Inevitably, somewhere, sometime, you’ll encounter a “Nabal” … I have! He’s the unreasonable guy with the smart, sarcastic mouth! He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks – he’s right and his interests are what matter! He can’t be reasoned with… he’s selfish… he’s arrogant… and he’s cruel! His employees know it, his wife knows it, his kid’s hate him, and his friends… (well, he doesn’t have many!). Worse yet, he makes you mad, and when that happens you’re tempted to respond in kind… and God is not pleased (and really you’ve lowered yourself to his level)!
David in the Bible encountered a real “Nabal” (“fool” is the meaning of his name. The complete story is found in 1 Samuel 25). David and his men had treated his shepherds kindly, protecting them and even helping them. David requested some help from Nabal and was treated with complete, insulting contempt! David was “ticked off!” He gathered his men and was prepared to attack Nabal… He said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missing 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 man of all who belong to him!” (1 Samuel 25:21-22)
Enter Nabal’s wife, Abigail! Every “Nabal” story really needs an “Abigail!” Abigail is the level headed one – the gracious one – the one who is mortified by Nabal’s behavior! She intervened – she took action – she rescued David from doing something in his anger that he would later regret. She put together a generous gift for David’s men, sent it on ahead, met David, offered an apology for Nabal’s behavior, and appealed to David’s godly instincts. Thank God for an “Abigail!” Here is her appeal to David in her own words…
“As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand… 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 so 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 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 working salvation himself.” (from 1 Samuel 25:26–31 ESV)
In my opinion, not only did Abigail evidence godly grace and discretion, there was a prophetic ring to her message to David! He relented, turned back, and allowed God to take care of the matter (read the rest of the story in 1 Samuel 25 – what ultimately happened to Nabal)!
Every one of us need an “Abigail” when we’ve been provoked by a “Nabal” – Someone who will speak some “Spiritual sense” into our provoked spirit! And we need to remind ourselves of a couple of key verses of Scripture:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires!” (James 1:19–20 NIV)
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Romans 12:17–19 NIV)