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RECIPIENTS OF GOD’S GREAT GRACE – NABAL, ABIGAIL, & DAVID



During the tumultuous reign of king Saul, David was forced to flee and live a nomadic existence in the wilderness. For a season, David and his six hundred warriors (1 Samuel 25:13), lived in the desert in northeastern Sinai, not far from the little village of Carmel, the home of Nabal and Abigail. Nabal was a “very rich man with three thousand sheep and one thousand goats” (1 Samuel 25:2). He was also “harsh and evil in his dealings” (1 Samuel 25:3). I envision a mafia don, clad with dark glasses, a gold chain, and a pinky ring, surrounded by thugs who enforced their boss’s every whim.


I can’t imagine what his momma was thinking, but his name, Nabal, meant stupid (1 Samuel 25:25). Can you picture the ridicule during his childhood. “Here comes Stupid … there goes Stupid… Stupid is as Stupid does…”


So, what did stupid Nabal do to deserve a wife like Abigail? “The woman was intelligent and beautiful” (1 Samuel 25:3). Maybe it’s true… love is blind.


Sheep were sheared twice each year, once in the spring and again in the early fall. These were festive occasions because the wool would be sold at a great profit. Everyone joined in. Food and drink were plentiful. David knew it was shearing time, and he knew all about Nabal. He’d camped near Nabal’s shepherds and had even protected them from migratory marauders and thieves. David had done good deeds for Nabal, so he didn’t hesitate to ask for a little in return. “David sent ten young men instructing them, ‘Go up to Carmel, and when you come to Nabal, greet him in my name. Then say this: “Long life to you, and peace to you, peace to your family, and peace to all that is yours. I hear that you are shearing. When your shepherds were with us, we did not harass them, and nothing of theirs was missing the whole time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. So let my young men find favor with you, for we have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have on hand to your servants and to your son David” ’ ” (1 Samuel 25:5-8). Nabal refused and dismissed David’s messengers rudely.


David’s response to Nabal’s rebuff was angry, careless, ruthless. He mounted up and headed into battle planning to destroy Nabal and his men. He could have too… but God intervened by sending Abigail. After hearing of Nabal’s selfishness, Abigail brought a peace offering; “two hundred loaves of bread, two clay jars of wine, five butchered sheep, a bushel of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of pressed figs” (1 Samuel 25:18). She stopped David before he could foolishly take matters into his own hands. “My lord should pay no attention to this worthless fool Nabal, for he lives up to his name: His name means ‘stupid,’ and stupidity is all he knows. I, your servant, didn’t see my lord’s young men whom you sent. Now my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and as you yourself live—it is the Lord who kept you from participating in bloodshed and avenging yourself by your own hand” (1 Samuel 25:25-26).


Here's the point. God graciously intervened and kept David from becoming a murdering scoundrel. God protected David’s character. If he’d ridden into Nabal’s camp and left carnage behind, David would have lived to regret those actions. David recognized God’s hand of protection as he spoke to Abigail. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! May your discernment be blessed, and may you be blessed. Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand. Otherwise, as surely as the Lord God of Israel lives, who prevented me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, Nabal wouldn’t have had any males left by morning light” (1 Samuel 25:32-34)


But that’s not the end of the story. Shortly afterward, Nabal died of natural causes, leaving Abigail a widow… but not for long, because David took her as a wife (1 Samuel 25:39-42)… and they lived happily ever-after.


God is gracious.