Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 20 September 2022:
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 Nabal, a foolish man, “harsh and badly behaved,” returns insults instead, David’s pride (with perhaps a root of insecurity) caused him to lose control of his temper, bearing, and self-control, and he resolves to attack Nabal. He reduced himself to Nabal’s level, in fact even below Nabal’s level since David intended to kill Nabal for his lack of respect. David originally demonstrated gracefulness. Now he was acting very ungraceful. Are there strings attached to your kindness? Do your good deeds demand good deeds in return? How do you act when people don’t reciprocate or treat you the way you think you deserve? If so, they are not gifts of love, they are self-centered 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 and was about to make a bad situation far worse. God expects us to be bigger than that. Remember, it isn’t a sin to be insulted, rather, it is an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to others in fellowship with Jesus. However, it is a sin to respond to bad behavior with bad behavior: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:14-21)
Notice also in the above verse that, in his prideful rage, David incited others into sinful behavior. Don’t drag others into your conflicts and tempt them to sin, and don’t let hot-headed people drag you into their fights. Look for opportunities to calm offended people down and to deescalate conflict rather than getting wrapped up in a bad situation.
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.” When you read about Nabal, you might be tempted to think about the Nabals you know, but better to do a self-assessment and consider where you might be like Nabal too. Are there ways you need to grow in dealing with others? Does your mouth sometimes get you into trouble?
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 receive reciprocation or a future reward, you will only experience frustration and bitterness and will be out of fellowship with the Lord. Christian love is not transactional, it is selfless and sacrificial; it is not about fairness, but rather about mercy and grace. The good deeds of the Pharisees were transactional, and Jesus reserved his harshest criticism for them. If, like David, you feel your good deeds were “in vain” because they were not appreciated by others, that is a sure indicator that your ‘good deeds’ weren’t done in the love of Christ and for His glory. Pray that God will give you a heart that loves unconditionally, a heart that loves simply as a natural response to Christ’s love for you — “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
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.” Blinded by self-righteous anger, David imagined God on his side. Pride, anger, envy, and other fleshy emotions cause us to approach God inappropriately, hindering our prayer life, and incite us to see Him as a means to our sinful desires. Don’t view God through your problems, view your problems through the reality of His Sovereignty and His grace through Christ which is our salvation, our example, and which should be our motivation.
- Job 15:4 — But you are doing away with the fear of God and hindering meditation before God.
- 1 Peter 3:7 — Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
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. Are you?
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 25:28 — “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?
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 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?
Hebrews 4:12, 13 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
God’s word exposes your heart and shows you if your attitudes and thoughts please God. How has God’s Word penetrated your heart lately? Has the Holy Spirit used certain passages in the Scriptures to strike at your conscience? Has the Counselor revealed a place where your life is not in conformity to Christ? Are you struggling with gossip, hatred, anger, bitterness, greed, pride, jealousy, fear, ingratitude, etc? Regardless of how well you hide your sin from public view, the Holy Spirit will convict you through God’s Word.
One response to the discomfort of conviction is to avoid reading the Bible; perhaps this is one reason why so many find it so hard to “find time” for Bible reading. Better to be continually washed by the Word (Eph 5:26).
Others will approach the Scriptures superficially, avoiding too much painful introspection. Perhaps for them the Bible becomes “Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there (Isaiah 28:10)” as described in our readings this morning. However, the Holy Spirit looks beyond outward actions to address the motives of your heart.
Far better to approach your daily Scripture readings with the prayer of the psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23, 24).” Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden you heart (Hebrews 3:7).” Be transformed “by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).” Read; respond, and walk in the Light (1 John 1:7). Let’s continue to encourage each other along the way.
From Henry T. Blackaby — Does God’s word ever cause you discomfort? When you read the Bible does what you read make you uneasy? Do you find when you listen to sermons, that the Scripture seems aimed directly at you? You are experiencing the reality that the word of God is alive and can read your thoughts and judge your intentions. When God’s word speaks to you it is always for a purpose. God knows your heart and knows what you need to do to bring your life into conformity to Christ. If you have a problem with sinful talk, the word that comes to you will address the tongue. If you are struggling to forgive, God’s word will confront you with His standard for forgiveness. If pride has a stronghold in your life, God’s word will speak to you about humility. Whatever sin needs addressing, you will find you are confronted by God’s word on the matter…. Regularly allow the word of God to wash over you and find any sin or impurity (Eph. 5:26). Always make the connection between your life and what God is saying to you through His word. Make a habit of taking every word from God seriously, knowing that it is able to judge your heart and mind.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 September 2022: Be a peacemaker and reconciler today. (1 Sam 25) Do not quench or grieve the Spirit. Respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and grow in conformity to the character of Christ.