We are continuing in our message series “Faith Heroes” today. What is a hero? A hero is a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character. In most translations, for some reason, the word hero is not usually used. The word that the Bible uses is an example. A positive example in the Bible would be someone who had shown courage or strength of character in following God.
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV) Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
In this Scripture, Paul is writing to Timothy and instructing him to be an example to others of living out the Christian faith. In our definition, he would be a hero to follow as an example. In the Bible, there are also negative examples, who would not be considered heroes.
1 Corinthians 10:11 (ESV) Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
This Scripture speaks of people in the Old Testament who did not follow God and suffered His judgement. These people and the consequences of their actions are examples that we should not follow.
Today, our message is entitled “Living Wisely.” In this message we’re going to see both a negative and a positive example of following God. The person who is a negative example is classified in our passage as a fool. Whereas the person who is a positive example is characterized as wise. The Bible is full of passages, especially in Proverbs, contrasting fools and wise people in their attitudes, behaviors and words.
Proverbs 14:16 (ESV) One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
In this verse we see that a wise person turns away from evil, but a fool carelessly falls into it.
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Where does the wisdom of the wise come from? It comes from a relationship with the Lord and His Word. Fools despise wisdom and God’s Word.
The difference between a wise person and a foolish person is not genetic, it’s not a matter of IQ or intelligence. The difference between wisdom and foolishness is a moral and spiritual issue. In fact, the Bible classifies believers as being wise and unbelievers as being foolish.
Psalm 53:1 (ESV) The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.
Yet even believers can grow in wisdom and eliminate any foolish sin their lives. In today’s story, we’re going to look at two examples of people, a foolish man and a wise woman. We’re going to learn that a wise person makes decisions based on the principles of God’s Word. So, first of all, let’s look at …
1 Samuel 25:2-3a (ESV) And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved;
So, we are introduced to the two main characters in our story today. The man Nabal, whose name meant “fool” was very rich, but harsh and cruel. His wife Abigail, whose name means “my father’s joy” was wise and beautiful. We are not told how they ever got married, perhaps it was an arranged marriage. Now, let’s look at a little more background of the third character in our story, David. David had been fleeing from King Saul who was trying to kill him and was hiding in the desert of Maon. David and his armed men had been protecting Nabal’s servants and flocks from robbers for some time. David asked for some provisions from Nabal’s feast day at the time of sheep shearing. This would have been a common courtesy at that time, especially as David’s men had not charged anything for their protective services. Nabal responded and said …
1 Samuel 25:11 (ESV) Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”
Even though Nabal knew who David and his men were, he refused to help them and instead responded in a harsh and ungrateful manner.
1 Samuel 25:13 (ESV) And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.
David intended to take revenge on Nabal and his men and to kill many or all of them. Although David is not one of the two main characters in this story, we’re going to see that his rash action and vow here was now wise but foolish. David was a wise man who had succumbed to a foolish decision in the heat of the moment. A servant of Nabal heard about what was going to happen and immediately went to Abigail and told her. He said …
1 Samuel 25:17 (ESV) Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.”
Nabal’s servants knew that he was so foolish and worthless that he would not listen to anyone. So they came to Abigail, who had a reputation for making wise decisions. Nabal’s rude and harsh response to a reasonable request was very foolish and put his entire business and servants in peril of their lives.
The Bible teaches us that our relationship with God is the foundation for our relationships with people. In Nabal’s case, his harsh and foolish relationships with people indicates that he had no genuine relationship with God.
Let’s think about ourselves and our relationships. When someone asks you to do something for them or you see a need that someone has, what is your response? Is our response, what’s in it for me? Are we thinking about ourselves first and foremost or are we seeking to show love to the one in need? All of us are tempted to be greedy or selfish with our time and resources when we’re asked for help. Might be from family, relatives, friends, co-workers or church family. Yet, that is the foolish response. Our love for God, who supplies all our needs, should motivate us to have a generous response to meet the needs of others. When we do, we are blessed and God will take of us as well. Not only should we not follow the example of Nabal, the foolish man, we should follow the example of …
1 Samuel 25:18 (ESV) Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys.
Nabal had refused David’s request and put the entire family and servants in peril Abigail knew the right thing to do. So, she gathered provisions to take to David and so honor his request. This was no small task to provide food for hundreds of men. When she arrived before David she said …
1 Samuel 25:26 (ESV) Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal.
Abigail next apologized for the rude behavior of her husband. She was kind and humble before David. She appealed to David’s conscience to avoid bloodshed and condemned the evil behavior of Nabal. Abigail looked to the future when David would no longer be fleeing from Saul, but kind of all Israel. She asked David to remember her, even though at this point, she didn’t know what the future held for her.
