Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. 2 And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite.4 David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5 So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. 6 And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”
This man Nabal was very wealthy and could easily accommodate David’s request. More so, David had protected his men and his property and saw no reason this man should not agree to keep the Lord’s commandment to share the festival day with his fellow Israelites and sojourners. David was not too proud to have to beg. He knew his own heart would not turn away a beggar on a feast day and he knew that God commanded his children not to do so as well (Leviticus 23:22, Zechariah 7:9-10). The Lord is generous and gives to those who ask. David, a man after God’s own heart would do the same. Psalm 37:25-26 reminds us of God’s generosity and that we should also be generous.
I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.
Nabal did not answer David with any kind of respect. David deserved a great deal of respect for all he had done, but he didn’t expect it or ask for it. And Nabal didn’t give it. He was in fact quite insulting. Maybe he was afraid of receiving the same punishment as Abimelech received for giving David help (1 Samuel 22:18-19), but regardless his answer was foolish and hateful. Verses 9-13 read,
When David's young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. 10 And Nabal answered David's servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 11 Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” 12 So David's young men turned away and came back and told him all this. 13 And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.
Nabal was not a man after God’s own heart. It seemed he was selfish, thoughtless, and spiteful. Jesus told us that even imperfect father’s give good gifts to their children and evil men will justice to people and so we can expect our Good and Perfect Father to do more (Matthew 7:7-11, Luke 18:1-8). Pursuing God’s heart means we too will be generous with good gifts. But Nabal was anything except what God desires for his children. The ability to be generous is a visible sign, a testimony to our faith in God and results in God’s glory. Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 9:6-12
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
Nabal paid David’s kindness back with evil and David was angry. He reacted wrongly and strapped on his sword. He was about to seek his own vengeance instead of waiting for God. But God was there and did not let that happen. He intervened through a faithful servant and a faithful wife. Verses 14-27 in The Message read,
14-17 Meanwhile, one of the young shepherds told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, what had happened: “David sent messengers from the backcountry to salute our master, but he tore into them with insults. Yet these men treated us very well. They took nothing from us and didn’t take advantage of us all the time we were in the fields. They formed a wall around us, protecting us day and night all the time we were out tending the sheep. Do something quickly because big trouble is ahead for our master and all of us. Nobody can talk to him. He’s impossible—a real brute!”
18-19 Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep dressed out and ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes, and she had it all loaded on some donkeys. Then she said to her young servants, “Go ahead and pave the way for me. I’m right behind you.” But she said nothing to her husband Nabal.
20-22 As she was riding her donkey, descending into a ravine, David and his men were descending from the other end, so they met there on the road. David had just said, “That sure was a waste, guarding everything this man had out in the wild so that nothing he had was lost—and now he rewards me with insults. A real slap in the face! May God do his worst to me if Nabal and every cur in his misbegotten brood aren’t dead meat by morning!”
23-25 As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and fell on her knees at his feet, her face to the ground in homage, saying, “My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him.
25-27 “I wasn’t there when the young men my master sent arrived. I didn’t see them. And now, my master, as God lives and as you live, God has kept you from this avenging murder—and may your enemies, all who seek my master’s harm, end up like Nabal! Now take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to my master, and give it to the young men who follow in the steps of my master.
Abigail understood exactly who David was and the respect he deserved. Even if he had not been God’s anointed she could still see his kindness and generosity toward Nabal’s shepherds and property. She acted quickly to stop any fight. She not only gave them the foods they asked for and more, she praised what God was doing in David for Israel. She reminded David through her prophetic words that his faith was in the LORD, not his own strength. She called David, lord. He the beggar and she the lady of the house still knew David was her master and would one day be king. David had the LORD with him and was anointed. Verses 28-31 read,
Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29 If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30 And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31 my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”
David allowed Abigail’s well-worded exhortation to work on him. He was not only generous with what he had, he was generous in spirit and willing to listen to the counsel of others and understand that God can and does work through His followers. Verses 32-35 record his response.
And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! 34 For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” 35 Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”
Abigail reminded David of who God is and so enabled him to trust vengeance, salvation, protection and provision to God. He was able again to be generous and chose not to harm Nabal or his men. He would leave it to God. And God did not ignore Nabals’ wickedness. Verses 36-39a record God’s response.
And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37 In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38 And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The Lord has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.”
What Abigail told her husband made him realize his grievous sin. It gave him the chance to repent. It doesn’t record in the story if he did or didn’t but since his heart became like stone, I think he did not. When David heard what had happened, he was generous with his praise and thanks and praised the Lord for keeping him from sin. He acknowledged that vengeance belongs to the Lord and God is Justice.
God is generous. He is lavish with the good, provision, and joy He gives to those willing to trust Him. Verses 39b-44 read,
Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” 41 And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42 And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. 44 Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.
Since Saul had taken Michal and given her to someone else, God replaced her with Abigail. It was not God’s will for David to take a second wife, but he did anyway. David was not perfect, but he was forgiven and he was a man after God’s own heart. We too are not perfect. Yet we can be forgiven and seen as blameless through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:22). Gratitude for God’s deep love allows us and encourages us to pursue God’s heart as David did. The faith God gives us enables us to be people after God’s own heart. Romans 1:16-17 says it like this,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Ingratitude, results not in spiritual growth but spiritual decay. Romans 1:21-23 reads,
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Your giving takes nothing from you! You can give because you have faith in God’s promise to take care of you. In Luke 6:38 Jesus said,
give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
Believer, are you faithful enough to be generous? Are you faithful enough to share your gifts, provision, and thanksgiving with those around you? Are you generous with God’s glory? Don’t be afraid to step out in faith and cheerfully give all you have and see how generous your Lord will be with you.