Grievous Words and a Soft Answer
(1 Samuel chapter 25)
Paul Rose MA
At one time when David was in hiding from king Saul, he and his men,
who numbered six hundred, were living in an unpopulated area near
Carmel. In this area were shepherds looking after the flocks of a
wealthy man called Nabal. David, being a righteous man, had charged
his men to respect other people's property. The shepherds and David's
men came to be on good terms with each other. David and his men not
only left the sheep alone, but their presence was a deterrent to
others who might have stolen sheep, and doubtless they were also a
deterrent to wild animals which might otherwise have attacked the flock.
At shearing time David sent ten men to Nabal to request a gift from
him because, as he told his men to say to Nabal, they had not harmed
his flock or his shepherds, or harassed them in any way, but had been
friendly to his shepherds and had acted as guardians to shepherds and
sheep alike. The name 'Nabal' means 'fool' and we are told that he
was churlish and evil in his
doings (1 Samuel 25:3). He was a bad-tempered
man: one of his servants described him as such
a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him (1 Samuel 25:17).
Nabal refused to give anything to David and his men, and had he
refused politely, perhaps David would have accepted his refusal with
good grace; but Nabal refused so roughly and was so uncivil about
David to the men that when David heard, he set out with four hundred
armed men to kill Nabal and his household in revenge.
Nabal had a wife, Abigail, who was a
woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance (1 Samuel 25:3).
One of Nabal's men had heard the way he answered David's men and,
knowing that evil would come of it, informed Abigail of the
situation. Seeing the danger they were in, she quickly gathered some
provisions for David and set out to intercept him. Her timely action
and gracious words appeased David and he accepted her gift and turned back.
When Abigail told Nabal what had happened we are told that his
heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And it came to pass
about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died (1 Samuel 25:3738).
When David heard that Nabal was dead he sent for Abigail and married her.
What can we learn from Abigail?
Abigail was a woman of good understanding.
She not only understood the seriousness of the situation but was
prepared to act immediately.
Understanding and wisdom invariably go together in the word of God.
God was pleased when Solomon asked for understanding rather than
riches, therefore Paul's message to the Ephesians stands true for us today:
...be ye not unwise, but understanding
what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)
If that seems hard don't despair because,
If any of you lack wisdom, let
him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)
Abigail was of a beautiful countenance.
God knew David's weakness for beautiful women and no doubt Abigail's
appearance stopped David's anger long enough to listen to her; but
Abigail conducted herself in such a way that it was her Godly manner
and advice which influenced David and made him see the error of what
he was about to do.
More importantly Abigail had that ornament
of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great
price (1 Peter 3:4).
And David said to Abigail,
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet
me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept
me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with
mine own hand (1 Samuel 25:3233).
What can we learn from David?
When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said Blessed
be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the
hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath
returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head (1 Samuel 25:39).
As pointed out to him by Abigail, it would have been unlawful for
him to have killed Nabal for so trivial a cause. We are told in Romans 12:1720,
Recompense to no man evil for
evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be
possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto
wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the
Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give
him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
A soft answer turneth away
wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
© Paul Rose 2002 <http://www.twoedgedswordpublications.co.uk/Articles/Grievous_Words_and_a_Soft_Answer.htm>