1 Samuel 25
[The reading for today is the entirety of Chapter 25. You will need to look it up for yourself or clink the link below to read this story in your browser. This is a great story and you will want to read it before continuing with the devotional thoughts.]
The people who write for TV would be excited to come up with characters as colorful and interesting as we find in 1 Samuel 25. The husband and wife that we meet in these verses are perfectly juxtaposed to one another; the incredibly foolish man and the remarkably wise wife. In this story we find a prime example of how our own stubborn pride and foolish decisions can get us into major trouble; and of how humility and the wisdom of God can change our lives and protect those around us.
First, let me make note of the death of Samuel. The voice of God is now missing from the ears of the people. The next prophet to come along will be several years later in the person of Nathan. But Samuel is mourned and the period of the judges is gone forever.
Then we meet Nabal and his wife Abigail. From the description of Nabal, we find that he fits his name perfectly as his name literally means to be senseless or foolish. That would be a tough moniker to bear all of your life. His mother must have had a difficult delivery or something in order to hang that name on him for life. And we meet Abigail (which means “my father is rejoicing) who proves to be a woman of wisdom, grace, and humility. As I envision Nabal, my mind conjures up a brute of a man who shouts all of his orders, drinks too much, and deals harshly with everyone. No one likes him and when he dies, there probably isn’t anyone who mourns. He’s also greedy and apparently not too bright.
David and his men provide protection for Nabal’s shepherds and because of their help, none of Nabal’s profits are lost to robbers or marauders. Instead of granting David some of the benefits of his help, Nabal gets mean and refuses to grant David a portion of the profits. Now honestly, David and Nabal did not have a contract with one another. Legally, Nabal did not owe David and his men anything. But morally, they did. Nabal’s profits would not have been as great as they were without David’s help. It was common practice at the time to reward those who helped you succeed with a share of the bounty. Had David and his men actually attacked Nabal’s family, they would have wiped them out. Abigail uses all of her resources to stem disaster for her people. She does what Nabal refuses to do; she brings David a token of their thanks for helping to secure her people. As she brings this offering to him, she does so with humility and recognition of her husband’s stubborn selfishness. This is a wise woman.
Abigail willingness to humble herself and do the right thing saves the lives of her people and spares David from killing needlessly. Her grace saves the day on both sides of the dispute. Apparently, Nabal has a stroke (or perhaps finally falls prey to the ravages of alcoholism) and dies. It is clear by the way the story is worded that God had a firm hand in the death of Nabal and thus Abigail is spared from having to deal with him any longer. She then becomes the wife of David. At the end of the story, we note that Saul is now treating David as if he has died, as Saul gives his daughter Michal (who was David’s wife) to another man.
There is never a times when grace and humility are the wrong thing to do. It is always a mistake to be stubborn, willful and selfish. It doesn’t get much plainer than that!