Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Are you ever tempted to imagine what it would be like to leave your imperfect husband and find someone else? Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminds you that there is no perfect husband.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: There is no trouble-free existence this side of heaven. You can have all your wish lists and your fantasizing and thinking, If I just weren’t married to this man; if I could just be married to this man who’s so much more godly. I mean, every situation and circumstance of life has its challenges. There’s no trouble-free existence this side of heaven. Life is hard, but God is good.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, August 22.

So many women leave their husbands and chase after another man only to discover that the new situation is worse than the first. What they think will be a fairytale ending actually throws them into a worse crisis.

Here’s Nancy to give us some insight. She's been teaching from the biblical story of Abigail. The series is called, "Abigail: How to Live with the Fools in Your Life." If you've missed any of it, you can listen to the past broadcasts at ReviveOurHearts.com.

NancyThis is a powerful passage. I’ve been so challenged by the life of Abigail. This woman was in a very, very difficult situation, married to a man whose name, Nabal, means “fool” and who lived out the meaning of his name.

We’ve called this series, "How to Live with the Fools in Your Life." That fool may be a husband, it may be a co-worker, it may be a son or daughter who is resisting God. It may be an in-law or a parent or a neighbor, somebody in your church.

You think of who that person is and find in Abigail some great instruction–not all the answers you need from this one passage—but some great wisdom on dealing with the fools in your life.

When we finished the last session, Nabal had just dropped dead. He actually went into a coma or was paralyzed from a stroke or something like that. Ten days later he died. The Lord killed him. The Scripture is very clear that the Lord took his life.

Don’t you think that Abigail and David were both glad in the years to follow that they had not been the ones to take Nabal’s life? David had certainly been tempted and had actually tried. Abigail—we don’t know if she’d ever been tempted. But we have to know that this was a difficult situation she had lived in for these years.

We want to come to the last chapter of the story which ends a little better than where we ended up in the last session. Beginning in verse 39:

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "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 could pillow his head at night and sleep in peace (even if he was out in the wilderness laying his head on a rock). He could sleep in peace because he knew God is the one who brought this matter to a conclusion.

Don’t take matters into your own hands. David had learned to let the Lord avenge the insults he received. When the insults come, don’t absorb them. Don’t retaliate. Don’t become like that Nabal.

David was going to need this lesson when he faced the next Nabal in his life, who he faces in the very next chapter, King Saul. Saul has been around and Saul has been antagonizing David. But in the very next chapter, David again is going to have a chance to take Saul’s life.

I think he has learned something from this experience. Don’t avenge yourself. Let God avenge evil. God will, in His time and in His way. With Nabal it happened fairly quickly. With Saul, it didn’t happen for years.

With the Nabal in your life, God may not avenge the evil quickly. God may not avenge the evil done to you in your lifetime. But God will avenge evil.

Don’t sit there at home, praying, “Oh God, take vengeance on my Nabal,” because you become a Nabal when you pray that way. You become a foolish person and God will have to take vengeance on you for being vengeful. Take on the merciful heart of God who, as we heard in the last session, is longsuffering. He is longing that all should come to repentance and that none should perish.

If you’re married to a Nabal or if you work for a Nabal or you’re a parent to a Nabal, you pray that God will spare that person’s life and will turn that person’s heart before it is eternally too late. It’s a law of the universe.

Proverbs 29, verse 23: “One’s pride will bring him low.” That’s what happened to Nabal. If you’re a proud person, a harsh person, a hard-hearted person, a person who doesn’t fear the Lord, maybe you’re listening to this program for some reason. Maybe you don’t even know why today. But you’re listening to this and you’re a proud person.

I can promise you your pride will bring you low. It will destroy you. You will self-destruct. To any extent if there are Nabal-like tendencies in your own heart or your dealings with others, it will bring you low.

But Proverbs 29:23 goes on to say, “He who is lowly in spirit will attain honor.”

That’s what happened to Abigail. And that’s what happened to David, who ultimately did humble himself in his response, which revealed his heart. Let the Lord deal with the Nabals in your life, those who wrong you. And don’t become like them.

