About 500 years after King David's death, he still was known in Israel as the "man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22). In the church of today's America, that is astounding! In spite of his terrible mistake with Bathsheba, a mistake that included adultery, attempted cover-ups, and murder, David was still known as man whose heart honored God as his first priority. His faith in God exceeded his failures!
Please note this "man after God's own heart" spent much time in anguish in the wilderness. David's early history included the fact that this young man had great faith in God. His great faith in God was the foundation for his courage to face and kill the Philistine warrior, Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37). Though this young man of faith served King Saul loyally, Saul forced David to flee to the wilderness because Saul in his jealous, angry rage was determined to kill David. David was not in the wilderness because he lacked faith in God. David was in the wilderness because of the unjust anger and jealousy of an evil man. None the less, those wilderness experiences tested David's faith in God.
David's time in the wilderness was a time of suffering and struggle. Read 1 Samuel 22-26. He lived the existence of the hunted. Saul's hatred for David placed David's family in danger (1 Samuel 22:1). David's companions were the distressed, the indebted, and the bitter [not the attitudes David was accustomed to!] (1 Samuel 22:2). The priest that assisted David was killed, and the priest's extended family was massacred (1 Samuel 22:11-23). David was betrayed by the people he delivered from the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:11, 12). David lived in the imminent danger of death by Saul! (1 Samuel 23:26; 24;3)
Though King Saul made David's existence miserable in David's first wilderness period, consider David's attitude -- twice David had opportunity to kill an unsuspecting King Saul. Each time David's actions proved he had opportunity to kill King Saul. Yet, David refused to take vengeance or to end his own unjust misery. Why? Listen to David's understanding.
It came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe. So he said to his men, "Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord's anointed." David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way (1 Samuel 24:5-7).
Then Abishai said to David, "Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand; now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time." But David said to Abishai, "Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord's anointed and be without guilt?" David also said, "As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord's anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his head and the jug of water, and let us go." So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saul's head, and they went away, but no one saw or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a sound sleep from the Lord had fallen on them (1 Samuel 26:8-12).
Basically, this was David's attitude: "The Lord made Saul king. The Lord will end Saul's reign when the Lord chooses. No matter what misery I suffer, no matter how unjust the situation, killing Saul is the Lord's decision, not mine. King Saul's death will not occur by my hand!" That is quite a statement and commitment of faith from a man in horrible circumstances!
Your attention is directed to a specific incident in 1 Samuel 25. David and his men lived in the wilderness of Paran. Nabal, a wealthy man, pastured 3000 sheep and 1000 goats in that area. Neither David nor his men were a danger to the herdsmen or their flocks. In fact, they protected those men. At the time of shearing [usually a festive occasion--a time of anticipating wealth], David sent 10 young men to request a gift [a reasonable act for the occasion; a request, not a demand]. Nabal denied the request and insulted David declaring David to be a disloyal break away servant.
Nabal's insult infuriated David! David told his men to put the swords on, and vowed he will kill everyone before the next morning.
Someone overheard Nabal's insult and informed Nabal's wife, Abigail. An intelligent woman of beauty, Abigail immediately knew the seriousness of the situation. She quickly prepared a large gift for David, went to met him before David came to Nabal or the shearers, assumed full responsibility, acknowledged her husband's stupidity, and begged David to accept her gift. Note the core of her words to David: (1) you have never taken vengeance on someone for personal reasons (1 Samuel 25:26); (2) you will be Israel's ruler someday just as the Lord promised (1 Samuel 25:30). She appealed (1) to David's character as evidenced by his past motives, and (2) his faith in God. The stupid Nabal's insult was not worth David compromising his character or his faith.
Abigail's message was heard. David gratefully received her intervention. He thanked God for sending her. He was deeply grateful she prevented him from doing something he had never done, something he would never forget.
Thought and Discussion Questions
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 7
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