Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When you need to say something difficult, Nancy Leigh DeMoss says that you can do it with a helpful attitude.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When you have a heart full of love, you can say a lot and be a lot more effective than if you’re just being a contentious, domineering, controlling woman. You can say hard things to the most difficult men when you say them with a gentle and gracious spirit and with genuine concern and compassion.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, August 21.

Imagine that you’re in this situation: Your husband has offended a powerful, popular military leader. This leader is on his way to your house with 400 soldiers. Your husband is having a party and is getting drunk. You’re left to confront the army and settle things down.

Well, that’s exactly what Abigail faced. Nancy will pick up the biblical story again today in a series called, "How to Live with the Fools in Your Life."

Nancy: I don’t know about you, but I have really grown to love this story of Abigail, found in 1 Samuel 25. I hope you have been following along with us.

I am just so impressed with this woman and how she handles this incredibly hostile, difficult, challenging situation she finds herself in, caught between two angry, foolish men—one of them her husband, and one of them one of the most powerful man in the region, who is soon to be king—that is David. I’m so impressed with how Abigail has God’s wisdom to know how to deal with this crisis, with this difficult situation.

As we’ve been studying all three of these characters, I hope you’re not just thinking of other people in your life who may be the Nabal, the fool that you have to live with, but that you’re asking God to show you if there are any ways you have developed some Nabal-like qualities.

We’ve seen that Nabal was a man who was harsh. He was badly behaved. He was selfish. He was stingy. He was harsh with his tongue and harsh with his spirit. We want to take warning from the example of Nabal and of David, and say, “That is not the way to respond to life,” and to see that there are consequences if we respond as Nabal.

But we’re seeing in Abigail an alternate way to respond, a different way. It’s a way of wisdom, the way of a virtuous woman who makes a difference in the people around her.

So we come today to verse 30 of 1 Samuel 25. We’re in the middle of a speech. It’s a plea, an appeal that Abigail makes to David.

She has just said to him, “David, no matter who comes after you, you’re God’s man. God has anointed you to be king. You’re going to be safe in God. You don’t need to take matters into your own hands.”

She’s now appealing to him, “Don’t do something that you’ll later regret.” In verses 30–31 she says to David,

And when the Lord [Jehovah] has done to my lord [David] according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.

She appeals to David on the basis of his long-term wellbeing. “David, you’re going to be the king. God has appointed you. God’s going to exalt you.

“Don’t do things now that you’ll regret then. Don’t shed blood unnecessarily. Don’t take vengeance yourself. Leave that to God.

“You don’t want to have your conscience tormenting you or Nabal and his men after you because you’ve done something impulsive and hotheaded in this situation. You don’t want this on your conscience for the rest of your life. This will haunt you when you become king.”

We saw this in verse 26, where the reference is made to avenging yourself. Some translations say “saving with your own hand.” That’s what avenging yourself means—saving yourself with your own hand—taking matters into your own hands. Don’t go there. Let God deal with it.

That’s a concept we see clearly spelled out in the New Testament. Romans 12:17–18 says, “Repay no one evil for evil. . . . If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

That suggests that sometimes it’s not possible. Sometimes people won’t respond to your best efforts to live peaceably with them, as Nabal didn’t respond to David. David sent his men and said, “Peace be to you,” and Nabal said, “Too bad, I’m not interested in peace.”

So what do you do when people won’t live peaceably with you? Romans 12:19–21:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Proverbs 20:22 says it very simply:

Do not say “I will repay evil;” wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

Don’t take matters into your own hands. Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.

So Abigail confronts David, but she does it graciously. She does it clearly and directly. She speaks the truth, but she speaks respectfully, humbly.

She’s not strident, contentious, domineering, or controlling like her husband. She steadfastly refuses to become a Nabal like her husband. Amazing!

You can say hard things to the most difficult men when you say them with a gentle and gracious spirit and with genuine concern and compassion.

So, verses 32–33:

David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand!”

David demonstrates that he has a heart for God in the way he responds to this wise, discerning appeal from Abigail. It calms him down. It causes him to stop and think what he is doing, and to reverse his course.

He listens to her appeal, unlike Nabal, who refused to listen and couldn’t be appealed to. David said, “Blessed be the Lord.”

Abigail has succeeded in what she has said, in getting David’s eyes off himself, off his enemies, and on the Lord; and his response shows that he really did have a heart that wanted to please the Lord. He repented. He changed course.

Then he says in verse 33, “Blessed be your discretion,” your good judgment, your wise counsel. He praises her discretion and her discernment. Remember when we saw in verse 3 of this chapter that she was a beautiful woman? But what was it that David found attractive in the crisis? It was her discernment.

