Let me explain a little about what takes place when we are angry, as Saul has been towards David. When we left off in part 13, Saul had humbled himself to David and was sorry he tried to kill David for no reason.
Anger can paralyze us. Sometimes it comes in the form of irritation, blaming another, or blurting out something we wished later on that we hadn’t said. Anger is a learned reaction to frustration, in which we behave in ways we would rather not. You cannot disguise anger. It is on display for others to see. That’s why we are to practice “self-control.” Anger can easily become a habit, especially when we don’t get our way. I think we become temporarily insane when we are not in control of our behavior. In addition, this takes us back to David.
Background: Saul is still king. The majority of fighting for Israel is with his army. David on the other hand, has 600 men and is in Paran watching over the sheep of a large wealthy landowner. It was custom in that day that if you protected the shepherds from wild tribes, that when the wealthy owner went to sheer the sheep, the men would be paid a portion.
This is what David and his men have been doing in the wilderness of Paran. The Bible doesn’t say that David ever asked permission to even be on this man’s property, but nonetheless, he had been protecting Nabal’s men and sheep.
This man that the Bible describes as very rich is named Nabal. Nabal means “Fool.” In scripture, fool doesn’t mean simple-minded. It means that person says, “There is no God.” In verse 3 of chapter 25, we are told, he is a harsh man and evil in his dealings. That means he is also dishonest. Nabal was rich, demanding, deceptive, unfair, and said there is no God.
Now for his wife: (also in verse 30) Abigail was the opposite of her husband. She was intelligent and beautiful.
David and his men had been doing their voluntary work of protecting the field in Paran in the wilderness of Carmel. In fact, this is what the men who worked for her husband reported to Abigail.
1 Samuel 25:15, 16 – “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.” (Verse 16) “They were a wall to us both by night and day all the time we were with them keeping the sheep.
In 1 Samuel 25:5 and 6, David sends ten men to Nabal in Carmel. Nabal is there shearing his sheep. David tells his men to greet Nabal in his name and with honor. Then they are to tell him all that David and his men have done in guarding his sheepherders and sheep. They are to ask for whatever he can give them. – payment (1 Samuel 25:7, 8).
What’s interesting is that David didn’t go himself. He sent 10 men instead and tells them to wait on what he offers to pay. There’s no way that Nabal has not heard of David or who he is. He knows he is to be the next king of Israel. However, Nabal says there is no God.
1 Samuel 25:10, 11 – 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 on from his master.” (Verse 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?”
Did you notice how Nabal answered David’s men, my water, my bread, my meat? Mr. Stingy Pants has no idea what is about to happen for treating David’s men this way.
However, remember how David responded with King Saul when he took the corner of his robe and David felt guilty? We are about to see what happens when anger leads to “temporary insanity.”
1 Samuel 25:12, 13 – “So David’s young men turned on their heels and went back and they came and told him (David) all these words. (Verse 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.
David had such patience with Saul. He waited on the Lord with Saul. He waited on the Lord to protect him, and refused to lift his hand to God’s anointed. So why do you think David reacts with over-kill now? Four hundred men with swords to go after one stingy man? How are the two situations different between how he acted towards Saul and Nabal? Both of these situations were a temptation to get revenge; to get back at the person in which had wronged David. Perhaps in one concerning Saul, he was superior, authority over David by being King and in this situation with Nabal; he was just a rich commoner.
In 25:14-17, one of Nabal’s young servants ran to Nabal’s wife, Abigail, and told her what had taken place. Notice that the young man went to Abigail and not Nabal. (Maybe the servant was hoping that David would kill his master.) But scripture says that Nabal wasn’t approachable. He was too mean to even talk to.
Abigail could have let David go ahead and kill that hateful husband of hers, but that is not what she chose to do.
1 Samuel 25:18, 19 – 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. (Verse 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.
Abigail intercedes literally, for her husband. All this was done without Nabal’s knowledge. Many servants must have prepared the food beforehand. After all, they were very rich and had a lot of mouths to feed for a large estate.
1 Samuel 25:20, 23 – (Verse 20) So it was, as she rode on the donkey, that she went down under cover of the hill; and there was David and his men, coming down toward her, and she met them. (Verse 23) Now when Abigail saw David, she hastened to dismount from the donkey fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground.
This is the practical side of wisdom. She dismounted and fell on her face. All of Israel knew that David was to be the next king. If she knew, then why had her husband acted as if he didn’t?
From verse 24 through verse 28, Abigail refers to herself as maidservant and eight times, she calls David “my lord.” She begins to apologies for her husband. She tells David that his name, Nabal, fits who he is. She calls him a scoundrel. She also tells David she knows he’s to be the king and not to shed blood in this matter, the blame be on her.
Then she tells David that when the Lord has dealt with her husband and David is king over all Israel, not to forget her (1 Samuel 25:30, 31).
How could David resist that? First, she’s beautiful; has a boatload of food, enough to feed his army, and then tells David not to end up with a guilty conscience because he is going to become king.
Apart from the Bible, there is no handbook that tells us how to handle situations of this kind. Maybe our situations are not as intense but they seem that way to us. We can’t run off into a corner, hide, and let cobwebs grow around us.
God is creative when He delivers. He can put us back on our feet when we are determined. Our focus has to stay on Him, not the situation.
Have you ever taken up for someone who you know had wronged another? Have you ever made apologies for them? Were they grateful? Probably not. Too many times, we pass up an opportunity to stand in the gap for another.
We don’t like to make excuses for people who are despicable in their behavior, but maybe God is showing us a lesson here, using Abigail as an example.