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Jul 28, 2023

David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!” When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.  And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:21-26)


In between yesterday’s text and this one comes one of David’s chances to kill Saul.  God gives Saul into David’s hands, but David chooses not to lift his hand against Saul, who was the Lord’s anointed king.  David shows a wise, mature restraint in that moment.  He chooses to trust the God who has promised him the kingship to make good on his plans rather than David securing the throne for himself through murder.  David will wait on the Lord as Jonathan helped him to do.

But now a new challenge arises in the desert.  A new temptation.  While hiding in the desert, David has voluntarily done good to this man named Nabal—protecting his flocks and herdsman from raiders and wild animals.  Having done so, David believes that this man now owes him something, even though the man never asked for David’s help.

Nabal refuses to give David anything.  David’s response?  He orders his men to strap on their swords.  David will not resort to murder to get the kingship.  But to salve his wounded pride and bring home some bacon for his men and their families?  David will kill for that.  

Nabal’s name means fool—a godless sort of fool who has no fear of the Lord.  But one wonders if David isn’t actually acting out as the foolish, godless one here.  Indeed: God does not listen to, nor honour David’s curse of “may God deal with me if I don’t kill these people.”  Instead, God intervenes to bring life through Abigail, a woman who personifies wisdom, intelligence, beauty, and understanding.

David was halfway down the path of Saul—the godless fool—as he resorted to his own sword and skill at dealing death to get what he thought ought be coming to him.  But God gives yet another gift.  Last time it was Jonathan that kept David from fear.  Now it is Abigail that keeps David from godless folly.  Both times, David listens and is saved.

It is not for David to secure God’s promises for himself, nor to secure his daily provision for himself, nor vengeance, nor whatever else he thinks he may be owed.  Indeed, David is owed nothing for doing what is right.  This is simply what is expected of the Lord’s servant.  

David must learn the wisdom of trust in the Lord, that all things needful will come as God’s gift in God’s time.  David need only concern himself with continuing to do what is right and good.

We can act in similarly foolish, two-faced ways.  We might act with the highest Christian ideals and principles when we are aware of God’s presence—as David acted with Saul—but then turn around in our financial, work, or family dealings and be arrogant, greedy, and deceitful.

The invitation of lady wisdom is to trust in the Lord in all of our lives, not just in the “important stuff” when we think God might be watching.  Let us not be fools therefore, but rather grow up to maturity as those who do what is good and right even to our own disadvantage—as Jesus did—trusting that God will provide what’s needful.