Remember what Proverbs says about the woman who has natural physical beauty but doesn’t have internal discretion and good judgment? Proverbs 11:22 is a graphic word picture: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair [beautiful] woman which is without discretion” (KJV).

If you want to make an impact on people’s lives, ultimately the greatest impact is not to be had by your outward appearance. It’s to be had by your heart, your manner, your spirit, the way you speak.

Proverbs 16:21:

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Remember that the next time you’re trying to persuade your husband that your position is right. Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Proverbs 25:15:

With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.

See, we think if we’re going to be heard and if people are going to see our position, we’ve got to talk louder; we’ve got to be more intense, more fervent. I remember a wife saying, “I just think sometimes, if I don’t lose my temper, he won’t listen to me.”

Well, here is a great illustration of how you can speak wisely, calmly, and in a controlled way and be heard and absolutely diffuse an entire situation.

In fact, Proverbs 16:32 says it’s the person who is self-controlled who has the real power.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city.

I mean, who was really the effective person in this situation? A little woman with a soft voice and a big, wise heart, and we see that in verses 34–35. David says to Abigail,

"For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried in coming to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

“I have obeyed your voice.” Some of your translations say “I have heard your words,” or “I have heeded your voice.”

What does Proverbs 15:1 tell us? “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I believe Abigail was the key to this situation. She couldn’t control Nabal, her husband. She couldn’t control David. But she could control herself, and by demonstrating self-control, giving a soft answer rather than harsh words just thrown into the situation . . .

When we get in these crises, what comes out naturally are the harsh words, the controlling words. But she didn’t go there, and as a result, her soft answer turned away wrath.

It’s the power, the influence of a godly woman on everyone around her. She was a mediator. She was a peacemaker. She came between these two angry men and their armies, their men, and had a view to reconcile them.

Lives were spared. She kept David from sinning. She diffused his Nabal-like response.

As we come toward the end of this passage, David has said, “My anger’s diffused.” He thanked Abigail: “I’m not going to come after your husband now.” Now Abigail goes back home.

Verse 36:

And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king.

This man who has refused to give food or drink or any sustenance to David and his men who had helped provide for and protect and care for Nabal’s men—he said, “I won’t give you anything,” and now, gluttonous, selfish, self-centered man that he is, he’s made himself a feast as if he were a king.

Remember, David is the one who is going to be the king, but Nabal is arrogant. He considers himself to be worthy of this. “And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk.”

I think the next phrase is one of the great evidences in this passage of Abigail’s wisdom: “So she told him nothing at all until the morning light.”

She got home, she realized, “This man is soused. I mean, he is stone drunk, and in the morning he won’t remember what I told him anyway. If I do tell him right now, he’s likely to really go on a rampage.” So she wisely does not tell him anything that has happened.

There is a time to speak, and there is a time to be quiet.

Now, it’s obvious that she intends to tell her husband, and she in fact does ultimately tell him. She’s not going to keep this from him, but she’s discerning about when to tell him and how to tell him, and that takes the control of God’s Spirit over your tongue to know “now is not the time to get into this.”

Verse 37 tells us, “In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal . . .” It doesn’t tell us that he probably had a big headache at this point when his wife told him these things.

Listen, she wasn’t opposing her husband. It’s important that you realize that about Abigail. She was helping her husband. She loved this man, I think.

If you love the Lord, you’re going to love your husband, even if he is a foolish man. She’s interested in his wellbeing. She’s not trying to keep anything from him. She finally told him these things.

Then verse 37 says:

His heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

This is a very serious passage, with some insights that are really important for us not to miss.

First of all, what happened? Apparently he had some sort of stroke. One commentator I read suggested maybe apoplexy. Whatever it was, he became paralyzed, or perhaps comatose, until he died ten days later.

Was it the shock? Was it the alcohol? Was it the lifestyle? We don’t know. What we do know is that God is the one who took his life.

Now, this isn’t a fairytale ending—not this part of the story. We don’t know, because the Scripture doesn’t tell us, whether Abigail had longed and prayed for her husband to become a godly man. Perhaps she had. She was a godly woman. I think she probably really wanted to see this man changed. He never changed.

It’s possible that one or more of the fools in your life may never change. They may never repent. You can’t control that. But you can, in the midst of that situation, remain, to the end, the woman God wants you to be.

What took this man’s life? It wasn’t his wife. She didn’t have to live with that on her conscience. It wasn’t David. He didn’t have to live with that on his conscience.

It was ultimately Nabal’s sin that caused God to take his life. Nabal self-destructed, and God just helped the process along. Nabal had set himself on a course against God, and ultimately it took his life.

