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1 SAMUEL 19:8-21:15
Series:  David:  Heart Matters - Part Five

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 30, 2011

Please turn with me to 1 Samuel 25.  We’ve been looking at the life of David - at what it means to live life with God at the heart level - at the core of who we are.  David - as a man who struggled with his passions and living life with God - has been a great example to us.  We’ve seeing God at work in David’s life - showing David David’s heart - molding David at the heart level - and we are looking at what God desires to show us about our own hearts.


This morning we’ve come to The Angry Heart.  Which may be a stretch for some of us - this whole concept of anger.  Many of us have never really experienced being angry.  Can you say amen to that?


Ever felt like this?  Or like doing this?


The truth is that anger is very much a part of our lives.  For many of us its amazing how quickly we can tap into that inner reservoir of anger and say and do things that - if we’d maintained some modicum of sanity and thought about first - we’d never have said or done those things.  Someone said, “Anger is only one letter short of danger.”  That’s really true.  Isn’t it?


Anger effects our health.  Many times depression is suppressed anger.  There are a lot of people - even some here - that are despairing - despondent - depressed - because they’ve pushed down and not dealt with anger.  Anger certainly effects our relationship with other people.


This morning were looking at David and anger and looking to gain some God inspired help for hearts.


Last Sunday - when we last left David - David had gone from the pinnacle of success - hero status - with everything going for him - in a very short period of time God had taken the props out from under him - David had lost his position in the king’s court - his wife Michal the door prize for killing Goliath - his mentor Samuel - his friend Jonathan - and even his self-respect.  Sound familiar?  David hit bottom.


Between then and where we’re picking things up today David has become the leader of a band of outlaws - David’s raiders - taking on the Philistines - kind of like Robin Hood and his Merry Men - doing good but on the wrong side of the law.  There has been this dance of cat and mouse - Saul pursuing David - David staying ahead of Saul.


Coming to chapter 25 - David is camped out in the Wilderness of Paran - which is this place - just a tad south of the Dead Sea.  There’s a reason they call it the wilderness.  Not much there but places to hide out.    


Join me at 1 Samuel 25 - starting at verse 2:  Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats.  And it came about while he was sheering sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail.  And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite).


The first part of what we’re looking at this morning are The Seeds of the Conflict.


First - we’re introduced to the main characters in the conflict.


Nabal is rich - very rich.  He’s loaded.  He lives in Maon - this place - think suburbs on the hill.  But he has business in Carmel.  Carmel is where his livestock are.  Not in the house or the barn out back.  That’s so middle class.  But down on the ranch - with the ranch hands.  3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats takes a lot of shepherds and goat herders.  Nabal has a lot of employees.


So Nabal is rich.  And Nabal is a Calebite - which means he’s got a pedigree.  He’s descended from Caleb.  Caleb was who?  One of the 12 spies Moses sent into the Promised Land to spy out the land before Israel invaded.  Caleb and Joshua were the only one’s who had faith in God.  Caleb’s a hero from the time of Moses - and Nabal is a descendent of Caleb.  He’s descended from a family honored by the nation.


And Nabal is a fool - which is what his name means.  Nabal means “fool.”  Can you imagine parents naming their child that.  “What’s his name?”  “Fool.” 


In Scripture a fool is a person who says there is no God.  Who lives life for himself - sets up himself up as his own god.  Verse 3 says Nabal was harsh - the Hebrew means hard, stubborn, belligerent.  He was evil in his dealings - dishonest - deceitful.  He has distain for anyone else.  Nabal is about who?  Nabal.


Whatever Nabal is Abigail is the opposite.  She’s intelligent and beautiful.    She had a good understanding of things - she made good - well thought out - wise decisions.  And she beautiful in form.  She was lovely within and without.  Abigail is one sharp lady.  Probably she got hooked up with Nabal because the marriage was arranged.  Clearly - as we’ll see - he was outmatched - to her detriment.


Verse 4:  and it came about while Nabal was sheering sheep in Carmel - that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was sheering his sheep.  So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.’ 


Our third main character is David - and his merry men.  To grab on to how David fits into this conflict we need to grab on to some background.


Nabal lives in Maon.  His shepherds and goatherds are out in the fields shepherding and goat herding.  Saul - the king - while he’s not hunting down David - Saul has his army off fighting major battles - defending the nation.


