And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.”

And yet we see Saul on the other hand acknowledging in chapter 24:20: “And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.”

Not only does Saul not accept God’s judgment and hand the kingdom over to David (or even simply accept David back into his fold as an heir), but he continues to pursue David and seek his life. Even when faced with an inevitable conclusion, he will not bend his will to God’s.

David’s alienation from Israel

As a result, David is forced into the role of refugee, and this ultimately is going to continue to put him in compromising positions that lead him into further bloodshed and deception. When we read chapter 27, we understand well what God meant when He referred to David as a man of blood — one who would not build the temple. He not only slaughtered entire villages, but he lied about it to the Philistines so that they would believe he was hostile to his native country, and not consider him an enemy.

David recognizes this to some degree when he appeals to Saul in their final meeting.

“Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 1 Samuel 26:19

He is being separated from his heritage and the worship of the Lord, driven to seek refuge among God’s enemies. As we said yesterday, none of these things are excused or pardoned in the scripture, but we can certainly see how Saul’s actions drove David in part into making these decisions, just as we can sometimes see how our own actions can drive people to behave in sinful and ungodly manner when we’re unwilling to act in a godly manner ourselves.

Abigail’s diplomacy saves David

But tucked away in this story, there’s an example of the good that a peaceful soul can do in conflict, and how good men and women ought to respond in the face of mistreatment by others. David and his men come across workers for a man named Nabal, and as often happened in that culture, the soldiers provided protection and security for the shepherds. But when it came time to asking for support in return, Nabal dismisses them with contempt and scorn, causing David to arm his men with the intend of destroying Nabal’s entire household.

However, reasonable heads prevail, as Nabal’s wife Abigail learns about Nabal’s foolishness from a servant who describes Nabal as “such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” 1 Samuel 25:17 Abigail hurries to David with gifts and appeases him not just with gifts, but with a calm reminder of what David’s actions would do to him down the road:

And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.” 1 Samuel 25:27-31

It’s an important reminder that godly men and women want to be reined in, they want their sinful impulses curbed. And in many cases, the way we approach them in those situations is the difference in helping that person step back and reconsider their actions.

Our goal should always be for a peaceful resolution that glorifies God, rather than an argument that may escalate into more wrongdoing. And Abigail gives us an example of how gracious speech can turn others away from sin.

Next reading: 1 Samuel 28-31

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