Nabal 

MTS-3009

Nabal

“When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king.”         I Sam 25:36

 

     Nabal did not realize that he had made a grave mistake that could potentially cost the lives of his household. In fact, he had left the incident behind and did not think it was such a big deal. To him, David was just one of those vagabonds who tried to take advantage of him and he even congratulated himself for handling the matter so expediently.

     He had no idea that an atrocity was looming while he was having a good time drinking and carousing. Had Abigail not done something to appease David’s anger, Nabal would have been killed. Why was the man holding a banquet at such a critical time?

    Nabal, in fact, wasn’t aware it was a critical time and that he was in grave danger. It was business as usual to him, for he thought nothing about what he had done to David’s men. He was indeed mighty foolish.

     It was impossible for him not to notice the presence of David and his group of six hundred men, yet being a foolish man, he didn’t look into what those people were up to. Nabal was most likely self-centered and arrogant and reckoned David’s people misfits.

     His shepherds might have told him how kind and protective David’s men were to them, but Nabal obviously paid no attention to it. It might have degusted him, since he considered it beneath him to have any association with those outsiders.

     The man was becoming very well off with abundant sheep and goats, and he might have thought all things would be well. “What is there to worry about?” he asked. “Let’s have a big celebration!” he cried out to his servants, who were helping shear his sheep. Many friends were invited to the banquet and there was plenty of meat and wine on the table. They ate and drank deep into the night until the host passed out from drinking.

     It turned out to be the last banquet held in Nabal’s household. He was so frightened when Abigail informed him what would have happened that ten days later, he died.

     “Consider danger when in safety (居安思危,),” goes a Chinese saying. There are always hidden perils waiting to occur in the passage of our lives and may arrive at the most inopportune time. Contrary to how we feel, things may not all be well. What Nabal severely lacked was the fear of the Lord and sensitivity toward God’s activity in this world. He should have taken the time to investigate what David was doing in his neighborhood and determine what his relationship with the man would be. He would have treated David with proper respect, had he known the man was God’s chosen vessel, a man after God’s own heart.           

         

Thursday, April 7, 2011 7:05:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Wisdom 

 

MTS-3008

Wisdom

“And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”         I Sam 25:31

 

     What made Abigail special was that she seemed to be quite in tune with all the things the Lord was doing in David’s life. She appeared to have some knowledge about the conflict between Saul and David and had the foresight to envision what the end would be. Unlike her foolish husband Nabal, who had absolutely no interest about what was happening to his country politically, Abigail seemed to keep abreast of current events quite well.

     Even though it was a risky thing to side with David, since Saul was still sitting on the throne, Abigail was courageous enough to declare her allegiance to David and ask him for a favor when the Lord brought him success at the end.

     Abigail might not have been very educated and her source of information concerning current events must have been very meager, but her love and fear of the Lord seemed to have given her access to God’s secret knowledge. She knew that David would be triumphant in the end since the Lord was with him, therefore she pleaded: “And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

     Her primary concern at the moment might have been the safety of her entire household, for she was afraid David would cause her family harm when he assumed the position of power, but Abigail undoubtedly desired to remain on good terms with the man after God’s own heart, so that she would be blessed when the Lord’s will was fulfilled in David’s life.

     That was indeed a very wise request, which was something David would definitely keep in mind. He was probably flattered that Abigail thought so highly of him at a time when he was a mere fugitive, and would surely remember the woman when he succeeded in gaining power.

     Abigail wasn’t networking by striking a good relationship with one who possessed a great chance for success. She simply did what came natural to her, which was to side with a Godly person who she deemed worthy of her respect.

     We need to catch the wave of God’s action and brace ourselves for a joyful ride. That was what Abigail was doing, really. Being a godly woman, she was able to turn a bad situation into a good one.  She eventually benefited by it, and the crisis was proven to be the turning point of her life. In contrast, the people who were in Saul’s camp were fighting an uphill battle, even though they appeared to have the upper hand in the conflict. The Lord had departed from Saul and all his endeavors would be for naught.         