1 Samuel 25:32-33 (ESV) And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!
Even though David’s rash decision to take revenge on Nabal and his family and servants, he showed wisdom in listening to the godly counsel of Abigail. By her wisdom he was spared from two things. First of all the bloodguilt of killing innocent people in Nabal’s family including Abigail, as well as his servants, for the sin of Nabal. Secondly, he was spared from the sin of taking revenge, rather than leaving judgement to God. David knew that it was God who had spoken to and sent Abigail and he prayed for God’s blessing to be up on her. Abigail had exemplified the generosity and wisdom of a woman who feared God.
Just as there was conflict in our story today, our lives are filled with conflict. Conflict between people in our families, conflict at work, conflict between friends and even conflict in the church family. Why is there conflict? Because people are different and none of us is perfect. But God has called us not to stir up conflict, but to be peacemakers, which is what Abigail was.
Are you involved in any conflicts or potential conflicts? Ask God how you can be a peacemaker in that relationship. A peacemaker seeks to meet the needs of others through gentle answers and generosity. A wise person listens to the wise counsel of others and changes his direction in life. Seek God’s help to exercise godly wisdom as a peacemaker in your relationships. Now let’s look at the …
There are consequences of being wise or foolish. The Bible speaks of sowing and reaping. When you sow foolishness, you will reap judgement. When you sow wisdom, you will reap reward from the Lord. Now the mystery is that not all foolishness is judged in this life and not all wisdom is fully rewarded. But we are promised that at the final judgement, all will be judged and rewarded. In our story today, we will see that …
While Abigail was away saving the lives of her family and its servants, Nabal was at a party getting very drunk.
1 Samuel 25:37-38 (ESV) In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.
David had not taken revenge on Nabal, but left judgement to the Lord. The needs of his men had been provided by Abigail and now the Lord struck Nabal in judgement. God knew that Nabal would never repent, so it was time for him to face judgement.
1 Samuel 25:39a (ESV) When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.”
David had learned from the wise counsel of Abigail and avoid the wrong of taking revenge. In David’s answer, we see the principle of sowing and reaping. The evil that Nabal had sown throughout his life had now been returned on his own head. It was the Lord who had done it and caused Nabal to die suddenly. Foolishness had been judged and now we’ll see …
1 Samuel 25:39b, 42 (ESV) Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. … And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
Abigail was now a widow. Undoubtedly, David had been impressed with Abigail’s wisdom and sought to help her. Abigail didn’t waste any time, but responded positively to David’s marriage proposal and they were married. God had released her from her marriage to Nabal the fool and rewarded her by bringing her into David’s family. Wisdom and foolishness have consequences.
Our story today has to do with wisdom and foolishness in relationships. How can we grow in wisdom in relationships? The godly wisdom we are seeking comes from an understanding of and obedience to God’s Word. The book of Proverbs in particular is full of short instructions on how to live wisely and avoid foolishness. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs and some people read a chapter a day every month. You’ll always find some wisdom that will apply to your day and life. In order to put those instructions into practice, you need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We saw in today’s story that David was helped by listening to wise counsel. If you want to grow wiser, spend time with wise friends. Don’t build close relationships with people who are foolish. God will help you grow in wisdom.
Wisdom does not only apply to relationships, it applies to every area of your life. The way of wisdom is the way of righteousness, of following God’s direction and avoiding evil. Even an unbeliever can exhibit some degree of wisdom by following biblical principles. Our country was founded on biblical principles and in the past, there was a wide-spread understanding of the Bible and biblical wisdom. That is no longer the case. So, we see more and more foolish, ungodly behavior among both unbelievers and believers in our culture. Wisdom is not established by what the majority think is right, it must be based solely on God’s Word. I believe that as we seek to live wisely, the rewards of wise living will draw more and more people to discover the truth in Jesus Christ.