David and his Merry Men are kind of like hired mercenaries.  They defend the home front - protecting shepherds and flocks - and small villages - against wild animals - sheep stealers - and Philistines - oh my.


According to the way things were done back then - David and his Merry Men - if they’d done a good job of protecting the shepherds and sheep - at sheep shearing time - which was kind of festive occasion - pay day if anything - David and his men - if they had protected well - could expect their share of the profits.  Kind of like tipping a waiter.  A way of showing gratitude for a job well done.


David and his men have been faithfully watching Nabal’s flocks.  Word reaches David that is sheep shearing time.  David sends ten young men - messengers - to Nabal to remind Nabal that its time to pay up.   


Verse 7:  “Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything in the days 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 have come on a festive day.  Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.”  When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited.


David could have shown up with all 600 men - the anointed king in waiting - slayer of ten thousands - and totally pulled rank on Nabal.  But this very friendly - very much routine - they way its done.  David sits back and waits - expecting probably some sheep - some cash - maybe some wine and bread.  Payment.


Verse 10:  But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, “Who is David?  And who is the son of Jesse?  There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master.  Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?”


Notice how many times Nabal says “I” and “my.”  I count 3 “I’s” and “4 “my’s” in his one terse sentence.  Nabal is about who?  Nabal.


David is back at camp.  His men are hungry.  The fire is going.  He can taste the kebob - the pilaf - the humus - the pocket bread - leeks - onions.


Verse 12:  So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words.  David said to his men, “Each of you gird his sword.”  So each man girded on his sword.  And David also girded on his sword, and about 400 hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed behind with the baggage.


I have a friend who used a shotgun to kill mice - inside his house.  True - I saw one of the holes he put in his house.  Boom.  No more mice.  No more wall.


“Saddle up boys.  We’re gonna go kill us a fool.”  400 hundred men to take out one Nabal - overkill.  The swords are not meant to enhance the discussion.  David is gonna take Nabal and chop him into itsy bitsy little pieces.


Point being David is ticked - enraged - out of control - over the top - angry.  “Anger is only one letter short of danger.”


Someone said, “Speak when you’re angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”


Alan Redpath - the British evangelist and pastor - writes this:  “...look at you!  David!  Your self-restraint has gone to pieces and a few insulting words from a fool of a man like Nabal has made you see red!  David, what’s the matter?


“I’m justified in doing this,” David would reply.  “There is no reason why Nabal should treat me as he has.  He has repaid all my kindness with insults.  I will show him he can’t trifle with me.  It is one thing to take it from Saul, who is my superior at this point, but this sort of man - this highhanded individual must be taught a lesson!” (1)


Ever felt like that?  My anger is justified.  I’ve been wronged. 


There are three major conflicts going on here.  Nabal and Abigail - the mismatched match.  The fool and the wise wife.  Second - Nabal and David - employer and employee.  Third - David and David.  The man after God’s own heart who has been restrained in his response to Saul - but now he’s lost it and is going to murder Nabal.


Don’t miss that.  The seed of all that conflict is self.  Right now - David the man after God’s own heart - David is all about who?  David.

Hang on to that:  The seed of conflict - the root of anger - is self.


Verse 14 brings us to Abigail’s Response to the Conflict.


Verse 14:  But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them.  Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields.   They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep.  Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”


Notice that the servants come to Abigail.  Even the servants know that Nabal is a fool - and Abigail isn’t.  Abigail - who’s intelligent - goes into wisdom mode - protection mode.


Verse 18:  Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.  She said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.”  But she did not tell her husband Nabal.


A wise man will do well to learn to listen to the perspective of a godly wife.  But sometimes a wife just has to do what a wife has to do.


I’m almost afraid to ask this question.  You don’t have to raise your hands.  Okay.  But, how many of you wives have needed to act on behalf of your husband and not say a word to him - at least not immediately. 

One cannot reason with unreasonable people.  Especially with a Nabal for a husband there’s no time to waste trying to get Nabal to see the light.  Abigail goes into protection mode.  We’re told she acted hurriedly - that means swiftly - decisively - efficiently - effectively to save Nabal’s life.  Takes food prepared for the celebration with the sheep shearers and sends it on ahead to David.  


