The story of David, Nabal, and Abigail found in 1 Samuel 25 is a special story for me since my daughter’s name is Abigail. Abigail shows herself to be a wise woman. In many ways she is the only wise one in this story.
What does the name Nabal mean (25:25)? Describe the character of Nabal? Contrast that with the character of Abigail (25:3).
Nabal is translated into English to mean “fool.” He is described as a wicked and ill-tempered man. The text also says he was crude and mean in his dealings. Overall, this was not a nice man.
Nabal likely had no fear of God. In Psalm 14 David writes:
Psalm 14:1 (NLT)
Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
I think that about summarizes the character of Nabal.
In contrast to Nabal was Abigail. It was unfortunate that this godly woman was connected with Nabal. Opposite Nabal, Abigail was beautiful and sensible. I picture a wise woman who was kind and generous.
Why did David expect to receive compensation from Nabal (25:7-8, 15-16)?
David had been good to Nabal. He had help to protect Nabal’s servants and sheep. The servants of Nabal confirmed David and his men had protected them and that no sheep had been stolen. It would have been appropriate for Nabal to offer some reward for the services which David and his men had provided.
How did Nabal respond (25:10-11)? How did Abigail respond (25:18-20)? How did David respond (25:12-13)? Who alone responded in a righteous manner?
Nabal responded in a harsh manner. He becomes angry towards David and belligerent. He stubbornly refuses to acknowledge David and all that David had done for him.
Abigail responds in a generous and gracious way. We might have expected her to respond in a bitter way towards Nabal, but she doesn’t. She takes the supplies to David and his men for the good of everyone. She does what she is able to de-escalate the situation.
David feels that he has been wronged. Instead of responding in a grace filled way, David says, “strap on your swords and let’s go kill everyone.” It is not the type of response that was worthy of him, a man after God’s own heart.
Why is David’s response over the top? How should David had responded? In what ways do you think Abigail spared David future misery (25:30-31)?
David is out to kill anyone who has anything to do with Nabal. He is seeking revenge after feeling he had been slighted. When we feel slighted the tendency is to get back at people for what they have done to us.
Rather than respond in such a harsh way, David might have responded with grace. There will be times when we are slighted by others. We don’t get what we expect is coming to us. We are not treated in the way we think we should be treated. We might feel bitter. In these moments it is easier to respond with bitterness than it is to respond with grace.
Consider these words of Jesus:
Matthew 5:38–44 (NLT)
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. 43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
It is not an easy thing to do. In fact, I would say it is an impossible thing to do unless the Spirit of God is at work in us.
In the end, Abigail, spares David future misery. It would not have been good if David had killed Nabal. He then would have truly been an outlaw. David might have felt better in the moment, but after awhile he would have been filled with guilt. Plus the people of Judah would have been much less accepting of him for killing a mean, but innocent man.
How was justice served (25:36-38)? What is the lesson for us when we feel unappreciated?
Nabal would die. Justice was served, but it was not on David’s terms. It was on God’s terms. When we are wronged by another, we can continue to love them, holding confidence that nothing goes unseen by God. God is a God of love and a God of justice. We need to trust that God is much better at dispensing justice than we are. What matters is what God thinks about us. It doesn’t matter what others think about us or what others might do to us when we are in God’s hands. God will provide all the recognition and appreciation we need. It is him we ultimately serve.