If I had a pound for every time I felt like I’d been short changed by someone I’d tried to help out I’d be slightly more wealthy than I am now. I am, however, very happy to report that I haven’t been tempted to take my friends and neighbours round to murder someone because their actions didn’t meet up with my expectations.
I guess we can all relate to this story about David who had defended Nabal’s men, his land and his property during a time of strife. David hadn’t sent a message demanding payment for the service; he just asked for a little recognition by way of a contribution towards the upkeep of his men. It was a reasonable enough request considering the danger David and his soldiers had encountered. Sadly, Nabal was a greedy, self-obsessed man who was only interested in his own welfare. His selfishness cost him dearly in the end. Heart failure 10 days later ended his life.
The Bible teaches us that loving each other is a critical part of our calling as worshippers of God. Leviticus 19:18 tells us that we should “love our neighbour as ourselves,” a line that was quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:31. The point is not that we create formal arrangements to make sure that everything is balanced out fairly and weighed with integrity but in the context of Leviticus the preceding verses go much further. They suggest that you shouldn’t reap all of your crops but leave some for the poor (Lev. 19:9-10), you shouldn’t deceive people (v.11), defraud people (v.13), bad-mouth people (v.16) etc. It’s a little bit more than just being nice and polite and settling your debts but extends to releasing a blessing for those who need it too. As Jesus put it, “walk the extra mile.” (Matt 5:41)
It must have really rankled with David that his efforts at maintaining security for Nabal, his family and employees were so rapidly and rudely dismissed so his response is understandable. But even then there is something to learn. David didn’t need to have unnecessary blood on his hands so God sent Abigail to bring peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers” are they not (Matt 5:9)? Nabal’s demise followed shortly afterwards and peace and love were restored. So, sometimes in the heat of our rage we need to stop, look past the object of our anger and find a way back to peace and love.
Father God, help me to always look for the road to peace as Abigail did. Keep me calm and direct my thinking, my living and my wisdom. Amen.