April 18 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing on his own head.” ~David, 1 Samuel 25:39

David and his band of brothers are forced to move about the land hiding like William Wallace did in the misty mountains of Scotland. The men settle for a while near an estate belonging to a man named Nabal. (Hebrew readers would have picked up on the pun; Nabal’s name means “fool.”) David and his men enjoyed a good relationship with Nabal’s shepherds and field workers. Their presence was welcomed. The legendary David, slayer of Goliath of Gath, respected property and persons while providing a bit of extra security.

When David needs a little help, he sends men to Nabal to ask for food. He will not take without asking. Rather than returning a favor, Nabal lives up to his name by hurling insults. Even Nabal’s men can see the good opportunity before their master. David will, in all likelihood, be the next king of Israel. He will not forget a man who shows kindness in his time of need. Future royal favor aside, why insult 400 armed men, especially when they have been kind? But fools don’t think long-term like that. They just act like fools.

David is stunned, and perhaps not in the best frame of mind to deal with such a blow. He is running for his life from the most powerful man in the land. His mentor and protector, the prophet Samuel, is dead. He is tired, hungry, and grieving. Before he can go after Nabal though, a beautiful woman rides into camp at the front of a procession of animals carrying fresh supplies for David’s men, wine, meat, fruit, and grain. It is Abigail, Nabal’s wife, who quickly apologizes for the “misunderstanding.” God uses her to save her family and also to prevent David from sinning. In a moment of weakness, he is prepared to violate his own conscience to take revenge. But there is no need for David to take matters into his own hands. Nabal will suffer a stroke, and Abigail becomes David’s wife.

Today’s reading is rich with lessons. Nabal teaches us that foolish words and deeds can put lives at risk! Abigail teaches us that gracious words and deeds can transform the worst situation into something good. But the most obvious lesson is that we should never take “justice” into our own hands no matter how tempted we might be. Yes, David was wronged by the foolish Nabal. But taking a man’s life because one has both means and motivation is wrong, and David knew it. God dealt with the fool for David, and we must trust God to do the same for us. It’s tempting to get even with people who have wronged us, but God can and will deal justly with them in His own time and His own way. May the Lord give us strength to return good for evil and to trust Him to deal with fools.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.