A young minister was losing his congregation to sleep during a rather dry sermon. To revive those napping in the pew, he said, I lived with a woman for over 17 years that was not my wife. The sleepy heads in the pew quickly woke up. He then said, She was my mother! A visiting minister was amused by the wit of the preacher and decided to try it on his congregation when he returned home from vacation. On his first Sunday back in the pulpit he opened with the same line. For 17 years I lived with a woman who was not my wife. He hesitated when he realized that he had forgotten the punch line. Finally after an awkward silence, he confessed, For the life of me I can't remember who she was.
Far be it from me today that I forget our mothers on Mother's Day. Susan Yates, wrote in Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family Magazine a few years ago, Satisfaction comes from having a lasting, positive impact on the lives of others. Nobody on earth even comes close to a mother for having the potential for that kind of influence.
Influence… I find myself enamored with that very theme this morning. For the last several weeks we have concentrated on Biblical instruction regarding kingdom construction, the shaping of God's purposes and plans in our lives. It has been a fulfilling study for me, personally. I trust that it has been for you, as well. Today, we turn the corner in our series as we again look at the events and training that would lead David the shepherd boy to become David, God's choice king of Israel.
Some background into our text this morning will assist us in our understanding…
David has been chosen and anointed to be king. He is God's man. He has conquered Goliath. He has overcome personal discouragement. He has become a leader to the distressed men of the nation and trained them in character and valor. Time after time, he has found refuge in God; strength of character and spirituality follows this man after God's own heart.
In those days, flocks of sheep and herds of goats were maintained by the wealthy along the pastoral countryside of Judah. David and his men have been protecting citizens from the raiding bands of Philistines as they did for Keilah in I Samuel 23. At the time the sheep were sheared, it was common for the owner of the animals to set aside a portion of the profit he made and give it to those who had protected his shepherds while they tended the sheep in the fields. It was a way of demonstrating gratitude for their guardianship.
David and his men have been faithfully serving the shepherds of Nabal. Word soon reached them that it had come time to shear the sheep, so David and his men are awaiting a gracious gift from Nabal for their work. There is a problem brewing and we are introduced to the source of a coming conflict in Nabal.
Nabal and his wife, Abigail, are mentioned in verses 2 and 3. Nabal is a very wealthy man; however, he is both harsh and evil in his dealings. His very name means fool. It is translated impious or wicked. Psalm 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, They have done abominable works. There is none who does good. David was dealing with a man who lived his life as if he never had to reckon with God. He is a man who lives without conscience.
Abigail could not be more different from her husband. Their marriage is a study in contrasts. Her name means source of joy. Furthermore, it even suggests God's ownership. Her appearance and character are also described in that she is a woman of wisdom, intelligence, and elegance. She has beauty within and without. She's not ruled by her emotions, but balanced, prudent, and smart as a whip.
The conflict arises in verse 10 after David has sent his men to inquire into their payment from Nabal. Being the vile and wicked businessman, he refuses to pay up. Imagine how this sets with David. His initial response is given to us in verse 12 and 13…
400 men with swords ready! Talk about taking out a roach with a semi automatic. We have no indication that David intended to negotiate. Here's David, the one who refused to strike back at Saul. Here's David, the man after God's own heart. Here's David, the man who learned to wait upon the Lord in a cave. Here's David seeing red, driven by rage. He's had it up to here and now Nabal is about to get it here.