Easter

Easter with the King: The Story of Nabal, Abigail and David

Since we’re focusing on Resurrection Sunday this week, I thought we’d take a brief break from our Sermon on the Mount study for an Easter-themed Bible study lesson.

Originally published April 20, 2014

The whole Bible points us to Jesus. Even the Old Testament. Even passages we’d least suspect, like the story of Nabal, Abigail, and David.

In 2014, I led my women’s Sunday School class through a one year chronological study of the Bible. Each Sunday, I taught a lesson from that week’s reading. The lesson below is taken from week 15 of that study, which I taught on Easter Sunday. You can find the entire chronological study at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Read: 1 Samuel 25:2-42

flock of sheep in israel

Filthy Rich (2)
3000 sheep/1000 goats was definitely rich (even today it wouldn’t be too shabby). While cattle are more valued in our culture for their meat, milk, and leather, sheep and goats were more valued in Israel for these, and also for sacrifices. Sheep and goats were Israel’s “pantry on the hoof.”

I Pity the Fool (3)
The name “Nabal” means “fool.” As we have seen throughout the OT, names weren’t just random labels. They told something about the person’s character or life, where he was from, who he was related to, etc. Sometimes names were changed to reflect life circumstances: Ben-oni (son of my sorrow) to Benjamin (son of the right hand- Genesis 35:18), Naomi (pleasant) to Mara (bitter- Ruth 1:20), Simon (God has heard) to Peter (rock- Matthew 16:18).

It seems odd, even by Israel’s standards, to name an infant “fool,” but we have no way of knowing whether this was the case or whether he acquired this name later in life after earning it by his behavior.

“Abigail” means “My father is joy.”

An Offer You Can’t Refuse? (4-13, Deuteronomy 22:1-4, 18:7, 21:11, 15:7-8, Leviticus 19:10, 23:22)
This incident hits our Western ears as odd or inappropriate, even presumptuous or akin to extortion, but Middle Eastern hospitality etiquette and neighborliness, not to mention God’s Law was, and still is, much different from ours in many cases.

Nabal did not ask David to guard his shepherds and flocks. Indeed, he probably didn’t even know David was doing so unless the shepherds told him when they brought the sheep in for shearing. (And since “one cannot speak to him” {17} maybe they didn’t.) David, however, when he met up with the shepherds, took it upon himself, out of his own good will, to look out for them. Maybe he had sympathy for them because he had also been a shepherd.

michael-corleone

David and his men likely put their lives on the line numerous times protecting Nabal’s livelihood. And he didn’t do it with an “I scratch your back; you scratch mine” attitude, thinking he would later demand pay from Nabal. He also didn’t take advantage of the shepherds (such as extorting sheep/goats in exchange for protection) while they were with him. David was obeying the spirit of all those “good neighbor laws” we read about (ex: Deuteronomy 22:1-4). The law is not just “don’t harm your neighbor,” but also, “do good to your neighbor.”

Remember, these shepherds were alone out in the wilderness with the flocks. There was no police force or army to protect them from raiding bands of Philistines. If the Philistines saw a thousand goats and 3000 sheep and wanted them, they just took them and captured or killed the shepherds. No legal redress, no sheep insurance. Nabal’s entire portfolio was at stake. You would think once he found out what David had done –for free and out of the goodness of his heart—Nabal would be extremely grateful. But was he? Nope.

David’s men arrived, explained themselves, and asked politely for whatever food Nabal could spare (kind of hard to make groceries when you’re on the run living in caves). They did not demand his best, and they did not demand he provide enough for their entire company of 600 men. They had even come on a feast day when Nabal was celebrating his wealth, should have been in a good mood, and should have had plenty of extra food on hand. And notice this telling little phrase, “they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited.” (9) Now here’s one way Middle Eastern culture is similar to Southern culture. If someone was standing there telling you about all those nice things he had done for you, how long would it take before you gleefully interrupted him and offered him everything under the sun in thanks? Well, Middle Easterners aren’t as shy about interrupting as we are, and furthermore, they would take it as the highest insult if you didn’t take everything they offered.

Not Nabal, though. First, he pretended not to know who David was. Pretty ridiculous, since David’s conquests were well known throughout Israel (18:7, 21:11- even outside Israel), not to mention the fact that he was next in line for the throne. Next, he insulted David’s men by accusing them of lying about working for David. Of course, if he had been interested in finding out whether or not that was true, he could have brought his shepherds in and asked them if these were the guys who had protected them.

