LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 9 June 2019
Sermon Text: 1 Samuel 25:14-35
Rev. Dr. Kwangho Song
I. Hearing and responding to the message
II. Pleading for people
III. Receiving the peace message
Last Sunday, Nabal was the focus of the message we heard. Considering his refusal to David’s just request, we were reminded of sinful man’s refusal to God’s rightful request for our all and how stupid and insulting is such a refusal to the eyes of God. We also heard about the retaliation such a foolish refusal incurred – so, angry David was riding his horse alongside his 400 men to destroy Nabal and all in his house. With that point, we considered God’s sure punishment that was due for all sinners.
Now, the story continues, yet, having a woman in focus – it’s Abigail, Nabal’s wife, whose name means, ‘the joy of my father’ or ‘my father is joy.’ She is one of the greatest women of the Bible, a woman of faith and wisdom. Although she was a sinner like everyone else, her words and deeds are recorded in these verses of 1 Sam. 25 to give us a deeper understanding of the saving grace of God through the atoning death of the Son, Jesus Christ. In a word, Abigail’s story leads us to look up at the cross of Jesus and give thanks to our Saviour God for dying in our stead, thus, saving us from God’s wrath and granting His peace and joy for eternity.
So, let us hear this message of ‘saving grace of God,’ following this story of Abigail and David.
I. HEARING AND RESPONDING TO THE MESSAGE
First of all, we read about Abigail hearing a message from one of the servants of her house. The message she heard was about the foolishness of her husband in his treating the righteous David. This message also included an insight of the servant into the imminent danger for all her house. Hearing it, Abigail realised the severity of the situation. So, she acted immediately upon her understanding. This reflects her wisdom, and this is why she is described earlier in v. 3 as “discerning (literally, ‘of good sense or understanding’ ) and beautiful.”
I’d like to take a moment and focus on this word, ‘discerning’ or ‘of good understanding.’ When the Hebrew word, ‘sokel,’ is used, it means ‘of good sense,’ ‘insight’ or ‘understanding.’ We find this word from Prov. 12:8 which says, “A man is commended according to his good sense,” but its contrary is ‘one of twisted mind’ who is despised. This ‘sense’ is good because it brings success and blessing; when someone has this good sense, good understanding, he/she is soon blessed with a good outcome. Abigail had this good sense, and with this understanding, she acted quickly and responded well to the situation. Surely and quickly a disaster would fall upon everyone in her house.
But not many people would do as did Abigail to such a situation. In fact, few would react to a threat like that of Abigail’s house. They would try to seek all possible way to repel such a threat and keep their family from any harm. No wonder why so many Hollywood movies have been made in this regard; in those movies, heroic dads and mums save their family or make a revenge to the damage made to their families, and the world go wild with those movies. Yet, Abigail took a different way; reacting quickly, she frustrated before David, sought his forgiveness. And the Bible points this out as a good sense and understanding.
The spiritual lesson we must hear from this is that we must have a good sense and understanding of the message we hear from God. This message says that upon everyone who badly treats God, rejecting His Son, Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, a sure judgment will come. There’s no escape from this coming wrath of the righteous God. We hear of this message, and having a good sense and understanding, must respond to that message.
Abigail’s hearing of and reaction to the message of imminent danger reminds us of this great need of good sense, good understanding of the situation. Her story urges us to respond quickly to the day of the Lord that will surely come and end the present evil generation. The point raised by Abigail’s story is this that while she responded quickly to the message of doomsday to her house, how quick and sincere is be our response to the cosmic doomsday for the unrepentant? How desperate is our heart concerning our unbelieving families and neighbours?
This enlightens us about the urgency in the heart of God and Jesus for saving sinners like us from sin. Try to remember what you know about the life of the Lord Jesus from His birth to death. In every part of His earthly life, you’ll surely be able to sense this urgency in His heart. He so deeply desired to save us! He spent three years in public ministry and, in this entire three-year period, He had no place to lay His head. From the moment He began preaching, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” till the moment He spoke His last words on the cross, saying, “It is finished,” His life was always go, go and go in urgency for saving the lost. He laid His hands on the sick and needy; He taught the word to the arrogant hearts; He showed His miracles to the doubters; He discipled them too; He prayed to the Father for His own; He called the sinners, dined with them, visited and encouraged numerous ones; He repeated it all the way for that three years without a break; He didn’t even seek His pleasure because His heart was thoroughly filled with love for us! Hear what the very last verse of John’s Gospel says about it in these words: “Now there are also many other thigs that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
And He delighted to see people come to Him in faith! No wonder why He said once to His disciples by the well in Samaria that He had food to eat that the disciples did not know about. He was surely hungry in need of food for His body, but seeing that Samaritan woman repented and saved in faith, His bodily hunger was overcome by the joy in His heart. And Phil. 2:5 urges us to have ‘this mind of Christ Jesus’ who ‘emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant,’ came to us to die for us!