When David was mistreated by Nabal, when a Nabal came into David’s life, he had a choice. Am I going to respond like Nabal and become a fool like him? Or am I going to respond like Abigail, which ultimately she influenced David to do.

Continuing in verse 39,

Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, "David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife." And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, "Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord." And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife. (vv. 39–42)

Even in this response of Abigail, don’t you see a humility, a humble heart? I’m not worthy of this. I’m not deserving that I should be the wife of the man who will be the king, the wife of a man who has a heart for God.

Abigail knew the promises of God for David. We don’t know if God had divinely shown them to her or she had heard the stories of David being anointed to be the king. But she knew who this man was, and she did not see herself as worthy or deserving of being his wife. She said, “Let me just be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” A humble heart.

Abigail ends up marrying the man whose life had been influenced through her discernment and discretion. Her discernment, her discretion, her wisdom had made him a better man, had kept him from sinning in a weak moment, in an angry moment, out of character with how he usually responded. Her well-reasoned approach to him, her spirit in approaching him had salvaged him, spared him, kept him from doing what he intended to do.

That’s the man that she ends up marrying, the man whose life she has invested in. It does sound kind-of like a fairytale ending, doesn’t it? They all lived happily ever after.

But remember, lest you find yourself fantasizing about such a situation yourself—getting out of your life with a Nabal and ending up in a situation that’s all “peaches and cream,” all roses—remember that even after marrying David, Abigail’s life was not a bed of roses.

For one thing, David had multiple wives. You see that in verse 43. At this point she was one of three wives. And then for years—we don’t know how long—she had to wander with him and his band of 600 men as a fugitive in the wilderness.

The point came years later when her husband, in another point of unbridled passion, ended up having an affair with Bathsheba. Heartache was not yet done in this woman’s life.

I want to just say that no matter what stage or season you are in, life is hard. Life is hard. There is no trouble-free existence this side of heaven.

You can have all your wish lists and your fantasizing and thinking, If I just weren’t married to this man, if I could just be married to this man who’s so much more godly. Oh, would I love to be married to a David!

Really? A man given to moods? A man prone to depression? A man with women troubles? I mean, every situation and circumstance of life has its challenges. There’s no trouble-free existence this side of heaven.

Life is hard, but God is good. God is sanctifying and redeeming this fallen creation, and that includes you. There is going to be a fairytale ending to your life if you’re a child of God. Those who are righteous will live happily ever after.

But it’s not here. It’s not now. That’s why you have to take the long view, which really isn’t so long when you see it in the light of eternity.

If you find yourself still living with, working with, struggling with a Nabal in your life, don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Cling to God’s promises. Look ahead. Look to the end of the story and know that in God’s way, in God’s time, He will avenge all evil and all evildoers. And God will bless and reward you if you have found your refuge in Him.

In the meantime, until you get to the happily ever after, what do you do? You wait on the Lord. You learn wisdom. At times, you endure hardship and suffering.

Again I want to be clear to say, I’m not saying that if you are in a physically abusive situation that you just say, “Oh I’m just supposed to endure this.” When the law is being broken, God’s law is being broken, you get God’s ordained authorities involved to help you.

But a lot of time the endurance is just other stuff that’s hard. It’s not life-threatening; it’s not threatening to our health. It’s just hard. It’s people’s moods. It’s people’s tempers. It’s people’s ugly words. It’s people’s critical spirits.

What do you do? You suffer. You wait on the Lord. You learn wisdom and you let God use your life to influence the Davids, the Nabals.

On the front end, you don’t know who will be a Nabal and who will be a David, who’s going to respond and who won’t. Some will respond, as David did, to your appeal.

God had a plan for David’s life. Abigail was a part of that plan. She fulfilled the role of a wise and a godly woman in both men’s lives.

One man repented, and one didn’t. That wasn’t Abigail’s responsibility. Her responsibility was just to be the woman that God wanted her to be in both those men’s lives.

