Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 9 May 20:
Today, we are given a valuable lesson on how to avoid and handle conflicts with others, as well as how not to handle conflicts. Are you mostly a Nabal, a David, or an Abigail?
1 Samuel 25:9-13 – “Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes….” The set up: David displayed hospitality to a stranger but expected reciprocation. When insults were returned instead, David’s pride (with perhaps a root of insecurity) caused him to lose control of his temper, bearing, and self-control. He reduced himself to Nabal’s level (Nabal means “fool”). David originally demonstrated gracefulness. Now he was acting very ungraceful. How do you act when people don’t treat you the way you think you deserve? Do your good deeds demand good deeds in return? If so, they are not gifts of love, they are transactions.
1 Samuel 25:13 — “And David said to his men, ‘Every man strap on his sword!’ And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.” Treated poorly, David acted emotionally and rashly. God expects us to be bigger than that. In his prideful rage, David also incited others. Don’t let hot-headed people drag you into their fights.
1 Samuel 25:17 – “…he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” Nabal was considered a worthless man in part because he would not listen to the concerns, requests, or advice of others. He lacked emotional intelligence, and he was harsh to others. Consider Proverbs 18:6 — “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.”
1 Samuel 25:18 — “Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys.” Abigail was a reconciler who protected others from their own foolish behavior. Being a reconciler is costly; it requires much time, effort, and often resources, and sometimes risk. Are you willing to pay the price to be a reconciler?
1 Samuel 25:21 — “Now David had said, ‘Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good.'” If you do good deeds only to seek a future reward, you will only experience frustration which may tempt you to sin. Consider the stories of Mary and Martha and the Prodigal Son. Those who feel love must be earned don’t show the grace God expects, nor do the experience the fullness of joy which should come from God’s grace bestowed upon them. Christian love is not transactional, it is covenantal; it is not about fairness, but rather about mercy and grace.
1 Samuel 25:22 – “God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.” David made a rash vow to God in pride and arrogance. He revealed a flaw in his character that will hurt him later. We need to be able to not only identify the flaws in our character but to have also the strength to correct those flaws. Pride, anger, envy, and other fleshy emotions cause us to approach God inappropriately and incite us to see Him as a means to our sinful desires. Don’t view God through your problems, view your problems through God.
1 Samuel 25:23-25 — Abigail took responsibility for Nabal’s failures and appears to have established a practice of protecting both Nabal and others from the consequences of Nabal’s shortcomings. Abigail models loyalty to a weak leader and to those hurt by the weak leader. She is a protector.
1 Samuel 25:23-31 — Abigail tactfully points out to David that he is in danger of bloodguilt, and rather than simply warning David about God’s punishment for bloodguilt, she speaks about the blessings God bestows upon the faithful, all while offering David a gift. It is often helpful to show people not only the consequences of sin but also the benefits of obedience, all in a loving way.
1 Samuel 25:24 — “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant.” See Gal 6:1, 2 — Abigail showed Christ-like love by bearing the burden of her husband’s sins.
1 Samuel 25:28 — “Please forgive the trespass of your servant.” See the Lord’s Prayer — “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Doesn’t 1 Samuel 25:28 remind you of the Lord’s Prayer? Consider also the first words from Jesus on the Cross — “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Do you pray to God that He will forgive those who offend you or punish those who offend you? Jesus said, what you pray for them, you should likewise pray for yourself. A person truly amazed by grace should feel compelled to pray that others receive similar grace and similar joy in fellowship with Jesus.
1 Samuel 25:32 – “And David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!’” David recognized that his encounter with Abigail was not a coincidence but was orchestrated by God. One of the primary ways God works in your life is by arranging circumstances and encounters with others to affect His purpose and to impact your life at just the right time in just the right way. Don’t think that anything in your life is accidental. Keep your eyes open for what God is doing. Who has God placed in your life to assist you along the road to sanctification? Who is there to give you godly counsel to handle conflicts with others and life challenges?
1 Samuel 25:33 — “Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!” We have recently read and commented much on the Bible’s many commands to us concerning how we are to respond to insults and abuse: Remember Romans 12:14-19 — “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…. Do not take revenge;” and Romans 15:1 — “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Today we read about the value of having and giving sound counsel when emotions could lead to sin. Abigail prevented David from acting emotionally, rashly and in a way he would have always regretted. Abigail was not only beautiful, she was discerning (The opposite of the woman described in Proverbs 11:22). She was a peacemaker. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (daughter in Abigail’s case) of God (Matthew 5:9).” Are you an Abigail? Do you have an Abigail in your life?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 May 20: Be a peacemaker and reconciler today. (1 Sam 25)
– 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.