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Buckets vs. Hoses

Faith & Failure 1 Samuel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Buckets vs. Hoses

What’s the difference?
Buckets are receptacles and hoses are conduits.
Buckets are good for collecting things, like water, but if you don’t do anything w/ the water it either evaporates or stagnates.
The water has got to move.
Hoses are conduits. The water won’t stand as long as the source is open. It moves.
Have you ever tried to move a bucket of water?
How heavy is a 5-gallon bucket of water?
When I was a kid a friend and I thought that if water balloons were good, a water-filled trash bag was excellent.
Except we couldn’t pick up the bag of water.
Fire fighting improved dramatically when they moved from bucket lines to water lines.
People’s lives improved dramatically when technology moved from the well and bucket system to water lines in the house.
Indoor plumbing!
Life got a whole lot better when the water passed thru.
Like with water, our spiritual lives, and the lives of those around us improve dramatically when we’re hoses, not buckets.
When we receive something from God and let it pass through us, we act on it, people’s lives are positively affected.
I have encountered a number of Christians who pray dramatic and theological prayers that affect little change.
For instance, “Oh Lord, do a great work in Munds Park. Make yourself known here so that many more will turn to you and be saved.”
So, how does God answer that, typically?
He says, “Here’s what I want you to do that will make Me known so that people will turn to me...”
Too many times that prayer, or one like it, is spoken and the speaker either doesn’t listen to God’s response or does but does not act on it.
We prayed our prayer, people heard us and we sound spiritual, now it’s someone else’s turn and we listen to them, not God.
A receptacle. Either empty or nasty. Evaporated or stagnated. Neither is good for anything.
Like Jonah sitting in the sun waiting and watching for God to work. Expecting God would just do it.
God had told Jonah what to do and expected him to act on it and when he didn’t he sent the fish to get his attention.
Even then, he sat by expecting God to do all the work.
God’s program is for us to listen to His instructions, then act on what He tells us. As a result, some of the people around us will want to hear God, too.
That’s discipleship.
A hose. Attached to the source and everything flows through and does a lot of good for a lot of people.
One difference between Saul and David. One was a bucket. The other, a hose.

Saul; a bucket

1 Samuel 23:7 NIV
Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has delivered him into my hands, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.”
There was a day when Saul heard from God. But he never acted completely on it. (Amalekites and Agag)
What he didn’t act on, he didn’t allow to pass thru entirely.
His spiritual life stagnated and eventually evaporated.
In this case, God never spoke to him nor did he direct Saul to kill David.
When you don’t hear from God you’re left to make it up on your own. In which case you’ll be wrong almost all the time and do a lot of harm.
Those who rarely communicate w/ God regularly underestimate Him.
Not the case w/ David. He was a hose.

David; a hose

1 Samuel 23:9–13 NIV
When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” David said, “Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will.” Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will.” So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.
David took the time to inquire of God.
Ephod was a vest that the priest would wear when it was time to hear from God. Like dressing up out of respect when you’re going to meet someone.
David regularly communicated w/ God through the priest.
Communication - When both parties understand. Just b/c one party is talking does not mean the other party understands.
Both parties understand and action is taken.
It was consistent w/ David.
It’s a learned skill.
Those who regularly communicate w/ God rarely misunderstand Him.
We can be really good at speaking theological prayers but really bad at listening.
We become buckets when we don’t listen or when we listen but fail to do anything w/ what we hear from God.
We are spiritual hoses when we pray simple prayers then listen for God’s response and act on what we hear.
When we do this, good things happen on our lives and the ppl around us.
Abigail was a hose in David’s life. She heard from God, applied it and it helped a lot of people.
is the story of David, Abigail, and Nabal.


1 Samuel 25:2–3 NIV
A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.
Nabal. Very wealthy. A Calebite from Carmel. Near Bethlehem. In fact, his family founded Bethlehem.
He and David are related, Distant, but related.
He was surly and mean. Hard and evil. A nasty, arrogant man.
His wife, Abigail. Beautiful and intelligent. Wise. Maybe opposites attract. Certainly, an arranged marriage. What would she have seen in him?
When Nabal’s servants were shearing their sheep David and his men provided protection for them.
In Ch. 24 the Phil’s raided Keilah and stole all the livestock.
David prevented that from happening to Nabal.
When they were done, as was the custom, David sent Nabal a bill. Not extraordinary, but customary.


