According to custom, David had every right to attack Nabal’s household and kill each male. In fact, David had purposed to do so in his heart. He had protected Nabal’s interests in the wilderness, and deserved a favor in return. When he did, Nabal not only refused but insulted the future king. Foolish thing to do. The Bible says that Nabal was not only surly and belligerent, married to a beautiful woman, but he was a Calebite, a descendent of Caleb, one of the Israelite spies, a descendent of Kenaz, blended into the tribe of Judah but descended from Esau, a race looked down upon by descendants of Israel’s heir, Jacob. David gathered a portion of his army, enough to make a good thrashing of Nabal’s small kingdom.
Pride often precedes rash and potentially disastrous decisions. If David had prayed before he responded, God would have tempered his wounded pride. Instead God encouraged restraint via a beautiful woman, Nabal’s wife. She reminded David of a more powerful truth, mercy is better than revenge. Did the future King of Israel want this senseless slaughter on his heart when he took his rightful place on the throne, no matter how seemingly justified? David was so touched by her wisdom, that he changed his mind. When he heard that Nabal was dead, he took Abigail as his wife. “He kept his servant from doing wrong and brought Nabal’s wrongdoing on his own head (1 Samuel 25:39b NIV).
In the next chapter, David has an opportunity for revenge against Saul. The current king wrongfully pursued David, threatening his life. David could have easily had his captain put an end to his misery. Perhaps he remembered what Abigail told him. David instead knew he should not lift a hand against God’s anointed. “The Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.” We know that is exactly what happened. (1 Samuel 31)
Have you ever felt inclined to return an insult for an insult? No matter how justified, in the end the act will leave an acidic aftertaste. I believe that God tempers hasty revenge for our benefit, not necessarily for the benefit of the one who offended us, though sometimes it might be that very person who is led to God by our mercy rather than our strength.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45a NIV).
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight, LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes stories of God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida.
Linda’s best-selling Adirondack Romance, It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas and is available wherever books are sold.
These books are also available in ebook format along with her other ebooks by Helping Hands Press: I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children and Days of Vines and Roses. Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, and Goodreads.