David - who with 400 of his not so merry men - are charging full tilt - hooves pounding - swords swording - stomachs growling - getting hungrier and angrier as they come.


Verse 20:  It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. Now David had said, “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.  May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.”


Ever been where David is?  Ruminating on the seeds of conflict he’s gone from, “I’m gonna take out Nabal.” to “I’m gonna kill em all.”  Each time David reviews how he’s been wronged his anger grows.  What’s going on in David’s heart now is just pure vengeance.  This is personal.  God is no where in David’s reasoning. 


Someplace - as Abigail is sneaking down the mountain from the suburbs up in Maon - and as David is coming down to Carmel - David and Abigail run into each other.


Verse 23:  When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground.  She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame.  And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant.  Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he.  Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.


We need to notice three things here in how Abigail handles this conflict.


First - she’s got tact.


On the donkey ride down she’s thought very carefully about what she’s going to say.  She knows her husband is a fool.  Everyone knows her husband is a fool.  But instead of pointing out the obvious she takes the responsibility on herself.


When she sees David she falls on her face - bows before David.  Reading through Abigail’s response - on down through verse 31 - she calls herself David’s maidservant 6 times - calls David “my lord” 8 times.  She’s humbling herself as an advocate for her husband.


“Blame me.  I should have been there.  You’re men would have heard something different.  Your men were unjustly treated.  I’m here now.  Let me take care of this.”


Tact.  Then verse 26 - notice her faith - verse 26:  Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal.


David may have lost sight of God at work in his life.  But Abigail hasn’t.


Six times in her response Abigail refers to the Lord - capital “L” - In Hebrew - Yahweh - the name of the eternal - all powerful God - Who is intimately involved in the life of His people.  Intimately involved in David’s life.


In verse 26 she tells David that Yahweh has kept him - David back from vengeance - from murder.  Yahweh will take care of Nabal.  David - you need to leave Nabal to God.


Verse 27:  Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord.  Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord and enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days.  Should anyone rise to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling.


Remember Goliath and the sling?  Yahweh did that David.  Not you.  The battle is Who’s?  The Lord’s.  Its Yahweh who’s going to establish you and your kingdom.


Verse 30:  And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel - remember you’re the anointed king in waiting - this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself.  When the Lord deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”


David - you don’t want murder on your record.  You don’t need that.  Killing Nabal - that’s vengeance - that’s murder - because David - what you’re doing here isn’t about Yahweh - and what He’s doing in your life.  It’s about you.

David may have lost sight of God at work in his life.  But Abigail hasn’t.  She’s bringing him back to where he should have been in the first place.  Back to God.  Yahweh at work in and through David.


Tact - faith - and third notice Abigail’s loyalty.  There a number of ways that she could have responded to all this.  This is the perfect opportunity to divest herself of her fool of a husband.  David’s fuse is short.  Nabal’s life hangs by a thread.  Payback is so sweet.  Let David give Nabal what’s coming to him.  Nobody would have blamed her.


That would be Abigail’s response if Abigail were all about Abigail.  But this is one godly women.  Did you see her one request for herself - at the end of verse 31 - what does she ask for?  “Remember your maidservant.”  “When God takes care of all this - remember me.”


Abigail’s response:  She’s demonstrated tact - without clinging to her rights and pride.  She’s shown a wise awareness of God at work and willingness to trust Him.  She’s respected her fool of a husband - shown undeserved loyalty to him - even at her own expense.


It wouldn’t be stretch to think of her riding down that hill - thinking this through - praying - asking God for wisdom.


This is one wise godly woman.  Amen?


David’s Response to the Conflict comes in verse 32:  Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.  Nevertheless, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabel until the morning light as much as one male.”  So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace.  See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”


A man after God’s own heart has a teachable spirit.  David’s got his sword ready to slice and dice.  He’s confronted by this woman he’s never met - listens to her without interruption - as she points him back to God - and his entire attitude changes.


Of course the lamb kebab and humus and pocket bread may have helped.


But hold on to this.  David gets it.  What’s going on here isn’t about you, David.  This is about God.  David turns his heart back to God.


The fourth thing we need to see here is Nabal’s Response to the Conflict.


Verse 36:  Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. -  Nothing is too good for Nabal.  Because Nabal is all about?  Nabal.  Nabal knows how to party -   And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk - not just drunk - but very drunk - so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light.