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 6:53:00 AM Categories: Devotional

A Wise Woman 

 MTS-3007

A Wise Woman

“Abigail acted quickly.”

          I Sam 25:18

 

     I was petrified when our 3-year old son Michael fell from the waterpower on the college campus where I was teaching. I didn’t know what to do when I saw blood oozing from his head and all I could do was to yell for Kathy’s help. My wife was as calm as she could be and seemed to know exactly what to do. Well, we took him to the ER and Michael was sewn up and things were fine.

     I came to realize that my wife was stronger than me as far as dealing with accidents was concerned.

     It probably wasn’t the first time that such a thing had occurred in Nabal’s household and Abigail appeared to know precisely what to do. Because of his ill temper, Nabal probably had caused countless troubles in the neighborhood and, every time it took place, Abigail was there to pick up the pieces and smooth things out for her husband. Nabal was a ticking time bomb and every time it exploded, Abigail was there to put out the fire and minimize the damage.

     This time was far more serious than any other time when Nabal got himself into trouble. He had offended the one who had the power to wipe the entire family out and, unless she took quick action, disaster would surely occur.

     “Abigail acted quickly.”

     She hardly had any time to ponder what to do to appease David to keep him from slaughtering the entire family. She rounded up a few servants and gathered what she could find in the house, then rushed to meet David and his followers and figured out what she would say to David on the way. Being an intelligent woman, she could anticipate what would happen to her if she didn’t say the right thing, for she knew how hard it was to put out the fire of a warrior’s burning anger.

     She at first scorned her husband before David and apologized on his behalf and then she appealed to David’s conscience and how shedding innocent blood would cause him remorse in the future. What she said greatly impressed David and the gifts she brought also helped ease David’s wrath.

     Abigail was indeed a wise woman.

     Nabal wasn’t worthy of the wife he had, yet the man probably had taken his wife for granted and didn’t consider her anything special. He was having a good time drinking and carousing with his friends while David and his men were marching to kill him. It turned out to be the last time Abigail rescued her husband from danger. Nabal was probably literarily frightened to death after he found out what David was going to do to him.

     I am afraid many of us husbands are just like Nabal the fool, who was blessed with an intelligent and beautiful wife, yet showed absolutely no appreciation or gratitude to her whatsoever until it was too late.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 8:04:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Anger 

 MTS-3006

Anger

“David said to his men, ‘Each of you strap on your sword!’”

             I Sam 25:13

 

     David was furious when he heard how Nabal had treated his men on their visit. David meant to show his good will toward Nabal and was fully expecting the man would reciprocate in kind, but it wasn’t the case at all. Nabal insulted David’s people and sent them away empty-handed.

     How was David supposed to react at such a discourtesy? He could have paused a little bit and let his anger subside before he did anything, but his burning anger took hold of him and he made a hasty decision to take immediate action. “Each of you strap on your sword!” he exclaimed.

     He would have regretted it, had Abigail not talked him out of carrying out his plan.

     David was very cautious in his dealing with Saul and wouldn’t do the slightest thing that he deemed inappropriate, for Saul was God’s anointed. But the way he dealt with Nabal was entirely different. What made the difference then? David spared Saul’s life out of his fear of the Lord, but he was ready to slaughter Nabal’s entire household out of his wrath against a worthless person. Surely Nabal didn’t command the same reverence as Saul did from David, and the insult he had received from the man was quite intolerable.

     Our anger has a lot to do with our self-perception. David had ample reason to get angry with Nabal, for he placed himself on a much higher position in the social echelon than this man. “How dare he do this to me. Who does he think he is?” David must have yelled after he heard the news. Nabal had inflicted great harm on David’s ego and wounded his self-respect.

