1 Samuel 25:1-44 - The Offense of Nabal
Once again David experiences poor treatment from his fellow countrymen. This time it was a cruel affront from a prosperous farmer named Nabal who lived "in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel" (v. 2). It was bad enough that Saul should pursue David's life. But it was like pouring salt into a wound for David to also have to face contempt and harsh treatment from those of his own tribesmen who should have been loyal to him and who, as in the case of Nabal and the Keilahites, especially owed much of what they had to his valiant performances against the enemies of Israel. But David learned well what all God's people have to learn sooner or later; namely, this world does not do well in duly rewarding faithful service.
A. Samuel’s Death (v.1).
1. “Samuel died… Israelites gathered together, lamented for him and buried him…” (v.1a).
a) Samuel’s funeral (v.1a).
(1) Samuel was one of the greatest men in Israel's history. His death was a great loss to the nation of Israel. The funeral and lamentation at his death was a great and fitting tribute to Samuel, but it was also a delinquent and hypocritical tribute.
(a) It was a great tribute in that "all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him.” The whole nation came to a standstill for the funeral (like it does when a president of our country dies suddenly) thus showing Samuel's greatness.
(b) It was a fitting tribute in that great men should receive this kind of tribute at death.
(c) It was a delinquent tribute in that during Samuel's lifetime, the Israelites did not pay due respect to Samuel. They rejected his counsel regarding a king and in general gave little heed to him. Too late they realized his value. We need to give our honors and tribute to people before they die as well as after they have died.
(d) And it was a hypocritical tribute in that much of the lamentation and honor for Samuel at his death was not sincere. Why? The people went on their wicked ways after he died. Like many in our day, they eulogized great spiritual leaders but were careful not to follow their examples or exhortations.
This reminds me of the book of Judges which says that "The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died" (Judges 2:20-21, NASB95)
Then the last chapter and verse of Judges says "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, NASB95)
(e) In Judges 2, we see the transition of the goldy to the ungodly generation (2:6-19).
b) All of us must die. PSOB affront
2. “David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran…” (v.1b).
a) David lost a great friend.
(1) David's move reflected the fact that in Samuel's death he had lost a great friend and supporter and protector.
(2) This meant that Saul could become even more dangerous to David because Saul would feel less restraint in doing evil now that Samuel was gone. I want my kids to feel the same restraint wether I am there or not. They must fear God!
!! B. The Cause of the Offense (v.4-6, 8).
1. The Man Given the Request (v.2-3).
a) “The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats…” (v.2).
b) “Abigail… was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance…” (v.3a).
c) “The man was harsh and evil in his doings…” (v.3b).
2. The Motive for the Request (v.16).
a) “They were a wall to us both night and day… keeping the sheep…” (v.16).
3. The Manner of the Request (v.6-8).
a) “Peace be to you, your house, and to all that you have…” (v.6).
b) “Your shepherds were with us… we didn’t hurt them, nor take anything, ask them…” (v.7-8).
c) “Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants…” (v.8b).
d) “For we come on a feast day…” (v.8c).
C. The Character of the Offense (v.10-11).
1. His Denial of the Request (v.10a-11).
a) “Who is David…? And who is the son of Jesse? Shall I then take, & give it…” (v.10-11).
(1) Nabal was untruthful -
2. His Disrespect for the Requesters (v.10b & 14).
a) “There are many servants… who break away from their master… (v.10b).
b) “He reviled them…” (v.14b).
D. The Confrontation About the Offense (v.12-13, 21).
1. David’s Desire for Revenge (v.12-13).
a) “David’s men turned on their heels… went back… and told him all these words…” (v.12).
(1) Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5
2. David’s Declaration of Regret (v.21).
a) “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness…” (v.21a).
b) “He has repaid me evil for good…” (v.21b).
E. The Conciliation About the Offense (v.14-35).
Before David had opportunity to execute a bloody and cruel vengeance upon Nabal and his household, Abigail, Nabal's wife, interceded to conciliate David. Abigail was a peacemaker, not a troublemaker. Divine blessings are for the peacemaker (Matthew 5:9) but not for the troublemaker (Proverbs 6:16,19). Would that we had more peacemakers in society. We need more peacemakers on the job, at school, in the home, and at church. But we seem to abound in troublemakers instead.
1. The Warning for Abigail (v.14-17).
a) “One of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife… he reviled them…” (v.14).
(1) The trust for the warning
(2) The timelessness of the warning
b) “David’s men were good to us, did not harm us… they were a wall to us…” (v.15-16).
(1) The testimony about David (v.15-16) -
(2) The testimony about Nabal (v.17) -
c) “Know and consider what you will do…” (v.17a).
d) “Harm is determined against our master and against all his household…” (v.17b).
(1) As a father, I know that every decision, good or bad will not only affect me but also my wife and children (see Joshua 7:22-26; Romans 5:12).
2. The Wisdom of Abigail (v.18-31).
a) “Then Abigail made haste…” (v.18a-22).
(1) The promptness of her response – She realized there wasn’t a moment to waste.
(2) The provision in her response –
b) “Abigail fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground…” (v.23).
c) “On me, my lord, me, let this iniquity be…” (v.24a).
(1) Abigail repented of the offense. Later she repeated her repentance when she said, "Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant" (v. 28). If David was going to be conciliated, guilt had to be admitted and confessed; and Abigail addressed that need quickly.
(2) Of course, Abigail was innocent of sinning against David ("I . . . did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent" v.25); but the principle regarding her repentance, which is so prominent in the Gospel, is that of substitution in which the innocent one takes the guilt of the transgressor in order to save the condemned.
