The Right Thing to Do–1 Samuel 25:2-44

This is a story about a strong and resourceful woman. This is a tale of a foolish and worthless man. And this is about a wise young man who’d soon be king. But underneath, it’s a study on what discernment is and how it should be employed. In other words, it’s a lesson on knowing the right thing to do and doing it.

Nabal was filthy rich, as they say. He had his three thousand sheep in Carmel to be sheared. These sheep grazed in the nearby wilderness of Maon where David and his 600 mighty men were in hiding from King Saul. While there, Nabal’s shepherds and David’s men coexisted, with David’s soldiers informally protecting his valuable assets. As described, they were “like a wall” (v. 16) or hedge around the herds. Parenthetically, we learn that the “harsh and evil” Nabal was married to the “intelligent and beautiful” Abigail.

Now, it was a time when the people feasted, so David, thinking of his men, sent ten representatives to Carmel to ask Nabal for some provisions in return for his protection services, but Nabal rebuffed them. In fact, he insulted God’s anointed.  When told, the future king sought vengeance, like most future kings would. He commanded 400 of his band to strap on their swords and vowed that not a male would be left in Nabal’s household when he was through with him.

Abigail caught wind of this ominous plan and hastily put together a bountiful banquet meal—including wine, roasted grain, raisin clusters, and date cakes—and shipped it via donkey to Maon. She followed on their heels on her own mount. It’s important to note that all Nabal had in mind was water, bread and meat, at the most.

On this journey she encountered David and his men. In the ensuing exchange are huge lessons on discernment.

Abigail knew that her husband lived up to he his name (could be translated “fool”), and that he was “worthless.” (v. 17) Nonetheless, she still had to afford him respect or David would find her unbecoming. So she accepted blame for his actions and deeds.

While Nabal probably knew something about David, he considered him only a runaway servant. Abigail on the other hand was astute. She knew David’s future national role, and was aware of his eschatological importance. As such, she looked forward to see the ramifications of David’s intentions and appealed to him on that basis.

She closed her case by appealing to David’s conscience. The king would not want to carry the weight of this massacre in his mind going forward. In the end, David was prohibited from constructing the temple because he had blood on his hands, but not on her watch. (1 Chronicles 28:3)

Finally, Abigail had the good sense to wait until Nabal sobered up to tell him of her encounter with David when she got back. He needed to be sitting down when his heart went to “stone.”

So God exacted David’s revenge for him by stopping Nabal’s heart, and David received a classy, courageous, beautiful, resourceful, intelligent and God-fearing wife in return.

May her tribe increase.

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. I defy more categorization than that. Been studying the Word for 40 years and counting.
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