Today I want us to look at 1 Samuel 25. We see here in this passage the best of David and the worst.
- A leader despised and therefore angered
In just the last chapter David refused to stretch out his hand to vindicate himself, here he almost makes the exact same mistake. We have to understand the culture of the day to fully appreciate what is going on. Hospitality at the time was considered obligatory, and to fail to provide it was a major slight. David didn’t have a contract with Nabal, but had a reasonable expectations that in a “do unto others as you would have them do to you” kind of way he would be repaid for protecting Nabal’s flocks. NAbal is described as “harsh” and “badly behaved” which sounds like some bloggers I know! Seriously, though, may we never get such a reputation. We do well to foster gentleness and kindness and to ask for God’s help not to be a Nabal.
In the context in which he lived, it is really no great surprise that David would have planned to act in the way he did. It was wrong, but entirely as we might predict. As we saw yesterday, the higher way is to not strike out at you’re enemies.
- A leader appealed to and therefore redirected
What is much more surprising is the intervention of Abigail, Nabal’s discerning and beautiful wife. I think what we see here is a wonderful example of her “leading up” to use modern jargon. She is not afraid to speak out to David and challenge his plan of action. She does so respectfully, and acknowledging the sin of her own husband. She does so with the good of her husband in mind. It is to Nabal’s shame that such an intervention was needed. But it is to prevent total destruction that she takes matters into her own hands. There are times when a follower must stand up to a leader. It is to be done respectfully. It is to be done gently. It is to be done winsomely. Nobody should allow any teaching on respect for authority to make this kind of appeal have no place today. Abigail shows great wisdom in how she approaches David. In doing so she doesn’t just win the argument, and get the change she wants, she wins the man who ends up marrying her later on.
When was the last time you appealed to anybody in a similar fashion, whether they were a leader, follower, or friend? When was the last time someone felt free to make such an appeal to you? Did you listen? Or did you harden your heart? We all need friends who can help us see the specks in our eyes.
- A leader avenged by God, and yet drifting astray
Here we see that if we leave room for God, he will honour us and repay us. Nabal’s death may seem overly punitive for us, but it was the only way to protect the whole clan from the next tribe leader he disrespected. But in the midst of this vindication by God, David shows the root of his weakness that will manifest itself fully later. He already has a wife. Why does he need to begin the process of gathering more and more women like trophies? He would be led astray by his love of women, and surely, despite the tendencies for great men of the day to do as he was, these new marriages were not God’s best for him.