1 Samuel 25:1-17

Samuel’s Death

25 Then Samuel died; and all Israel gathered together and mourned for him, and buried him at his house in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

Nabal and Abigail

Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very [a]rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was [b]intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite), that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, [c]visit Nabal and greet him in my name; and thus you shall say, ‘[d]Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days 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 have come on a [e]festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited. 10 But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men [f]whose origin I do not know?” 12 So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you gird on his sword.” So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage.

14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to [g]greet our master, and he scorned them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything [h]as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep. 17 Now therefore, know and [i]consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a [j]worthless man that no one can speak to him.”

In the beginning of this passage, one might get some idea that Nabal was in the right. That is, David and his men were just free-loading and wanted a hand-out.

But in 14-17, we find the real story. We discover that if Nabal had asked his servants, just as David’s men mentioned, he would have easily confirmed that they were well-deserving of any bounty Nabal could share with them. Indeed, it seems likely that Nabal’s men tried to tell him exactly that, but Nabal wouldn’t listen.

Such is the spirit of greed, even worse when mixed with a little pride, so that you don’t care about the good of anyone except yourself. Nabal couldn’t have cared less about his workers, he was likely already grudging the food they would consume during this festive (and bountiful) time.

The reverse of this attitude, and indeed the cure, is generosity. God asks us to be cheerful givers. This doesn’t mean just in church. Rather, God wants us to be generous in all we do. Tight-fisted greed will get you money and misery, and most of the time only misery. Generosity breeds contentment, and that is something worth striving for in our possession-obsessed culture today.

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