Three Lessons in How to Respond When Wronged by Others
March 2, 2012
By John Barnett
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As we open to I Samuel 25 we are opening to David getting the opportunity to apply all the wonderful truths he has been learning. Just like the lessons we hear in Sunday School class are wonderful, but seem so different when we are actually out on the street witnessing, or on a missions trip.
So David finds that when God is at work in us it is not theoretical, it is real-time, daily life that the Lord wants to change in us. So to deepen the truths David learned at En Gedi in I Samuel 24, and make them a part of the fabric of David’s life, the Lord allows David to get deeply wounded by Nabal in a business deal (I Samuel 25); and for Saul to start hunting David again (I Samuel 26).
First, David suffers the intense frustration when wronged in a business deal. David writes Psalms 14 first and then Psalm 53 later in life on—how to overcome the feelings of hurt when deeply wronged and wounded by someone in a business deal. In First Samuel 25, David faces the danger of bitterness toward Nabal “the fool”. When God delivers him, David writes Psalms 14 & 53. The key to these Psalms is the word fool which in Hebrew is Nabal (which opens this Psalm and is used 17 times in the account of 1st Samuel 25).
David Was Wronged In a Business Deal
Now listen to this inspired chapter God has sent us so we can see His grace is sufficient even for great financial loss and deep emotional pain.
1 Samuel 25:1-44 "Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran. 2 Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb. 4 When David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep, 5 David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. 6 And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: ‘Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have! 7 Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David.’” 9 So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited. 10 Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” 12 So David’s young men turned on their heels and went back; and they came and told him all these words. 13 Then David said to his men, “Every man gird on his sword.” So every man girded on his sword, and David also girded on his sword. And about four hundred men went with David, and two hundred stayed with the supplies. 14 Now one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them. 15 But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep. 17 Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.” 18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 And she said to her servants, “Go on before me; see, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 So it was, as she rode on the donkey, that she went down under cover of the hill; and there were David and his men, coming down toward her, and she met them. 21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good. 22 May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.” 23 Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground. 24 So she fell at his feet and said: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. 25 Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent. 26 Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, since the LORD has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal. 27 And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28 Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the LORD, and evil is not found in you throughout your days. 29 Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling. 30 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, 31 that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.” 32 Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. 34 For indeed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!” 35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person.” 36 Now Abigail went to Nabal, and there he was, holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light. 37 So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. 38 Then it happened, after about ten days, that the LORD struck Nabal, and he died. 39 So when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept His servant from evil! For the LORD has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head.” And David sent and proposed to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David had come to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her saying, “David sent us to you, to ask you to become his wife.” 41 Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, “Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42 So Abigail rose in haste and rode on a donkey, attended by five of her maidens; and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife. 43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and so both of them were his wives. 44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim."
David Got a Temporary Job Working for a Fool
In the Wilderness of Paran, David and his men encamped near the shepherds of Nabal—a very rich but harsh and evil man who had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, he sent ten young men to greet him, saying on David’s behalf:
“Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have! Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore, let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David” (1 Samuel 25:6-8).
To make a long story short, the scoundrel refused to help. David was so furious that Nabal was paying him evil for good that he immediately planned to wreak revenge on him and his male household.
David Gets Furious At His Foolish Boss
As David and 400 of his men were on their way to Carmel, Nabal’s wife, Abigail, intercepted them. Without her husband’s knowledge, she hurried to head David off with a peace offering of an abundance of food. She then pleaded with David to not avenge himself because, when he became king, it would be a grief and offense of heart.
Look at how humbly he responded:
"Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. For indeed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!” (1 Samuel 25:32-34).
Once again, God’s sovereignty was brought to bear on David’s life. Through Abigail, the Lord intervened to keep him from sinning because he’d given place to the devil and planned to repay Nabal’s evil with evil. God’s way is to … not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for … “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19, 21).
In the Wilderness of Paran, after facing the danger of his anger toward Nabal “the fool” and God delivered him, David likely wrote Psalm 14 & 53—his resolve to not act foolishly when wronged by a fool. Note in your Bible by I Samuel 25 a note that the lessons of Psalms 14 & 53 are from this period. Turn there with me.
Psalm 53: David Resolves to Not Act Foolish Around Fools
To the Chief Musician. Set to “Mahalath.” A Contemplation of David.