So, our response to the message we’ve heard must be sincere and prompt, and let others – starting from our loved ones to our neighbours – know Christ and come to Him in faith.
II. PLEADING FOR PEOPLE
Another interesting point is Abigail’s pleading for her people. She hurriedly went out to meet David and his men on their way to destroy Nabal’s house. She brought some tributes with her. But the greatest and richest tribute she brought to David was her lowly heart. Vs. 23-24 describe what happened when she met David in these words: “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.” This is the best tribute she brought before David.
Considering Abigail’s social position, this sort of attitude would be the least expected. Her husband, Nabal, was a rich man, and a rich man’s wife usually – regardless of time and age – finds herself in the upper reaches of society. So would’ve been Abigail. But here, she prostrated before David and pleaded for her household. Did she do it because of the acute and urgent situation? Yes, David and his 400 armed men were dashing on their horses. But that wasn’t all. She could’ve done anything else, like hiring mercenaries or trying to bribe David. But, out of all those possible options, she fell on her face and bowed to the ground at David’s feet to plead for her people.
This is an act of great wisdom. By this deed and words of plea, she brought peace to all sides, starting from her household and including David and his men and their families who were eagerly waiting for safe return of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons at their hiding place in the wilderness. Furthermore, peace upon all around that region and entire Israel.
As much as it was an act of wisdom, it was also a powerful mediation. She says in v. 24, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt.” Her intercessory words begin with a confession of sin, that is, ‘guilt’ or ‘blame’ or ‘iniquity.’ Then, she recognises her husband, Nabal, as a fool or a wicked fool as his name points out. Her words reinforced her act, and it was powerful.
Having said, consider how much more powerful, wise and efficient the mediation of Jesus Christ for us sinners than Abigail’s made for her household and those with David. Our Lord’s mediation covers multitude of sins of multitude of sinners. Even for those who nailed Him on the cross and others who mocked and ridiculed the Son of God, Jesus prayed, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”! There’s no such a sin that is too grave to be forgiven. Remember the message of forgiveness preached by an apostle of Christ who said, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In this teaching on forgiveness, there’s no mention of any sin that couldn’t be forgiven, but all ‘your sins’ will be forgiven by your repentance and baptism in Jesus’ name, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s gift mentioned here means the eternal life and all accompanying blessings. 1 Jn. 1:7 and 9 further confirm the scope of Christ’s mediation with these words, “If we walk in the light [that is, in communion with God through Christ], … and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins. … we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We clearly hear from this word of God that Christ’s blood forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Christ’s mediation is complete, powerful and sufficient!
III. RECEIVING THE PEACE MESSAGE
Then, our last point for today is the result Abigail received. That is, the message of peace for all. Not a truce, not a kind of ‘cease fire then go each one’s way,’ but peace with blessings for all involved.
Look at vs. 32-33 and hear David’s words: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel …! Blessed be … you!” Hearing Abigail’s words, David woke up from his fury and sin of wilful hijacking of God’s right for vengeance – so he praised God for His grace. He also wished for the Lord’s blessing upon Abigail. Then, he says to her in v. 35, “Go up in peace to your house.”
This reminds us of the peace declared to us by God because of the atoning blood of Jesus, His Son. Also it speaks of His blessings that come with His peace. David’s word, “Go up in peace to your house,” directs us to remember what the Lord says in Acts 2:39, having urged for repentance and faith in Jesus, this gives us great comfort and joy: “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” This is the blessing that comes with our peace with God. Believing in Jesus, the Lord’s blessing fills our heart and soul, and overflows to soak our family members, then, to do the same to our neighbours, even to those who are called from the ends of the world. What a great blessing this is! It follows the peace message that all who believe in Jesus hear from our God!
In closing this message, we must remember the saving grace of our God and Jesus Christ. And remember in what urgency Christ our Lord loved us and worked out His redemption of sinners like us. So, hearing His message, we must respond with a sincere heart and, without delay, without hesitation, share it with others. Pray for any and all unbelievers we know, and be prepared to give an answer to all who ask for a reason for the hope and joy we have in Jesus.
Meanwhile, let us stand firm in the confidence of our salvation, not only remembering but also enjoying how powerful and efficient and eternal our Lord’s mediation is for us! Our joy in Him gets deeper when we remember that this promise we’ve received is for us and for our house as well as our neighbours! Abigail’s story reminds us of this blessing and re-establishes us firmly in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! ***