1 Samuel 25: Lessons from Abigail, Nabal and David for Maintaining a Spirit-Led Walk

Introduction: 1 Samuel 25 records both Samuel’s death and David’s encounter with the evil Nabal and his faithful wife Abigail. Here, both Nabal and David made several mistakes in their walk that Abigail would seek to correct. From this chapter, God reveals seven lessons for maintaining a Spirit-led walk with Him. Centered in faith, these lessons include: (1) persistence; (2) purity; (3) generosity; (4) forgiveness; (5) submission; (6) gratitude; and (7) fearing God.

First, Samuel persisted in his faith despite many adversities. After his death, his student David learned from his example to carry on in the face of setbacks. From this, God reveals that a Spirit-led believer persists in the face of adversity. Second, while Nabal was corrupted by worldly things, his wife Abigail maintained a pure heart despite being one of the most beautiful women in Israel. From the contrast between them, God reveals that a Spirit-led believer remains pure from worldly influences. Third, when David’s men approached Nabal for food after they had protected him, Nabal refused to share his God-given wealth with his God-sent protector. Unlike Nabal, God desires that Spirit-led believers show generosity towards those in need. Fourth, despite having forgiven Saul for his transgressions, David became filled with anger and wrath toward Nabal for his insults. Abigail was forced to intervene to seek David’s forgiveness and to offer restitution. Unlike David and like Abigail, God reveals that a Spirit-led believer forgives those who cause them harm. Fifth, Abigail was able to soften David’s heart through her humble submission and by appealing to his faith. Here, God reveals that a Spirit-led believer submits to others in humility and faith. Sixth, after realizing his sins, David thanked God for sending Abigail to keep him from sinning. From David’s example, God reveals that a Spirit-led believer is grateful for His deliverance. Finally, Nabal received God’s judgment only after he refused to repent. Despite turning back to God, David also sinned after being delivered by taking on multiple wives. Both Nabal and David failed to fear God, which is defined as hating evil. Here, God reveals that a Spirit-led believer fears Him by hating evil.

1. Persistence: A Spirit-Led Believer Persists in the Face of Adversity. 1 Sam. 25:1.

  • Israel remembers Samuel’s Spirit-led service, and David carries on God’s work. Samuel’s death caused all of Israel to mourn his loss. Samuel had anointed David. He was also a refuge and a source of encouragement for David when Saul tried to kill him. Samuel’s death could have discouraged David. But David continued on with his work for God. “Then Samuel died; and all Israel gathered together and mourned for him, and buried him at his house in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.” (1 Sam. 25:1). Samuel was Israel’s greatest prophet since Moses. He is believed to have authored the book of Judges and possibly part of this book. Although he is not listed in the book of Judges, he was also considered to be Israel’s last judge. He grew up as an orphan while serving a corrupt family of priests. He then provided spiritual guidance to a corrupt country. His sons then abandoned his teachings by seeking to enrich themselves. The country then rejected his advice about selecting a king. King Saul then rejected his advice on spiritual matters. He persisted in the face of adversity and setbacks. Like his teacher, David also persisted in the face of adversity.

Samuel is still remembered as one of Israel’s great prophets1

  • God is faithful to remember your faith-led works for Him. The Bible records the deaths of the great leaders of faith. This is to let people know that God will never forget your acts of faith and selfless charitable acts. “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Heb. 6:10). As one commentator observes, “Samuel’s heritage lived on in a remarkable way. 1 Chronicles 9:22 suggests he organized the Levites in the service of the sanctuary which was completed by David and Solomon. 1 Chronicles 26:27-28 says Samuel began collecting treasures for building the temple in Solomon’s time. 2 Chronicles 35:18 reports that Samuel remembered the Passover, and kept Israel in remembrance of God’s great deliverance. Psalm 99:6 and Jeremiah 15:1 commemorate Samuel as a man of great intercession. Hebrews 11:33 puts Samuel in God’s ‘Hall of Faith.’” (David Guzik on 1 Sam. 25).2