1 The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;
There is none who does good.
2 God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3 Every one of them has turned aside;
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.
4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call upon God?
5 There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.
6 Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When God brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
When God repeats Himself, we should listen; but when He says something three times, He is shouting. Psalm 14, repeated in Psalm 53, is used yet a third time in Romans 3:10-12 where the first three verses of Psalms 14 & 53 are drawn into the plan of salvation.
Psalm 53 is an almost exact repletion of Psalm 14 with the exceptions that: 14:5-6 is slightly modified into 53:5; and the word for God is Elohim 3x/Yahweh 4x in Psalm 14, and Elohim all 7x in Psalm 53. Most Bible teachers believe that Psalm 14 came first (probably soon after I Samuel 25, and Psalm 53 is from late in David’s life. But the key to both Psalms and I Samuel 25 is the word nabal or fool.
Old Testament Fools
In the Old Testament, the word fool is actually a translation of 4 different Hebrew words that reflect subtle differences in “types” of fools.
1. The Simple Fool: The Hebrew word for “simple [fool]” is (peth-EE). The root word from which it is derived, implies extreme vulnerability, literally meaning “to be opened up.” The simple fool opens his mind to any passing thought and opens his arms to any passing stranger. In other words, he lacks discernment. He has an over-simplified view of life and fails to recognize the cause-and-effect sequences that affect every area of life. (See Proverbs 1:4; 7:6-7; 22:3.)
2. The Perverse Fool: The Hebrew word that refers to a “silly fool” is (ev-EEL). Its definition is “to be perverse, silly.” The mouth of a silly fool often gets him in trouble. “Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish [ev-eel] is near destruction” (Proverbs 1:7; 7:22; 10:14; 12:15; 20:3; 27:3; 29:9).
3. The Rebellious Fool: One who rejects the correction of parents or other authorities will become a rebellious fool. This type of fool is identified in Scripture with the Hebrew word (kess-EEL), which means “fat, i.e. stupid or silly.” The word denotes a person who seems determined to make wrong choices. He does not have a mental deficiency, but rather rejects the wisdom of God. (Proverbs 10:23; 13:19–20; 18:6–7; 19:29; 26:3). Scripture gives more warnings about the sensual fool than about any other type of fool.
4. The Hardened Fool: The most dangerous type of fool is a steadfast fool. The Hebrew word (naw-BAWL), which means “stupid, wicked,” identifies this type of person. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, this word also is translated as vile person. A steadfast fool totally rejects God and His ways. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalm 14:1). This type of fool is self-confident and close-minded. He is his own god, freely gratifying his lower nature.
So Nabal (a word that means fool) acted like a hardened fool, and David was temporarily drawn in by his foolishness and began to make a plan of action that was very foolish. But Abigail (a word that means source of joy) went to David and was able to being him to his sense by a gentle and respectful reasoning with him in his anger.
What is amazing is that the same woman shares her gentle wisdom with two men, one a wise David and the other the foolish Nabal. The wise man listen and responds, averting danger and bad consequences; the other foolishly plows onward to destruction. The contrast between these two man is a powerful warning for all of us.
David’s Theology Tested: David Confronts Saul Again
King Saul had chased off the Philistines, re-supplied his army, beefed up his troop levels, and again fields his commandoes. King Saul and 3,000 special forces: key, handpicked, battle hardened warriors. Again, David is faced with an unwanted battle, with an unsought foe, and an adversary that just wouldn’t stop hating and hunting him.
In First Samuel 26, Saul is hunting David again. And in this chapter we again see David sparing the life of his mortal enemy King Saul. From this time we can confidently place the lessons David records in Psalm 7. Listen now to the context of Psalm 7 as we read I Samuel 26.
