1 Samuel: A Fool with Too Much Money Made to Look Better by a Smart Wife

Sermon by on April 25, 2010

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The Lord’s Day Evening

April 25, 2010

1 Samuel 25

“A fool with too much money made to look better by a smart wife”

Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas

Turn with me if you would to 1 Samuel chapter 25, 1 Samuel chapter 25.
We’ve just looked last week at the sparing of Saul’s life in the cave at
Engedi and now in the first verse of chapter 25 we read that Samuel is dead.
Samuel died and all
Israel
assembled and mourned for him and they buried him in his house at Ramah.
This is a turning point in the history of Israel.
Samuel had been the voice of God.
He had been the mouthpiece through whom the word of the Lord had come to
Israel
and now he is dead.

Now, let me just explain something before I read the first few verses of chapter
25. We read that David goes to the wilderness of Paran, and Paran is way down in
the northeast section of the Sinai Peninsula.
If the stronghold at the end of verse 22.
David was wise enough not to go back with Saul but to go with his men to
the stronghold, and some commentators believe that that may well have been Masada. Some
of you have been to Masada, way down on the west side of the Dead Sea and it
certainly would be a stronghold if that was Masada.
Paran down on the Sinai Peninsula would not have been that far of a
journey, but the journey from Paran, verse 2, to Maon, and you’ll see further in
verse 2 a reference to Carmel in the valley of Megiddo — that’s a long journey
from the Sinai Peninsula almost all the way up to the Sea of Galilee.
So you understand that there’s probably weeks and perhaps months that
just don’t get referenced here.

Now before we read the passage together let’s look to God in prayer.

Father, we thank You again for the Scriptures and pray now for Your blessings.
Holy Spirit come and grant us illumination as we read this narrative of 1
Samuel together. We ask it in
Jesus’ name. Amen.

“Now Samuel died and all
Israel
assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.

Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel.
The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats.
He was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife was Abigail.
The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly
behaved; he was a Calebite. David
heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep.
So David sent ten young men.
And David said to the young men, ‘Go up to
Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name.
And thus you shall greet him:
‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that
you have. 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.’’

When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David,
and then they waited. And Nabal
answered David’s servants, ‘Who is David?
Who is the son of Jesse?
There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters.
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?’
So David’s young men turned away and came back and told him all this.
And David said to his men, ‘Every man strap on his sword!’
And every man of them strapped on his sword.
David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up
after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.

But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, ‘Behold, David sent
messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them.
Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not
miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them.
They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were
with them keeping the sheep. 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.’

Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and
five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred
clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys.
And she said to her young men, ‘Go on before me; behold, I come after
you.’ But she did not tell her
husband Nabal. And as she rode on
the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, behold, David and his men
came down toward her, and she met them.
Now David had said, ‘Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow
has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him,
and he has returned me evil for good.
God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so
much as one male of all who belong to him.’

When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before
David on her face and bowed to the ground.
She fell at his feet and said, ‘On me alone, my lord, be the guilt.
Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your
servant. Let not my lord regard
this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he.
Nabal is his name, and folly is with him.
But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.
Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, because the
Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now
then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to the lord be as Nabal.
And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be
given to the young men who follow my lord.
Please forgive the trespass of your servant.
For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is
fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you as long as
you live. If men rise up to pursue
you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of
the living in the care of the Lord your God.
And the lives of your enemies He shall sling out as from the follow of a
sling. And when the Lord has done
to my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you and has
appointed you prince over
Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or
pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking
vengeance himself. And when the
Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.’

And David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you
this day to meet me! Blessed be
your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt
and from avenging myself with my own hand!
For as surely as the Lord the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me
from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning
there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.’
Then David received from her hand what she had brought him.
And he said to her, ‘Go up in peace to your house.
See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.

And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like
the feast of a king. And Nabal’s
heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk.
So she told him nothing at all until the morning light.
In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him
these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord who has
avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back His
servant from wrongdoing. The Lord
has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.
Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife.
When the servants of David came to Abigail at
Carmel, they
said to her, ‘David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.’
And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, ‘Behold,
your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.’
And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young
women attended her. She followed
the messengers of David and became his wife.

David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives.
Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of
Laish, who was of Gallim.”

Well thus far God’s holy, inerrant Word.

Now three things I want us to see in this passage — Nabal, Abigail, and David.
Nabal first of all.