As we talk about a counter-revolution of godly, wise, biblical women in our day, we’re talking about women who respond and think and trust and act like Abigail. Those are the women with their quiet and meek spirit and their quiet wisdom and their trust in God who ultimately will change this world.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been walking us through the story of Abigail. This biblical character is such a great example of patiently dealing with Nabals—foolish people. This series based on her story is called, "Abigail: How to Live with the Fools in Your Life."

If you’ve missed any of the programs you can hear them at ReviveOurHearts.com. The series has generated a lot of good questions. We’re going to hear one and get some practical advice from Nancy.

Here’s Karen, one of the women in our audience, listening to this series with us.

Karen: I just want you to respond more to when you mentioned that certainly you wouldn’t want to pray that God would avenge a difficult marriage by asking that He would kill your husband.

And yet in the psalms there’s a lot of expression of raw hatred. I’m just wondering what the balance is between being invited by God to share what’s genuinely on your heart, that you do hate this person or whatever and having the freedom to express that and the confidentiality of your walk with God, and yet not developing or harboring a vengeful spirit yourself.

NancyThe question that Karen has just asked is one that you would think of when you read the book of Psalms, in particular. Remember some of those psalms? I’m thinking, for example, in chapter 10 where David talks about awful, awful things that wicked people do—he boasts of the desires of his heart, the one greedy for gain, he curses and renounces the Lord, in the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him.

David talks about all these things that the wicked people do. And then David says, “Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none” (v.15).

Then in chapter 11 he says, “Let [God] rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup” (v. 6).

These are what commentators call imprecatory Psalms—calling for God to bring down His judgment on evildoers. Karen is saying, “Is it ever right for us to just honestly say to the Lord, ‘I wish You would judge this person’”? It seems to be what David did under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the Scripture. These are honest cries.

I think we need to distinguish between our heart motive. What is my reason for wanting God to avenge the wicked? God is going to avenge the wicked, but am I wanting it so that my life can be less miserable, so I can be in a happier circumstance and situation? Am I wanting to be released and relieved of the pressure as my supreme goal?

Or is my supreme goal that God would be vindicated? That people would see Him to be the just Judge and God that He is?

I’ve wondered in these days of terrorist activity, for example, how do you pray for these terrorists? Part of you says, “Well, if you’re being spiritual, you should pray that God would save them, that God would bring them to repentance.”

I think that God has that heart; He longs for that. And it is right to pray that.

But I think there also comes a time when you pray, “Lord, show that You are God and punish evildoers for Your glory so people can know that You are not a God to be trifled with.”

If terrorists are always winning, then the world could say, “Who’s God?” They could shake their fists in God’s face, as so many of the terrorists do, and say, “We don’t believe in You. We don’t care about You. You don’t mean anything. You don’t judge wickedness.”

If your heart loves the glory of God and longs for God to be vindicated in the life of your husband or a world terrorist or a child, or somebody that is being a Nabal, who is being foolish, I think it is a right thing to say, “Lord, glorify Yourself. And if that means that You exercise judgment on sinners who are not going to repent, then I want You to do that.”

As soon as you pray that kind of prayer, you better be searching your own heart. Because if we have unrepented of areas of sin in our lives, we’re saying, “Lord, judge me.” And we don’t want God’s justice; we want God’s mercy. We need God’s mercy.

You don’t wish the judgment of God on anybody. But in the book of Revelation, you read, “Righteous are your judgments, O Lord. True and right are they.”

There’s something about our hearts that, if we love the glory of God and His holiness, we should say, “Lord, we don’t want anybody to be judged, but if sinners are going to be unrepentant, we honor You as a God of justice who does judge appropriately.”

That is to say, we love, in that sense, the judgment of God because we love God and we love His holiness and we want God to be glorified in the lives of those who work against Him. And sometimes that happens through judgment.

So if you’re praying for judgment, make sure you’re searching your own heart that you’re not asking God to judge somebody else for something that you deserve judgment for yourself.

Pray very carefully with a heart and an eye toward the glory of God. “Lord, I want Your kingdom to rule in this world. Therefore I ask that all who are not bowing the knee to You would either be brought to repentance to bow the knee or they would be brought to experience Your wrath.”

