David and Abigail

1 Samuel 25:4-35


SELECT A CHURCH

Select a church above to view sermon content.

1 Sep 2015

Guy Mason

Guy is the founding and Senior Pastor of City on a Hill, a church that began in 2007 with a small team and a big vision. Today City on a Hill is a movement of many churches that gathers across multiple locations, in different cities and is united around the central mission of knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. Guy is a passionate communicator of the gospel who is committed to engaging culture with the beauty, truth, and relevance of Jesus. Guy graduated with a BA in Public Relations from RMIT University and has a Masters of Divinity from Ridley College, and is currently completing his Doctorate of Ministry at Wheaton College. He is the husband to Vanessa and the father to four children. He is an Archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne and a Member of Acts 29.

31 Aug 2015

Andrew Grills

Andrew is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Geelong. He has spent most of his life as an officer in the Australian Army. Graduating with the Sword of Honour from the Australian Defence Force Academy, he served in Infantry and Intelligence, including operations in East Timor with the commandos. He holds a postgraduate degree in International Relations from Oxford University and an MDiv from Ridley College. Andrew later became an Army Chaplain at the Australian Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka, before leaving the full time Army in 2013 to plant City on a Hill Geelong. Andrew has been married to his beautiful wife Danna for over 20 years and has five young children. He loves the ocean, traveling, camping, playing with his kids (including attending their innumerable sporting matches), and reading military history.

25 Aug 2015
  • Transcript

    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, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. And thus you shall greet him, 'Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favour in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

    When David's young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. And Nabal answered David's servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 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?” So David's young men turned away and came back and told him all this. 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.

    But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them. Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 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.”

    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. And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. And as she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, behold, David and his men came down toward her, and she met them. Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”

    When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. 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. And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”

    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! For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.” [1 Samuel 25:4-35]


    Our Lord and our God, we thank You for an opportunity now to open up your Scriptures. We thank You that Your word is living and active. We thank You that whenever it goes out, it does not return empty, so I pray, Lord God, that Your word would be preached faithfully now. Give us hearts to receive, minds to engage, and we ask, Lord, that this moment would be used powerfully.

    May You use this time that You have given us to fashion us more and more into the image of Your son, Jesus Christ. So use this time for our good, and ultimately, Lord, use this for Your glory. We pray this in the precious name of Jesus, and all of God’s people said with one super loud voice, Amen.

    Well, welcome, City on a Hill. It is fantastic to be with you. Whether you’re here in Melbourne or watching from West or Geelong, I just want to say how thankful I am that you’re with us and journeying with City on a Hill. I love God’s word, I love this church, and so I feel tremendously honoured for the opportunity to open up God’s word with you.

    Now, ordinarily, I’d like to start my messages with a light cultural reference, perhaps a story about a prank in an elevator, or Paris Hilton falling out of a plane, or something like that. Today I thought I’d start with something just a little more confronting. Last weekend, Vanessa and I happened to catch this news report that was very disturbing. It was about a man named Kevin Bollaert.

    Now, Kevin is from San Diego and in his mid-20s, built a website to post explicit photos that men could put up of their ex-lovers as an act of revenge. Unlike other revenge porn sites where the victims remain anonymous, in this case he also not only just posted up those compromising pictures, but also posted up their full names, their Facebook accounts, where they worked, where they went to the gym, and in some instances, where they lived, along with a Google Street View so that you could find them.

    How might you feel if that happened to you? One woman said she was abandoned by her mother for the shame it brought on the family. Another said she received 400 messages on social media and the pressure was so strong that she was forced to quit college saying, “It’s been so traumatic, a daily struggle to get my life together.”

    But the hurt doesn’t stop there. To add insult to injury, Kevin created a second website called changemyreputation.com where he had extorted thousands of dollars from these innocent women, promising to take down the photos if they handed over large sums of cash. And sure enough, once they handed over the money, the pics would come down, but only to be reposted three or four or five days later.

    Can you believe this guy? Don’t you feel outraged? When I was there watching it with my wife, Vanessa, it made my blood boil. And it reminds me of the reality of evil, but also the fire of destruction caused on the path to revenge.

