Last Sunday Saul received information about David’s whereabouts and singled out Ahimelech as being part of a conspiracy against Saul. Ahimelech admitted to helping David as he had done on many previous occasions, but claimed to do so in good faith and not as part of a conspiracy against Saul. We learned that not all adversity is the result of our own sin. Saul called for the death of Ahimelech and the other priests because he perceived them as being loyal to David. The king’s servants refused to carry out Saul’s command. Another point of the lesson is that believers need to stand against laws that violate God’s laws and principles. Recall that we reviewed the “Social Order” doctrine from the PSG which says, “Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love.” We decided that is quite an undertaking but as Christians, we have the responsibility to pursue these principles one person at a time.
In today’s lesson we see that people can and do take definite action to intervene in the face of conflict. We also see how believers are to be thankful when God keeps them from acting out of selfish motives, including out of personal revenge. We will see, in both instances, that God was active behind the scenes to bring about His judgment against evil in His time.
Our writers skip the first 13 verses and begin the study with 1 Samuel 25:14-17 then skip to 1 Samuel 25:32-38. Be prepared to either read the missing verses or give a brief outline of what has happened to Samuel, what David and his men had been doing and what was the significance of the sheep shearing.
Read 1 Samuel 25:14-17 “Disaster Foreseen”
What do these verses tell us about Nabal? Nabal’s name means “fool”. He was a wealthy landowner with herds of 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. In the skipped verses he is described as harsh and evil and here in verse 17 his own servant tells Abigail that Nabal is a worthless fool that nobody can talk to.
How did Nabal’s servant describe David’s assistance with Nabal’s shepherds? V. 15-16 , David’s men protected them, treated them well, not harassed, nothing missing and were a wall around them, day and night.
What did David ask of Nabal? David asked Nabal to feed his men, as a favor for the protection they had provided to the shepherds and herds. It would have been a customary courtesy for Nabal to agree to this, yet he refused.
What was David’s reaction to Nabal’s refusal? David began to plot revenge on Nabal and his household.
How did the servant challenge Abigail? As he told her of Nabal’s selfish behavior, he asked her to “consider carefully what you must do” (v.17).
Why would the servant bring this problem to Abigail? He believed she could help. Perhaps she had helped at other times.
Read or review 1 Samuel 25:18-31
What was David on his way to do to Nabal? David said he had protected Nabal’s herds in vain and that he was not going to leave even one male of Nabal’s family alive by morning.
What did Abigail do in response to the servant’s information? She loaded two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs on donkeys and had her servants go on ahead of her. When she met David on the road, she fell face down at his feet and asked that Nabal’s iniquity be on her.
Read 1 Samuel 25:32-35 “David Relents”
How did David respond to Abigail’s decision to get involved in the conflict between David and Nabal? As Abigail delivered the food to David along with profuse apologies for Nabal’s terrible behavior, David accepted both Abigail’s gifts and her apologies.
What makes you think David realized God was working behind the scenes? David thanked God for sending Abigail to him. He praised her discernment and blessed her for the swift action to intervene.
In what ways did Abigail have to step out of her “comfort zone” in her encounter with David? Abigail understood that David was already an important man. In v. 28 she said, “the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days”. She knew he would be king but was willing to face David and turn him from his plans of revenge.
When should we get involved in a conflict? Sometimes we can speak directly to people in a conflict situation. Sometimes we may need to bring in people with more trained expertise. We can always pray.
What do we do when we are powerless to intervene? Let God sort it out. Leave justice in His hands.
Note the Key Doctrine: Peace and War on PSG p. 118, “It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness.”
Read 1 Samuel 25:36-38 “God Intervenes”
How did God intervene in Nabal’s and David’s conflict? When Abigail told Nabal all that she had done to avert David’s anger, Nabal had a seizure and became paralyzed. David left Nabal’s fate in God’s hand.
Did Abigail take appropriate steps in this conflict? She took steps to keep a tragedy from happening, but she left the judgment up to God. God honored her obedience while punishing Nabal.
· When the “bad guys” in life “get what’s coming to them,” it is easy for us to feel smug or pleased.
· There will be times when believers can and should take practical steps to get involved in arguments.
· Believers can trust that God is just and faithful. He will exact His vengeance and justice on all people.
· Believers are assured that God guards the steps of His people.
The next time you see a conflict unfolding, carefully consider if this is a place where God would have you get involved. Then choose words and actions that would please Him.
Close with prayer that God will find our decisions faithful to His will, despite the obstacles we face.