David’s men went back and reported what had happened. David’s immediate response was for everyone to “strap on his sword.” It seems like kind of an extreme response to us, but we have to keep a few things in mind. First, the Law. Nabal was breaking both the letter and the spirit of it. While there was no specific law covering a band of mighty men coming to you and asking for food on a feast day, there were laws about taking care of people who were hungry and poor, such as the gleaning laws (Leviticus 19:10, 23:22).

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 says: “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”

When we read through Ruth, we saw Boaz doing a great job of fulfilling this law for Ruth and Naomi. Here, Nabal is showing the exact opposite of Boaz’s kindness and generosity.

Second, Nabal’s actions showed disregard and ingratitude for God’s provision and blessing. God blessed Nabal with wealth and protected that wealth (through David) without Nabal even knowing about it. Do we see any evidence that Nabal was humbled that God should do such a thing for him, or thankfulness to God for what He had provided? No. We see only selfishness, stinginess, and a blatant disregard for God as sovereign provider.

Finally, David’s response was likely an answer to Nabal’s accusations. “He wants to know who David is? He wants to know whether or not my men are lying? Well, let’s go show him the answer to his questions and see if he changes his tune.”

The Go-Between (14-31, John 12:14-15)
Abigail was quite a remarkable woman. This was not the first time Nabal had acted this way. He had a long standing history of being harsh and worthless (“son of Belial” is also applied to Satan in 2 Corinthians). And here, Abigail was going behind his back and defying him. This was no small thing for any wife in Israel. But for Abigail, it could have meant a beating or worse when Nabal found out. It’s possible she was even risking her life. And for what? To save him. Without his knowledge that she was saving him. Without his knowledge that he even needed saving.

www-St-Takla-org--abigail-entreats-mercy

Why in the world would Abigail want to save someone who was probably making her life a living hell? She could have just let David and his men handle Nabal. Certainly he would have gotten what he deserved. But she stepped in because it was the right thing to do. It was right to obey God by providing for David and his men. It was even right to protect her husband from his own foolishness and bringing David’s wrath down upon himself. But even more, she did it because she loved God, and maybe even her husband, too.

She sent the gift on ahead (19) to appease David’s wrath, then presented herself to him on Nabal’s behalf. Notice that she got down off her donkey (23). Kings rode donkeys. Rich people and people of high standing rode donkeys. She left her wealth and position behind and got as low as she could get, bowing down, humbling herself, and submitting herself to David. For Nabal.

Then Abigail did something even more remarkable. She said (24-25), “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he.” She—a completely innocent party to Nabal’s sin (25)—voluntarily takes on the guilt and consequences of his sin. (Is this starting to sound familiar?) In v. 28, she asked David to “Please forgive the trespass of your servant.” It wasn’t her trespass, but Nabal’s. She was asking forgiveness for him.

The King’s Response (32-35)
David blessed Abigail, not just for her prudence and godliness, but also because she had satisfied his wrath and kept him from exercising it on Nabal. Her gift was sufficient, and David granted her petition to extend forgiveness to Nabal.

Happily Ever After (36-42)
Well, except for Nabal. Abigail had to tell Nabal what she had done. She’d been gone for a while and had taken quite a bit of food out of the house. No sense trying to cover it up. Hopefully Nabal would be grateful she saved him from certain death. When she told him, did he repent? Humble himself? The text doesn’t say that he did. It says “his heart died within him.” It’s generally believed this means that Nabal had a stroke (especially since it further says that he “became as stone” and lived for ten more days). Did he become enraged at what Abigail had done, and this physical exertion contributed to a stroke? We can’t know for certain. What seems unlikely is that he genuinely repented, because God “struck Nabal and he died.” As we’ll see later with David, while we usually do suffer the consequences of our sin, God shows mercy and forgiveness to the repentant.

David was thankful he had not taken matters into his own hands and that God had handled the situation. Justice had been served. And for her faithfulness, Abigail—who considered herself the lowliest of servants, only fit to wash the feet of other servants—ascended to the position of Queen. Back on her donkey where she belonged, exalted out of humility to sit at the right hand of the king.

The Backstage Gospel (Psalm 14:1, Philippians 2:6-8, 9-11)
Often, in stories like this, the characters aren’t just playing themselves, they’re playing out the parts of the gospel.