    With revenge, we may feel a certain power, a certain thrill, but in revenge, we almost always overlook the consequences of our actions. Now, Kevin is serving a life sentence behind bars, but more than that, he’s left behind a trail of humiliated women.

    You see, whenever somebody hurts us, we might be tempted to tell ourselves, “Well, I’m going to get even,” but the truth is we want them to suffer even more. We say revenge is sweet. No, it’s a poisonous meal cooked on the fires of hell that will eat you up on the inside out and destroy those around you.

    For some, it’s an outburst of rage, an act of violence. For others, it’s far more subtle, we tear down their character by speaking half-truths behind their backs. We refuse to open the door to any form of apology. We hold them in our control, manipulating them to always work for our acceptance.

    Now, on one level, the call this morning is quite simple. As followers of Christ, we’re not to be ruled by revenge, but characterised by peace, mercy and grace. That’s easy to say on a Sunday morning. When a business competitor is cutting your throat and doing inappropriate things, when your boss is taking advantage of you, when a co-worker is tearing apart your reputation behind your back, when a parent disowns you, when your husband, your wife tramples over their marriage vows in betrayal, then the call of peace becomes much harder to hear, and the call of revenge that more appealing.

    This morning we find ourselves in a defining moment in the life of David. It’s a story of intrigue, unexpected twists, but also one dominated by the complex themes of justice and revenge. If you have a Bible handy, I want to encourage you to come with me to 1 Samuel Chapter 25.

    Now, our episode begins with the news that David is on his way to the Wilderness of Paran, and at this point we’re introduced to a new character. He’s a very wealthy man with the largest estate and his name is Nabal.

    Now, that should concern us because in Hebrew, Nabal means fool. That’s his name. I’ve come across some very terrible names in my time; Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter, Apple; Dallas Clayton’s child, Audio Science; and my favourite, Deven Davis’ son, Pirate.

    Actually, I had some young dudes at our last Newcomers’ Night come up to me and say, “Is Guy your real name?” I really didn’t know how to respond to that, but thankfully, they followed it up with, “Are they your real glasses?” “Yes, they’re my real glasses, and yes, my name is Guy, everything else is fake, so there you go.”

    Interestingly, for Israel, the name Fool carries more than just ignorance and bad decision making. In Isaiah, we read this, “For a fool speaks nonsense, and his heart inclines towards wickedness, to practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord, to keep the hungry person unsatisfied and to withhold drink from the thirsty.”

    So the foolishness of Nabal is not just a reflection of his ignorance, but a statement of his character. He’s a man who despises God and treats everyone else like dirt. He’s the Gordon Gekko of Wall Street, who he’s not only cold to God, but he’s trying to stuff as much wealth and power into his small life while giving the finger to everyone else who comes to look for a hand.

    But remarkably, next to Nabal stands a shining light. Look to Verse 3, “Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife, Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful.”

    Now, Abigail is both attractive and intelligent, which raises a huge theological question, how did she end up with a moron like this? In all my study at Bible College, I still can’t find the answer to that one. This has got to be the first case of a man punching way, way, way above his weight.

    It’s at this point in this story that Nabal the fool, and Abigail the beautiful, their lives intersect with David, the future king. It turns out that David and his men had been spending some days looking out for Nabal’s livestock. The wilderness, in addition to its natural disasters, was known as a high crime district, and so while he was there, David played an unofficial role as protector over his wealth.

    So after weeks of faithful service, the time of shearing comes, which traditionally is a time of celebration, festivals and generosity. And David and his men want to be included in that season. Now, importantly, this is not an unreasonable request. In fact, it was believed to be one of the main ways that David and his men could source an income for what they were doing.

    But let’s look at how Nabal responds in Verse 10, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 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?”

    Nabal’s questions suggests he doesn’t know David, which is a blatant lie because at this point in the Book of 1 Samuel, everybody knows that David is going to be the future king, and yet Nabal has no respect for him. Like many lost in greed, it’s all about what he can get, never about what he can give. And so in Verse 12, we read that the servants of David returned home to David and tell him about Nabal’s rejection.