I. Nabal.

We’re told in verse 2 that he was very rich.
His name, and we’re told this by the narrator in verse 3, and we are told
by the servant in verse 17, and we’re told it again by Abigail in verse 25, that
Nabal in Hebrew means a fool.
Now, I don’t know how this works.
Mom and dad are holding the little baby and they say, “Now what are we
going to call him? Let’s call him
‘fool.’” I don’t think so.
In all likelihood this was a name given to him perhaps after the event as
the story is now told many decades later.
You know, he was “so-and-so the fool” and he becomes known as Nabal.
He is harsh and badly behaved.
He’s a brute of a man and Nabal takes advantage of David.
Nabal has all these sheep, he has young men who are shepherds to take
these sheep to find grass and food and they wander about hither and yon and at
least for some period of time they were under David’s protection.
David and his men protected Nabal’s sheep, his flocks, and the shepherds.
They didn’t pilfer any of the sheep.
They didn’t kill any of the six hundred men and perhaps other servants
and perhaps family members too.
That’s a lot of mouths to feed and David sees an opportunity for a return of a
favor. This man is wealthy.
David has protected them from harm.
Pilfering sheep was a daily occurrence in ancient
Middle East and it’s now time for Nabal to provide David and his men
with some food. “Give us this day
our daily bread.” And David, that
David has just told us that God provides our daily bread but Nabal is not going
to provide David with so much as a loaf of bread.

The response of Nabal to the young men that David sends to him is curt.
“Who is David? Who is this
son of Jesse? You know these are
bad times. People are always
running away from their masters.”
Of course he knew who David was.
David’s a no-good runaway servant, indicative of the youth of today.
William Taylor, who was at Broadway Tabernacle in New York at the end of the nineteenth
century, wrote many fine book, particularly biographical sketches of the Old
Testament. He says about Nabal,

“Do not think that this race is extinct,
not at all. You are very likely to
meet him. You may have met him
yesterday. You may meet him perhaps
tomorrow, the man with heavy purse and light head, with full pockets and empty
cranium, is everywhere a Nabal. And
if happily he combines with these the first of a drunkard, he will only make the
identity more complete.”

He’s a fool.
David is the future king, so even on those grounds alone he’s a fool, but
he has shown no hospitality. He has
shown no generosity. He hasn’t seen
that all that he has is a gift of God and to be shared with those who are
genuinely in need. This is Nabal,
the fool.

II. Abigail.

Let’s talk about Abigail. Several
women this morning pulled me aside and said how much they liked the title of
this sermon. I won’t tell you who
they were, but many a marriage has been saved by a good wife.
They invariably make us look better than we are.
Look at David’s response in verse 13.
He says to his men, “Every man strap on his sword.”
It’s instant. David is
offended. David is hot and angry.
David wants revenge. Who
does this Nabal think that he is?
And four hundred of his six hundred men, four hundred, strap on their swords led
by David and it’s going to be a bloodbath.
David says so. If Abigail
had not intervened all the men in Nabal’s household would be dead by morning.
He would have committed a greater atrocity than the one that Saul had
done with the high priest and the eighty-five priests and their families at Nob.
David was capable of doing worse things than Saul.

And Abigail sees it and instantly this wise, savvy, courageous woman, she has to
act immediately. Food — loaves of
bread and raisins and fig cakes and sheep already prepared, laden on these
donkeys, she sends the young men ahead just in case she doesn’t get there in
time. And when she comes to David
she shows — well look at verse 23 — she shows first of all great respect.
She bows to him. She, in
verse 23, “begs” that she be heard.
In verse 25 she says to David that “Nabal deserves all the attention of a fool —
that is, none.” And she utters this
prayer that David be kept from bloodguilt.
Her concern at this point is for her husband and the men and she asks
forgiveness on behalf of her rotten husband.
She pleads with David for forgiveness.
She affirms David’s status as a king.
She’s wise, she’s resourceful, she’s courageous, and she believes God’s
Word.

Now four times, and this is the heart of this passage, four times in verse 26,
in verse 33, in verse 34, and again in verse 39, we read that Abigail is God’s
instrument, she is God’s instrument in preventing David from doing what his
heart had inclined to do. Let’s
pick up one of them in verse 33 — “Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be
you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt…for as surely as the Lord the God
of Israel lives, who has retrained me from hurting you.”
God has stepped in. This is
the providence of God.