God will not allow the Nabals in this world to continue living their foolish, godless lives indefinitely. You may live with one. You may work with one. There may be some in your church. There may be some in your neighborhood. There may be some in your past—these Nabals, these fools—but let the Lord avenge, in His way and in His time.

You don’t pray for vengeance. You don’t ask God to kill them. There’s no evidence that Abigail suggested to God, “Why don’t You just kill him? We’d all be better off.” But God knew when it was time to end this man’s life.

Now, if you’re a Nabal, that should put fear into your heart. If you’re an Abigail, that should say, “Trust the Lord to do what He wants to do in His way and in His time.”

I want to read to you a passage from Psalm 37. I would encourage you to go and read the whole psalm yourself, but just listen to this principle about how God ultimately rewards the righteous and judges the wicked, and how we’re to respond to the wicked in the meantime.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; 
   be not envious of wrongdoers! 
For they will soon fade like the grass 
  and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; 
  dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 
Delight yourself in the Lord, 
  and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; 
[think about a woman like an Abigail married to a Nabal] 
  trust in him, and he will act. 
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, 
  and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; 
  fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, 
  over the man who carries out evil devices! 
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! 
[even if you’re living with an angry man] 
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

For the evildoers shall be cut off, 
  but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. 
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; 
  though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 
But the meek shall inherit the land 
  and delight themselves in abundant peace. . . .

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows 
  to bring down the poor and needy, 
  to slay those whose way is upright. 
Their sword shall enter their own heart, 
  and their bows shall be broken. . . .

Wait for the Lord and keep his way, 
  and he will exalt you to inherit the land; 
  you will look on when the wicked are cut off. . . .

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; 
  he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. 
The Lord helps them and delivers them; 
  he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, 
  because they take refuge in him.

Aren’t those incredible promises? Do you believe them? If you do, then you can live with the fools in your life. You can take refuge in the Lord. You can let the Lord deal with your Nabals.

Ultimately, God delivered Abigail out of the situation, and God promises, in His way and in His time, He will deliver you. We think of how Nabal affected David and angered him, but imagine Abigail having to live with this man for we don’t know how many years. But in God’s way and in God’s time, God delivered her out of this marriage.

Now, I’m not suggesting that God is necessarily going to take your husband’s life, although there may come the point when God will do that. And let me say, perish the thought that you should ask the Lord to do that or suggest that God do that.

God is “longsuffering . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9), and if you have the heart of God for your mate, no matter how much of a Nabal he is, your longing and desire will be to see that man come to repentance.

But God has a cup of wrath, and when it is full, it is full, and He will judge. Now, that doesn’t mean that in the meantime, if you’re the Abigail in that situation, that you sit back passively.

Abigail didn’t sit at home and just wait for David and Nabal to destroy each other. Being godly doesn’t mean that you just sit by and let your husband destroy himself and your family.

It does mean that you exercise discretion. You use wisdom. You go to people who perhaps can be a part of the solution with the goal to reconcile, the goal to redeem the situation, the goal to see your husband, or whoever that Nabal is in your life, brought to repentance.

So here we have a warning to the wicked. I think it’s a very serious warning. I don’t know who may be listening right now to this program who is a wicked Nabal. God’s warning is, when His cup of wrath is full, your life will be over. Now is the time to repent. Now is the time to get a change of heart.

I’m probably speaking to more Abigails than I am to Nabals. There’s a word to wise women, and that is, your life has influence and power if you will get filled with the Spirit of God, filled with the Word of God.

Wait on the Lord. Don’t take matters into your own hands.

Act wisely, courageously, decisively to do what you need to do in the situation, but don’t get out of control, because it’s not out of God’s control. Take refuge in the Lord. Wait on Him.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; 
  He is their stronghold in the time of trouble. 
The Lord helps them and delivers them; 
  he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, 
  because they take refuge in him. (Ps. 37:39–40)

Leslie: As you’ve been listening, you’ve probably related to the biblical story of Abigail at least in some small way. All of us have people in our lives that are hard to get along with, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been giving us wise advice in living with them.

Today’s teaching is part of a series called, "How to Live with the Fools in Your Life." When you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll provide you with this series on CD, along with a study guide that goes with it.

Each day the study guide will walk you through part of Abigail’s story in the Bible; then you’ll listen to Nancy for about fifteen minutes and then follow up in the study guide, applying what you’ve learned to your life.

When you donate by phone, ask for "How to Live with the Fools in Your Life" along with the companion study guide. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or take advantage of the same offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Is it loving or right to ask God to punish sinners?

Nancy: Is it ever right to say to the Lord, "I honestly 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?

Leslie: We’ll think that through tomorrow. Please be back for 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 unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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