    Now in our day, it might not be easy for us to grasp the emotion of this little encounter, so to help, I want you to picture a time in your life where you were personally insulted. Think of a moment when someone publicly dishonoured you, someone embarrassed you, someone made you look two-foot tall.

    I can think of many times in my life. Year 7, I walked up into my high school Year 7 History class and we had a uniform in those days, except instead of wearing of black socks that day, I was wearing white socks. The history teacher, I mean, I’ve done way worse in my schooling years, the history teacher just went nuts. I don’t know what it was about this day or my poor white socks, but he decided to get me up to the front and personally ridiculed me and called me names and to kind of cap it off with kind of a roaring rage by saying, “Now, go to the principal.” All for wearing white socks.

    I mean, looking back, it’s all very trivial, but at the time to be kind of ripped to shreds in front of all your peers, all your mates, the entire class giggling over your stupidity with your white socks. It was humiliating. It made my blood boil.

    I wonder if you have moments in your life where you can remember when your buttons were really pushed, when someone got under your skin. I’m sure you relate, and the question is not what happened, but how did you respond? What is your natural instinct when someone crosses you, when someone disrespects you, when someone publicly dishonours you?

    There’s no doubt about David’s response, is there? Look at Verse 13, “And David said to his men, ‘Every man strap on his sword!”’ What’s David’s natural instinct? Revenge. Let’s not sugarcoat this. When he calls for 400 men to strap on a sword and to go, there’s no doubt, he wants to see this fool six feet under. He wants to teach the fool a lesson he will never, ever forget. Sound like a good and godly plan? Sound like the man after God’s own heart?

    Well, as you would have noticed from our reading, David is stopped on the road by Nabal’s wife, Abigail. Falling at his feet, she pleads with David to put away the sword and extend the hand of forgiveness. And if you cast with me your eyes over Verses 26 to 31, you’ll see she does this by not only acknowledging the guilt of her husband, but by pointing David to the biblical truth that justice belongs to the Lord.

    As Israel’s future king, David must recognise that if he restrains himself, if he heeds the word of the Lord, his kingdom will be blessed and God’s name will be honoured. And Abigail's speech is both beautiful as it is biblical, and his heart is changed so he decides to put away the sword and he pronounces peace.

    And it’s at this point that the scene then cuts to the following day where Nabal himself is recovering over a serious hangover. And Abigail comes to him and tells her husband about the intervention and about what happened with David, and the Bible tells us that he has something in that moment of a stroke or a heart attack. In fact, ten days later he dies. One writer says, “The modern autopsy would have discovered a natural cause of death, but it was conclusive to everyone who knew him that the Lord had struck Nabal.”

    It’s in these final verses that David remembers Abigail and rides to greet her. And this time he doesn’t come with the sword, but with a rose and a ring. You can almost see her, can’t you? Running to the gate, the whole scene goes slow-mo. With hair flicked back, David gets off his horse, gets down on his knee and says, “Abigail, Abigail, Abigail, would you do me the great honour of being my wife.” And like all good love stories, she says, “Sure, why not?” David embraces her with a kiss, she puts her arms around him, her heel kicks back and the sun sets on a beautifully romantic and happy end.

    Well, what are we to make of this very dramatic chapter? There are three important observations that I would love you to jot down.

    First, it’s an unexpected test. Did you notice from our text that this whole chapter is set on the backdrop of the Wilderness of Paran. Now almost all commentators will skim over that detail, but to me, that is where things get very, very interesting. Because this Wilderness of Paran isn’t just any wilderness. It’s actually the same wilderness that many years ago, centuries before, Moses had led Israel through.

    For those of you who are familiar with your Bible, you remember that Israel had been set free from slavery in Egypt, but they didn’t go straight to the Promised Land. Instead they spent 40 years wandering the wilderness, and it raises a very important question, why? Why didn’t God take them straight out of slavery to the Promised Land? Why did they wander those many years through the wilderness?

