DAVID AND ANGER
"IT'S THE HEART"
One great enemy of the godly man and the godly woman is anger. It is not evil
to be angry. It is evil to allow your anger to control your motivations, decisions, and
actions. Paul declared to the Ephesian Christians, "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do
not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity"
We can be angry and not sin. However, human anger presents Satan an
enormous opportunity. Remember the enormous opportunity that Cain's anger
provided evil (Genesis 4).
It takes a heart truly dedicated to God's heart to prevent great anger from
providing Satan great opportunity.
- I want to focus you on one of David's heart qualities that made his heart
special to God. Consider 1 Samuel 25.
- May I begin with a simple observation: violence hardens the hearts and
minds of people.
- In war people cope with so much dying by "getting used to death."
- In continual work with tragedies, people cope by "getting use to suffering."
- People who live or work around lots of blood "get used" to seeing blood.
- People who work around a lot of pain get accustomed to seeing others in
- The process is called desensitizing.
- Violence desensitizes people to death, suffering, blood, and pain.
- From the death of Goliath, David was around and involved in a lot of
- As violence desensitizes a person, violence becomes the acceptable way to
- Anger tempts that person to be violent.
- David and his troops were hiding from the forces of King Saul in the
wilderness area south of the city of Hebron.
- Evidently, they had a "safe" base camp in that area that they used frequently
(the area is about seven miles south-southwest of Hebron).
- As David and his men traveled to and from their camp in this wilderness area,
they never posed a threat to Nabal's shepherds or flocks.
- That was unusual: it was common for bands of thieves and marauders to
find security in wilderness areas.
- These bands were threats to shepherds and flocks (who were considered
"fair game" of opportunity to violent bands).
- David and his men treated Nabal's shepherds with respect, never took
anything from their flocks, and protected Nabal's shepherds and flocks from
dangerous people--quite a contrast to what was commonly the situation.
- The time of year came for sheep shearing.
- This was a time of celebration and feasting.
- Special workers were brought to the flocks to shear them.
- There was a lot of food, drink, and feasting because people celebrated
their new prosperity.
- It was common to thank God for the gift of prosperity.
- It was common to give gifts to the less fortunate as an expression of your
joy and your gratitude to God.
David sent ten young men to bring a statement of blessing to Nabal and to ask
for a gift.
- Because of the time of year that we now celebrate, we should relate well to
Abigail, Nabal's wife, was a very unusual woman for that time: she was a
lady of excellent understanding, and she was beautiful.
- The greeting was something like wishing Nabal a long life and best wishes
for the coming year; may it be a good one.
- Nabal was a wealthy man.
- He likely had experience with dealing with bands of thieves and
marauders who threatened or attacked his shepherds and flocks.
- Maybe he knew what the forces of Saul did to the priests at Nob when
they were massacred and did not want to get in the middle of that feud.
- Whatever he knew, whatever his motives, he was a greedy, evil man who
had no respect or appreciation for anyone but himself.
- Stupidly, foolishly, he insulted David's men by rejecting their greeting and
showing them no respect.
- "Why should I do anything for you? I should be impressed that you follow
a runaway slave? Why should I reward the likes of you?"
- David's men returned to camp and told David about Nabal's insult.
- David told four hundred of his men to put on their swords.
- The insult deeply angered David.
- In anger, he decided it had been a mistake to be kind to Nabal's
shepherds and take nothing from his flocks.
- His intention was simple: kill everyone.
David saw God at work in Abigail and was thankful.
- Her heart was incredibly open and approachable.
- A servant felt free to report to her the horrible thing her husband did and
explain why it was unjust.
- She listened to a servant criticize her husband.
- Both Abigail and the servant clearly understood the danger created by
- Likely her job in shearing time was coordinating food preparation for the
- She quickly gathered a huge gift of food--enough to load several
donkeys--and sent the food and a servant in the direction that would
encounter David and his men as they came to attack.
- The food preceded her; David would see the gift before he saw her.
- She hoped the gift would soften David's anger.
- Abigail met David with great respect and used great wisdom.
- She asked David to hold her responsible for what happened because she
failed to see his men come.
- She asked David to allow her gift to appease his anger and not to attack
- "My husband is a foolish, stupid man."
- "You are too significant and he is too worthless for you to kill him."
- "You are not the kind of man who takes vengeance for yourself. You let
the Lord care for such matters. You fight to defend the Lord, never to
- "The Lord protects you, and the Lord will make you the next king of
- "Avenging yourself will only cause you trouble and grief. You are not that
kind of man."
- He blessed God for sending Abigail to stop him.
- He blessed Abigail for being a wise, insightful person.
- He was thankful that he was stopped before he avenged himself, something
that he had never done.
- He told Abigail to return home in peace; he had heard her plea and would
respect her request.
Abigail returned home to find Nabal feasting, celebrating, and drunk, and she
did not talk to him about anything.
Her actions seemed to cause him to have a stroke.
- The next morning when he was sober she told him what she did.
Some time after Nabal's death, Abigail agreed to be David's wife.
- Ten days later he died.
- It says simply that the Lord struck him and he died.
In this incident I want you to note a quality of David's heart that made him a
man after God's own heart.
- David was a violent man, a man of war, a man who was responsible for a
lot of people's deaths.
Yet, personal anger generated by the insult of an evil man almost caused
David to avenge himself, to kill for the sake of his own honor.
- David never killed to avenge himself.
- David only killed to avenge God's honor.
- He killed Goliath because Goliath defied and mocked God.
- He killed the Philistines because the Philistines defied God and
worshipped an idol they called god.
- David refused to harm Saul (even in self-defense) because Saul was
- Defending God, fighting for the Lord, was the focus of all David's acts of
When David realized what he almost did to avenge himself, he knew that
act was not true to who and what he was.
- Anger almost caused David to do something he would never do when he
- David did nothing to avenge David.
- David did everything to honor his God.
- He was close to behaving like an angry person who did not belong to God.
- Driven by negative emotion
- Being his own avenger, his own instrument of justice.
- He blessed God for sending Abigail to stop him.
- He clearly saw God working through Abigail.
- He praised her wisdom and understanding.
Never let anger decide who you are. Never let anger determine what you do.
Serve God, and always leave justice in God's hands. Only the man or woman whose
heart belongs to God can do that.
Romans 12:17-19 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the
sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is
written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
Paul acknowledged an ancient truth for people whose hearts belong to God.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
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Evening Sermon, 24 December 2000
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