Don’t Marry a Fool

I Samuel 25

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
December 2020

Today, we are going to look at one of the greatest women in the Bible.  She lived three thousand years ago and is an incredible role model today, but many do not know much about her.  She is not that famous.  Most Christians do not know this chapter very well.  Esther has a whole book.  She only has one chapter.  It is a chapter that every woman should study.

The Book of I Samuel has several chapters that focus on women.  In the beginning of the book, a few chapters were devoted to Samuel’s mother, Hannah.  She was stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Her husband was married to two wives and his other wife teased and mocked her.

Today, we are going to look at the life of another woman in I Samuel who was also stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Abigail is one of the godliest women in the Bible.  We need more women like Abigail in the church today.

There are three main characters in this chapter (David, Nabal and Abigail).  All of the men look bad.  The hero of the story is a woman.   Both Nabal and David act like fools.  Only Abigail looks good in the chapter.

Nabal looks bad.  He is rude and mean.  He is selfish.  He was wicked.  David protected Nabal’s flocks and gets insults in return.  Nabal returns good for evil.

David loses his temper.  His ego is hurt, and he wants revenge.  He completely overreacts.  Nabal acts like a jerk, so David want to kill everyone, because of Nabal’s sin.  He wants to kill everyone in Nabal’s house all because he was not invited to dinner.  David ends up acting as foolish as Nabal.

Why Abigail is Important

Abigail is the hero.  She is peacemaker in the midst of conflict.  She causes two people who hate each other to live at peace with one another.  She keeps David from sinning.  She keeps him from committing murder.  If it was not for Abigail, David would have committed murder.  He would have committing mass murder.

Abigail saves lives.  She saves her family.  She prevents an atrocity from taking place. David is saved by a woman.  She also confronts sinful authority in her day.

This chapter is also a love story.  It is positive.  It is uplifting.  It is a love story, but it is not a traditional Hallmark story.  When David first met Abigail, she was married to someone else.  When she finally married David after her husband died, he was married to someone else.  This is not necessarily the model for us today.

In, this chapter, David loses one wife but gains two.  He loses a friend but gains an enemy.  We are going to look at four relationships in this chapter: Samuel and Nabal, Nabal and Abigail, Nabal and David, and David and Abigail.

Samuel’s Death

Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran (I Samuel 25:1 NIV)

The chapter begins with a death.  Samuel dies.  This was the end of an era.  He was the last judge.  He was also David’s friend, his counselor, his mentor dies.  Samuel was the one who anointed him as king in front of his whole family.  Samuel dies but David can’t go to the funeral, because Saul would have him arrested.

If you go to Israel, you can visit his tomb.  It is in the west Bank.  A mosque was built on top of it (Nabi Samwil Mosque).  Samuel was not the only one who dies in this chapter.Two men die in this chapter.  The men are Samuel and Nabal.  There are two funerals and a wedding in this chapter.

What do these two men have in common?  They both die and they were both great.  They were great in different ways.  Nabal was financially great.  He was great in sheep.

Samuel was spiritually great.  Samuel had a relationship to God.  God spoke to Samuel.  He spoke to him as a child.  Samuel lives a long time and dies a natural death.

Samuel’s death was a blessing.  Nabal’s death was a curse.  Samuel lived a long time and died of natural causes.  Nabal lived a short time and died by divine judgment.  God struck him (I Samuel 25:38).

The fear of the Lord prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened (Proverbs 10:27 NIV).  We want to have our lives prolonged, not cut short.

Nabal’s life was cut short and no one cared about him when he was gone.  He was so wicked.  The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot (Proverbs 10:7 NIV).

Abigail’s Qualities

Nabal was married to Abigail.  What type of person was she?  She was intelligent.  She was wise.  She knew when to talk and when not to talk.  She was godly.  She was strong and assertive.

She does not come across as the victim in this story.  She was very generous and giving.  She was humble.  She had the heart of a servant.  She washed the feet of David’s men.

She was brave.  She went out and faced four hundred armed soldiers without fear, and she knew that, if she survived that, she would be in trouble with her husband when she got home.

She was beautiful (I Samuel 25:3).  According to Jewish legend, she was one of the four most beautiful women who ever lived. She was not just another pretty face.  She was beautiful on the inside and on the outside.

Some women only look good on the outside.  Abigail had a good face, a good mind and a good heart and she was wealthy on top of that.  It looked like she had everything (intelligent, beautiful, godly and rich), but she had one problem.  She just had one little problem.  She was married to a fool.  Talk about incompatibility.  Here was a wise woman married to a fool.

She had an unhappy marriage.  She was stuck in a bad marriage.  She was married to a difficult man.  She was married to a complete jerk.  He was a slimeball.  He was an abusive husband.  The Bible calls him a fool.

Many people today are married to someone like Nabal.  Some Christians are married to a Nabal.  They are married to unsaved husbands.  Their husband is a son of Belial (I Samuel 25:17).  They are unequally yoked together with an unbeliever.  They have no compatibility.

Plenty of wives today are married to idiots.  They are married to complete morons but there is a big difference between them and Abigail.  Abigail had an arranged marriage.  She did not pick her husband.  She had no choice in the matter.  Nabal was chosen for her.

Her parents probably meant well when they chose him.  They probably thought they were helping her.  He came from good stock.  Caleb was one of his ancestors.  Caleb was from the Tribe of Judah.  He was from the same tribe as Jesus.  He was from the same tribe as David.