  • Persevere for God when you face the death of a loved one or trials. With the death of the great leaders in the Bible, God also recorded how others stepped forward to carry on their work. For example, when Moses died, God encouraged Joshua to continue on with His work (Josh. 1:2). Your faith in Jesus should also cause you to run the race and persevere in all your challenges: “Therefore, . . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith . . .” (Heb. 12:1-2). “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14). “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” (2 Tim. 4:7). The kind of perseverance is spiritual and not physical: “for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Tim. 4:8). When you feel sad or defeated, do you pray for God’s strength to persevere in serving Him?

2. Purity: A Spirit-Led Believer Remains Pure from Worldly Influences. 1 Sam. 25:2-3.

  • The contrast between Nabal’s unholy love of money and his wife Abigail’s inner beauty. As David’s continued on with God’s calling, he would soon meet a selfish man in love with his money and his godly wife: “Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite),” (1 Sam. 25:2-3). Nabal was rich in worldly things but poor in the Spirit. His name means “fool.” The name of his clan “Calib” also means “dog.” The time of sheep-shearing was traditionally a time for celebration. It was also common for sheepherders to share with others at this time. But Nabal had no love for others in need. He foolishly believed that his worldly possessions were the measure of his character and importance. In contrast, Abigail was a woman who was not corrupted by the things of the world. Abigail, Rachel, and Esther were three women who all had a “beautiful appearance.” (Gen. 29:17; 1 Sam. 25:3; Esther 2:7). But only Abigail and Esther did not allow their external beauty to corrupt their character. Abigail most likely was forced to marry her wicked husband through an arranged marriage. Thankfully, she maintained her faith and purity despite being unequally yoked to a selfish and materialistic husband.

  • Be holy and set apart for God. Moses told the Jews to be holy and to draw a distinction between clean and unclean things because God is holy: “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” (Lev. 11:44; 20:26). The requirement that believers be set apart and holy for God’s use is repeated in the New Testament (1 Pet. 1:16). Part of “pure and undefiled religion” is being “undefiled before God.” (Jam. 1:27). Are you set apart and pure from the unclean things in the world?

3. Generosity: A Spirit-Led Believer is Generous Towards Those in Need. 1 Sam. 25:4-11.

  • Nabal’s failure to show generosity towards David’s men after they protected him. Consistent with his foolish character, Nabal refused to share any of his food with David’s men despite receiving their protection from the Philistines: “that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, ‘Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.’’ When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited. 10 But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, ‘Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?’” (1 Sam. 25:4-11). In seeking compensation, David was not seeking to coerce or extort money from Nabal. Instead, during a lawless time in Israel’s history when Saul failed in his duties as a king, David used his small group of men to protect helpless shepherds like Nabal from the Philistines. By waiting until the time of shearing when Nabal would make his money, David further waited until the traditional time for sheepherders to share with others. During times of festivals or celebrations, the Jews were commanded to share with those in need (see Dt. 14:28-29; 26:10-13; Neh. 8:10-12). By sending only 10 men, David further sought to avoid intimidating Nabal. David further had them convey the fact that David never acted unjustly by taking any of his sheep without his permission. David further did not make a specific monetary demand. He was willing to let Nabal give what he felt was appropriate. But Nabal’s heart was cold and selfish. He pretended not to know David, even though David was famous throughout all of Israel (1 Sam. 18:5-7). They were both further members of the tribe of Judah. Caleb, Nabal’s forefather, was also from the tribe of Judah, like David (Nu. 13:6). In other words, David is a distant relative of Nabal. But Nabal would not help him. He then insulted David by labeling him a rebel. He looked at all his things as having come from his own hands and not from God. For these reasons, God later judged him. The ten men who came to greet him would also symbolize the Ten Commandments. Nabal would ultimately face God’s judgment based upon how he treated David’s ten representatives.

