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Nabal and Abigail

Scripture Reading - I Samuel 25

‘History is His story’. The incident which is written in I Sam 25, at first sight, may seem to contain little value. But everything the Spirit has recorded has a voice for us.

“And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah” (I Sam 25:1). Samuel, the prophet was despised by the Israelites. In fact, they wanted a king to rule over them like the neighbouring countries. And Samuel gave them Saul as their king and Saul proved to be a disappointment in Israel. Now people lamented for Samuel. How often people feel sorrow to whom they did not care to listen when living.

“And David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran” (25:1) Learning about Samuel’s death David went to wilderness of Paran. David no doubt concluded that Saul’s malice would be now more. Unrestrained than ever. Now in the wilderness we read to the one whom David made his appeal (I Sam 25:2,3)

The man to whom David appealed for his help was called ‘NABAL’. Remember! All the names of persons, places etc and their meanings in the Old Testament is very important. They are shadows or types which are revealed in the New Testament. But in the New Testament, only one name is important and that is the name of ‘JESUS’. His name has been exalted than any other name! So in the New Testament, we have only one name that is ‘JESUS’.

‘Nabal’ is strange name. We do not know why his parents named him as such. ‘Nabal’ means ‘fool’ or ‘foolish’. He was a sheep master on the confines of Judaea and the desert. He was a descendent of Caleb (I Sam 25:3,5; 30:14); He was a resident of Carmel near to the place called “ziph”. His residence was on the southern Carmel, in the pasturelands of Maon. We are told that this man was “very great” not in piety, but in material possessions. He had about 3000 sheep and 1000 goats. He was very rich. Remember! Every detail given about ‘Nabal’ in the Holy writ is very important. If I say, you are related to ‘Nabal’ don’t be surprised and the fact is ‘you are’!

‘Abigail’ was ‘Nabal’s’ wife. ‘Abigail’ means,’the father’s delight’ or ‘the father’s joy’. She was of a beautiful countenance and of good understanding’, a very wise woman indeed! Poor woman! She was tied to one in wedlock who was ‘churlish and evil’, greedy and grasping, sour and cross-tempered.

“And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep. And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name”(vv.4, 5) The season for shearing the was a notable one, for wool was a leading commodity in Cannan. With such a very large flock, considerable number of extra hands have to be hired by ‘Nabal’. From II samuel 13:23 it appears that it was the custom in those days to combine feasting and merriment with shearing. Once a year there was a grand shearing-feast on Carmel “like the feast of a king” (25:2,4,36). It was a time when men were generally disposed to be hospitable and kind. It was on this occasion that David sent his men for help.

David sent the ten young men with the request to Nabal “give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thy hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David” (I sam 25:6-8). Surely Nabal would not refuse David’s men a few victuals. Finally David takes the place of a “son” hoping to receive some fatherly kindness from Nabal. A golden opportunity was afforded to Nabal of showing kindness to the “Lord’s anointed”.

“And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, who is David? And who is the son of Jesse?… Shall I take my bread, and my water, and my flesh, that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men who I know not whence they be? (I sam 25:10,11) What an insult to David Nabal’s repeated use of the word “my” reminds us that he was a rich fool who was satisfied with himself alone (Luke 12:18-20)

David’s young men turned their way, and came and told him all those sayings of Nabal. David got angry and told his men to gird their swords and he too girded his sword. David’s proud spirit was roused and he swore that Nabal should expiate his offence in blood.

But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, all what had happened. (I Sam 25:14-17) Immediately, Abigail began to act. Beautiful here was her character! She prepared herself to meet David without telling her husband Nabal.