As with Nabal, God blessed His people richly with life, family, provisions, and all kinds of other blessings she wasn’t even aware of. The people didn’t ask God to do these things. God, the Good Shepherd, did these things for them out of the goodness of His own heart, the same way David had done for Nabal. But, as with Nabal the fool, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” (Ps. 14) The same way David presented himself to Nabal and told him what he had done for him, God, over and over, reminded Israel of the way He had protected and provided for them. But just as Nabal rejected David, so, Israel rejected God, and rebelled against Him in favor of their own sin and selfishness. And, like David, God’s wrath was inflamed.

Enter Jesus. Just as Abigail intervened on behalf of Nabal, Jesus intervened on behalf of Israel and all mankind. Just like Abigail, He laid down His life to save us. Before we ever knew Him. Before we ever knew we needed saving. Why? Why would He even want to save us Nabals? He could have let God exercise His wrath on us. We certainly deserve it. But in the same way that Abigail acted in love and in doing what was right, Jesus loved His Father and us enough to fulfill righteousness and to bring God glory by staying His hand of wrath.

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In the same way that Abigail got down off her donkey, leaving behind all prestige and humbling herself to the lowest position possible—a servant only worthy of washing other servants’ feet— Jesus “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant [one who washed other servants’ feet], being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:6-8) And for whom? Us Nabals. “On me alone, my Lord, be the guilt,” Jesus said, even though, like Abigail, He was completely innocent. He voluntarily took on the guilt and consequences of our sin when He died in our place on the cross, and He did it to win forgiveness for us.

Jesus sent this offering of His life for the atonement of our sin on ahead of Himself to the Father, and God’s wrath was satisfied. Jesus’ offering was sufficient, and God granted His petition to extend forgiveness to the likes of us. And just as David picked Abigail up from her humility and she ascended to the position of queen, Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of the King, and “God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11)

This story didn’t have a happy ending for Nabal, because Nabal didn’t repent and submit himself to God. Nabal ended up taking the guilt and consequences for his sin himself (death) instead of gratefully humbling himself and being thankful for the gift of Abigail’s intervention and David’s forgiveness. But the rest of us Nabals can have a happy ending. Jesus has paid the price for our sin with His death, burial, and the resurrection we celebrate today. He completely satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. It is finished. Forgiveness has been purchased with His blood. If we will humble ourselves, repent of our sin, and accept the beautiful gift of forgiveness God is extending to us at the request of His Son, we can be reconciled to God now and live happily in the ever after.

Uncategorized

OHCW Conference LIVE AUDIENCE Sneak Preview!

Ladies, did you enjoy last year’s first annual Open Hearts in a Closed World online conference? (If you missed it, you can still catch all of the sessions here.)

Well, the conference is back again this summer, July 12-16, and all of us at OHCW hope you’ll join us! The conference sessions will air each day on the AGTV app, YouTube, IGTV (Instagram), Facebook, and this year, here on the blog.

The conference is totally free and you don’t have to register or sign up. Just tune in each day at your convenience and watch the teaching sessions. You could even gather up some friends and watch together!

The theme of this year’s conference is Reverence in Radical Times, and our focal passage will be Titus 2:3-5:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2:3-5

2021 Speakers:

2021 Teaching Schedule:

Music by:

For more details on the conference, follow Open Hearts in a Closed World on Instagram, or join the OHCW Facebook group and ask the conference organizers directly.

All teaching sessions for the conference will be pre-recorded, so if you live in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area (or if you can get here!) we’ve got a special “sneak preview” treat for you!

You are cordially invited to be part of the
LIVE AUDIENCE
for the taping of my teaching session:

Teach What Is Good:
Discipling Younger Women
in the 21st Century

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
7:00-8:00 p.m.
Woodlawn Baptist Church
5805 Jones Creek Rd.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
FREE admission ~ Women only
No childcare will be provided

It’s a session relevant to both the “older women” and the “younger women” of Titus 2, so gather up a group of friends and make it a girls’ night out! You might even want to plan to go out to eat afterwards at New York Pizza and Pasta, Outback, City Cafe, or another nearby restaurant. And if your husband wants to drop you off and take the kids for a bite, McDonald’s, Burger King, Cane’s, and Taco Bell are all just down the street.

