Becoming a Person After God’s Own Heart (50 Days With David)

What A Fool! (1 Samuel 25)

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In our last lesson we noticed the graciousness of David as he dealt with Saul. We spent time talking about how to do good and say good things to those who do not deserve it, but try to hurt us. We will see another person exemplifying gracious living in a beautiful woman named Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. Abigail is married to a man named Nabal. The name “Nabal” is a Hebrew word which means “fool.” I have a difficult time believing that his parents decided to call him “fool.” I think it is more likely that this was the name given to him because of his repeated foolish actions. Verse 3 describes the contrast of this lopsided marriage. Abigail is intelligent, discerning, and beautiful while Nabal is harsh, dishonest, and evil. However, Nabal was a very rich man. Nabal is a selfish fellow who seems to be only concerned about how things affect him and nothing else. He was not one to share his wealth and did not care what people thought. He did not even care about David.

While David is being hunted in the wilderness, David is not sitting alone having a pity party. He and his 400 men are acting as protectors for the people who live outside the city walls. In those days you did not have a paid police force nor a highway patrol to ensure safe travel on the roads. But David and his men are protecting farmers and shepherds from raids by thieves. Nabal’s land is one of the lands that David and his men have protected.

David hears that Nabal is shearing his sheep. Basically, Nabal is enjoying the profits from having his sheep protected. So David sends ten of his young men to Nabal with a message. The message is found in verse 7.

I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.

The request is simply that they be allowed to share in some of the profits since they protected Nabal’s shepherds so well that Nabal did not lose even one sheep. Nabal’s response to the servants’ request is found in verses 10-12. Can you believe Nabal’s response? Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? What a mockery! Nabal just called David a big nobody who is fleeing his master, Saul. Should he take his bread away from his shearers and give it to a bunch of nobodies! With great mockery and insults, Nabal sends David’s messengers away. When David hears the news, he is livid and is ready to attack Nabal. David and has been have helped Nabal get to this point and he has just been ridiculed for his work.

One of Nabal’s servants goes to Abigail and explains how good David had been to the shepherds while tending the sheep in the wilderness. Notice verse 17: Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him. Even Nabal’s servants realize what a fool Nabal is.

Abigail must quickly save the day from her foolish husband’s bad decision. She grabs 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five prepared sheep, parched grain, clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of figs and rushes out to meet David. But she does not tell Nabal about what she is doing. Notice how Abigail pleads with David in verses 24-31. First, put the guilt on me and take no regard for the fool Nabal who is worthless. Basically, Abigail says that her husband is a fool. She does not defend him and stick up for him, She simply admits that Nabal is worthless. Second, Abigail offers the presents, probably far beyond what David expected. Third, Abigail knows that God is with David. Finally, Abigail points out that David does not want the guilt of having shed blood because of vengeance. With this, David listens to Abigail, accepts the gifts and leaves in peace.

Important Lessons:

1. Selfishness is foolishness.

Back in verse 11, notice all of the selfish statements made: “Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” My, my, my, my, my. That is all Nabal can say. When you live a selfish life, you are going to make bad decisions. We are going to say things that drive people away and do things that destroy relationship when we live the selfish life. Further, people are going to think we are fools. Everyone knows that Nabal is a fool except Nabal. He thinks he is so wise, so successful, and so ambitious. Yet no one has a good thing to say about him. Even a servant is brazen enough to be able to say to Abigail, Nabal’s wife, that “he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” What a life to live where in your world you think you are so smart, but the rest of the world cannot stand to deal with you for more than five minutes! There is another way to know if you are a Nabal. Not only think about if you make decisions on a selfish basis first and foremost but also consider if you are willing to listen to others. This is a fault of Nabal’s that the servant notes. He won’t listen to anyone. We probably think that we listen to others, but often that is not really the case. Do we honestly listen to another with a willingness to change our mind or our point of view? Usually we listen just to let the other person speak but we have no intention of changing. That is being a Nabal. “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12).