    Well, this is what Moses himself shared many decades after the event. Note these words, he says this, “Remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

    What was the wilderness about? It was a test of the heart. A test that not only would show who Israel was truly trusting, but an opportunity for God to shape them to be the people He’d made them to be. Had they been rescued from the hands of Pharaoh? Absolutely.

    As the saying goes, “You can take a man out of slavery in an instant, but to take slavery out of a man can take a lifetime.” Through the trials, through the wilderness, God was freeing them from the grip of idolatry so they could know, so they could trust, so they could treasure the one true God.

    Here in Chapter 25 emerges David, walking the Wilderness of Paran. Could that not be a clue to us that what follows with Nabal isn’t mere coincidence, but a test of David’s heart. A trial to reveal not only who David worships, but what it would mean for David to truly worship.

    You see, as you’ve been tracking through this series, you may have noticed that in previous chapters, David showed great restraint when it came to King Saul. Saul tried to kill David, but David never lifted his hand against him because he saw him as the Lord’s anointed.

    But how will David respond when it comes to Nabal the fool. Will he show the same trust in God, and what about his sense of justice? Will David take retaliation upon himself or heed the word of the Lord who says, “Vengeance is mine.”

    On the surface, this may seem incidental, but in the hands of a sovereign God who works all things according to His purpose, this trial, these tests are a means of grace to shape David to the person God had called him to be. If he fails in his hour of testing, then he jeopardises the throne. If he is faithful, then God will lift him up.

    I was chatting with my wife, Vanessa, just earlier today. We were talking about the fact that many people see David as this almost superhero figure, superhero, the man after God’s own heart, always perfect, always righteous. Kind of like the modern-day equivalent of The Bachelor, ruddy and good looking, bright smile, huge heart overflowing with love. I should add that my wife actually loves the TV show, The Bachelor, and you should all really go spend some time and watch that show. If you want to see how bad TV has become, it would be great for you.

    But let’s be real, David was heroic in his great times of courage, but he’s also a man. He’s also a man. He’s a man who struggled. In fact, by his own admission, David was born into this world in sin, in iniquity. His own heart was prone to wander. That means at times he struggled to trust God. That means at times he struggled to love people the way he should.

    Do you relate to that? I know I do, which is why this chapter is so significant for us because it tells us that God loves David too much to just leave him in sin. He has placed him in a situation to grow him, to fashion him, to shape him to be the humble, courageous, sacrificial leader that he needed to be.

    Do you remember the opening words of James? He says this, “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

    Trials are not given to break you, but to build you. Sure, there’s going to be times where you wake up and you feel strong in the Lord, your faith is mighty, you could eat three Goliaths for breakfast, no problem. But there’s going to be other times where you feel empty, you feel dry, and that is when obedience will be tested.

    Interestingly, what we can learn from this chapter in David is that many of those trials will be a test of your character and consistency. In other words, it’s all good and well in being faithful in this area, but it’s critical you’re also faithful in that area.

    For example, you may be faithful to your girlfriend publicly, but where do your eyes go when she’s not in the room? Are you able to show the same kind of restraint when you’re behind your computer at home and no one else is in the room? And what about your witness, isn’t it true that it’s easy to be passionate for the Lord on Sunday, but do you show the same kind of love and conviction in the office on the Monday?

    What about the way you view those around you? David had no issue restraining his anger with Saul, but when dealing with Nabal, he only saw revenge. Why is it that we’re able to forgive some people, but are quick to judge others? Why is it that we’re happy to sing of God’s amazing grace, but when someone actually hurts us, it becomes God’s conditional grace?

    Friends, I’m in no doubt. God wants to do something extraordinary in your life. You are not here by accident. He birthed you into this world with a very significant purpose, to become like His son, Jesus Christ. He wanted you to radiate His light just like Christ. In other words, He wanted you to be freaking awesome. And yet for that to happen, for you to grow, He can’t take you just straight to the Promised Land, there must be seasons in the wilderness to test you, to mature you.