Masks are not required, though you’re welcome to bring one from home and wear it if you like. We anticipate that there will be plenty of space for those who would like to social distance (also not required).

If you have any specific questions about Woodlawn’s facilities or location, you may contact the church directly.

Come on out and let’s look at what it means to be Titus 2 women!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Salvation and the Mentally Challenged

I have a question about people who have “simple minds”. Those who have a lack of comprehension or are slow thinkers. My son is trying to understand salvation but he is slower in thinking than others. He has learning disabilities that keep him a few years behind others his age. I’m learning to not fear and to trust Christ with his salvation but I’m wondering how I can know he is saved or what God’s word says of those with simple minds.

I think you’ve answered your own question with some very godly wisdom: don’t fear, and trust Christ with your son’s salvation. Don’t discount that wisdom God has given you, because, ultimately, that is your answer. Once we’ve shared the gospel, that’s really all any of us can do regarding the spiritual state of any friend or loved one regardless of mental capacity: Fear not. Trust Christ.

How can you know he’s saved with 100% certainty? You can’t. Just like none of us can know that another person is saved, because we can’t see that person’s heart. The only person I can know is saved, without a shadow of a doubt, is me.

If you’re married, have you and your husband discussed all of this thoroughly? If he is a Believer, he probably has some helpful insights and perspectives to offer. And, do remember, he is the spiritual leader of your home.

I would encourage you (and your husband, if you’re married) to set up an appointment with your pastor – with or without your son, depending on what your pastor suggests – to talk things out and get his wise counsel on the best ways to keep the gospel in front of your son’s eyes.

In the meantime, keep praying for – and with – your son (and that God will help you entrust your son to Him), keep teaching him the Bible, and keep taking him to church. Remember, you are only responsible for pouring the gospel into your son. It’s God’s responsibility to take what you’ve shared and do something with it in your son’s heart.

The Bible doesn’t, as far as I can recall, speak specifically to the cognitive capacity for faith of people who have “simple minds”. Some readers have probably already called to mind the childlike faith passages in the gospels, but Jesus was speaking to the quality of our faith in these passages, not to childlike cognition.

But do keep your mind on Scripture. When you’re tempted to worry, remember who God is. Remember His nature and character:

This is a God who doesn’t even take pleasure in the death of the wicked. A God who patiently bore with Israel’s sin and idolatry for centuries before executing judgment on them. A God who loved sinners so much that He sacrificed His only Son for us while we were still His enemies. A God who describes Himself as being rich in mercy. A God we see throughout Scripture caring for “the least of these” – Hagar, Mephibosheth, Bartimaeus, widows and orphans, the blind, the deaf, the crippled, the leper, the outcast.

Is this a God who would flippantly or casually damn your son to an eternity in Hell based solely on his cognitive disabilities? Does that seem to be in keeping with His nature and character?

Also remember God as Creator. God specially crafted your son the way he is in His image and for His glory just like everyone else He created. Your son’s disabilities are not a mistake or an oversight on God’s part. They are meant to bring glory to Him. Neither you nor he may fully understand how on this side of Heaven, but God does, and that’s all that matters.

And as the One who designed your son’s mind, there is no one who understands how it works, how it comprehends things, better than God does. The Holy Spirit knows how to take that gospel you’ve imparted to your son and explain it to his heart and mind in the absolute best way for your son. A way that’s specially designed uniquely for him by his Creator. Consider these passages as you think about that:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
Exodus 4:10-12

Finally remember that God knows your son’s heart and as the just judge of all the universe – Whom we’ve already established is rich in mercy – the only decision God can make regarding your son’s salvation and eternity is the right decision, whatever that might be. God knows the capabilities of your son’s heart and mind better than anyone. He knows whether your son is believing on Christ in his heart or rebelliously rejecting Christ in his heart.

For the Lord sees not as man sees:
man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1Samuel16:7b

I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.
Jeremiah 17:10

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24

As moms, we often desperately want to find a way to make the “decision” for our children to place their faith in Christ for salvation because we love them and we know that’s what’s best for them. But we can’t. I can’t do it for my child any more than you can do it for your child, disability or no disability. That is between your child and Christ only.

And that brings us full circle to the answer God has already given you:

Don’t fear. Trust Christ with your son’s salvation


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Podcast Appearances

Sharing the Journey Podcast Guest Appearance

Last week I had a wonderful time interviewing with Melissa Morris on the very first episode of her Sharing the Journey podcast. Listen in (and watch!) as we chat about biblical womanhood, Beth Moore, discernment, and how women can and should serve the local church.

