Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 – 1640)
1 Samuel Ch. 25-26
As we move forward in our story of David, we pick up today in a strange point in the timeline. David has been on the run for quite some time now. However, as we saw last week, David actually had the chance to end his flee by killing Saul but he did not take that chance. Rather, he simply cut a piece of Saul’s cloak to show the king his mercy and compassion. The downside to this approach is that David finds himself still on the run. Our story for today starts in a place called Maon. At this point, the number of people following David was growing rapidly. More mouths means more supplies needed. So David sends some of his men to the property of a man named Nabal. Nabal was a very wealthy man who not only had money but had a multitude of resources. When David’s men reached Nabal’s property, they asked Nabal if he would be willing to provide David’s army with basic sustenance. Up to this point, everywhere David and his men have gone David has been recognized immediately. However, Nabal’s response to David’s men was “Who is David and who is Jesse”? From there, Nabal declined to provide David’s men with any sort of supplies. When David hears about this his anger burns out of control and he tells his men to strap on their swords and get ready to fight. At the same time, a slave of Nabal told his wife Abigale what Nabal’s response was to David’s men. When she heard this she was greatly troubled. So she jumped on a donkey with 200 loaves of bread, 2 skins of wine, 5 sheep, roasted grains, 100 cakes of raisins, and 200 cakes of figs. When she got to David’s camp she begged that David not go through with the assault. David was moved by Abigale’s plea and decides to call off the attack. Not too long after, the Lord struck down Nabal and Abigale actually joined David as his wife. I think this story does a few things. Firstly we are able to truly see the difference between David and Saul. If you remember back to when Saul was pursuing David at the city of Nob, the priest Ahimelek pleads with Saul to have mercy on them. Ahimelek’s cry falls on deaf ears as Saul orders every person to be killed. Flash forward to our story today and David is put in a very similar situation. He decides that he wants to extinguish a person or a group of people. When presented with an argument as to why he should not go through with it, rather than act on emotions, David is able to see how bad of a decision he was close to making. This contrast between David and Saul is critical. Instances like this is why David took over for Saul as the man that God ordained to rule over Israel. The second thing that this story does is it proves Jesus’ statement in Luke 12:53. In this verse, Jesus talks about how because of him, family members will be divided. Think back to the entirety of the story of David thus far. Both Jonathan and Michal turn against Saul, and now we see Abigale and her husband tear apart because of David. This proves Jesus’ statement because even though David is not Jesus, they are both acting on God’s accord. Because of this, those who come into contact with David are torn on if they will follow him or oppose him: a nearly identical question that followers of Jesus had to ask themselves. Lastly, this story shows the difference between us taking things into our own hands and allowing God to do what God does. Denying David and his men supplies was seen as denying God and His plan. This is why David took Nabal’s actions with such great offense. Though you could argue otherwise, many would say that David’s desire to extinguish Nabal was completely justified. However, that does not mean that it is the right thing to do. Abigale realizes this which is why she did what she did. Luckily, David was able to see the truth in her words and called off the attack. Following that decision, God did what David was going to do anyways. The difference though, was that God used that action to further His plan as to where David would have set back God’s plan. This brings up the question of how many times in your life have you tried to take matters into your own hands? Where in your life do you need to trust God to handle things? Unfortunately, I think that we tend to try to hold control and get in our and God’s way.
Saul’s pursuit of David continues in chapter 26. Saul gets word that David and his army are hiding in the hills of Hakilah. So once again Saul hunts down David in an attempt to end the threat to his control. Just like before, David catches wind of Saul once again trying to catch him. So David sets out to where Saul is camped out and finds where the king and his bodyguard are resting. This story is almost like deja vu. It is almost as if the author copy and pasted the story from earlier in the book of the last time that David and Saul came in contact. Once again, the person with David tells him that the Lord has delivered his enemy right into his hands. However, David refuses to take action. Rather, David takes the king’s spear and his water jug. Just like the story from before, David calls out to the king the next day and presents him with the spear and water jug just to show that though he could, and maybe should, have killed the king, he refused to do so. Once again Saul, recognizes how lucky he is that David spared his life and again says that David is now safe. So why is it so important that this story comes up again in nearly identical fashion? I think this story is important for us for two reasons. The first is that it furthers the message that we see in chapter 25. As a quick reminder, David learns that it is better to let God stay in control rather than take things into your own hands. David is then immediately confronted with a similar dilemma. Once again, David has the opportunity to end his escape. He has the man who has been hunting him within his grasp. Rather, David says, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed”. So not only does David learn an important lesson, he actually applies it which is the next step. This is very important for us to understand. Over the course of our life we are going to learn a lot of valuable lessons. And while it is important for us to learn those lessons, it is even more important that we apply them the way that David does in this story. The second reason that this story is so important is because we see an overwhelming grace being played out. Imagine yourself in David’s shoes. Imagine you are being hunted down by the king for no reason. Not once but twice you get the opportunity to end it. Would you do it? Speaking personally it would be very hard for me to turn down that opportunity. I know that I would be telling myself that I may never get the same opportunity again. However, this is not what David does. Rather than kill the king, he shows a unique measure of grace that is almost baffling. Though this measure of grace seems strange, it is this grace that sets David apart. Jesus calls us to do some pretty difficult things. He calls us to exhibit an unusual amount of self control. David plays that out here perfectly. Whenever you catch yourself in a situation where you don’t know if you are able to hold yourself back, remember David and the amount of grace that he extends to Saul. Even though it is difficult, it can be done and it is what God calls us to do.