LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 2 June 2019.
Sermon Text: 1 Samuel 25:1-13
Rev. Dr. Kwangho Song
I. The request (vs. 1-9)
II. The refusal (vs. 10-12)
III. The retaliation (v. 13)
This morning, we go back to the book of the First Samuel and continue from ch. 25, catching up from what we left last year. With this sermon series over June and July, we’ll cover the last seven chapters of this great OT book, the First Samuel.
So, we need a summary of the background of what we’ve read today. Here in ch. 25, David is still a renegade and his life of running away from the king of Israel has been since ch. 19. Saul has wanted to kill him. Yet, David spared Saul’s life once in a cave. What happened was that he and his six hundred men were hiding in that cave from the eyes of Saul and his army; but into that specific cave, Saul entered to relieve himself. David had a clear chance to end his ordeal by taking Saul’s life, but, he spared him there. Noticing what had happened, Saul stopped chasing David and a truce, although brief, was established between them. David and his men still keep themselves away from King Saul, but it’s a fairly peaceful moment.
In this situation, Samuel the prophet has finished his works on earth and died. Including David, all of Israel gather together to mourn for the loss of their spiritual leader. Having buried him, David returns to his hiding place in the wilderness of Paran. This place called Paran is south of the most main cities and towns of Israel, a wilderness with mountains, gorges and wadis, with lack of water and vegetation, a most inhospitable place.
Then, the story continues with a man whose business is in Carmel. Carmel is in the mountainous ridge along the Mediterranean Sea where fertile forests and vineyards used to be in David’s time. Because of dense wild vegetation with gorges and caves, that region of Carmel used to be a place robbers and outcasts love to take refuge. The 25th chapter of 1 Samuel tells us about what happened between David and Nabal, the businessman whose pasturage was in Carmel.
This story is not one of billions of stories of men; rather, this is a story that tells us who we are and what we are as well as who our God and Jesus is to us. Moreover, this story tells us why we need a saviour like Jesus who is the Son of God, why Jesus is the only hope for us and all sinners. So, let us open our heart and listen to the word of God.
I. THE REQUEST (vs. 1-9)
We begin, considering a ‘request’ recorded in vs. 1-9. It is a request made by David to Nabal. David sends his messengers to Nabal whose stock farming business is in Carmel. A rich man he was, as v. 2 says. David humbly asks Nabal a favour – it was a request, a humble request. His words conveyed by his messengers are recorded in vs. 6-8 and they sound more than saying, ‘Would you please …?’, they rather sound like, ‘I beg you ….’ Hear David’s words at the end of his message to Nabal: “Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.” It’s a truly humble request. Few people can lower himself to such a status in communication. Being humble like this is almost impossible for an average, normal person. No man is born with such a humble heart; humility is not a trait of a natural man. All natural men are by birth arrogant, hating to be submissive to others.
But, David made a humble request. Was it possible because it was David? I don’t think so; David was like any of us. In a sense, he has many valid reasons to be not humble but proud as he used to be a general and even the chief of the army in Israel whereas you and I are not. Moreover, he was a royal family by marriage whereas none of us married to a princess or prince. So, he could’ve easily claimed his superiority to Nabal who was a commoner. But David was not haughty; rather, he humbled himself so lowly to a point you and I could never even imagine doing it ourselves. How could he do that, lowering himself before Nabal, calling himself as ‘your son David’?
At this point, your eyes and mine must be directed to the One who was with the God of glory in heaven, yet, came down to the earth, lowering Himself to be the Friend of the sinners like us and Saviour of the world – Jesus Christ! His coming to us in flesh, beginning His earthly life in a manger, having no place to lay His head while He was in the midst of men – sinners – to save us is a mind-blowing mystery! How could a God of glory come down to us? Not only that, but also being suffered and crucified on the cross? David’s humble words are nothing, compared to the Lord Jesus’ humility! David’s humble words to Nabal, therefore, lead us to Christ and His love for us as well as His zeal for saving us and giving us His eternal life!
II. THE REFUSAL (vs. 10-12)
The next thing we need to think about is this: ‘Was David’s request a legitimate and reasonable one?’ Was he in a position to make such a request to Nabal, although in humble words? The answer is, yes. David surely can make such a request. Nabal’s shepherds testify to it in vs. 15 and 16 in these words, “(David’s) 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.” As I explained briefly in the beginning, the region called Carmel was a natural magnet for criminals and outcasts. But because of David’s men, Nabal’s shepherds had had no problem at all in the field – they had always protected them and their sheep. So, was David’s request to Nabal a legitimate and reasonable one? Yes, it was more than reasonable. In fact, David had a full right to request Nabal a reward.
At this point, I want you to focus on the words of Nabal’s men, testifying to what David and his men had done. While David’s men were with them, they missed nothing because David’s men were a ‘wall to them both by night and by day, keeping them and their belongings.’ Isn’t it a familiar language to your ears? Doesn’t it remind you of the work of God over Israel in the wilderness for forty years who remained in their midst with pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, protecting them? Doesn’t it remind you of our God with whom we’ve missed nothing in our earthly journey but gained much to even a point of our cup of life overflowing? Sometimes we find ourselves like in a boat tossing everywhere by the wind and the waves on the Galilean Sea, but having Jesus on board, we fear it not, but rejoice in the Saviour.
