Summary: Beneficial versus detrimental models of manhood juxtaposed in the lives of David and Nabal.
The 25th chapter of First Samuel tells the story of two vastly different approaches to being a man.
One is rewarding and the other ruinous. One is admirable and the other despicable. One is to be repeated and the other repudiated.
To this day most men fall into one of the two categories exemplified by either David or Nabal.
Either a man’s life is lived with love and dedication for others, as in the case of the shepherd-warrior David, or his life is wasted in selfishishness and ill-will toward others, as was the life of Nabal.
Meet the mean man of Maon:
"There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the village of Carmel. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and it was shearing time. This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was mean and dishonest in all his dealings." (1 Samuel 25:2-3, NLT)
How did a "sensible and beautiful woman" like Abigail wind up with such a schmo? It might just be that once upon a time he was actually a nice guy. Perhaps success went to his head as is very often the case with the male ego.
Men, one of the biggest mistakes we can ever make is to get too big for our britches. Try your best to improve on the good and godly qualities you possess. Always be grateful to God for His blessings. Don’t ever forget others and their needs. Remember to be courteous no matter how "important" you have become.
This was Nabal’s downfall.
"When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, he sent ten of his young men to Carmel. He told them to deliver this message.
"Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own. I am told that you are shearing your sheep and goats. While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. Ask your own servants, and they will tell you this is true. So would you please be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please give us any provisions you might have on hand."
David’s young men gave this message to Nabal and waited for his reply." (1 Samuel 25:4-9, NLT)
The response was not at all polite. Nabal sarcastically refused David’s request and even slandered his reputation.
"’Who is this fellow David?" Nabal sneered. "Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. Should I take away my bread and water and meat I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?"
So David’s messengers returned and told him what Nabal had said. (1 Samuel 25:10-12, NLT)
Here it was a celebratory time of shearing, a time of plenty, and Nabal hoards every ounce of success God has given him, disregarding the very fact that David and his men had helped assure that very success by protecting his flocks from marauders.
David’s approach to him was characterized by courtesy, a benchmark of the proper role model for men. The future king of Israel had a superior military force and could have easily made mincemeat of Nabal’s servants. Instead he behaved like a gentleman and requested a sensible and easily affordable compensation for the efforts of his men to protect Nabal’s shepherds and flocks.
Good character is especially put to the test in difficult times - and David and his forces were definitely suffering great need as they fled the vengeful hand of wicked King Saul. All they asked was food enough to sustain them in their flight - and they asked politely.
Successful Nabal cold-heartedly refused. It’s not that his success is not admirable. It’s great to see men and women achieve their goals in business and professional life. God ordained blessings to those who, through hard work and innovative efforts, experience accomplishment.
But our success is never meant to be just for us.
God’s Word instructs us to "Be honest and work hard, so you will have to give to people in need." (Ephesians 4:28b, CEV)
Was Nabal, like so many men in today’s culture, mimicking a macho image portrayed by society around him? As we’ve already seen in verse 3, the Bible says he was "mean and dishonest". What makes a man mean? What hardens a man’s heart so much that all he has room for is himself? A very lonely existence by the way.
Has someone in your past kicked you when you were down? Are you tempted to return that treatment in kind to others? Don’t yield to such foolishness. It takes a real man to treat others fairly, honestly and generously - especially if he himself has not always been treated that way.