2. Submission is NOT going along with everything.

I think it is important to recognize that Abigail is glorified in this story. But notice all the things that she did. She did not go along with Nabal’s decision under the guise of “submission.” She did not defend Nabal as “misunderstood” or “just temperamental” under the cloak of “submission.” She did not say that “Nabal is the man of the house” so I guess we are all going to die because of his foolishness. Will we say that Abigail was not submissive and violating God’s law? It cannot be since she is glorified for her actions.

Women, you don’t do what he says just because he says so! Where did this idea come from? Where do the scriptures teach for women to do what men say because they say so? Submission is not doing whatever someone else says. I believe Abigail clearly shows us this. You do not have to go along with a bad or foolish decision because he is the man of the house and so I have to go along with those bad decisions. Submissiveness is described as having a quiet spirit in the New Testament. Abigail’s motives were not to be rebellious. However, she knew that Nabal was wrong and had to do something. That does not make her not in submission.

Women, your primary submission is to God. You are not to violate what God has command, regardless of what a man may say. You have not been asked to go along with sinful activity. How many women will not go to services because their husbands do not want them to! I have heard of this. Or my husband does not want me to be hospitable, or help our neighbors, or serve others in the congregation. Too bad. You have been commanded by God to be hospitable, to serve others, teach your neighbors, and so on. His foolish rules do not supersede God’s commands.

Further, women you should not violate your conscience. We want to argue that the husband is the head of the house. Well, when is the last time your head to your hand to do something that your hand did not want to do. I don’t think my head has ever told my hand to put it a garbage disposal. My hand does not want to experience pain. The head protects the rest of the body and do not do things that will harm the body. Romans 14-15 spends time talking about the need to train our consciences and not violate our consciences. Just because your husband asks you to dress trashy in public does not mean you ought to. If there are things you do not feel comfortable doing, your man should respect that because he loves you like Christ loved the church and is cherishing you like his own body.

Finally, women need to see their husbands for who they really are and men need to see their wives for who they really are. Abigail does not defend Nabal’s foolishness. Abigail does not pretend that Nabal is something that what he really is. In verse 25 Abigail says that Nabal is a worthless fellow. Nabal needs to know that. He is acting like a fool and she did not need to go along with his foolishness as if he was right. I have seen this happen so many times as a man will make a power struggle in a local church or cause divisiveness and the wife simply goes along with it as “the submissive wife.” Tell him he is a fool. See him for what he really is and do not be deluded into thinking that you cannot recognize what you are having to deal with.

3. To the men, we need to see the value of a wise woman.

To the women, we need to see the value of being a wise woman. We need to see the valuable role of women in friendships and marriages. Abigail saves Nabal’s bacon, and this probably was not the first time that she had to do this. After making these points that she did not have to go along with his decision and could recognize he is a fool, we need to see what she was still his helper because she interceded for him. She could have sat back and said that this is what that old fool gets. Wives are not supposed to allow their husbands to make disastrous decisions just to watch him crash and burn so that he might learn a lesson. You are still supposed to be a helper and put his interests above your own, just as he should put the interests of his wife above his own. She did not let David kill him so she could be free from this awful marriage. Men need to see the value of a wise woman and be willing to listen to her opinions and insights because she will knows things that we do not know. Remember, a fool thinks he knows it all and will not listen to another. Women, we need you to speak up and help us as we try to rule the household well and act as loving heads over the body. Women, we need your wisdom and insight that you have. God made a marriage complimentary. The wife is not to simply be a “yes man” but to be a helper suitable to the man. Men, we need to value a wise wife and listen to her. You married her for a reason and hopefully not just because she was good looking. Listen to her and value her. “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14).

By the way, David listened. Nabal wouldn’t listen, but David did. He was out for vengeance. He wasn’t acting graciously. He needed the wise, calm words of Abigail to set him straight and keep him from making the bad decision of wiping out the household of Nabal. “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).

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