  • If you love Jesus, show it by helping the poor and the disadvantaged. You were created for “good works.” (Eph. 2:10). This includes compassion and charity for those who are less fortunate: “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” (Prov. 19:17; Dt. 15:11; Matt. 5:42). “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:40, 35). Conversely, Jesus warns: ‘“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:45). “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.” (Prov. 21:13). If you are not giving to the poor or your brothers or sisters in Christ who are in need, how much love and gratitude can you say you have for Jesus?

  • Show hospitality to strangers. Believers are also told to show hospitality to strangers. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:1; Ro. 12:13). “having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.” (1 Tim. 5:10). Do you help strangers? Or, do you act like Nabal?

4. Forgiveness: A Spirit-Led Believer Forgives Those Who Cause Harm. 1 Sam. 25:12-20.

  • David’s failure to show forgiveness after Nabal disrespects him. At a low point in David’s walk, he reacted to Nabal’s insults with a murderous rage. But the godly woman Abigail would seek David’s forgiveness and offer restitution: “12 So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13 David said to his men, ‘Each of you gird on his sword.’ So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage. “14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, ‘Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep. 17 Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.’ 18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 She said to her young men, ‘Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.’ But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them.” (1 Sam. 25:12-20). Nabal’s men knew that their master had foolishly provoked Israel’s greatest military commander since Joshua. Thus, they convinced Abigail to intervene to save their lives from certain death. David had just shown great mercy and forgiveness with his king and father-in-law Saul (1 Sam. 24). Yet, here, he could not let go of Nabal’s insults against him. Motivated by his flesh, he would have had his 400 troops kill Nabal and take his property because of this insult. David might have felt it easier to forgive his superior or equal, like Saul, than someone he felt was beneath him.

Abigail prepared a peace offering for David and his men3

  • Forgive those who harm you. David should have forgiven Nabal for his transgressions. “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt. 6:14-15). “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mk. 11:26). Is there anyone you need to forgive?

  • Restore others you have harmed. Abigail had not insulted David. Yet, she acted on behalf of her foolish husband in seeking to restore David and his men by offering what Nabal should have offered, possibly with interest. This included 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep and 100 clusters of raisins. In the case of theft (which would apply to David’s withheld wages for his protection), God required a “guilt” offering where the sinner gave back the stolen property to restore the victim (Lev. 6:1-4). The Hebrew word for “guilt offering” is Asham. It means indemnity, reparation, or restitution. In other words, it means that the sinner must make the victim whole. Saying that you are sorry does not by itself fulfill God’s law. In the case of any type of theft, a sinner like Nabal was to restore all stolen funds plus at least a fifth of the value of the stolen property as a penalty or 120% of the total (Lev. 6:5). Where the theft deprived someone of their livelihood (symbolized by animals), the penalty was twice the value of the stolen property (Ex. 22:4). If (like Nabal) the sinner had no remorse, the penalty was four times the value of the property: “He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” (2 Sam. 12:6). When you steal, you also profane God’s holy name as His representative. “[O]r lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” (Prov. 30:8-9). Thankfully, Jesus became the ram or (“guilt”) offering and relieved you of the obligation to perform this sacrifice: “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, . ..” (Is. 53:10-11). When you confess your wrongs, Jesus will forgive you (1 Jo. 1:9). But He did not relieve you of your obligation to restore your victims. For example, after Zaccheus accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, he promised to pay restitution four times above the amount that he had defrauded from others in the past: “Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’” (Lk. 19:8). This suggests that Zaccheus had defrauded others in the past without any remorse (2 Sam. 12:6). Jesus did not correct Zaccheus or say that this was unnecessary. Thus, believers should follow Zaccheus’ example in restoring others. If you fail to restore those whom you hurt, what kind of a witness for Christ are you?

