“David said: ‘Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has…….if I leave one male of all who belong to him by the morning light.”  1 Samuel 25:21,22

“Now when Abigail saw David….and said: ‘ ..please let your maidservant speak in your ears and hear the words of your maidservant….” 1 Samuel 25:24

Avenge and/or revenge, two words very similar actions.  You or I feel that something has been done against us, maybe an insult, or a theft, maybe even an actual physical injury.  We have a choice, we can forgive the slight/injury or we can exact a “pound of flesh” in payment and restitution for the affront we have suffered.

David faced that situation.  He and his men were on the run.  They took refuge in the wilderness of Paran.  Now you might think that a fugitive trying to stay undetected plus fend for his band of hundreds would be too preoccupied to care about, let alone, help anyone else.  Maybe for most, but this was David we’re talking about.  In part of the wilderness there was a large flock of sheep and several shepherds.  Now shepherding could be a very dangerous business; there were the possible attacks by predators, plus thieves were ever present waiting for the right time to strike, stealing the sheep and perhaps killing those that tended them.  Maybe it was because David himself was a shepherd that he took pity on them.  Scripture tells us that he and his men were like a wall around the sheep and shepherds.  Again, one might think that David would have been well within his rights to ask for a sheep or two from the shepherds as payment for his protection.  And again scripture is clear, David asked nothing in return for this service.

The sheep have returned home safe and sound.  David is in need so he sends some of his men to the owner of the sheep, a very rich man named Nabal, asking for anything Nabal could spare.  Based on what we’re told in the bible, if we were going to describe Nabal today, we’d call him a world class jerk.  He not only told David’s men no, but he treated them rudely and insulted David.

David felt wronged.  To David, this was not just an insult, it was downright evil.  And, this evil needed to be dealt with.  Every male associated with Nabal, family, servants, slaves would be put to the sword; would die.  This is another great case of the bible “telling it like it was”.  For the bible does not try to justify what David was doing nor try to spin his actions as somehow righteous.  Had David spilled the blood he was planning to out of his own anger, it would have been an evil act.

Enter Abigail, the wife of Nabal.  She was not there when David’s men originally came so she didn’t witness the insult.  She calls her husband a scoundrel so it appears clear that she has no overarching love for the man.  Yet she is desperate to save her family from the calamity that she knows David can inflict upon them.  She brings a large offering of food and drink.  She humbles herself before David and begs for mercy.

David listens.  David listens not reluctantly but wholeheartedly.  In fact David praises God for sending Abigail to intervene and stop him from spilling blood.  He relents and turns home.

Wimp! Coward! Certainly not a man’s man.  There is much in today’s society that would not approve of David’s response or even perhaps Abigail’s groveling.  Today’s society would agree with and probably egg David on.  Go Get em David!  You’ve got a right to be mad!  Don’t take that lying down!  Kick their a**!  Society would ask Abigail:  “Who are you to interfere?”. Besides, you didn’t insult David, why should you be trying to stop him?  Get out of the way.

Our self images seem very fragile.  How else can we explain how just a certain word or look from one person to another can be taken for the vilest of insults?  How can it be that smallest of disagreements constantly seem to end up with someone needing a funeral.  Sticks and stones may brake my bones but I’ll shoot you if you call me a name.

Ah! some would retort; But Nabel got away with it!  In fact the very night Abigail gets back from saving his life, Nabel is having a drunken party.  We might question David’s judgement, but there is no questioning God’s.  Were Caleb’s acts evil?  God judged so.  For scripture tells us that within 10 days, the Lord struck Nabal and he was dead.

So hear’s another thing history teaches us about human nature; violence begets violence.  Nabal probably had some other distant relatives somewhere.  Had David slaughtered Nabal along with all the males associated with him, someone would have thought David wrong.  Someone would have felt compelled to take revenge on David.  Think of how many of today’s bloody wars, conflicts and feuds are based on incidents that have happened, sometimes centuries, in the past.

Nabal lies dead.  He dies from natural causes (some would also use the term “Act of God”).  Who are Nabal’s relatives going to go after?  How do you take your vengeance out on God?  Even to contemplate that sounds pretty risky to me.

Finally, David did not turn away by his own counsel.  He did not take a “cooling off” period and come to a more rational conclusion. No, he first had to allow Abigail to even meet with him.  After that, he had to truly listen to her and let her words soak in.  Once David did that, his choice, the right choice became clear.  Brothers and Sisters, God will thwart evil.  The bible shows us how God is not slow nor is His response weak when He feels justified in acting.  And Jesus is very clear that God wants to be the One to act.  His judgement is perfect, thus irrefutable.  There can be no meaningful backlash against Him.  Let us be slow to anger.  And should we find ourselves still becoming so, let us be open and listen to the voices of the peacemakers.  That our lives would show the true strength of our belief in God

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we ask that You would pour out Your Spirit of patience and mercy upon us that we would be slow to anger, slow to take matters into our own hands.  Send to us voices of peace when we devise plans to lash out in violence and anger.  In Your Perfect Judgement be swift in bringing judgement against evil.  That all would find awe in and loudly praise Your Most Holy Name.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.