March 13, 2023 - 1 Samuel 25-27
David and Nabal. Quite a puzzling story in which David reacts very strongly to what appears to be a social slight. He has asked for hospitality from Nabal, who refuses to give it. David says to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” David’s men saw Nabal’s actions as intending harm to David (25:17) and, so, David responded. Interesting juxtaposition of this story with the next, in which David spares the life of Saul who had so many times clearly sought to kill David. Nabal was a coarse man and no good, no doubt. After what appears to have been a stroke, “the Lord struck Nabal, and he died” (25:38). David’s take on the matter: “Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing” (25:39). So often we want to strike out against our enemies, even against those who simply annoy us. Though sometimes it is necessary for good men to deal with evil men, always it is good to trust God and to know he will make all things right.
Now, a word about the story that follows. David proves himself to be more worthy than Saul as king. Saul was constantly reacting against perceived slights by trying to kill David. David has shown constraint in holding back from killing Nabal, not to mention that, time and again, David holds back from harming Saul as told in chapter 26. It’s just a struggle, isn’t it, as we wrestle with our impulses to lash out, to cast blame, and to get our vengeance. The Bible does not require us to remain still and silent in the face of evil and wrongdoing, but God’s Word does call us to strong trust in our God. This might be a good place to quote Solomon: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
leaning on the everlasting arms.
safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning on the everlasting arms. -- E. A. Hoffman (1887)