  • God will not accept your offerings unless you first restore your victims. God commands that a person pay restitution “on the day he presents his guilt offering.” (Lev. 6:6). Jesus later clarified that you must restore your victims before you seek God’s forgiveness: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matt. 5:23-24). Although failing to do this will not affect your salvation, failing to do this will affect your fellowship with God. Is there anyone that you have wronged who needs to be restored?

5. Submission: A Spirit-Led Believer Submits to Others. 1 Sam. 25:21-31.

  • Abigail’s faith-led submission to David. In an effort to appease David’s wrath, Abigail submitted in humility to him and appealed to David’s faith to resolve the conflict: “21 Now David had said, ‘Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22 May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.’ 23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, ‘On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. 25 Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent. 26 “Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. 27 Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord. 28 Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days. 29 Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30 And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31 this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the Lord deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.” (1 Sam. 25:21-31). Driven by the flesh, David was sadly ready to kill every member of Nabal’s household. He was ready to repay evil for evil instead of leaving vengeance to God. “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18). Yet, in addition to bringing gifts to restore David, Abigail humbled herself and offered herself to atone for her husband’s sins. She also appealed to David’s faith by reminding him that God would avenge Nabal’s wrongs. Her Spirit-led appeal reminded David that this was just a momentary incident before God fulfilled His promise to make David’s line an enduring monarchy. She minded him that an act of retaliation would only cause him to regret his actions. She restored him by reminding him of the time when his faith allowed David to kill Goliath with his sling and rocks. She further did not condemn him for the hardness of his heart as some might do today. Her humility and faith helped to defuse the situation and melt the flesh that had hardened David’s heart.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) “The Meeting of David and Abigail” (oil painting 1630)4

  • Abigail foreshadowed Christ in her self-sacrifice. As one commentator notes, Abigail foreshadowed Jesus in her acts of submission and self-sacrifice for the sins of her husband: “Abigail is an illustration (if you prefer, a type) of God’s provision for man’s salvation. Due to the folly of Nabal, Abigail’s entire household is in danger. Every male is condemned to death. Unless she does something, they will be killed by David. In wisdom and humility, Abigail steps forward, taking the guilt of all the condemned upon herself, offering herself in their place (see verse 24). Is this not a picture, a prototype of our Lord Jesus Christ? Due to Adam’s sin and our own, we have all been condemned to death. The day of our doom hastens, but the Lord Jesus Christ (who was completely innocent and without fault) stepped forward, taking our sin and guilt upon Himself. He offered Himself in our place on the cross of Calvary. He bore the penalty for our sins. And through faith in Him, we can enter into eternal life. And, in Him, we become Christ’s bride.” (Robert L. (Bob) Deffinbaugh “22. Dear Abby” (1 Samuel 25:1-44)).5

  • Sacrifice your needs for the needs of others. Jesus revealed that believers should also submit to one another in service the same way He submitted for us: “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (Jo. 13:14). As another example for us, Moses offered to have his name blotted out of the book of life to save the Jews from their judgment in building the golden calf (Ex. 32:32). Paul also wished that he could become cursed if doing so could save his brethren: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” (Ro. 9:3). “But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).” (Philemon 1:18-9). “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4). Do you sacrifice and submit for others in need?

  • Like Abigail, live as a source of reconciliation. Like Abigail, you should also be a source of reconciliation to those in conflict. “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:18). “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). Like Abigail, God also wants you to restore others in a spirit of gentleness. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1). “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it, for still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.” (Ps. 141:5). “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,” (2 Tim. 2:25). When your brothers and sisters are in conflict, are you a source of reconciliation?

  • Kindness will help to convict a sinner of his or her sins. In the prior chapter, David’s kindness to Saul (1 Sam. 24:9) brought about Saul’s conviction of his sins: “Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 He said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you.” (1 Sam. 24:16-17). Here, Abigail’s kindness helped to convict David of his sins: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov. 15:1; Ro. 12:20; Prov. 25:21). “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:44). “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34). Will you restore others with kindness?