1 Samuel 25:5–12 NIV
So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! “ ‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’ ” When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited. Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word.
1 Samuel 25:

David’s message

He blessed him. Long life and good health. More than a polite and respectful greeting. Truly wishing well for Nabal.
He reminded him. David and his men had treated them well. Protected when they didn’t have to. His servants were secure, not afraid, were able to shear their sheep which would produce a large income for Nabal.
He billed him. Whatever you see fit. Whatever you have around. Unspecified. Just expecting generosity for generosity. Let Nabal determine the value of David’s service.

Nabal’s answer

8x he used the term I or my. Completely self-centered and arrogant.
David referred to himself as Nabal’s son emphasizing the relationship they had.
Nabal countered calling David Jesse’s son. Familiar w/ the family. But giving little significance to their relationship.
He accused David and his men of being rogue, deserters. They don’t deserve payment b/c they are renegades and not to be encouraged.
Like the mob and a shakedown. But David truly wanted to see Nabal prosper and did not ask for anything uncustomary.
Nabal declined payment.

David’s reaction

Strap on your swords.
They will exact payment if it won’t be offered otherwise.
There’s going to be a blood bath if no one intervenes and cooler heads don’t prevail.
Pride. Male egos.
Nabal’s household will be destroyed.
Fortunately for everyone Abigail found out and intervened. Her quick actions eased the tensions and defused the situation.
However she may appeared, she certainly was wise. She heard from God and acted quickly.

Wisdom Wins

However she may appeared, she certainly was wise. She heard from God and acted quickly.

Abigail is informed

1 Samuel 25:14–17 NIV
One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”
David is a good shepherd of sheep and for the shepherds. He took care of them.
Please do something. We are in deep trouble.
The servant knew, Abigail knew, you do not treat David, God’s anointed, like this and get away w/ it.
Everyone except Nabal understood this. He’s arrogant. Maybe no one else can get away w/ it, but this is me.
Besides, what’s he going to do?
Jump ahead. Parenthetically, this is what David is about to do.
1 Samuel 25:21–22 NIV
David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”
Abigail got the message and quickly went to work preparing a feast for David and his men.

Abigail intervened

1 Samuel 25:18–19 NIV
Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
1 Samuel 25:
She prepared a lavish feast.
But, she did not tell her husband.
This is rare for the day and age.
Her initiative and independence would have been scandalous.
In a male-dominated society a wife didn’t do anything w/out her husband’s permission. She faced a sever punishment when Nabal finds out.
Then, a clandestine meeting w/ an enemy of her husband in direct disobedience to him.
At great personal risk to herself, she saved all the men in her household.
The self-sacrifice she made saved the lives of many others.
Every good, godly, relationship we have in our lives is based on self-sacrifice. Beginning w/ Jesus’ self-sac making a relationship w/ God possible thru faith.
Marriage, family, and friendships all work when we willingly sacrifice for each other.
Needless to say, in his arrogance, Nabal did not appreciate what he had in Abigail.
Abigail followed the servants who had the feast.
So, David and his men saw the food first. Wise woman.
Then, when she arrived, she humbly and respectfully approached David to intercede on her husband’s behalf.

Abigail intercedes

1 Samuel 25:23–31 NIV
When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you. “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”
1 Samuel 25:
She bowed and begged for mercy. Then she spoke.
Her words were in 3 parts
Personal responsibility
Prophetically revealed David’s destiny
Prevented David from a lot of trouble
First, she confessed she should have been more watchful for when David’s servants came and spoke w/ her husband.
Apparently, everyone knew he was evil in his dealings w/ people and she must have eased his sting before.
She felt responsible for protecting Nabal from himself. He is a fool. His name means foolish. It fit like a glove.
Abigail is gracious. Nabal does not deserve her or her work to save him. This isn’t natural. She got it from somewhere.
Second, she predicted something about David’s future. She knew Saul was pursuing David to kill him, many did. But she somehow knew David would survive and God will preserve the throne of the kingdom for his defendants.
How did she know? David did not receive his covenant promise from God for years ()
She heard from God and she listened and acted. It’s the only way she could have known.
And, she knew something abut David’s future that no one other than God knew.
God gave her wisdom and grace. She applied the wisdom and grace to those around her and they were blessed b/c of her.
So, the third part of her words to David was she prevented him from destroying her household and bringing a lot of trouble to his.
His ego was involved. This time, he was not listening to God. He acted on his own and it was about to lead to big trouble.
She reminded him to fight the Lord’s battles, not his own. Let God take care David and his enemies.
Don’t burn valuable resources avenging petty wrongs.
David would put his future in jeopardy if he acted rashly out of his own arrogance.
God will protect you from you enemies. Don’t self-destruct!
Brilliant use of the sling metaphor. David had just taken out Goliath w/ his sling and she assured David that God would take out his enemies w/ a sling, too.
Fight God’s battles not your own. God will take care of you.
B/C she listened to God and acted that day a lot of harm was averted and a lot good was done.
She was a conduit of God’s wisdom and grace. There were many recipients that day.
Most importantly, David. He recognized God at work thru her and responded as he should have.

David’s blessing

1 Samuel 25:32–34 NIV
David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”
1 Samuel 25
David offered a blessing in response to Abigail’s intervention.
He blessed God for putting this on her heart.
God could have ignored the whole thing and let it play out. A lot of people would have died that day and David would have had a lot of trouble to deal w/.
Then, David blessed Abigail for listening and acting on it.
Good judgment, wisdom
And for saving him from needless blood shed.
Abigail heard from God and acted and a number of people were blessed b/c she did.


1 Samuel 25:35–40 NIV
Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.” When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.” Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”
David let it go. He forgave her and Nabal for their actions. He went home.
Abigail told Nabal what she did. He was hosting a party and was drunk when she got home. So, she waited until morning to tell him.
As it sunk in what she had done, disobeyed him severely but saved the lives of all the men in the household, it sunk in what he had done.
He had a heart attack and died. God avenged the wrong for David. Had he asked God, God would have said, “Let me handle this.” And, He did.
When David heard, he sent for Abigail and took her as his wife.
When David heard, he sent for Abigail and took her as his wife.
B/C he didn’t communicate w/ God, he underestimated Him.
David regularly communicated w/ God. But He didn’t this time and it just about cost him dearly.
When we regularly communicate w/ God we rarely misunderstand Him.
It’s when we don’t communicate w/ God we get into trouble.
And, the trouble isn’t just limited to us. Those around us suffer, too.
We become buckets where grace and wisdom die.
When we rarely communicate w/ God we regularly underestimate Him.
We don’t know to expect Him to work things out for us.
Abigail listened to God and a lot of people lived. She let the wisdom and grace she rec’d from God pass thru her.
She headed off trouble for herself, her family (except Nabal), and David.
She was a hose, a conduit, where what God gave her passed thru and on to others.
Let’s be hoses, not buckets.


Stay connected

A hose has to stay connected to the hydrant.
A hose does not good if it’s disconnected. Nothing gets in. It becomes a storage place for water and then in the winter what happens?
Standing water is rarely good.
Bible study, prayer, worship are means that allow us to stay connected.

Listen well

Communication is a learned skill. Talking comes naturally.
Understanding is un-natural.
Understanding your spouse, parents, friends from different parts of the country all take work.
Hearing God’s voice, understanding what He is directing you to do is a learned and valuable skill.
Our God is alive and He speaks to us.
Romans 12:1–2 NIV
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Let God constantly transform your mind and your actions and words will be wise.

Let it out

Be a hose.
Act on what you hear from God.
Don’t just pray asking God to do something. Expect He will give you instructions on what to do when He is about to work.
When you stop it up you become a bucket.
When water lines are stopped up bad things happen.
Our sewer lines were clogged last week. Turns out there was a water bottle in the line. That was a problem.
When the water stops flowing it either evaporates or stagnates. It’s either empty or nasty.
When we become buckets and the blessings God gives us stop flowing, the blessings either evaporate or stagnate.
We become either empty or nasty.
Be a hose.
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