Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb. When David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep, David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: ‘Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have! Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David.’ ” So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited. Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” So David’s young men turned on their heels and went back; and they came and told him all these words. (1 Samuel 25:2-12)
He Is Such A Worthless Fellow
The Bible is filled with stories of great men and women who do great things. It is also filled with a litany of those men and women who make life miserable for everyone. Nabal was a man that everyone knew to be a worthless man, a scoundrel. He was a very rich man that was a villain or a crook. His servants called him by what he was and everyone knew talking to Nabal was a dangerous thing. In contrast, he was married to a very beautiful woman who had a very compassionate heart. Abigail was a very wise woman who must endured daily abuse from such a rogue as her husband. Then the day came when David sent ten men for supplies from the wealthy man, Nabal.
There was no reason for Nabal to be so cruel to the servants of David. The only reason was that he was selfish, arrogant and a bully of a man. He not only refused the request of David’s servants, he apparently replied to them in such a harsh manner the text says they “turned on their heels” to leave. The answer did not sit well with David and he prepared 400 men to kill all the males in the house of Nabal. Whether David’s actions were the result of unbridled rage or righteous indignation, it is left to interpretation. Abigail would later plead with David his actions would bring him greater harm. David relented from his purpose, returning to his camp.
There is such a contrast between the character of Abigail and Nabal. It is like night and day. What is evident is that everyone knew the difference in the kind of man Nabal was and the wise woman Abigail. The servants heard David was coming. In part to spare their own lives, they pleaded with Abigail to do something. Nabal is called a “son of Belial” because he was such a mean person. No one could talk civilly to him. He thought he ruled the world and everyone had to bow to him. He regarded no man to help or show kindness. This was in contrast to the customs of the people dating back to Abraham’s benevolence to the three men at Mamre. Nabal was a terrible person to be around and everyone feared him. The scripture tells us he became very drunk (not the first time) and Abigail had not told him what she did. When he sobered up the next morning, she let her husband know what she had done. She saved his life because without her intervention David’s army would have killed Nabal and every male in the camp. Great fear came over Nabal and ten days later, he died from the hand of the Lord.
There are a lot of people like Nabal in the world. They think they are a god to themselves that everyone must answer to and cower before. Filled with their own arrogance and pride they are harsh to those lower to them (which is about everyone in the world). The Bible calls them scoundrels or worthless men. Their boastfulness makes life miserable for everyone else and they reign with terror. What they forget is one day is like a thousand to the Lord. These men do not last. Time means nothing to God. A man’s life is only promised about seventy years and then what happens to all men happens to the scoundrels – they die. They die just like everyone else. All men are born in the same way and they all die in the same manner. The wickedness of Nabal returned to his own head. Now that is a great story.
The prouder a man is, the more he thinks he deserves; and the more he thinks he deserves, the less he really does deserve. (Henry Ward Beecher, Royal Truths, 1862)