Joab walked next to David. “You’ve been silent this entire trip home. What are you thinking about?”
David glanced up. “Can’t help but relive that scene when I first met Samuel. I smelled of sheep and sweat. His face lit up when he stared at me. He pulled the flask out from under his robe. The oil was warm. It saturated my scalp and beard. My life’s never been the same.”
The men stopped when they crested the hill and viewed an empty meadow. Joab grabbed David’s sleeve. “Where are the sheep?”
David smiled. “This could be a good sign.”
They strode across the field to the men enjoying lunch.
David cleared his throat. “What happened to the flock?”
A young man spun around so fast he toppled sideways. “Oh, David, I didn’t see you coming. Um…the sheep are being sheered. They’ll be back.”
David raised both hands in the air. “‘The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.’ Finally, some good news. It’s payday, boys.”
David slapped the young man on the back. “I want you to take nine of your friends to Carmel. Find Nabal and tell him we’ve been guarding his men and animals. See how much he gives you to bring back.”
David felt his face cool as he stood. “Were you robbed? Don’t tell me…”
The young man in charge looked at David’s feet. “Nabal said he never told you to watch his sheep so he doesn’t owe you anything.”
Heat returned to David’s cheeks. “Every man grab a sword!”
The troupe split up into twin valleys halfway to Carmel.
David rested a hand on his sword. “Doesn’t Nabal know how important protection is for his flocks? May God deal with me severely if we leave even one male child alive by the end of today.”
A woman stopped her donkey in front of David and fell at his feet. “I’m sorry, my lord. Let the blame fall on me. I wasn’t there when your young men came to Nabal. I didn’t find out until they left.”
A young man came over the hill carrying some food. “We have figs, and raisins, wine, mutton and bread. Looks like he changed his mind.”
Abigail stood. Her gaze never strayed from David’s eyes. “You are anointed by God to lead His people in battle. Even those who come to kill you can’t succeed. They’ll be slung out as a stone by God. Don’t do something you’ll only regret during your reign as king. Accept this token of my gratitude for all your men have done for us.”
David stepped toward Abigail and smiled. “God surely sent you today to keep me from doing something stupid. I accept your gift. Go home in peace. I won’t forget this.”
I see two things we should focus on. What set David off in a rage and what changed his course of action?
It’s recorded that David had just been to the funeral of Samuel. I’m sure the contact he had with the prophet reminded David of his appointed destiny with Israel’s throne.
Between the grief of the loss of a mentor and the added weight of the anointing oil I can understand his short fuse here. Six hundred fighting men with some families would also carry a burden for David.
In an effort to feed these people David comes across a large herd of sheep and goats. Being a former shepherd he knows how vulnerable these animals are to predators and raiding parties. Taking advantage of a win-win situation David has his men protect Nabal’s flocks.
Sheering time would be celebration time. So David finds out how grateful Nabal is for his service.
Nabal is celebrating alright, but at David’s expense. Since there’s no way of proving just how much protection David provided Nabal decides not to pay David anything. Why share his wealth with someone he never met?
So stressed-out David becomes irrational to the extreme. He doesn’t even want to try to talk some sense into Nabal.
Oh, I forgot to mention David tends toward an artistic bent which carries some strange emotional swings all its own.
So, as David’s world comes crashing down around him he becomes rash and irrational.
How in the world is God going to get his attention to stop him from making a huge mistake? A beautiful woman is a sure-fire way to get an artistic man’s attention.
Abigail knows she has a fool for a husband, especially since that’s what his parents named him. Nabal means fool in Hebrew. So, she wastes no time in springing into action. She gathers enough food to feed an army, since that’s what David has, and sends it on ahead of her into hurricane David.
She also doesn’t waste time in explaining to David how stupid he’s being and that he’ll only regret what he’s planning on doing. Yeah, this story had more than one fool in it.
[Tweet “David’s men would follow him anywhere. Choose your battles wisely.”]
So, what are our take-aways here? I see a series of don’ts and do’s.
- Don’t make any important decisions during a time of grief. David wasn’t thinking straight in this stressful time and neither will you. Step back and assess your situation with the distance of time as much as you can.
- Don’t get others to follow you into making your rash decision. David’s men would follow him anywhere. That would be crucial in battle, but choose your battles wisely.
- Do listen to counsel from others involved. Abigail took a chance on approaching David. Women weren’t often listened to in that culture. David showed wisdom in heeding her advice.
- Do step in to fix other’s blunders. Abigail could have let David take Nabal’s life and ended up as David’s wife anyway. By doing what her husband should have done she avoided much unnecessary bloodshed.
David would put up with a lot of ridicule later in his life. I think the lesson he learned here stuck with him.
Let’s learn his lesson from him.
I’ll see you later. Wade