1 Samuel 26:1-25 "Now the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding in the hill of Hachilah, opposite Jeshimon?” 2 Then Saul arose and went down to the Wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the Wilderness of Ziph. 3 And Saul encamped in the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon, by the road. But David stayed in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. 4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul had indeed come. 5 So David arose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Now Saul lay within the camp, with the people encamped all around him. 6 Then David answered, and said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother of Joab, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” 7 So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and there Saul lay sleeping within the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. And Abner and the people lay all around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10 David said furthermore, “As the LORD lives, the LORD shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. 11 The LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. But please, take now the spear and the jug of water that are by his head, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jug of water by Saul’s head, and they got away; and no man saw or knew it or awoke. For they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen on them. 13 Now David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of a hill afar off, a great distance being between them. 14 And David called out to the people and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Do you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered and said, “Who are you, calling out to the king?” 15 So David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? And who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not guarded your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not guarded your master, the LORD’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the jug of water that was by his head.” 17 Then Saul knew David’s voice, and said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18 And he said, “Why does my lord thus pursue his servant? For what have I done, or what evil is in my hand? 19 Now therefore, please, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant: If the LORD has stirred you up against me, let Him accept an offering. But if it is the children of men, may they be cursed before the LORD, for they have driven me out this day from sharing in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 So now, do not let my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains.” 21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David. For I will harm you no more, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.” 22 And David answered and said, “Here is the king’s spear. Let one of the young men come over and get it. 23 May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD delivered you into my hand today, but I would not stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. 24 And indeed, as your life was valued much this day in my eyes, so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the LORD, and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David! You shall both do great things and also still prevail.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place."
Whether later in life with two other Benjamites that did David great harm (Shimei and Sheba) or here when Saul of the tribe of Benjamin hunted David, the lessons are timeless. In:
Psalm 7: David Resolves to Trust God’s Solutions NOT his own
A Meditation of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite.
v. 1-2 Trust God at all times in life
1 O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me; And deliver me,
2 Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
3 O LORD my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
4 If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
5 Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me; Yes, let him trample my life to the earth, And lay my honor in the dust. Selah
v. 6-16 Rest in God’s Faithfulness all the time
6 Arise, O LORD, in Your anger;
Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies;
Rise up for me to the judgment You have commanded!
7 So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You;
For their sakes, therefore, return on high.
8 The LORD shall judge the peoples;
Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness,
And according to my integrity within me.
9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
But establish the just;
For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.
10 My defense is of God,
Who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
12 If he does not turn back,
He will sharpen His sword;
He bends His bow and makes it ready.
13 He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.
16 His trouble shall return upon his own head,
And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.
v. 17 Praise God at all times
17 I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
So we have seen David getting the opportunity to apply all the wonderful truths he has been learning. We need to also learn what he learned. Just like the lessons we hear in Sunday School class are wonderful, but seem so different when we are actually out on the street witnessing, or on a missions trip.
When God is at work in us it is not theoretical, it is real-time, daily life that the Lord wants to change in us. So to deepen the truths David learned, and make them a part of the fabric of David’s life, the Lord allows David to get deeply wounded by Nabal in a business deal (I Samuel 25); and for Saul to start hunting David again (I Samuel 26).
When we are wounded and pushed to our limits: God is there, all the time, showing us His truth and helping us to grow!
Another Psalm we are not sure exactly where it came in the life of David, also fits nicely in this time period. In Psalm 39, David’s great lament over sin and the brevity of life was intense.
Psalm 39: David’s Resolves to Live like Every Day was His Last Day Alive
To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
1 I said, “I will guard my ways,
Lest I sin with my tongue;
I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
While the wicked are before me.”
2 I was mute with silence,
I held my peace even from good;
And my sorrow was stirred up.
3 My heart was hot within me;
While I was musing, the fire burned.
Then I spoke with my tongue:
4 “LORD,* make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.*
5 Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
6 Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.
7 “And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.
8 Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Do not make me the reproach of the foolish.
9 I was mute, I did not open my mouth,
Because it was You who did it.
10 Remove Your plague from me;
I am consumed by the blow of Your hand.
11 When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity,
You make his beauty melt away like a moth;
Surely every man is vapor. Selah
12 “Hear my prayer, O LORD,
And give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner, as all my fathers were.
13 Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength,
Before I go away and am no more.”
In verse 1 David resolved to keep silent before men: … “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.” But after further meditation on his situation, he felt compelled to speak up:
… “LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days that I may know how frail I am. … Surely every man at his best state is but a vapor. … And now, LORD, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish. I was mute, I did not open my mouth, because it was You who did it. Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. … Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more” (Psalm 39:4, 7-10, 12-13).