(3) Abigail's approach to David is also an illustration of the only way we can come to God for reconciliation. We must admit our guilt in sinning if we want forgiveness and salvation. Those who do not sense their sinfulness will not be saved.
d) “Let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal… folly is with him…” (v.25a).
(1) Abigail was not about to justify Nabal in anyway. She described him for what he was—a fool. How differently Nabal thought of himself than what his wife knew him to be.
e) “The Lord has held you back… from avenging yourself with your own hand…” (v.26).
(1) God intervened to stop the vengeance. Telling David about this restraint of God, I believe, was a tactful reproof of David's desire of revenge, and David got the message as we will note shortly.
(2) A wise man can be rebuked like this, for he quickly recognizes wisdom.
f) “This present… let it be given to the young men who follow my lord…” (v.27).
(1) Here Abigail presents her gift to David, but she does so in a humble way—saying it was only fit for the men that accompanied David, not for David himself.
(2) Though she brought a generous gift, she depreciated it when giving it. This emphasized her respect of David as being one too worthy for such a gift. We need to view the best of our works in the same way Abigail viewed her great gift—not worthy of acceptance by God's Anointed One (Isaiah 64:6).
g) “The Lord will make for my lord an enduring house... and has appointed you ruler over Israel…” (v.28, 30).
(1) Abigail recognizes that David is Divinely appointed the next ruler over Israel. Both she and Nabal had light about David, but only Abigail responded to the light. Nabal rejected the light.
(2) Application: Two can be in the same household and given the same light. Yet, one will respond and receive Christ and serve Him enthusiastically while the other will turn away in scorn from Christ.
h) “This shall be no grief to you [refraining from bloody revenge]…” (v.31).
(1) She tells David that if he does act in vengeance that he would have to live with much regret for the rest of his life, but if he does not do it he will save himself much regret.
(2) Before we act, we need to consider what the consequences will be. Will it bring regret later on? Regret is one of the hardest punishments to experience.
3. The Welcome for Abigail (v.32-35).
a) “Blessed by the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me…” (v.32).
(1) David’s first response in welcoming Abigail was to give praise to God for His providence in bringing Abigail to him.
(2) David gives thanks to God, and that is where we need to give thanks first. God needs to be praised first and foremost for any blessing. God may use various agents such as other people, however, all blessing come primarily from God.
James says that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17, NKJV)
b) “Blessed is your advice and blessed are you…” (v.33a).
(1) By her wise actions and words she had spared David from sinning a great sin and had stopped a terrible massacre of many innocent people.
The writer of Proverbs says "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9, NKJV)
Listen to this "Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a hundred blows on a fool." (Proverbs 17:10)
This definitely defines Abigail "Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear." (Proverbs 25:12, NKJV)
c) “You have kept me this day from bloodshed… and avenging myself…” (v.33b).
(1) We need to thank God for all of providences He has kept us from sinning and doing unprofitable things from wasting our lives.
(2) These providences can be such things as…
(a) the intervention of a friend,
(b) timely advice (such as here from Abigail),
(c) a sermon at church,
(d) bad weather,
(e) financial shortage (lack of money is not always a problem but can save us from many problems), or even sickness.
(3) Being kept from sin is a far greater blessing than any material or physical blessing.
(a) The Test of Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-7).
As Jesus prayed to the Father about the disciples He said "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)
The Palmist said that "The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. “ (Psalm 121:7, NKJV)
James says to "Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” (James 1:13, NKJV)
(b) The Holy Spirit forbids preaching the Word in Asia (Acts 16:6-10).
(4) Abigail's performance not only kept David from sin, sorrow, and from shame (sin always causes shame).
F. The Condemnation for the Offense (v.36-44).
1. The Surprise of the Judgment (v.36).
a) “Nabal was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king…” (v.36a).
(1) Think About This: Nabal would not give anything to David and his men for the service they performed for Nabal in protecting his flocks. However, when it came to having a feast in his own house to celebrate a prosperous sheepshearing time, Nabal spent lavishly.
(2) This is typical of the selfish and stingy.
(3) Like sinners who ignore the warning of Divine judgment upon sin, Nabal did not concern himself with the possibilities of David taking action against him for the offense.
(4) He went on his way spending lavishly on fleshly pleasures oblivious to peril (James 4:13-5:6).
b) “Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk…” (v.36b).
(1) Someone who is given over to drunkenness is not concerned about judgment.
(2) While Abigail was acting honorably… Nabal was acting shamefully
(3) A drunkard does not use his blessing properly; he wastes his money on the worst things.
Writing to Timothy, Paul said to "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19, NKJV)
c) Because he was drunk, “she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light…” (v.36c).
(1) Being drunk stops the learning process. His reasoning was gone; however, she did tell him in the morning.
(2) In the morning the alcohol would be gone. He would not be feeling good, but at least in a reasoning mood.
Abigail was being very wise. Jesus said to "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16, NKJV). Abigail was very wise in what she did.
2. The Swiftness of the Judgment (v.37).
a) “It came to pass, in the morning, the wine had gone from Nabal, his wife had told him these things… his heart died within him… he became like a stone…” (v.37).
(1) Judgment came upon Nabal very swiftly…
(a) his laughter came to an end the next morning
(b) his life came to an end in ten days.
(c) the wine ran out and… the feast didn’t even make it to morning.
(d) The morning after a merry night of sinful pleasure is an ugly experience.
3. The Severity of the Judgment (v.38).
a) “The Lord struck Nabal, and he died…” (v.38).
(1) Nabal would have no more opportunities… it was the end of the line for him. Nabal had been given plenty of opportunities but scorned them.
God said, "My spirit shall not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3).