6. Gratitude: A Spirit-Led Believer is Grateful For God’s Deliverance. 1 Sam. 25:32-35.

  • David gives thanks to God for sending Abigail to deliver him from his sins. Having been convicted of his sins, David thanked God for His deliverance through Abigail. “32 Then David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33 and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. 34 Nevertheless, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.’ 35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, ‘Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.’” (1 Sam. 25:32-35). If David had given into his murderous rage, Saul might have finally been able to turn the people against David. David might also have become disqualified from becoming king and charged with murder. Under the Law, murder was not a proportional response to an insult. “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” (Ex. 21:24). His vengeance would have led to a life-long regret. David responded with appropriate gratitude toward both God and Abigail.

David praised God for using Abigail to restrain him6

  • Give thanks for God’s mercy and grace. David knew that they did not deserve God’s mercy and grace. Thus, he offered Him songs of thanksgiving: “. . . To you I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord, I shall pay my vows to the Lord.” (Ps. 116:1, 17-18). “ . . . I will render thank offerings to You. For you have delivered my soul from death.” (Ps. 56:12-13; 116:8). “. . .Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.” (Ps. 107:1, 2, 22). “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18). “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” (Eph. 5:20). Have you given thanks for God’s mercy and grace in your life?

  • Give thanks for God’s testing. Having just passed God’s test of forgiveness with Saul, David might have seen little reason to be tested again. But God showed him that he was not as quick to forgive people that he believed to be beneath him. Like David, Jesus also showed Peter that his heart was still wrong immediately after passing a test. At one point, Peter identified Jesus as the Christ (Matt. 16:13-20). Moments later, Jesus rebuked him (Matt. 16:23). God will also test you. He tests you to show you where your heart is evil (Jer. 17:9). He also tests you to show you where your faith is lacking. When He does, rejoice in knowing that His testing is designed to build up your faith: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” (Jam. 1:2). God cannot tempt you (Ja. 1:13-14). He does, however, test you: “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” (Jer. 17:10; 20:12). David was a sinner. Yet, he invited God to search his heart to expose his sins (Ps. 139:23). His openness to learning from his sins is what made him a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). Are you inviting God to test your heart?

  • Out of gratitude, make your life a living sacrifice for Christ. Jesus perfected the need for any further physical sacrifices with His death on the cross (Heb. 10:14). But this hopefully did not eliminate your gratitude for your undeserved salvation. Instead of making physical sacrifices, you are called upon to make “spiritual sacrifices” to Him: “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5). This includes praising God in all that you do: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15). This also includes presenting your body as a living sacrifice for God: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Ro. 12:1). Out of gratitude for His mercy and grace, are you offering Christ the best of your life?

  • Be accountable to others. David thanked God for using Abigail to hold him accountable. Believers are likewise called upon to be part of the larger body of Christ where they can be held accountable. “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25). As a Spirit-led believer, are you accountable to others in the body of Christ?

7. Fearing God: A Spirit-Led Believer Fears God by Hating Evil. 1 Sam. 25:36-44.

  • God’s judgment upon Nabal and David’s sins of polygamy. Nabal selfishly held a feast for himself that should have included David. After learning what his wife did, he failed to repent and then died of a hardened heart. David then married Abigail. Yet, he also sinned by continuing to take on additional wives: “36 Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light. 37 But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died. 39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The Lord has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.’ Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, ‘David has sent us to you to take you as his wife.’ 41 She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, ‘Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.’ 42 Then Abigail quickly arose, and rode on a donkey, with her five maidens who attended her; and she followed the messengers of David and became his wife. 43 David had also taken Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both became his wives. 44 Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim.” (1 Sam. 25:36-44). Nabal could have avoided his judgment if he had included David and his men in his feast. He also could have avoided his judgment if he had repented after he learned of his wife’s atoning acts. David realized that Abigail had spoken God’s Word, and God had avenged David for Nabal’s evil acts. “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” (Dt. 32:35). Yet, sadly, David did not use this encounter to draw closer to God. He had a right to marry Abigail. He previously married Saul’s daughter Michal (1 Sam. 18:27). But after David fled for his life and to remove his claim to the throne, Saul gave her to another man. David, however, did not live constantly with one wife. Instead, he later took additional wives including Ahinoam of Jezreel. He would also remarry Michal (2 Sam. 3:13-16). He would also take Bathsheba as a wife and kill her husband Uriah to cover up his adultery. Just as Jacob experienced, taking on multiple wives would only lead to sorrow and strife within his family as his family turned against each other and him.