     We get angry when people don’t treat us in accordance with our social status and with proper respect. The more important we consider ourselves to be as a person, the more we demand other people to respect us. If we deem ourselves to be kings and princes, we surely expect kingly and princely treatment from other people.

     Nabal might have been a foolish and ill-tempered person, but his life was just as valuable as Saul’s to a large extent. They were both God’s creatures, albeit one was more honorable than the other. It was a good thing that David came to his senses after his encounter with Abigail; otherwise he would have done something that would have gnawed at his conscience the rest of his life.

     The Lord Jesus would have had great wrath in his heart all day, had he not considered himself a lowly servant and all the insults he received all day long were well-deserved, for he had merely assumed our position as sinners.  

Monday, April 4, 2011 7:17:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Nabal and Abigail 

 MTS-3005

Nabal and Abigail

“She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings.”          I Sam 25:3

 

     Surely Nabal wasn’t worthy to have a wife who was intelligent and beautiful, was he? How did Abigail end up with a man who was surly and mean?

     We ask such a question because we think Abigail had a choice as far as picking her mate was concerned. The marriage was most likely arranged and it was doubtful Abigail had any say in this. She simply did what she was told to do by her parents and hoped for the best.

     The best didn’t happen. Her husband turned out to be a mean man in every way. Nabal was ill tempered and foolish and not very well liked in the neighborhood. What could the girl have done except make the best out of the bad situation into which she was thrust against her will?

     Since divorce was out of the question, and both economically and socially unfeasible, Abigail had to learn to love the unlovable and did the best to honor her commitment, which was something millions of girl have learned to do, both before and after her.

     It’s hard for me to comprehend the reason why we label women “the weaker sex.” It appears to me unfair and, by and large, a misnomer. From my observation, women are anything but weak. If they are so, why do they have a longer life expectancy than men? Why are they charged with the responsibility for the most painful job of childbearing and the most tedious chore of childrearing? Am I just speaking from my personal experience, since my wife seems to be stronger than me in every way, or is it generally the case?

     Knowing that her options were extremely limited, Abigail started to learn how to cope with her difficult situation and was relatively successful in doing it. Romantic love might not have been present in their marriage, but at least the family was functional. I guess that was the best Abigail could have done to make the difficult marriage work.

     “It makes me sick to think that the rest of my years with my husband will be just as monotonous and cold as the way it is now,” a woman said to me a while ago. Evidently she entered into the union with this person with lofty expectations and great aspirations, but the man whom she barely knew turned out to be unromantic and uncommunicative. What choice does she have except to continue to work to improve her marriage and make the best out of an undesirable situation, like Abigail did?

     I was unfit to be a husband and was somewhat of a male chauvinist, but instead of leaving me, which never entered into my wife’s mind, she probably formulated a plan, I suspect, to make me into a good husband and, after thirty years of labor, I believe she has partially accomplished her goal. What was a beautiful and intelligent woman to do with a husband such as Nabal, except turn her marriage and her man into a project and work hard on improving it daily?  

Friday, April 1, 2011 8:17:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Stronghold of Sin 

 MTS-3003

Stronghold of Sin

“Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. ”           I Sam 24:23

 

     Saul wanted to make sure that David would be gracious to his children when he became king, so he made him give an oath before they departed. After that was done, Saul returned home to his palace, and David went back to his makeshift stronghold.

     At this time, Saul was still in a position of power and control; yet he had to take a lowly stance by asking David for a favor. Saul knew that the blessing of the Lord’s had departed from him and he was on the way down and David was on his way up. It mattered very little what Saul did to alter the situation; all things had been determined and no human effort could have changed the divine mandate.

     It appeared, however, that David was still struggling to survive at the time and Saul could still do him harm, had he decided to do so.

     What could Saul have done to reverse the fortune that was per-ordained? Very little indeed. It was extremely hard to halt the downward spiral that started when he disobeyed the Lord for the very first time. Once the downward momentum started, it seemed to keep sliding down a bottomless pit.

     The weight of sin will keep dragging us down.

