Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 1 Samuel- Chapter 25

1 Samuel 25

-Samuel passes away at the beginning of this chapter with all of Israel gathering together to mourn for and bury him in his hometown of Ramah. Samuel had been the spiritual leader of this nation as it transitioned from the period of the judges to the kingdom. For David, he arose and went to the wilderness of Paran. This was at the northern edge of Paran, which went all the way southward into the Arabian Pennisula, but had vast pasturelands that stretched up as far as the Judean areas of Israel. It was a place suited for men of means, like Nabal, that we learn of in this next crucial episode in the fugitive state of David’s life. Nabal was in Maon, where David was hanging out during this season of his life, and he had business in Carmel. The text says he owned 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats making him a very wealthy man during this time in history. His wife was a beautiful, virtuous, and intelligent woman by the name of Abigail. The setting of the story begins with Nabal shearing his sheep in Carmel. Because Nabal’s men had been with David’s men under their protection as they sheared their sheep without any insult or thievery, David sent ten young men up to Carmel to visit Nabal and greet him in an act of respect and honor. David relayed to them to speak blessing for Nabal in long life with peace to him, his house, and all that he had. He simply asked for a part in the festive day that had been prepared and planned to give whatever Nabal might find at hand to give with a generous heart. The messengers of David went and delivered this word, and then they waited patiently and expectantly for a response (1 Samuel 25:1-9). They had been on the run without much it could be assumed. They had treated all people fairly without incident. They hoped for a reprieve at this time for some levity in the situation.

-However, Nabal, being a selfish and arrogant man, replied harshly to their request. He demeaned the leader and men who had given his men safety and good will in his response, “Who is David? And who are the sons of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” Upon hearing this, David’s men retraced their steps and went back to tell their leader what Nabal had disparagingly uttered. David angrily commanded them at this point to gird their swords. David also girded his sword, and about 400 men went up behind him while the other 200 stayed back with the baggage at their camp. Gratefully, one of Nabal’s servants told Abigail how her husband had scorned the messengers of David even though they had been very good to them. They had never insulted them, stolen anything, and protected them well as they tended their sheep both day and night. This servant told Abigail to really consider what she should do, for he knew evil would be plotted against their master, Nabal, and all his household since he was such a worthless man that no one could rationalize with in speaking (1 Samuel 25:10-17).

-Then Abigail hurried in haste to bring two hundred loaves of bread, two jugs of wine, five sheep already prepared, five measures of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred fig cakes on donkeys to go to David’s men for negotiations. She told her young men to go before her, but not to tell Nabal what she was doing. She met David and his men as she was riding her donkey down a hidden part of the mountain. David told her frankly, “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good.” He then earnestly threatened to kill all the males who belonged to Nabal as now enemies of his. When Abigail saw David, she humbly and hurriedly dismounted her donkey and fell on her face before him bowing herself to the ground. She took the blame on herself sacrificially asking David to simply hear her out as a maidservant. She beseeched him NOT to pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal (nabal- foolish). His name was indicative of who he really was and his folly was with him she pleaded. Abigail maintained that she, herself, never saw the young men whom David had sent implying that if she had, things would have been different and that they would have been treated respectfully. She commended them as a means of prevention that they had restrained from bloodshed as servants of the LORD. She recognized that kind words would be effective in resolving this situation. Then she denounced the enemies of any, including potentially Saul, that sought evil against David comparing them to the foolishness of Nabal. Then she presented them with the gifts of provision asking forgiveness. She prophesied in that she exclaimed that David, her lord (which she repeats often in this dialog), would certainly have an enduring house as he was fighting the battles of the LORD. She complimented him saying that evil would not be found in him all of his days. In other words, Abigail called David a righteous man. She basically guaranteed him victory in every conflict, and that he would survive and thrive as he put down his enemies one by one. She knew he would be ruler over God’s people in Israel, and that shedding unnecessary blood would be a stain on his reputation. David saw all of the wisdom and kindness in this intelligent and well-worded woman. He blessed the God of Israel for sending her to him in such a manner. He acknowledged her impeccable discernment, and he blessed her as a person for keeping him from this act which he was about to participate in. He decided rightly not to avenge himself by his own hand. This would have been evil in the sight of the LORD. David received the gifts of provision in the end and all was good. He told her to go up to her house in peace for he had listened to her request and granted it (1 Samuel 25:18-35).

-Now Abigail came back home to Nabal, who was drunk by now with merriment as he enjoyed his festivities, and she did not dare to speak to him in that state for the night. But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of this foolish man, Abigail told him these things which had occurred with David. This made Nabal’s heart die within him according to the text. He became as a stone, comatose. About ten days later, the LORD, Himself, struck Nabal and he died (1 Samuel 25:36-38).

-When David heard the news of Nabal’s destruction, he blessed the LORD, who pleaded his noble cause and bore his reproach. He also exalted the LORD for holding back his hand from evil doing as God’s servant. Entranced with Abigail’s beauty and character, he now sent a proposal to this widow to take her as his wife. Abigail accepted the offer humbly bowing with her face to the ground, and then she washed David’s servants’ feet as a maidservant herself. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ heart in washing His disciples’ feet at the last supper (John 13:3-9). Afterwards, Abigail rose quickly and rode on her donkey with her five maidens who attended her and followed the messengers back to David to became his wife. Now the text displays some growing concerns in David’s moral character as he had also taken Ahinoam of Jezreel as a wife. Meanwhile, King Saul had reneged on his daughter Michal’s marriage to David and given her to Palti, the son of Laish, who was from Gallim (1 Samuel 25:39-44). And so the saga continued.

-*Application* Vengeance is the LORD’s (Romans 12:19). When we react in anger without considering the consequences to our character and future, we make a huge mistake. Take time to consider our actions when someone does us wrong. Listen to wise advice and then make a God honoring, discerning decision. We must let the LORD fight our battles. Easy lesson to learn, sometimes hard to apply. Forgiveness is the key here, which means that we must extend grace and humility.

Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 25:28

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