  • Circumcise your heart for God. Nabal’s heart was hard. Thus, he would not repent. To avoid his mistake, God wants you to circumcise your heart: “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” (Dt. 10:16). “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.” (Jer. 4:4). Do you accept God’s correction when the Spirit prompts you?

  • Fear God by hating evil. Nabal sinned because he did not fear God (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Ps. 111:10). In contrast, Abigail was praised because her fear of God led to her virtuous acts. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Prov. 31:30). Fearing God is defined in the Bible as “hating evil.” (Prov. 8:13). Do you fear God by hating evil? Or, do you tolerate evil in your life?

  • Having more than one wife results in only misery and sorrow. Some claim that the Bible endorses multiple wives because people like David had multiple wives. In fact, the Bible shows that the decision of each person in the Bible to have multiple concurrent wives or concubines resulted in strife and misery. Prominent men in the Old Testament with multiple wives or concubines include Abraham (Gen. 25:6), Jacob (Gen. 35:22), Caleb (1 Chron. 2:46), Saul (2 Sam. 3:7), David (2 Sam. 5:13), Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:3 - 300 concubines), and Rehoboam (2 Chron. 11:21). In each case, the result was tragedy. For example, Abram’s decision to sleep with Sarai’s servant Hagar created jealousy and conflict with his wife (Gen. 16:4-5). It also resulted in the modern day Arab Israeli conflict (Gen. 16:12). Abraham’s later concubines all led to nations of people who would fight with the Jews. Likewise, Jacob’s marriage to Rachel and Leah caused jealousy between the wives. When Leah had children, Rachel’s jealousy drove her to feel that she would die unless she had a child (Gen. 30:1). Jealousy eventually drove Rachel to have her husband Jacob sleep with her servant Bilhah (Gen. 30:1-6). Jealousy in turn drove Leah to have Jacob sleep with her servant Zilphah to increase the number of her kids. She did this even though she already had four sons and she had only had one year after their marriage without a pregnancy (Gen. 30:9-10). Leah’s children’s jealousy over Jacob’s love for Rachel’s children later also drove Reuben to defile Rachael’s maidservant Bilhah (Gen. 35:22). The consequence for Reuben’s actions was that he and his future generations lost their firstborn status (Gen. 49:3-4). Jealousy later drove ten boys to sell Joseph into slavery because he was one of two sons that Jacob loved more (Gen. 37:18-36). David also suffered when his lust took control of him. When he first saw Bathsheba, he lusted after her (2 Sam. 11:2). His secret lust later led him to commit adultery with her (2 Sam. 11:4). When David’s adultery led to Bathsheba’s pregnancy and he could not convince her husband to be with her, he later committed murder to try cover his tracks (2 Sam. 11:14-17). David also became numb to his sin. He was not remorseful about sending Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to his death until God confronted him. David’s health suffered (Ps. 38:3, 18). His descendants later fought against him and each other. Even Solomon, the wisest man alive and the author of most of the proverbs, loved the women of the world around him. He gave into the lusts of the flesh and strayed from God by taking 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs. 11:1-8). His wives then turned him from God (1 Kgs. 11:4). Thus, through these many lessons, the New Testament is clear that a man should have only one wife (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2). If you are married, are you honoring your covenant with God and your spouse?