     Don’t we all know that too well? At first it was just a molehill of sin we hardly paid any attention, but before we became aware of it, it turned into an unmovable mountain of addiction. Aren’t we addicted to one besetting sin or another?

     Saul didn’t consider it such a grievous offense when he assumed the role of a priest and offered the sacrifice to the Lord, not realizing what he did was a great affront to God. “Why did it matter to God that I saved some of the spoils to be used as sacrifices?” questioned Saul. Those were all small things, weren’t they?

     A little slip here and there can start the downward spiral and cause us to spin out of control. A little dab of sin can easily turn into an addiction. Most alcoholics probably start out being casual drinkers and smokers usually begin with just one cigarette in a casual setting. We would be much more cautious if we realized what occasional flirting can do to our relationships and what irrevocable harm a one-night stand can inflict on our marriages.

    Don’t underestimate the power of sin, for Satan gains a foothold in our lives every time we sin and, before we know it, he has built a stronghold in our heart and will not withdraw without a bloody fight.

     It was truly tragic that Saul ended up such a failure. How did it happen? We wonder.

     I believe things would have been a lot different if Saul hadn’t had such a cavalier attitude toward God’s commands. It’s a dangerous thing not to take God’s instructions seriously.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 7:18:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Judge 

MTS-3002

The Judge

“May the Lord be our judge and decide between us.”

              I Sam 24:15

 

     David felt he was entirely justified concerning the matter at hand. There was no doubt in his mind that he was victimized; therefore he wasn’t at all reluctant to invoke God’s judgment, believing he would be vindicated.

     Had David ever pondered the possibility that he might have done something to cause all the turmoil in his life? Perhaps.“This could have been avoided had I handled myself differently before the king,” he might have thought.

     What could David have done differently? Saul was borderline insane and was becoming increasingly irrational. Things would have turned out the same, no matter what David did. He was trapped in the web of Saul’s burning ambition and irrational fear.

     David wasn’t completely innocent; he was only relatively innocent.

     The man after God’s own heart was perfectly content to be a shepherd, yet the Lord singled him out and sent Samuel to anoint him to be the future king of Israel. From then on, David’s heart was torn. Although he didn’t take any action to turn his future aspirations into reality, it would have been quite difficult to keep his longing to himself and do nothing to further his cause.

     Saul was just doing what every monarch would have done under such circumstances. David’s amazing talent and ability had become a liability and his mere presence in the court was a threat to Saul, whose desire was for the throne to remain within his household.

     Was it even possible for David to keep his talent hidden so that he wouldn’t have caused Saul any suspicion or fear?

     For thirty years the Lord Jesus kept his divine attributes hidden so that he could lead a normal and undisturbed life before the time came for him to reveal his true identity. It seems to me his thirty years of anonymity revealed to us more of his divinity than his three years of activity. The Lord Jesus didn’t succumb to his human instinct of self-expression, which tell us that he possessed a divine power that none of us have. We are addicted to self-expression and complete self-effacing is something that only the divine is capable of doing.

     Would the relationship between David and Saul have been different had David been a little bit more self-effacing before the king? This is just my speculation, but I think it could have been. From this standpoint, David was by no means entirely innocent and he would have been found guilty if the Judge decided to leave no stone unturned concerning the conflict. Just like all clashes between two parties, one is more at fault than the other, but both parties are at fault to a certain degree.

     We cannot be overconfident when we evoke the Lord to be our judge, for our vindication may not be for sure. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 7:36:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Giving up 

 MTS-3001

Giving up 

“I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.”      I Sam 24:20

     This particular awareness was the reason that made Saul pursue David so relentlessly. He was the king of Israel and someone was about to take his position.

     Why was David even a threat to him at all?

     I don’t think Saul knew at this time that Samuel had anointed David as the next king of Israel, but he suspected that he had lost favor with the judge and his position as a king was becoming more and more precarious. Saul might have lost the support of God, but he was still trying with all his might to keep the support of men.