So, like David having a full right for such a request over Nabal, our God has a full and complete right for requesting everything of us. He created us, thus, owns us; moreover, He gave His Son, Jesus, to us to save us from sin and death, thus, He through Christ owns our redeemed life and praise! Yes, His request to us is fair and fully lawful!
Then, what happens to this request? Refused! Nabal refuses David’s rightful request conveyed in an extremely humble way. Not only refused, but also maliciously slandered. Hear what Nabal says in vs. 10-11, “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?” Simply put yourselves in David’s shoes and think about these words of Nabal. And can you say anything like, ‘Well, that who he is’ or ‘After all, it’s his possession and he wants to do whatever he likes to do with his’? No, we can’t say that. Although man is fallen in sin, thus, his reason and sense of righteousness is distorted, his mind still bears some understanding of what is logical and what is not. And refusing a rightful request like David’s is certainly illogical and we certainly know that such a refusal does incite a serious consequence.
Having said, let me point out to you that Nabal’s refusal is what all men has done and still do to God who rightfully owns everything of us. Like Nabal said to David’s messengers, ‘Who is David?’, people ridicule God, saying, ‘Who is God?’ Like Nabal again said, ‘Who is the son of Jesse?’, people ridicule Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the Son of God?’ It’s not only the attitude of the unbelievers, but also of some believers, especially when they feel uncomfortable with God’s teaching on something, with His certain request on their life. Instead of submitting their will to God’s word and request, they refuse the Lord’s rightful demand for their submission to their Lord.
Moreover, the Lord’s request is incredibly mild and tender. His request is with double and triple ‘pleases.’ Like David’s words that say, “Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants (pointing out his messengers) and to your son David,” our Lord’s request is so tender, telling us to ‘come to Him, all who labour and are heavy laden, and He will give us rest’! Listen to the words recorded in Mt. 11:29-30, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” His yoke we’re invited to take is not to earn by our much sweaty works, practices or efforts, but by only believing Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins; His burden is light because He has already carried it out through His sinless life and death on the cross for us.
This is Jesus’ request for all sinners in the world – so lowly and humble, yet rightful invitation. But people refuse it with words of scorn, ‘Who is God? Who is the Son of God?’ How stupid and foolish it is to refuse such a rightful, yet, tender and gracious invitation! Ps. 14:1 and 53:1 unanimously talk about a foolish soul and his refusal of God in these words: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds.” Isa. 53:3 gives the big picture of people’s refusal in these words: “(Jesus) was despised and rejected by men (that’s all including us), a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”
But, whoever – literally, whoever from all tribes and nations as well as all status – comes to God in repentance of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ, he is surely forgiven of all sins and saved! Not only saved, but also enter into the communion with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
III. THE RETALIATION (v. 13)
There’s still one last point we must hear from this story of David and Nabal; it’s ‘retaliation.’ David humbly requests what he deserves; but, Nabal refuses it and does evil to whom he owes much. Then, David rises up in anger and the evil Nabal will soon face retaliation.
Can anyone here say that David’s intention to destroy Nabal’s house by killing all males is too much? I think, with the sense of law of the 21st century, David’s will is regarded as an illegal criminal act. But our logic agrees with a corresponding retaliation to Nabal’s evil rejection. So, David’s anger toward Nabal points us to God’s righteous anger toward sin and sinners. also, David’s retaliation of killing all males in Nabal’s house points us to God’s final judgment and eternal punishment for sinners and their master, Satan. Surely it will take place and God will not let evil and sinners prolong; only God’s forbearance in His long-suffering delays His judgment! This is why the Bible urges people to come to Christ ‘as long as it is called today’! Listen to Heb. 3:7, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day,” and vs. 12-13 continue, saying, “Take care, brothers, … exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Our conclusion is, therefore, this that Jesus is our only hope! Why? Because we were exactly like Nabal; we not only rejected God and His Son, Jesus, but also ridiculed and scorned Him! With such a grave sin, we deserved death and an eternal punishment in hell. But God in His grace granted us faith in Jesus as His gift so that we might repent and believe in Him! By this faith, we’ve come to Christ, but not by our own initiative, but by the Lord’s gracious hand inviting and leading us to Jesus. The Holy Spirit endlessly teaches us the Lord’s word, thus, His will and love for us, enabling us to stand and willingly worship God and submit to His will!
Jesus is, therefore, our only hope; without Him, we fail, but with Him, we’ll eternally be blessed! So, enjoy Him in every step and moment of your life; rejoice in Him always!
Finally, is Jesus only our hope? No! He is the only hope for all unbelievers too! We must bring this message of hope to their ears so that they could also rejoice together with us in Christ our only hope for now and eternity! ***