God’s Word Goes Forth: Pursue Peace and Justice
1 Samuel 25:1-44: Following the death of Samuel, David and his men go to the wilderness of Paran. A man named Nabal refuses to extend hospitality to them, even though David had protected Nabal’s property. David seeks revenge, but Nabal’s wife, Abigail, intervenes and is able to dissuade David from killing innocent people. Days later, Nabal dies and David marries Abigail.
Today's Scripture: 1 Samuel 25:32, 33
David said to her, “Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you today to meet me! Thank God for your good sense and for what you have done today in keeping me from the crime of murder and from taking my own revenge.”
1 Samuel died, and all the Israelites came together and mourned for him. Then they buried him at his home in Ramah. After this, David went to the wilderness of Paran. 2-3 There was a man of the clan of Caleb named Nabal, who was from the town of Maon, and who owned land near the town of Carmel. He was a very rich man, the owner of three thousand sheep and one thousand goats. His wife Abigail was beautiful and intelligent, but he was a mean, bad-tempered man. Nabal was shearing his sheep in Carmel, 4 and David, who was in the wilderness, heard about it, 5 so he sent ten young men with orders to go to Carmel, find Nabal, and give him his greetings. 6 He instructed them to say to Nabal: “David sends you greetings, my friend, with his best wishes for you, your family, and all that is yours. 7 He heard that you were shearing your sheep, and he wants you to know that your shepherds have been with us and we did not harm them. Nothing that belonged to them was stolen all the time they were at Carmel. 8 Just ask them, and they will tell you. We have come on a feast day, and David asks you to receive us kindly. Please give what you can to us your servants and to your dear friend David. ” 9 David's men delivered this message to Nabal in David's name. Then they waited there, 10 and Nabal finally answered, “David? Who is he? I've never heard of him! The country is full of runaway slaves nowadays! 11 I'm not going to take my bread and water, and the animals I have butchered for my sheepshearers, and give them to people who come from I don't know where! ” 12 David's men went back to him and told him what Nabal had said. 13 “Buckle on your swords!” he ordered, and they all did. David also buckled on his sword and left with about four hundred of his men, leaving two hundred behind with the supplies. 14 One of Nabal's servants said to Nabal's wife Abigail, “Have you heard? David sent some messengers from the wilderness with greetings for our master, but he insulted them. 15 Yet they were very good to us; they never bothered us, and all the time we were with them in the fields, nothing that belonged to us was stolen. 16 They protected us day and night the whole time we were with them looking after our flocks. 17 Please think this over and decide what to do. This could be disastrous for our master and all his family. He is so mean that he won't listen to anybody! ” 18 Abigail quickly gathered two hundred loaves of bread, two leather bags full of wine, five roasted sheep, two bushels of roasted grain, a hundred bunches of raisins, and two hundred cakes of dried figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she said to the servants, “You go on ahead and I will follow you.” But she said nothing to her husband. 20 She was riding her donkey around a bend on a hillside when suddenly she met David and his men coming toward her. 21 David had been thinking, “Why did I ever protect that fellow's property out here in the wilderness? Not a thing that belonged to him was stolen, and this is how he pays me back for the help I gave him! 22 May God strike me dead if I don't kill every last one of those men before morning! ” 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly dismounted and threw herself on the ground 24 at David's feet, and said to him, “Please, sir, listen to me! Let me take the blame. 25 Please, don't pay any attention to Nabal, that good-for-nothing! He is exactly what his name means—a fool! I wasn't there when your servants arrived, sir. 26 It is the LORD who has kept you from taking revenge and killing your enemies. And now I swear to you by the living LORD that your enemies and all who want to harm you will be punished like Nabal. 27 Please, sir, accept this present I have brought you, and give it to your men. 28 Please forgive me, sir, for any wrong I have done. The LORD will make you king, and your descendants also, because you are fighting his battles; and you will not do anything evil as long as you live. 29 If anyone should attack you and try to kill you, the LORD your God will keep you safe, as someone guards a precious treasure. As for your enemies, however, he will throw them away, as someone hurls stones with a sling. 30 And when the LORD has done all the good things he has promised you and has made you king of Israel, 31 then you will not have to feel regret or remorse, sir, for having killed without cause or for having taken your own revenge. And when the LORD has blessed you, sir, please do not forget me. ” 32 David said to her, “Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you today to meet me! 33 Thank God for your good sense and for what you have done today in keeping me from the crime of murder and from taking my own revenge. 34 The LORD has kept me from harming you. But I swear by the living God of Israel that if you had not hurried to meet me, all of Nabal's men would have been dead by morning! ” 35 Then David accepted what she had brought him and said to her, “Go back home and don't worry. I will do what you want.” 36 Abigail went back to Nabal, who was at home having a feast fit for a king. He was drunk and in a good mood, so she did not tell him anything until the next morning. 37 Then, after he had sobered up, she told him everything. He suffered a stroke and was completely paralyzed. 38 Some ten days later the LORD struck Nabal and he died. 39 When David heard that Nabal had died, he said, “Praise the LORD! He has taken revenge on Nabal for insulting me and has kept me his servant from doing wrong. The LORD has punished Nabal for his evil. ” Then David sent a proposal of marriage to Abigail. 40 His servants went to her at Carmel and said to her, “David sent us to take you to him to be his wife.” 41 Abigail bowed down to the ground and said, “I am his servant, ready to wash the feet of his servants.” 42 She rose quickly and mounted her donkey. Accompanied by her five maids, she went with David's servants and became his wife. 43 David had married Ahinoam from Jezreel, and now Abigail also became his wife. 44 Meanwhile, Saul had given his daughter Michal, who had been David's wife, to Palti son of Laish, who was from the town of Gallim.
In the ancient Near East, where many people wandered from place to place, if strangers were not a threat, the host was expected to welcome them as guests. Why did Nabal refuse to extend hospitality to David? What action did Abigail take? To whom does she give credit (verse 26)? Reread verses 26-31. What does Abigail say about David? While her words are prophetic about David’s future, she also warns David against incurring bloodguilt (verse 31). Would you describe Abigail as a skillful negotiator? Why or why not?
Merciful God, forgive me when I close my heart to someone in need. May my thoughts and actions this day reflect your love, and may my words be a source of encouragement and blessing. Fill me with your peace. Amen.
Mediators for parties involved in legal disputes
2 Kings 6:8-23: A feast prepared for an enemy army curtails an attack.