     There was very little fear of God in Saul at this moment and his whole being was consumed with the thought of keeping his throne for himself and his son. Even though he was aware of God’s plan for David, he still had no intention to submit to it.

     Saul was kicking against the goads. He wasn’t battling against David; he was fighting against God. I hope that we would never take such a dangerous stand.

     Oftentimes battles are won by surrendering.

     Saul could have won the battle against David by easing into retirement, knowing that the time for him to depart from center stage had already come. Had he done that, he would have won the battle against his worst enemy - himself.

     We will have to submit to God one way or another and, ultimately, we will have to submit our lives to him as well. “I have a journey, sir, shortly to go; my Master calls me, and I must not say no,” said Earl of Kent in King Lear. Death is our final submission to God and it takes daily submission in small matters our entire life to get to that point. The more we practice in little things, the easier it will get when the bell tolls to us.

     Is the little corner of the world we have carved out for ourselves our kingdom and our domain, which we will not easily let go? We survey all we have everyday and enjoy physical and emotional pleasure to the fullest. We look at our houses and cars with admiration and the accolades we have earned with satisfaction and secretly exclaim: “ I am great!”

     We may fare a lot worse than the first king of Israel. We do have a lot to lose and surely will fight to the very end to keep someone from taking our kingdom away. King Lear might have divided his kingdom and handed it to his daughters, but he never perceived himself as less than a king with all the entitlement and privileges.

     Wang, the wealthiest man on the island of Taiwan, was surveying his business empire in the States when he had a heart attack and died. He was holding onto his plastic kingdom tightly even in his nineties, yet he had to give it up at the end, kicking and screaming.

     We will never be truly happy unless we master the important lesson of giving up. How miserable it was for Saul to try to hold onto his kingdom when it was time to give it up to the next man. 

Monday, March 28, 2011 6:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Taking Control  

MTS-3000
Taking Control
“And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.” I Sam 24:12

David could have taken control of the situation himself, but he did not. Surely it wasn’t from lack of courage that he refrained from doing what most people considered natural and necessary. David was a seasoned warrior by this time and he could have taken on Saul himself without any difficulty, but he had enough self-control to not take control of his own destiny by exacting revenge on his enemy.


The loss of control over our own destiny is our greatest fear.


I could only sit next to my mother’s bed and couldn’t think of any meaningful thing to do. I was there in the dim room of my brother’s house, feeling utterly helpless and desperately sad. I tried praying, but words escaped me, for I didn’t have sufficient faith to ask for my mom’s healing and didn’t think it would help if I brought up the gospel message. I was just there, losing all control over all things and fighting hard to gain a sense of equilibrium over my shaky situation.


I was falling down from my balance beam and wasn’t at all sure I could stick the landing.


Doing nothing isn’t a good way to gain control over our lives when we are going through crisis, but the random things that we do may not bring forth desirable results either. Yet when things happen, we just go through the motions and do what is necessary, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.


Would things have been any different had David taken charge of his destiny and taken out Saul with one strike? Not necessarily. David’s situation might have improved somewhat, but he would have had great difficulty dealing with his guilty conscience for the rest of life. It was hardly worth it.


We may lose control over all things if we try to take control over our own destiny. What governed David’s every action during this time was his fear of the Lord and his submission to the Almighty.


“Be still and know that I am God.”


Surely we are doing things to improve our difficult situation, but doing the necessary isn’t equal with control over things. We are merely passively active, doing something to collaborate with what the Lord is doing for us during the time of trial.


Things did not change for the better after he let Saul go, but at least David’s conscience was clear and the joy of the Lord remained with him. Although he didn’t have control over his destiny after the incident was over and his situation continued to be precarious, David’s load seemed to have been greatly lightened, for the burden of control over his life was shifted from him to God.

Friday, March 25, 2011 12:29:00 PM Categories: Devotional
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