My friends, how many times have we been bent on doing evil, on saying something
or doing something and the only thing that prevented us from doing it was
providence, because the heart was already inclined, the will was already
resolved; we just didn’t have the opportunity?
How many times have you thought to yourself, “When I see this person I’m
going to say this and this and this”?
And then the person doesn’t turn up. She’s gone shopping and by the time
she comes home it’s all evaporated.
That’s providence. That’s the
intervention of God.

Now this is on a much larger scale to be sure, but four times in this text it’s
underlined — God has intervened, preventing David from doing what his heart had
already determined to do. Now, as
my dear friend Ralph Davis says in his commentary on this passage which was
enormously funny, he says, “It helped a lot that the Savior of David in this
instant had a skirt.” It was a
woman, and not just a woman but a pretty woman, a beautiful woman, no doubt
deflecting David’s attention from the task that he had determined to do.
Ah, the strange providence of God.
What a strange providence of God that is.

III. David.

David, David you see — and let’s talk about David for a minute.
Here’s the question I want to ask tonight.
We haven’t asked this question in a while as we’ve been studying 1
Samuel. I want to ask a very simple
question. Let’s pull away from the
text, this extraordinary story, let’s pull away from it for a second.
Let’s hover thirty-five thousand feet above this text and let’s ask
ourselves this question — Is David the savior of
Israel?

Is David the savior of Israel?

That’s a fair enough question because the history of redemption has been
pointing in the direction of a savior.
Is David the prophet that Moses spoke about in Deuteronomy 18, the
prophet like him that God would raise up to be the mouthpiece of God on behalf
of Israel?
Is David that man? Is David
the fulfillment of all of the Levitical sacrifices, the slaying of bulls and
goats and heifers and turtledoves in the temple that would be built and by David
himself but at this point in the tabernacle? All those Levitical sacrifices
offered on behalf of sin that pointed to forgiveness — can we say God made David
to be sin for us that knew no sin that we might be reckoned the righteousness of
God in David? Can we say that?
Can we say, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
David is a lamb of God. David is
one of God’s sheep.

But can we look at David and say
as John the Baptist said to another, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world”? Is David the
fulfillment of the promise in Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman would
bruise the head of Satan? Is that
David?

No. No, because great and
extraordinary and powerful as David was now becoming he was a sinner capable of
vengeance, capable of slaughtering hundreds of men just because his pride had
been beat.

Oh, at the end of this chapter when Abigail goes home Nabal, as usual, was drunk
and she waits until morning and then the cardiologists among us can tell us what
this is – his heart became a stone.
He had some sort of cardiac episode and ten days later he’s dead.
God struck him dead. And as
my mother would say, “with unseemly haste” she becomes David’s wife.
Now David already has a wife, but the narrator tells you that Saul had
given his daughter Michal, who was married to David, to another man.
Now, while you’re working out the church discipline of that particular
scenario, the writer slips in right at the end, “David also took Ahinoam” and
there’s polygamy just like that.
He’s a man of his time. He is
adopting the cultural relativity that is all too common among Christians of the
twenty-first century because all he’s saying is, “Well if it’s good enough for
them it’s good enough for me.”

Can David be my Savior?

Can David be the savior of
Israel?
And the answer my friends is an overwhelming no, he cannot, because
my Savior has
to be without sin if he is to represent God to me and represent me to God, he
must be without sin, without blemish, without defect.
He must be perfect and there’s only one.
There is only one who meets that and it is Jesus.
Jesus is the only one we have.
He’s our only hope. He is
our only hope and He is all we need.

On Christ, not on David, on Christ — David prefigured many things about the
Savior to be sure, not least his office as a king, not least the fact that he
was a shepherd and Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep, but David could
never ever be my Savior.

Only Jesus can be my Savior because He is perfect.
He is without spot or blemish or wrinkle or any such thing.
He’s the only one we have who can save us.

And my friends, He’s there for you,
whoever you may be and whatever sin you have committed. Whatever blemish mars
your character and brings your life tonight into a heap of trouble and mess,
Jesus can save you and wipe all that sin away.

But though our sins be red like crimson, in Christ they can be as white
as snow.

Let’s pray.

Father we thank You for these extraordinary stories of the Old Testament,
glimpsing and foreshadowing the need for a Savior and a Deliverer.
And tonight again we see that no earthly man or woman could ever be that
Savior that we need. We thank You
for the Lord Jesus. Behold, the
Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and whosoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have everlasting life.
That’s Your word to us and we ask it in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Please stand. Receive the Lord’s
benediction. Grace, mercy, and
peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

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