SPIRITUAL LEADERS MUST RESTRAIN THEIR EXERCISE OF POWER TO FOLLOW THE PATH OF DISCERNMENT RATHER THAN IMPULSIVELY RESPONDING TO PROVOCATION
Death of Samuel – note how he was respected by all of Israel
David goes to the wilderness of Paran
I. (:2-13) THE PROVOCATION: INTRODUCTION TO A RICH FOOL (NABAL) AND HIS IMPRESSIVE WIFE (ABIGAIL)
A. (:2) How Rich was This Rich Fool?
– “very rich”
– 3000 sheep; 1000 goats
B. (:3) How Foolish was This Rich Fool?
– “harsh and evil in his dealings”
– “a Calebite” – possibly a reference to derivation of word as = “dog”
C. (:3) How Impressive was His Wife?
– “intelligent and beautiful in appearance”
How did she end up hitched to a loser like Nabal? Why would her family have arranged such a marriage?
D. (:4-8) David Solicits Deserved Assistance from Nabal
Deffinbaugh: David learns that Nabal is sheering his sheep. When the sheering is done, there is a time of celebration for all the workers, and for anyone else nearby who is not so fortunate. During this festive time, Judah goes up to Timnah, and there manages to get his daughter-in-law Tamar pregnant (Genesis 38:12-26). At this time of celebration, Absalom persuades David to let his sons come to his home to celebrate, thus enabling Absalom to have his revenge against Amnon by killing him (2 Samuel 13:23-29). We know that at such times the Law of Moses instructed the Israelites to be generous with those who were not so fortunate (see Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:10-13; Nehemiah 8:10-12). For David to ask Nabal for a gift is not unusual at all. And since David’s men had contributed to Nabal’s well-being and wealth, David’s request is even more reasonable.
E. (:9-13) Nabal’s Foolish Refusal Provokes David into Attack Mode
II. (:14-17) SOUNDING THE ALERT – THE INITIATION OF DISCERNMENT
A. (:14-16) Conscience Regarding the Right and Wrong of the Situation
– “the men were very good to us”
– “They were a wall to us both by night and by day”
B. (:14a) Wisdom to Approach the Right Person (Abigail) for Intervention
“But one of the young men told Abigail”
C. (:17b) Wisdom Not to Approach the Wrong Person (Nabal)
“he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him”
D. (:17) Sensitivity to the Gravity of the Situation
“evil is plotted against our master and against all his household”
III. (:18-31) BEGGING FOR MERCY – THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DISCERNMENT
A. (:18-22) Preparation Meets Opportunity and Immediate Intervention
B. (:23-31) Humility Seeks Mercy and Long-Term Spiritual Benefit
Deffinbaugh: If Abigail has succeeded in convincing David that killing Nabal will not be worth the effort, she now presses on to show David how taking vengeance will be detrimental to him. She begins by pointing out that the Lord has restrained David from shedding blood and from avenging himself by his own hand (verse 26). Is she referring to this very moment, or is she speaking of the way God kept David from avenging himself against Saul, one chapter earlier? I am not certain on this. But with these words she does indicate that the hand of God is in all of this, that God is restraining David from shedding innocent blood and from avenging himself. She expresses her certainty that if David leaves vengeance to God, God will deal appropriately with Nabal, as with all others who seek evil against David.
IV. (:32-35) RESTRAINING REVENGE – THE HEEDING OF DISCERNMENT
It took a lot for such an important man like David to be willing to listen and learn from the wife of someone he despised.
Roper: This is quite a speech that Abigail makes. In essence she is saying, “David, you’re wrong.” In fact she says, “David, what you are doing is evil. You’re trying to save yourself, trying to avenge yourself. You’re trying to seek your own rights, and what you’re doing is not right. When you become king this will haunt you, it will live in your conscience to the end of your days. You see, David, your life is bound up with the life of God. The battle that you are fighting is God’s battle; the life that you’re living is God’s life. And God will take care of his own. You don’t need to fight yourself, and you don’t need to defend yourself; God will defend you. Let him. Don’t take vengeance on your enemies, let God take vengeance.” That is quite a strong rebuke – coming from an unknown woman to a man who is soon to be king of Israel.
V. (:36-44) RESOLUTION FROM THE HAND OF GOD – TYING UP THE LOOSE ENDS
A. (:36-38) What Was the End Result for Nabal
“it happened that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died”
Roe: “Now, notice what Abigail does not do. She does not desert her husband. She does not deceive her husband. She goes right back to her old abusive, hard, unteachable, irascible, evil Nabal, instead of running off with David.
The Abigail principle does not give you the right in the New Testament to go out and deliberately do something against your husband’s wishes, knowing that you have usurped his place of headship. In the New Testament you are to submit to your husband in everything-, as to the Lord, trusting the Lord to deal with your husband as Abigail did. She went back and lived with Nabal as his wife. She went back to spend the rest of her years with a man who\ was going to be abusive and angry and hostile to her. She did not run off with David or run home to mother. She went back to her husband, willing to accept whatever the consequences were of her actions, for YHWH’s sake.”
B. (:39-40) What Was the End Result for David
1. Worshipped God
2. Proposed to Abigail
C. (:41-42) What Was the End Result for Abigail
“became his wife”
D. (:43-44) Aside: David’s Marital Status