Abigail stands in the gap between the life and death her fool of a husband who’s so wasted that she can’t even tell him what she’s done.


Verse 37:  But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone.


Can you picture this?  Nabal has one mother of a hangover.  Abigail tells  him, “I’ve got to tell you something.”  “Not now woman.  I really don’t feel so good.”  As Abagail unfolds this her account - what she did - 401 guys on the way to cut off Nabal’s head - as she’s talking he’s getting really quiet - really still - really pale - he becomes cold like a stone.  He’s really not feeling good now.  Literally - the guy had a stroke.  Popped a vein someplace.


God’s Response to the Conflict comes in the next verse.


Verse 38:  About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died. 


Who struck Nabal?  The Lord - Yahweh.  Its a God story.


Hang on to that.  We’ll come back to it.  But this story has a happy ending - which also is part of the God story - God opening up blessings to David and Abigail.


Verse 39:  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.


Jump down to verse 42:  Then Abigail quickly arose, and rode on a donkey, with her five maidens who attended her; and she followed the messengers of David and became his wife. 


Can everyone say “Awww.”  Isn’t that a happy ending?


God blesses Abigail with a husband who has a heart after God’s own heart.  Blesses David with a wife who is intelligent - lovely - and godly.


Who took out Nabal?  The Lord.  Who pleads the cause of David?  The Lord.  Who returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head?  The Lord.  Who blesses David and Abigail with marriage?  The Lord.  Yahweh - the Almighty Sovereign God who is involved personally with His people.


Thinking about what this can mean for us as we’re challenged with situations and people that drive us to anger - how do we respond to all that?  Anger is a choice - a learned reaction - that easily becomes a habit that can take over our lives - that can literally drive us insane.


Anger is a choice.  Let’s say that together.  “Anger is a choice.”  We have a choice in how we respond to conflict - to the things that chap our hide.


Rather than choosing to focus our hearts on ourselves and how we’ve been wronged - we need to choose to turn our heart towards God.


Two suggestions of how we can turn our heart towards God.


First:  Choose to See on God at work.


Have you heard this?  “Vengeance is Mine.”  Deuteronomy 32:35.  The next verse - Deuteronomy 32:36 - says, “For the Lord - Yahweh - will vindicate His people and will have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their strength is gone…”


The battle is who’s?  God’s.  Not ours.  When we make it ours - with our expectations and our focus on ourselves and how we’ve been wronged - we get ticked.  We need to choose to see God at work.  To know that the God of justice Who loves us - is already at work to vindicate His people.


Proverbs 16:7 says this:  When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Grab that:  If I’m living God’s way then I don’t have to fight this battle - I don’t have to win this conflict - I don’t have to vindicate myself - this battle is God’s battle.


Isn’t it amazing?  God really does take care of what needs taking care of.  There is no situation - no person - no grievance - no inequity - no wrong - that God cannot handle.  And since it involves His people - us - we can be confident that our Lord - Yahweh - is deeply concerned and involved.  He may not handle things the way we think they should be handled.  But, He will handle it.


First:  Focus on God.  See God at work.  Get God’s perspective.


Second - choosing to turn our hearts towards God - Trust God to Work


David writes in Psalm 40:1,2:  I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon the rock making my footsteps firm. 


Thomas Jefferson said, When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.”


We need to put on the brakes - to restrain from doing something hasty - to slow down - take a breath.  Wise decisions are seldom made in a hurry.  Seldom do we feel sorry for things we don’t say.

Trust isn’t just intellectual.  Its how we act.  How we respond.  Do we really believe that God will work.


David writes, “I waited patiently for the Lord.”  David changed then God changed his situation.  Our situation may not change.  Maybe God needs to change us.


But the place to begin is trusting God to work.  Because He will.


Anger will destroy us.  Turning our heart towards God takes the responsibility for the conflict - our need to control our situation and vindicate ourselves - takes the seeds of our anger - takes all that off of us and gives it back to God - to let Him deal with it in His sovereign, just, and loving way.




1. Alan Redpath, The Making of the Man of God


As a general reference for this sermon/series I have been using the book by Charles Swindoll, David:  A Man of Passion and Destiny - I highly recommend this book as a tremendous study on the life of David.


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.