This week, we looked at an interaction between David and a man named Nabal in 1 Samuel 25. Nabal lives in Carmel. In Carmel, Saul had built a memorial to his own glory. This is the same place that Saul was told that he would no longer be king because he disobeyed God by sparing the life of King Agag the Amalekite. At the time, it seemed that was a harsh punishment for one mistake. When we read our Bible, we find out that King Agag’s life is spared, and he continues having children. Out of those children descends Haman. Haman is the one in the book of Esther who nearly destroys ALL of the Jewish people. Saul’s disobedience almost caused the destruction of God’s people – if not for God working through Esther and Mordecai. Sometimes we don’t realize the significance of obeying God. It is not the act of disobedience that is the problem, but the fruit of that act. God’s grace and his mercy overcame Saul’s disobedience.
Nabal is devoted to King Saul who, as we have been studying, is a type and picture of the law, while David is a type and picture of grace. David sends his men to ask Nabal to share food with them from a festival that is about to be celebrated. Nabal refuses and insults the name of David. Remember that law (and those committed to it) hates grace and is jealous of it. David’s men return and report what Nabal had said. David’s response was “grab your swords,” and let’s not let him disrespect us like that. Now, this is not in the character or in the purpose for David. He is about to make a grave mistake. vowed to destroy every male in Nabal’s household, which was the ultimate humiliation of a family name.
Word of Nabal’s response to David gets to Abigail, Nabal’s wife. She is infuriated by her husband’s actions. She sets out to make things right with David. She arrives and convinces David that attacking Nabal is a foolish idea. She reminds him that doing what he plans makes him no better than Nabal or Saul and that his actions could adversely affect his purpose. In this story, I believe Abigail is a picture of the Holy Spirit. You see, first we are told that she did NOT talk to Nabal. The Holy Spirit is not able to talk to law or reason with it. It talks to and through grace. She warns David in the same way that the Holy Spirit warns us when we are about to step outside of God’s will for us.
In John chapters 14-16, Jesus talks a great deal about the Holy Spirit that would come to man after He completed His work. Among the things that we are told about the Holy Spirit is that He is a Counselor to us. The word used here for counselor is not like a person you go to for a counseling session. It is a legal term. It is best defined as one who assists those in trouble with the law, not just a lawyer but something beyond that. Isn’t that what we need? Our sin puts us in trouble with the “law.”
Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit will convict us in sin and righteousness. Convict does not mean to condemn. Convict means to point you to the truth. The Holy Spirit not only tells us when we have already messed up, but it warns us when we are moving in the wrong direction. He is also there when we mess up and do that wrong thing anyway. That is when He reminds us that we are still righteous before God because of what Jesus did for us. He also reminds us to run to God when we sin and not hide in condemnation. David heard from this voice of the Spirit in Abigail and heeded her warning because he lived by grace. Living by grace allows us to hear the voice of the Spirit, not just the voice of the law that condemns. He thanks her for her words, which allowed him not to make a grave mistake. In the end, when Abigail tells Nabal, his anger burns so strongly that within a few days he is dead. Law’s anger again is directed at grace in a very severe way.
Finally, there is another important detail in David’s story. Nabal, who was committed to Saul/law, refused to give David what he requested. When Abigail goes to meet David, she brings an abundant gift – far beyond what David had requested. The Spirit, by grace, can bring us abundance that law cannot. When we receive grace abundantly, we can also give it! What a great story that illustrates for us how God interacts with His people.
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