    What it would mean for you today from this point on, to view the challenges in your world, to view the difficult people, not as a personal attack, but as a means of grace. To not only confirm your faith, but to grow and mature your faith? So that’s the first thing, it’s the unexpected test.

    But note the second, the unlikely hero. With all our focus on David, it’s easy, isn’t it, to underestimate how significant Abigail’s intervention was. If Abigail had not run to the road to greet and indeed stop David, how might the story have ended? What would have happened? What would have happened to Nabal? What would have happened to her family? What would happened to David himself? Would his slaughter have just gone unnoticed? Surely, this would have ruined his right to rule.

    Now, there are a few very important lessons that we can make from that. First, never overlook the importance of receiving wise counsel. The God who places us in situations to test us is the same God who will raise up men and women to gift you with wise counsel. To speak to you the truth in love, and your ability to heed their advice may be the difference between your success and indeed, a great fall.

    I’d like to just think that I have a decent understanding of the Bible, but isn’t it true that in times of testing, you need other people around you to remind you of what you already know, so that you can do what you know should be done. That’s why friendship, mentors, the church, Christian community is so tremendously important. I believe in the sovereignty of God, but within His sovereignty, He has used secondary causes, men and women like you and I, to grow us, to shape us, to prevent us from running into sin.

    Show me a believer who resists community, a Christian community, and I can almost guarantee that within five years, He will not only have given up reading his Bible, He would stop fighting sin, and soon enough, He will stop following Christ altogether. And that’s because the devil loves to isolate Christians. The devil loves to stroke your ego, not because he thinks you’re impressive, but to lull you in a sense of self-sufficiency and security. Where you no longer feel to heed anyone’s advice and you start thinking that you’ve got it all together. But hear this, Christianity is not a game, it’s a war, and in the battle, the army that fights together is the army that stays together.

    So take a moment right now to look around. These are much more than men and women who happen to go to the same church. These are your brothers and sisters whom God has handpicked and they’re filled with the Holy Spirit and they’re equipped with the word to encourage you, to serve you, to speak the truth in love. What would it mean for you to commit to community in this church? What would it mean to see those around you, not as acquaintances but as family?

    Let me say for those of you who are in community, when was the last time you stepped out in faith like Abigail? My guess is that right now, there is somebody in your network who, perhaps like David, is running on a trajectory towards sin. What would it mean for you this week to do something very practical and step out on the road and to speak some truth to that person to remind them of the Gospel, to remind them of the God that we worship? Could we do that this week? Could we actively put ourselves in that position and to play that position of sacrifice, courage and wisdom?

    But, of course, there’s something else worth highlighting, and that is of course the value and dignity that the Bible gives to this young woman named Abigail. Culture, culture loves to claim that it was the feminist movement of the 60’s and 70’s that brought honour to women. But it’s helpful to see that centuries before, God was lifting up women like Esther, Hannah, Ruth, and indeed, Abigail.

    Abigail is no shrinking violet who sits on the sidelines powdering her nose, nor is she depicted as an evil woman of revenge who wants to throw her husband under the bus or take a sword to David. No, instead she’s honoured. She’s honoured as a woman of beauty, wisdom, strength and courage.

    Now, some have wondered whether her actions are out of line with the biblical call of submission in marriage. It’s a fair question, but it’s important to note that the Bible never calls a woman to submit to stupidity. It never does. The Lord never calls a woman to follow her husband in sin. The Lord never calls a woman to put up with mistreatment or abuse. She has an obligation to herself. She has an obligation to God and indeed, she has an obligation to her husband to uphold what is true, what is right.

    While there aren’t specifics about the details of their marriage, it is remarkable to see the care that she shows to her husband. She apologies on his behalf. Now, she does call him an idiot, but she’s speaking the truth in love. She also shows great care to David himself, doesn’t she, helping him see the consequences of his sin. And of course, she serves all of us well by calling us to see the glory of God himself.

