part five

One great enemy of the godly man and the godly woman is anger. It is not evil to be angry. It is evil to allow your anger to control your motivations, decisions, and actions. Paul declared to the Ephesian Christians, "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity" (Ephesians 4:25,27).

We can be angry and not sin. However, human anger presents Satan an enormous opportunity. Remember the enormous opportunity that Cain's anger provided evil (Genesis 4).

It takes a heart truly dedicated to God's heart to prevent great anger from providing Satan great opportunity.

  1. I want to focus you on one of David's heart qualities that made his heart special to God. Consider 1 Samuel 25.
    1. May I begin with a simple observation: violence hardens the hearts and minds of people.
      1. In war people cope with so much dying by "getting used to death."
      2. In continual work with tragedies, people cope by "getting use to suffering."
      3. People who live or work around lots of blood "get used" to seeing blood.
      4. People who work around a lot of pain get accustomed to seeing others in pain.
      5. The process is called desensitizing.
      6. Violence desensitizes people to death, suffering, blood, and pain.
      7. From the death of Goliath, David was around and involved in a lot of violence.
      8. As violence desensitizes a person, violence becomes the acceptable way to solve problems.
      9. Anger tempts that person to be violent.
    2. David and his troops were hiding from the forces of King Saul in the wilderness area south of the city of Hebron.
      1. Evidently, they had a "safe" base camp in that area that they used frequently (the area is about seven miles south-southwest of Hebron).
      2. As David and his men traveled to and from their camp in this wilderness area, they never posed a threat to Nabal's shepherds or flocks.
        1. That was unusual: it was common for bands of thieves and marauders to find security in wilderness areas.
        2. These bands were threats to shepherds and flocks (who were considered "fair game" of opportunity to violent bands).
      3. David and his men treated Nabal's shepherds with respect, never took anything from their flocks, and protected Nabal's shepherds and flocks from dangerous people--quite a contrast to what was commonly the situation.
    3. The time of year came for sheep shearing.
      1. This was a time of celebration and feasting.
        1. Special workers were brought to the flocks to shear them.
        2. There was a lot of food, drink, and feasting because people celebrated their new prosperity.
        3. It was common to thank God for the gift of prosperity.
        4. It was common to give gifts to the less fortunate as an expression of your joy and your gratitude to God.

  2. David sent ten young men to bring a statement of blessing to Nabal and to ask for a gift.
    1. Because of the time of year that we now celebrate, we should relate well to David's expectations.
      1. The greeting was something like wishing Nabal a long life and best wishes for the coming year; may it be a good one.
      2. Nabal was a wealthy man.
        1. He likely had experience with dealing with bands of thieves and marauders who threatened or attacked his shepherds and flocks.
        2. Maybe he knew what the forces of Saul did to the priests at Nob when they were massacred and did not want to get in the middle of that feud.
      3. Whatever he knew, whatever his motives, he was a greedy, evil man who had no respect or appreciation for anyone but himself.
        1. Stupidly, foolishly, he insulted David's men by rejecting their greeting and showing them no respect.
        2. "Why should I do anything for you? I should be impressed that you follow a runaway slave? Why should I reward the likes of you?"
      4. David's men returned to camp and told David about Nabal's insult.
        1. David told four hundred of his men to put on their swords.
        2. The insult deeply angered David.
        3. In anger, he decided it had been a mistake to be kind to Nabal's shepherds and take nothing from his flocks.
        4. His intention was simple: kill everyone.
    2. Abigail, Nabal's wife, was a very unusual woman for that time: she was a lady of excellent understanding, and she was beautiful.
      1. Her heart was incredibly open and approachable.
        1. A servant felt free to report to her the horrible thing her husband did and explain why it was unjust.
        2. She listened to a servant criticize her husband.
        3. Both Abigail and the servant clearly understood the danger created by Nabal's insult.
      2. Likely her job in shearing time was coordinating food preparation for the workers.
        1. She quickly gathered a huge gift of food--enough to load several donkeys--and sent the food and a servant in the direction that would encounter David and his men as they came to attack.
        2. The food preceded her; David would see the gift before he saw her.
        3. She hoped the gift would soften David's anger.
      3. Abigail met David with great respect and used great wisdom.
        1. She asked David to hold her responsible for what happened because she failed to see his men come.
        2. She asked David to allow her gift to appease his anger and not to attack Nabal.
        3. "My husband is a foolish, stupid man."
        4. "You are too significant and he is too worthless for you to kill him."
        5. "You are not the kind of man who takes vengeance for yourself. You let the Lord care for such matters. You fight to defend the Lord, never to defend yourself."
        6. "The Lord protects you, and the Lord will make you the next king of Israel."
        7. "Avenging yourself will only cause you trouble and grief. You are not that kind of man."
    3. David saw God at work in Abigail and was thankful.
      1. He blessed God for sending Abigail to stop him.
      2. He blessed Abigail for being a wise, insightful person.
      3. He was thankful that he was stopped before he avenged himself, something that he had never done.
      4. He told Abigail to return home in peace; he had heard her plea and would respect her request.

  3. Abigail returned home to find Nabal feasting, celebrating, and drunk, and she did not talk to him about anything.
    1. The next morning when he was sober she told him what she did.
    2. Her actions seemed to cause him to have a stroke.
      1. Ten days later he died.
      2. It says simply that the Lord struck him and he died.
    3. Some time after Nabal's death, Abigail agreed to be David's wife.

  4. In this incident I want you to note a quality of David's heart that made him a man after God's own heart.
    1. David was a violent man, a man of war, a man who was responsible for a lot of people's deaths.
      1. David never killed to avenge himself.
      2. David only killed to avenge God's honor.
        1. He killed Goliath because Goliath defied and mocked God.
        2. He killed the Philistines because the Philistines defied God and worshipped an idol they called god.
        3. David refused to harm Saul (even in self-defense) because Saul was God's anointed.
      3. Defending God, fighting for the Lord, was the focus of all David's acts of violence.
    2. Yet, personal anger generated by the insult of an evil man almost caused David to avenge himself, to kill for the sake of his own honor.
      1. Anger almost caused David to do something he would never do when he thought clearly.
      2. David did nothing to avenge David.
      3. David did everything to honor his God.
    3. When David realized what he almost did to avenge himself, he knew that act was not true to who and what he was.
      1. He was close to behaving like an angry person who did not belong to God.
        1. Angry
        2. Driven by negative emotion
        3. Self-centered
        4. Being his own avenger, his own instrument of justice.
      2. He blessed God for sending Abigail to stop him.
        1. He clearly saw God working through Abigail.
        2. He praised her wisdom and understanding.

Never let anger decide who you are. Never let anger determine what you do. Serve God, and always leave justice in God's hands. Only the man or woman whose heart belongs to God can do that.

Romans 12:17-19 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.

Paul acknowledged an ancient truth for people whose hearts belong to God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 24 December 2000
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