We also talked a bit about the women’s conference I’ll be speaking at this fall at Melissa’s church. It’s going to be on the topic of biblical womanhood, and we hope you can make it. Here’s the info (from my Speaking Engagements tab):

October 22-23- Women’s Conference,
Pop-Up Church in Faber, Virginia.
(This conference will be open to women in the surrounding
areas, but you must contact the church directly for details.)

You can subscribe to Pop-Up Church’s YouTube channel to catch future episodes of Sharing the Journey. And be sure to check out the Sharing the Journey website, too.

Articles / resources mentioned or touched on in the interview:

A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

Bye-Bye Beth: What Beth Moore’s Split with the SBC Means

Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (no) Moore (includes AWFS podcast episode links)

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

Has Beth Moore only recently drifted, or has she always been false? by Elizabeth Prata (My apologies to Elizabeth for mangling the title of her article during the interview!)

Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Putting on the “You Can!” of Complementarianism

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

Men, Parenting

Throwback Thursday ~ Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man

Originally published October 24, 2015

Boys. Aren’t they phenomenal? My husband and I have five boys ranging in age from 12 to 28. They’re loud, they’re gross, they’re physical, and I wouldn’t trade them for girls in a hot minute. While I love my daughter and the precious relationship we have as girls, I genuinely feel like God specially crafted me to be a mom of boys.

But boys will be boys, and girls will be girls, and sometimes, as “girls,” we moms need to think outside the pretty pink box of femininity in order to relate to, and rightly raise, these extraordinary creatures God has blessed us with. Here are six ways I’ve learned through the years to raise a Godly man.

1. Remember you’re raising boys.

Despite what you might hear from the scientific community, boys and girls are not the same except for genitalia. The way God wired them to see and relate to the world, think, react, and solve problems, is completely different from the way God wired girls to do these things. In 1 Corinthians 16:13, Paul tells the men of the church at Corinth:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

There’s a certain way that men (and boys) act, and it’s not the same as the way girls act. God made them that way, and we must parent them like they’re boys, not anatomically male girls.

2. Make way for Daddy.

There have been so many times I have been tempted to baby my boys over bumps and bruises or give them a light scolding for disobedience. It took a lot of lip biting to stand out of the way while my husband told them to walk it off or got out the paddle for correction. But husbands know better than we do what it’s like to be a little (or big) boy. Point your boys to your husband as an example, and make sure you’re not getting in the way as they relate to each other “man to man”.

3. Tell them to take a lap.

One thing that moms often don’t realize about boys is that they are wired to need physical activity for their emotional, behavioral, and educational well being. Require them to sit still and be quiet for hours at a time, and you may have a son who gets that need for physicality out of his system by acting out behaviorally. God created boys with a need to run, throw, and hit, so honor His design by letting them.

4. Show them what a godly woman looks like.

They won’t be able to find a godly woman to marry one day if they don’t know what one looks like. Show them. Study your Bible. Pray. Repent and apologize when you sin. Submit to your husband. Manage your home well. Be hospitable. Serve your family and your church. Give them a gold standard to shoot for.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Proverbs 31:29

5. Instruct them, from a woman’s point of view, godly ways to honor women.

Because boys don’t think the way girls do, they need to be taught how women like to be treated by men. Boys tend to have an “every man for himself” mindset, so things like “ladies first,” opening doors for women, keeping bodily functions to themselves, and helping out around the house don’t always occur to them. They have to be proactively taught these things as a way of “serving one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

(Oh, and by the way, they will never learn to keep bodily functions to themselves. Ever. Sorry.)

6. Realize the impact of your role in building godly men. 

Samuel. Jesus. Timothy. Godly men, all. And every one of them had a godly mother – Hannah, Mary, Eunice – who raised them to love and serve God. Don’t ever think of yourself as “just a mom.” God has given mothers the enormous responsibility and privilege of pouring the gospel into little boys and raising them to godly manhood. Thank Him for that and steward your influence well.

Boys are strange and wonderful little beings. There’s nothing like being a mom of boys to drive you crazy, drive you to your knees in prayer, and drive you to rise to the challenge of being a godly mom raising godly men.


This article was originally published at Kaylene Yoder’s blog.

And for all you girl moms, be sure to check out…

Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman