Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 25
“Samuel died” (25:1), and with that brief epitaph, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, and a transitional figure in Israel from the era of the Judges, and that of the Kings was gone. Samuel was the last of the judges in Israel, and though he had felt the rejection of the nation, the LORD had assured him, “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them… they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee” (1 Samuel 8:7-8).
A time of national mourning followed Samuel’s death, for “all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah” (25:1b). The news of the prophet’s death moved David to go “down to the wilderness of Paran” (25:1c). Though accompanied by six hundred men of war, Samuel’s death may have left David feeling abandoned, struggling with loneliness, and possibly inspired Psalm 142. [I invite you to consider today’s bonus devotional from Psalm 142.]
Consider with me three major characters in our study of 1 Samuel 25. The first, Nabal, a man of great wealth whose wicked character is summed up in the meaning of his name – “Fool” (25:2-3). Abigail, the wife of Nabal, a woman of wisdom and beauty (25:3), and David, the principle character of our study who was God’s anointed to be king.
David’s Encounter with a Fool Named Nabal (1 Samuel 25:2-11)
So focused on his desire to kill David, King Saul had neglected to secure the borders of Israel, and the enemies of the nation were a constant threat to the people, and their possessions. David had offered to protect the people, and among them was a wealthy man named Nabal. (25:2). Having received news that Nabal was “shearing his sheep in Carmel” (25:2), David sent his men to collect their due for protecting him and his possessions; however, that “churlish and evil” man (25:3) lived up to his name and insulted David saying, “Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. 11Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?” (25:10-11) When David’s men communicated Nabal’s insults, he set out to his exact revenge upon him and his household (25:12-13).
When Abigail, Nabal’s wife, learned her husband had railed on David’s men, she realized the imminent danger to her household, and hastily gathered supplies to appease him (25:14-18). Knowing the evil character of her husband, Abigail did not tell him she was intervening (25:19), and she set out to meet David (25:20).
There are several qualities seen in Abigail that are worth noting when we face the challenge of encountering an angry man. The first, she took the initiative, and prepared an “offering” to appease David (25:18-19). With humility, she interceded for her household, and “fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, 24And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid” (25:23-24). She became the mediator for her husband’s sins, even as Christ is the repentant sinner’s Mediator before God (25:28-31; 1 Timothy 2:5).
Abigail’s plea had the desired effect on David, and his heart was softened, and his wrath was appeased (25:32-35). He acknowledged the wise counsel of her words, and thanked her for sparing him from an act that would have blotted his reputation in Israel (25:33-34).
Abigail returned to her home, and the next day she told Nabal those things that had transpired with David, and “his heart died within him, and he became as a stone” (25:37). Whether stricken by a stroke, or a heart attack, “it came to pass about ten days after, that the Lord smote Nabal, that he died” (25:38). When David received news that Nabal was dead, he sent a messenger, who communicated his desire to take her as his wife (25:39-42).
I close, observing that Nabal serves as a picture of a foolish, unrepentant sinner. He was oblivious to the destruction his sin had invited upon himself, and his household (25:36-38). Though of a noble lineage, for “he was of the house of Caleb,” Nabal was nevertheless a fool! (Caleb being one of two men who had spied out the land, and believed the LORD would give Israel the land as He had promised, Numbers 13:30; 14:24, 30; Judges 14:10-13),
In contrast, Abigail is a portrait of the object of God’s grace, and mercy that is extended to sinners who turn from their sin to the redemption found only in Christ (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14).
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith