Summary: King David shows two sides to himself: the compassionate side shown to Saul and the petulant attitude shown to Nabal. It shows that we can all be saints one day and sinners the next!
A Tale of Two Kings
One of the great perks of my wife’s job is something called Paid Time Off, or PTO. This is a system in the bank where they put a certain percentage of time in an account for every hour she works. So instead of just giving her two weeks off a year and five sick days and three personal days, they just lump it all into a Paid Time Off account for her to use any way she wants. Vacation time, sick leave or just a personal day all comes out of this account. And, the longer she is works at the bank the higher the percentage of time goes into her account. It’s very nice. AND (as if there needs to be another AND!), her time rolls over into the next year. If she has 80 hours in her account at the end of this year she’ll start next year with 80 hours of PTO. Many of us are not so fortunate; if we don’t use it we lose it.
This idea of having a savings account for time off is a great idea. However, this doesn’t really work in the spiritual realm. Lam. 3:22-23 says, “The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.” Let me say that again. His mercies begin fresh each day. This means yesterday’s mercies don’t carry over to today. Every day is a new day to live our life with God. The grace that worked for us yesterday won’t work for us today. We’ll talk about that more as the sermon moves on.
I call this sermon “A Tale of Two Kings” not because I am contrasting Saul and David. Instead, we are going to look at the two sides of David. It is a tale of two kings because just a few months ago David was extending a godly amount of grace and mercy to Saul and now we’re going to see him take a very petty and petulant attitude towards a man named Nabal, a fool who has some money but is too big for his britches. But David is also wise enough to listen to the advice of Nabal’s wife Abigail, who saves the day.
This is a contrast with the tremendous patience David showed Saul versus the quick temper David is going to show a small man foolish enough to insult him. In this chapter we see David losing all sense of his identity as God’s anointed. David, who was able to see Saul as the temple of the Holy Spirit, can’t see an old fool as anything but an ugly dog in need of a whipping. David was on the verge of becoming another Saul, out to get rid of anyone threatening his status and his role as God’s anointed.
Now, before you go and give David a hard time, this is also a tale about us. All of us. God’s children who are saved by grace but sometimes forget just how good God has been and just how good we’ve got it. This sermon is for all the people who wonder how they can have such a great day in the Lord on Sunday and act like the devil’s offspring on Monday. This sermon is for all the people honest enough to say with Paul, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” – Rom. 7:18-19. Life is weird that way. We’re a saint one day and a sinner the next.
So let’s read a few verses and find out just was it means to be a saint today and a sinner tomorrow.
1. The Provocation (vs. 1-12, 21-22). After Samuel’s death, David and his men head to the desert region in the wilderness of Paran far to the south. While they are wandering around the desert they encounter the shepherds and the sheep of Nabal. Eventually it is time to shear the sheep, which took place after the summer grazing. It was also a time when the profits were distributed, accompanied by festivities and celebration. David, knowing what was taking place, sends 10 young men to greet Nabal and see if Nabal will share any of his blessings. David tells the young men to remind Nabal that none of his sheep or his men was ever harmed while David’s entourage was around. Because David depended on the graciousness of the people around him to supply his food, he was very careful not to do anything that would put him in a compromising position with the local people.