Lesson 11: David, a heart that accepts instruction

We saw in our study of 1Samuel 24 that David respected the will of God so much that he would not strike down Saul, the man who was relentlessly pursuing him. David would not strike him because he was God’s anointed choice as king. However, when we come to 1Samuel 25 we see David ready to strike down a man and his family for offenses far less than those committed by Saul. We will see that what saved David from violating the will of God in this case was that he was willing to accept instruction from an unlikely source.

David’s rage (vss. 1-13, 21-22)

The chapter begins with the death of Samuel and David’s moving from the stronghold in En Gedi to the wilderness of Paran, the southern portion of Judah’s territory.david-flees-2.jpg
This chapter helps us understand that during David’s flight from Saul he continued protecting the people of Israel from bandits and raiding parties (cf. 1Samuel 30.14). Of particular importance in this chapter, David and his men had protected the flocks of a wealthy man named Nabal (vss. 2,7,21). Yet, when David requested that Nabal send provisions so that David and his men could celebrate a festive day, Nabal not only refused but also mocked David saying, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master.” (vs. 10).

David did not take the insult lightly. He was offended; he was enraged! So, he commanded 400 of his men to arm themselves (vs. 13). They were going to slay Nabal and all the males in his house (see vss. 22, 34).

Abigail’s wisdom (vss. 14-20, 23-31)

Abigail, the wife of Nabal, knew that her husband had acted foolishly. She first sought to remedy his iniquity by taking responsibility for not having received David’s messengers herself (vss. 24-25), but then she did something much more important: she redirected David’s attention to the Lord (vss. 26-31). She reminded David that the Lord would make him king over Israel and that He would take care of David’s enemies. Abigail also reminded David that to take vengeance on Nabal would be a violation of God’s will, for the Lord had said “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:17–18) 

David’s willingness to accept instruction (vss. 32-35)

To David’s credit, he listened to and heeded the counsel of Abigail. David, commander of 600 men (vs. 13) and the future king of Israel, was willing to accept instruction from a woman. He knew that she gave the Lord’s instruction, thus he was willing to listen to it regardless of their respective stations in life. Significantly, the chapter began by noting the death of Samuel, but it wasn’t just the prophets who could give godly advice! Abigail also gave godly instruction, and David heeded it! ““Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.” (1 Samuel 25:32–33)

The New Testament records a similar example of accepting instruction from an unlikely source. In Acts 18.24-28 we read how Apollos, a man described as both “eloquent” and “mighty in the Scriptures”, accepted correction from Priscilla and Aquila. Significantly, Priscilla (the wife) is mentioned first, possibly indicating her lead in this encounter. Regardless, they were tent-makers, not trained speakers like Apollos. Yet, he was willing to accept their instruction.

The point for us is simple: we need to be humble enough to accept instruction from anyone. Whether that instruction comes from an elder of from a widow, from a preacher or a teenager. If they are pointing us to the will of God, we would be foolish to not listen!

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7) 

The benefit of heeding instruction (vss. 36-38)

David was ready to slay Nabal, but in doing so he would have violated the Lord’s command (Lev. 19.18). By heeding the instruction of Abigail, David relented and turned the matter over to his Lord. And the Lord executed justice: “About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.” (1 Samuel 25:38) 

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