For the last couple of months as we’ve been going through the book of 1 Samuel, our Sunday morning messages have revolved primarily around the conflict between King Saul and his son-in-law David. This conflict started off as merely a little bit of jealousy, but it grew to become fear and paranoia, as Saul become convinced that David was conspiring against him to take his throne and to overthrow his kingdom. Eventually, David had to flee from Saul, running for his life as Saul relentlessly tried to capture and kill him. Now of course, David had no desire to undermine or overthrow Saul – even though God had promised David that he would one day be king. In fact, in just the last chapter, we saw that David had the perfect opportunity to kill Saul if he had wanted to, but he refused to do it.
1 Samuel chapter 24 tells us that as Saul was hunting for David, he went into a certain cave for a bathroom break, and would’t you know it – David and his men were hiding in the back of that very cave! Now if David truly were trying to kill Saul, he could very easily have done so in that moment – but he refused to harm Saul – and instead, he merely crept up and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Well, when Saul left the cave, David hollered after him from a safe distance and showed him the the fabric that he had cut off – proving to Saul that David could have killed him, but didn’t. This deeply convicted Saul who finally admitted that David was a better man than he and that David would indeed be a great king over Israel.
Now at that point, Saul humbly returned home, but David remained out in the wilderness with his men – which leads us to today’s story. It seems that Saul isn’t the only source of trouble for David. Even with Saul temporarily out of the picture, we’re going to see today, that David still has to deal with difficult people. And for anyone who’s had to deal with difficult people, (which I’m pretty sure is all of us) I think there might just be some valuable lessons for us all in today’s story.
Our study of 1 Samuel now brings us to chapter 25 and it begins like this:
Now Samuel died, and all Israel gathered for his funeral. They buried him at his house in Ramah. Then David moved down to the wilderness of Maon. 2 There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the town of Carmel. He had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and it was sheep-shearing time. 3 This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was crude and mean in all his dealings.
1 Samuel 25:1b-3
The chapter begins with a brief mention of Samuel’s death and burial. We haven’t heard much about the prophet Samuel recently, but it was Samuel who had anointed both Saul and then later David as kings of Israel. We also know that Samuel had been a key supporter of David… In fact, according to chapter 19, David even went to live with Samuel for a while when he first fled from Saul. So no doubt, Samuel’s death would have a been a difficult loss for David. And while the Bible doesn’t specifically say so, this sense of loss and grief could end up being a factor in some of David’s decisions later on in the story. So maybe just log that bit of information away in your mind for the time being and we’ll touch on that again in a little while.
But after Samuel’s death, David and his men returned to the wilderness of Maon – they had been there previously – back when Saul almost caught David at the place now called the Rock of escape (you’ll remember we talked about that a few weeks ago.)
But now in Maon, we are introduced to two other characters in this story. We have Nabal – who was a wealthy sheep farmer and was known for being crude and mean in all his dealings. And then we have his wife, Abigail, who was known for being sensible and beautiful!