David was already on his way to execute his intentions, when Abigail met him. When she saw David, she has Ted, lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face and bowed herself to the ground; and fell at his feet (I sam 25:23,24)

Next we behold her strong faith, “the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house” (I sam 25:28) She assures David in most striking language that his life should be preserved (I sam 25: 29)

God blessed the words of Abigail to David and he dismissed her with a message of peace. Let us illustrate the salient features of the above history before we explain the inner spiritual truth taught by the Holy Spirit:

  1. Abigail was yoked to Nabal, who was a ‘fool’ in all respects, particularly the way he treated David and his men.
  2. Abigail was barren to Nabal
  3. It was the message of doom which caused Abigail to seek David (I sam 25:17)
  4. She took her place in the dust before David (I Sam 25:23)
  5. She came to David confessing “iniquity”(I Sam 25:24)
  6. She sought “forgiveness”(I sam 25:28)
  7. David granted her request and said “Go in peace” (I sam 25:35)

“And Abigail came to Nabal; and behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more until the morning light” (I sam 25:36)

Recall the circumstances. Only a little while Nabal had insulted David. David had sworn to revenge himself by slaying Nabal and every male member of his household. But Nabal was unmindful of the consequences. We see him feasting and drunken! Only the timely intervention of Abigail saved him and his household.

Here is the clue. Here we can find the type that the Holy Spirit wants us to learn from the scriptures. Everything in the scriptures is written as an example and for our admonition. Many Bible students consider ‘Nabal’ as a type of the ‘Law of God’. They say that we are married to the law. The law is our first husband. It may be in other circumstances, but here we find, ‘Nabal’ dies after about few days (I sam 25:38). Now ‘Nabal’ also means ‘fool’. I don’t think that we can call the ‘Law of God’ as foolish, neither we can say ‘the Law’ is dead. Both are wrong. ‘The law’ was given by God and as such ‘the law’ cannot be destroyed. Christ Himself has said that He did not come to destroy ‘the Law’ but to fulfil ‘the law’. In another place in the scripture it is said, ‘Heaven and earth may pass away, but My word will not pass away’. The Law cannot be annihilated. But if so, who is ‘Nabal’ type of?

‘Nabal’ is type of our ‘Flesh’, a ‘flesh’ which is always despises Christ and perish in its sins. ‘The flesh’ gives false security to the sinners when in dire danger. (Ecclesiastes 8:71) The ‘flesh’ abuses His mercies (Luke 14:18-20). ‘The flesh’ is always intoxicated with wine. Remember people are intoxicated with other things besides wine such as worldly fame, worldly riches, and worldly pleasures.

“And it came to pass about ten days after, that the Lord smote Nabal, that he died” (I sam 25:38) The Lord smote Nabal! Remember you cannot get away from ‘the flesh’. It is there. But the Lord should smite him. In other words, ‘the flesh’ has to be crucified. It is not otherwise it could be controlled. ‘I am crucified with Christ; Not I, but Christ liveth in me’. Here was ‘Nabal’ who spoke boastfully of “my bread, my flesh, my shearers” (I sam 25:11). That “my’ has to go and Christ has to take that place.

Now ‘Abigail’ is a type of our ‘spirit’. But as long as our ‘flesh’ is in control we are dead in trespasses and sins. There is no light. But when ‘Abigail’ went to see David and pleaded her case the ‘spirit’ has been delivered from the control of the ‘flesh’.

“And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife. And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her” (I sam 25:39,40). Now Abigail is free. Abigail being now a widow, and David sent messengers with a proposal of marriage to her. Now, in the same way, the Lord Jesus does not court His wife immediately, but employs the minister of the Gospel, endued with the Holy Spirit, to woo and win you for Himself.

“And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth” (I sam25:41) Now the ‘flesh’ is crucified, the ‘spirit’ (Abigail) begins to worship the Lord. Worship and doing the will of God follows only after the ‘mortification of the flesh’. Then only, the Lord could be our Husband. ‘And Abigail hasted, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and became his wife” (I sam 25:42) And at that time, David was an homeless wanderer, yet ‘Abigail’ saw the future that one day she would ‘reign with him’. We consider all things for Christ and look for the future in faith.

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