    Friends, if you’re looking for a godly example to follow, you’re not going to find many as great as Abigail herself, and I say that not only to encourage the women of our church, but also the men. Like David, we would be well served to heed the advice and example of God-centered women like Abigail. I know personally, I am blessed by many remarkable women of courage, biblical conviction, truth and compassion. They help me understand the Scriptures, they help me understand my God and they help me make a difference in this world.

    I was reminded this week of a woman by the name of Bethany Hamilton. And Bethany is a Christian, who, like many Aussies, loves to surf. But at the age of 13, she was attacked by 14-foot tiger shark that took off her left arm. In a world that puts so much pressure on young girls to find their value in their outward appearance, I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been, and yet within a few weeks, she was back on her board and then a year later she won a national record.

    She says this, “God gave me a sense of peace, because he’s not going to allow anything that He doesn’t think you can handle.” Since her incident, her story has been shared globally in a book, but also a featured film and was the catalyst for her own organisation. A foundation that seeks to serve young people and amputees to help them overcome their difficulties with the good news of the Gospel.

    Remarkable, extraordinary woman, like Abigail. She’s one of the many beautiful, courageous, inspiring women who are worthy of our respect and indeed our honour. And if I can take this opportunity to thank and honour the women of this church. Across Melbourne, across Geelong, and indeed West, we are blessed by extraordinary women. You are gifted. You are courageous. You are Spirit-filled. You are passionate about the Word. And this church would not be what it is without your generosity and commitment,. And I’m praying, we are praying that God would continue to raise up many more leaders, many more women who would love the Word and love His mission. So I wanted to thank you for that.

    Third and final observation from our text. And that is the day of vindication, the day of vindication. David’s change of heart is on one level, a testimony to Abigail’s strength and also David’s humility. But it also raises an important question about the nature of justice. I mean, it’s all good for David to pronounce peace, but is that ultimately a fair and just outcome? Wasn’t Nabal a bad man? Didn’t he just continue to do the wrong thing and treat people harshly? Why should he just go on celebrating and drinking without any consequences for his own actions?

    I think it’s safe to say we all have a keen sense of justice. I’m sure that when I told you that opening story about the man who established that humiliating website, most of us found a sense of satisfaction when we heard that he’s behind bars. That something in us that says, “That’s right. There should be consequences for wrong.”

    Perhaps you’ve read the many articles this week that appeared in our paper that talked about the sentence and the court proceedings regarding Masa Vukotic’s murder. A young girl was finishing her VCE when she was attacked brutally, brutally in a park in Melbourne’s East. And what dominated the press was the claim that the murderer had previously been freed from jail, even though there were great concerns that he was a serious threat. One prison guard confessed, “He was a time bomb of violence who should never, ever have been let out.”

    Now, stories like that make our blood boil because we feel let down by the system of justice. And isn’t it true that that’s the underlining drive in our revenge? We’re not sure that justice will be served so we take matters into our own hand. There are shades of nobility in that desire, but it’s an emotion that not only gets us into trouble, but indeed can hold us, enslave us to despair.

    As one writer says, “The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when their tormentors suffer.”

    This is where Abigail’s words are so tremendously helpful. Her plea to David is built on a confidence and trust in the justice of the Lord. Even though Nabal is wrong, she wants David to see that the Lord is faithful, and if David entrusts himself to God, he will see justice, he will know vindication, and sure enough, her words became true.

    Look to Verse 39, David says this, “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 discovered a very powerful lesson that day, and that is that vengeance does not belong to men, but to the Lord. Now, that’s not suggesting that there isn’t a place in our society for judges and juries. Sure enough, the Bible teaches us that all authorities have been positioned with authority as an expression of God’s justice, to restrain out evil and to uphold what is true.

    But what this text shows me and shows us is that when that system fails, we don’t need to be enslaved by anger or revenge because we worship a God who promises in this life or the next to deal with every situation with righteousness and justice.

    For some of you here today, that news is of great encouragement because some of us in this life have been mistreated. Some of you have been rejected. Some of you have been betrayed. Some of you have been cheated against. Some of you have been abused.