His family was wealthy husband.  Nabal would have been able to take care of her.  She would have had financial security.  Some parents are more concerned that their children gain riches than righteousness.  Nabal was rich but he was also a fool (I Samuel 25:25).  He was the ultimate fool.

People marry fools today because they choose to marry fools.  Some choose to marry nonbelievers and wonder why they have big problems after they get married.  Be careful who you marry.  Don’t marry a fool.  One of the women in my class said jokingly that the only way to avoid this is not to get married.

Characteristics of a Fool

What made Nabal a fool?  What did he do that foolish?  Many of us have fools in our life.  What makes a person a fool today?

1) You could not reason with him

We are told that no one could talk to Nabal (I Samuel 25:17).  Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words. (Proverbs 23:9 NIV).  You cannot talk to a fool.  A fool is not open to reason or logic.

Fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7 NIV).  Fools hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:22 NIV). Baptist preachers are not the only ones who hate knowledge.  Fools do as well.  Wisdom is too high for fools (Proverbs 24:7 NIV).

2) He mocked and ridiculed others

Nabal mocked David, who is the Lord’s Anointed (I Samuel 25:10).  In Proverbs, fools are mentioned right next to mockers.  Condemnation is ready for scoffers and beating for the backs of fools. (Proverbs 19:29 ESV)

3) He did not respond well to correction

Nabal did not respond well to criticism or rebuke.  That is why no one could talk to him.  The Book of Proverbs says that this is a characteristic of fools.  The fool always things he or she is right.  You cannot tell a fool anything.  They are not open to the facts.

A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool (Proverbs 17:10 NIV)

A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence (Proverbs 15:5 NIV)

4) He only cared about himself

Nabal is very selfish.  He only thinks of himself.  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?” (I Samuel 25:11 ESV).

5) He lived a life of excess

When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk (I Samuel 25:36 NIV).  He was not just drunk.  He was VERY drunk.

Proverbs 19:10 says, “It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury” (NIV).  The only thing worse than a jerk is a rich jerk.  Nabal was not just rich.  He was very rich (I Samuel 25:2).

6) He was ungrateful

He did not appreciate what others had done for him.  David did some things for him and he could care less.

Dispute with David

David had one enemy (Saul). He moved somewhere else and got another enemy (Nabal).  They never met face-to-face but they became enemies.  Nabal was a wealthy rancher.  He was a rich farmer in Carmel.

Carmel is different from Mount Carmel, where the Prophet Elijah had his contest with the prophets of Baal.  Mount Carmel is in the north.  The village of Carmel is in the south.  It is a few miles south of Hebron.

Nabal was rich.  He was not rich in money.  They did not have any money in those days. He was rich based on livestock.  He owned 3000 sheep and 1000 goats (I Samuel 25:2).  He was not as rich as Job.  He was not the richest man in the Bible.  Job owned 7000 sheep (Job 1:3), but he was very rich.

David and Nabal have a business dispute in this chapter.  Nabal had a lot of sheep.  He had thousands of them.  They had to graze.  Who protected them while they were out in the fields?  Who kept them safe from bandits and thieves?  The shepherds could not always do it.  The wilderness was a big place and it was dangerous.

There was no law enforcement in those days.  This was like the Wild Wild West.  David and his men protected them.  They were not asked to do it.  They just did it because it was the right thing to do and they did not take any of the sheep, which they could easily have done.  They did not take one sheep.

Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them (I Samuel 25:15-16 NIV)

David made a request from Nabal.  He asked for compensation.  David was not asking for a handout, but he did want payment for protection.  David asked for payment for services rendered but not requested.

Is what David did blackmail?  Is it a shakedown? Is he asking for protection money?  By today’s standards, David acts like he is part of the mob. He acts like he is a gangster but we have to look at this in light of the time in which David lived.

In those days, this would have been a reasonable request.  David saved Nabal some money.  If he did not do this, Nabal would have lost a lot of sheep and now he is looking for something in return as compensation.  He was not asking for a lot.  In fact, he let Nabal decide what the compensation should be.

What was Nabal’s response? Not only did he turn David’s men away empty-handed, he responded with insult and with sarcasm.

Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days (I Samuel 25:10 NIV).

He said, “Who is David?” even though everyone in the country knew he was.  He was a national hero.  He had killed Goliath.  He called David a runaway slave.  Nabal was ungrateful for what David had done for him.  He does not even thank him.

David responds with anger.  David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies. (I Samuel 25:12-13 NIV).

David completely overreacts.  He brings 400 men against Nabal.  That is a little bit of overkill.  As Swindoll says it is like killing a roach with a shotgun.[1]  Now David becomes the fool.

A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted (Proverbs 12:16). A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated (Proverbs 15:17 NIV).  David wanted to exterminate every male in the household.  He wanted to return evil for evil.

He was kind to Saul but not kind to Nabal.  He was willing to forgive Saul but he was not willing to forgive Nabal.  He was willing to spare Saul’s life in I Samuel 24 and he will be willing to spare it again in I Samuel 26 but in I Samuel 25, he wants to kill Nabal.

Next week, we will look at Abigail’s response to this crisis and how she saved her family by her quick thinking and bold action in the face of danger.

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion & Destiny, 99.

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