Dear Abbey
“...blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you” 1 Samuel 25:33

By Jon W. Quinn

The prophet Samuel died (1 Samuel 25:1). Saul continued as king, and David, anointed by Samuel to be Israel's next king, was on the run. Though things looked bad for David, all would go according to God's plan. David would be the next king of Israel. But for now, he and his men were fugitives. David himself was waging a defensive campaign, seeking only to avoid as much as possible a confrontation with Saul, the king. Though David had ample opportunity to kill Saul, he would not. God had put Saul on the throne and David would leave it to God to remove him. Saul was God's anointed and David revered God to that extent. But it did make things extremely difficult. David and his men were forced to live off the land.

Nabal: “Who is David?”
A rich man named Nabal of the town of Maon, who was "harsh and evil in his doings" but had married a woman named Abigail (Yes, this is the “Dear Abbey” in the title) , who is described as a woman who was "intelligent and beautiful in appearance" (1 Samuel 25:2,3).

David sent ten men to Nabal (who traveled to Carmel for business) to request food ( 1 Samuel 25:5-9). They had lived in the same region around Maon for some time and David pointed out that Nabal's men and David's men had gotten along and that Nabal had not “missed anything all the days they were in Carmel” (1 Samuel 25:7). Not only had David's men not taken anything of Nabal's while he and his men were away, but they had even protected Nabal's interests during his absence, possibly from Philistine raiders.

But Nabal refused to feed David and his men (1 Samuel 25:10-12). He suggested that David was a mere rebel, evidently dismissing any concept that David was in line to be king by God's appointment (1 Samuel 25:13). As David put it: “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good.” (1 Samuel 25:21).

David and 400 men prepared to attack Nabal and Abigail heard of her husband's evil response. She gathered supplies herself and went out to meet David (1 Samuel 25:14-22).

Abigail: “Jehovah Will Certainly Make for David, My Lord, an Enduring House”
Abigail fell on her face before David and begged for mercy from David, denouncing the actions of her husband (vs. 25). She appealed to David's goodness to curb vengeance on her family, stating her confidence that the Lord was with David (1 Samuel 25:23-31).

David responded with blessing. It began as a blessing of thanksgiving to God for sending such a one as Abigail to him to remind him to restrain his anger (1 Samuel 25:32). Then followed a blessing on Abigail for taking such a risk to keep David from avenging himself (1 Samuel 25:33-35).

The Lord struck Nabal and he died ten days after his return home. He had thrown a drunken party for himself, congratulating himself on his achievements (vs. 36-38). Those congratulations were short-lived. The Scriptures inform us that “When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The LORD has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head." Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife.” (vs. 39). David then married Abigail (vs. 39-43).

The desire for revenge is a strong emotion, but vengeance is not justified. Though we find this principle in the Old Testament, it seems much more pronounced in the New Testament. But in the Old, we find it not only in the account of David and Nabal, but also, for example, in the account of Joseph and his brothers. After their father Jacob's death, Joseph's brothers were afraid that Joseph would then take out his vengeance upon them. Joseph assured them that he would not with the words "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place?” (Genesis 50:19).

David would later write a Psalm in which he declares how the Lord had protected him:

47 The God who executes vengeance for me,
And subdues peoples under me.
48 He delivers me from my enemies;
Surely You lift me above those who rise up against me;
You rescue me from the violent man.

(Psalm 18:47-48)

In the New Testament, we have this principle elaborated upon. A tremendous passage of Scripture about this is found in Paul's letter to the Roman disciples of Jesus. Here we have a church that would one day feel the brunt of Nero's bloodthirsty persecution. But here is what they are instructed: “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21).

Interestingly enough, in the above passage, Paul quotes two Old Testament passages to confirm the principle: “Vengeance is Mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35) and “If your enemy is hungry, feed him…” (Proverbs 25:21,22).

As disciples of Jesus, our enemies can say and do evil, and make us angry. There is no wrong in being angry at foolishness, godlessness and sin, or even toward people who engage in such. But the anger must be controlled, and enemies must be prayed for, as Jesus prayed for His. And while I should hope that my enemies repent, I do understand that God will address all in justice one day. “For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY." And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:30-31) So, yes, we desire that all repent, but there is also a desire for vindication of our cause and our lives and the ultimate victory of righteousness (Revelation 6:9-11).

And this is the principle that David, in his anger at Nabal, temporarily forgot. He seemed genuinely appreciative of Abigail's courage in being willing to take a great risk to remind him of the Lord's will in this matter. At this point in David's life he was so reverent and faithful to the Lord. This is the David of great faith. This is the David that should have always been, but would later fail. But for now, we have a David that is truly a “man after God's own heart.”
From The Bradley Banner 9/9/2007
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway


Return to Bulletins of the Month
Return to Homepage