    What the Bible reveals, friends, is that God knows your pain. He sees it. He feels it. He weeps with you. And yet He calls you to hold on, to trust Him, because the day is coming where He will bring all things to light. He will not turn a blind eye to evil, and justice will prevail. You will see your day of vindication.

    God’s judgment is a message of great comfort for some, but also a sharp warning to others. You see standing in front of the mirror, I can realise that I fail to love others the way I should. We don’t always act with the best intentions. We don’t always honour other people the way they should. We often move in pride. We can speak in deceit. We often find ourselves falling in sin, and that self-centeredness not only brings brokenness to our relationships and havoc to our world, it defames, it publicly dishonours God.

    You see, when it comes to this chapter, we might be tempted to see ourselves in David. We may even see ourselves in the heroism of Abigail. But you know we often most represent Nabal. Like Nabal, we’re bent on trusting our own wealth, abusing our power and indeed worshipping our own importance. We live as if we were king and everyone else can go and get stuffed so that we are praised.

    The Apostle Paul says to us with great honesty and conviction, “There is no one who seeks God. No, not even one, for all have fallen short of the glory of God.”

    Who are we? We are Nabal. And that’s a terrifying thought when you consider that a day is coming where we will be laid bare before our Maker and our Judge, the One who knew our actions, the One who knew our intentions. We will come before Him and give an account, and He will not turn a blind eye to evil, but will judge according to His good and perfect will.

    Some of you will say but, “Isn’t God loving, isn’t He in the business of forgiving sin?” Absolutely, but you must ask yourself a very serious question. How can God show mercy to a sinful people while at the same time upholding the integrity of His justice? Well, our answer is of course the Cross.

    Centuries after David walked this Earth, God sent another Man, a new and better King and His name is Jesus. And like Israel and like David, Jesus also was led into the wilderness, and yet unlike any man before Him or after Him, He was faithful to God in every way. He was faithful on the mountaintop, but faithful also in the desert. He was perfect in every way. He was without sin. He loved God completely. He loved you sacrificially. And so just as the Scriptures promised in accordance with God’s will, the same Jesus went to the Roman cross to die in my place, to die in your place.

    The Bible says that the wages of sin is death: physical death, spiritual death, eternal death. And Jesus went to pay for our death by offering His life. Strung up on the Roman cross, we see God’s great need for justice and our great need for mercy satisfied in full. As the Apostle Paul says, “We are justified by His blood.”

    And that is good news for all who would call on Jesus today. The punishment that we deserve has been paid in full so we can know the salvation that we desperately need, and because of His sacrifice, you today can be forgiven. You can be accepted by God. You can stand righteous and blameless in His sight because of what Christ has done. And that assurance, that forgiveness that is yours today in Christ not only gives you forgiveness before God, but equips you, empowers you to forgive other people.

    That’s the promise of the Gospel, that it only brings us in, it changes our hearts. It enables us to no longer be held by anger, to no longer be controlled by revenge, but set free to love, to forgive like Jesus.

    So I want to finish with a story, the true story of a remarkable man named Louis Zamperini. He was born in 1917, and at the age of 5, he started smoking. His parents emigrated to the US from Italy and he barely could speak a word of English so he was pushed around at school. He was bullied often, and he says he was often in fights, and so much of his life was about getting even.

    Eventually, the police got a hold of him and they said, “Mate, you’ve got to put your energy to good use.” So he started training on the tracks. He became a runner, and eventually he trained so hard he made the Olympics, the 1936 Olympics in Berlin Games. He even got to shake the hand of Adolf Hitler for being so fast on the final track.

    Then he hopes to go for gold in 1940, but of course, the Games were cancelled on account of the war, and he joined the military. And then on the 27th of May while on a search for a missing aircraft, the plane he was on crashed into the ocean killing nine of the soldiers who were on board with him.

    Louis and three others were left stranded on a small raft in the middle of nowhere with no food and no water. For 47 days, they had to fend off sharks and storms until eventually he lands on Marshall Islands where he’s captured and imprisoned by the Japanese Navy.