Here’s another thing. As you pray for God’s judging hand, it may be that that judgment is remedial judgment. It may be that those consequences of that Nabal’s sin short of death—other life consequences that God would use to bring that person to repentance.

The chastening of God in our lives brings us to repentance. Suffering can bring us to repentance if our suffering is because of sin. So sometimes you’re praying for God’s remedial hand of judgment to be on somebody’s life.

To pray for final cataclysmic judgment, which is what happened to Nabal, is, I think, something that we are not generally in a position to do. Certainly in the long term, we pray, “Lord, vindicate righteousness, and overcome evildoers.”

But God knows when and how and in what way will bring Him the greatest glory. The heart is the thing there. Yes, we can be honest with God.

By the way, if you really do feel that hatred in your heart towards your husband or toward this Nabal in your life, be honest with God, but don’t justify your hatred. When you’re being honest, what you’re doing, in that case, is confessing as sin your wrong heart attitude toward that individual.

So, yes, tell God where you are. But tell Him with a repentant heart.

“Lord, there is a root of bitterness in my heart. I do resent this person. I have wished that You would take his or her life. God, that is so proud and wrong of me. I’m not in the place of God. I don’t have the right to take vengeance into my own hands or to wish vengeance on that person. You know what is right. You are the just God. Give me a heart of compassion and tenderness and love and longing for that person to be right with You.”

I sometimes wonder how many husbands or fill-in-blank with whatever role your Nabal is in (bosses, friends, ex-friends, ex-mates). How many husbands (let me just use that) God would change and would soften and draw their hearts if there were a wife or a person in that Nabal’s life who would really become an intercessor for God’s glory and for God’s sake? And would care more about God being glorified than about . . .

Sometimes if somebody has really hurt you, you don’t want them to repent. You don’t want them to get right with God. I mean, if truth be told, you want to see them suffer because they’ve made you suffer.

That’s where we’ve got to be honest about our own hearts and say, “Lord, I really have not wanted for this person to come to repentance. I have just wanted You to get them. I realize that is a wrong heart attitude. Your mercy has triumphed over judgment in my life, and I want Your mercy to triumph over judgment in that person’s life. I want that person to bring You glory.”

That’s why, when you pray for your children or your mate or whomever it is who’s not following Christ, you’ve got to ask God to show you your heart.

What’s your heart motive?

  • Are you wanting to just be released and relieved of the pain? In which case you have made that person an idol in your life.
  • Or are you wanting God to be worshiped?

God deserves to be glorified by that rebellious son or husband or ex-mate or whoever it is. God deserves to be glorified by that person.

So you’re saying, “Lord, I want You to be honored. I want You to be glorified. Whatever it takes in that person’s life, I’m willing to stand back, take my hands off, not try to rescue that person from Your dealing in their life, but let You do whatever it takes in their life.”

Now, a lot of you are moms. That’s a hard thing to pray and mean it. But if you love the glory of God more than your own flesh and blood, there will probably come some point when that is how you have to pray.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering practical steps on living with someone and praying for someone who has been making foolish choices. She’s been reflecting on the biblical story of Abigail, caught between a foolish husband, Nabal, and the angry warrior, David.

Make this practical teaching yours in more ways than one. First, make it yours by owning the CD. We’ll send it to you when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. In another sense, make this series yours by studying the story more deeply, thinking about the way it applies to your situation.

We’ll help you do that by sending you a study guide along with the CD. When you follow the study guide, you answer questions to help familiarize yourself with each day’s Scripture passage. Then you listen to Nancy’s teaching on the passage on CD. Then you answer some questions to help you see how to use what you’ve learned in your home or workplace.

When you donate to Revive Our Hearts, ask for the CD series "Abigail: How to Live with the Fools in Your Life" along with the study guide. Our number is 1-800-569-5959. To donate online visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

This series on Abigail and how to live with a foolish person is meeting listeners in a lot of different painful situations. We’ll get more practical advice on how to apply this teaching tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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