Sermon Insights: 1 Samuel 25

1 Samuel 25 marks the end of an era for Israel. Samuel was dead, and the future of the nation was suddenly entirely in the hands of the king. The only problem with that was that the king, Saul, was somewhat less than mentally stable, and his God-appointed successor, David, was in hiding. As the chapter opens, we’re told that the entire nation assembled to mourn their spiritual leader, and then David rushed back into hiding in the Desert of Maon, where he ran across a man named Nabal.

Apparently, Nabal was a fairly rich man, but his wealth came largely from the fact that he was greedy and stingy. Even though his servants and property had been protected by David while the king-to-be and his men were in Carmel, when David sent men to ask that Nabal spare a portion of his bountiful harvest of wool and anything else he could, Nabal refused. Not only that, but he made a great show of the entire thing, making clear that he didn’t know David and didn’t owe him a dime.

Needless to say, this didn’t exactly impress David.

In fact, it didn’t impress Nabal’s servants, either. And when they told his wife about what he had said and done, Abigail knew that they were in trouble. So she wisely came up with a plan to put together a pile of supplies and meet David before he arrived in wrath.

The point of the chapter is obviously to contrast Abigail’s wisdom, generosity and grace against her husband’s lack thereof. Nabal was a greedy cheapskate in every sense of the phrase, and by the end of the chapter, he met his demise as a direct result of his lifestyle. Abigail, on the other hand, did not hesitate to prepare 200 loaves of bread, 2 skins of wine, 5 sheep ready to eat, a bunch of roasted grain, 100 raisin cakes 200 fig cakes and give them to David. She gave away a significant amount of supplies, and yet at the end of the account, it is she who not only survives but is guaranteed provision for the rest of her life: David asks her to marry him in the wake of her husband’s death.

I love this story because it shares a couple of interesting insights into wisdom. First, it’s not always the people that we would expect who are wise. Generally, in those days, men were supposed to be wise. In this case, Nabal was the idiot. Second, it usually works out better to be generous rather than stingy. I don’t think David ever expected this level of generosity, but she gave everything she could. And because of that, she gained a husband who would care for her for the rest of her life. And third, without spiritual leadership, things go wrong. Without Samuel around, there was no one around to hold Nabal accountable for his wickedness, and there was no one around to tell David that it was probably a good idea to stick to no more than one wife. Spiritual leadership was essential to the character of the people, and without it, things began to crumble immediately.

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