    There he tells the story of how he was subjected to much beatings and abuse. They injected him more than three times to use him as a guinea pig in their experiments. Later he would be transferred to another prison where he met the notorious guard known as The Bird who subjected him to ruthless abuse and treatment. This guy was so ruthless, he was listed as one of the 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. And this abuse would happen every morning every day, every night, until eventually the war was over and he could return home.

    This is where the story gets even more intriguing. Returning home, he was herald as a hero. He got married, had a baby girl, but he couldn’t shake his terrifying desire to get revenge. In fact, he’d have nightmares every single night where he’d wake up with his hands pictured around his abuser’s neck. He’s just completely enslaved to the desire. So terrifying that he tried to escape his demons by hitting the bottle and became an alcoholic and would go out drinking every single night and it was so extreme that his wife, Cynthia, decided to file for divorce.

    Yet as she was filing for divorce, a friend of hers said, “Cynthia, why don’t you come along to this meeting. It’s a church thing. I’d love for you to hear a bit about the message.” And she goes along to this meeting, and there’s a young evangelist by the name of Billy Graham who gets up and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus, that Jesus died for our sins and risen for our life, and that night she gave her life to Jesus.

    And even though she was on a trajectory to kind of end the marriage, she felt convicted in that moment that she shouldn’t give up on her husband. And she decided, even though he was on a trajectory to sin, she decided to kind of meet him on the road and speak to him the truth in love and she pleaded with him, “Louis, would you come along and hear something of the Gospel? Would you come and hear about this Jesus?”

    Reluctantly, he went along. Sitting in his seat, he heard about Jesus and the Holy Spirit started to stir in his heart, and there and then he gave his life to Jesus. That’s good news. That’s good news, and he says that as he got up from his knees after his prayer of repentance, he knew that God had not only forgiven him, but he’d also forgiven his guards. And he says that that was evidenced by the fact that from that point on, he never had one more nightmare, and he’s travelled since to Japan to meet with the prison guards who had held him in those days, talking to them about Jesus. Some of them had given their life to the Gospel.

    Isn’t that remarkable? That’s the power of the Gospel. Jesus offers you a very real, true, eternal peace. It’s here for you today. You can know this. You can enjoy this, not because of anything we have done, but all that Christ has done for us. It’s available for you today.

    If you are not yet a Christian, please do not hold on to your anger any longer. Please don’t hold on to your need for revenge. Come to the Lord your God. Hand it over to him and receive His life. Receive His love. Jesus is the way, he’s the truth, and the life. That life is available for you today. Please do not leave today without talking to someone about what it would mean to be set free in Jesus.

    For those of you here today who are Christians, may this be an opportunity for us to recommit ourselves to our God, to hand over our burdens, to give over our anger, and to receive afresh His peace. That we’d not only grow in our delight in Him, that we’d be able to move in His kindness and extend the hand of mercy and grace.

    Would you please stand with me as we pray to that end? Our Lord and our God, we thank You, thank You, thank You for the good news of the Gospel that has set us free from sin and given us new life in Christ. Lord, we know that many of us are in difficult seasons. Some of us right now perhaps are trying navigate a difficult relationship, others perhaps are still being held by someone else’s abuse or sin. Lord, would You speak the truth to us today. Would You gift us with your Gospel of grace that we would grow more and more like Your son Jesus Christ and receive His acceptance and walk in His grace. Empower us now to do what You’ve called us to do, that You would get the glory that only You deserve. We pray this in Jesus’ precious name, and all of God’s people said, Amen.

Guy Mason

Guy is the founding and Senior Pastor of City on a Hill, a church that began in 2007 with a small team and a big vision. Today City on a Hill is a movement of many churches that gathers across multiple locations, in different cities and is united around the central mission of knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. Guy is a passionate communicator of the gospel who is committed to engaging culture with the beauty, truth, and relevance of Jesus. Guy graduated with a BA in Public Relations from RMIT University and has a Masters of Divinity from Ridley College, and is currently completing his Doctorate of Ministry at Wheaton College. He is the husband to Vanessa and the father to four children. He is an Archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne and a Member of Acts 29.