We go through life comparing ourselves to others, whether we like it or not. Don’t be mistaken, there are actually good reasons to compare. Not to compete but to complete. We strive to be a good man. We attempt to be transformed by the renewing of our mind and we strive to be the man we are not. How does that happen? It happens through an evaluation of our daily walk. It takes place as we are faced with decisions and learn about consequences with what we have decided to do or allow to happen, as well as our responses to circumstances we are involved in.
When we engage in community we work together, confessing our sins, sharing about our struggles and encourage each other from our own experiences and expectations. Each of us have our own role models, whether we admit it or not, we have someone we measure ourselves against.
Do you have a live, physical, role model that you engage with? How do you connect? How often do you connect?
We all know that having a real person is a great asset to learning and growing. We also know that the bible has the best role model, Jesus. The benefit of the bible is not to only show us what to do, but what not to do. It has many examples of poor role models.
Which man is the worst role model in the bible?
We could make a long list of losers: Adam, Cain, Esau, Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, Judas or Simon the Sorcerer. I love the fact that people’s mistakes aren’t whitewashed in the Scriptures. Even the holiest guys blew it, (Peter, Paul, David to name a few) but fortunately many of them found forgiveness and a second chance. That gives me hope every time I make a dumb mistake.
But there’s one guy who’s stupidity puts him in a class by himself—partly because he never even realized how spiritually clueless he was. There is a guy in the stories of David, named Nabal, that is a great example of how men shouldn’t act.
If we want to be good husbands and fathers, and if we want to disciple other men to do the same, we should take a cue from this Old Testament guy whose name literally means “foolish” or “boorish”.
During the time that David and his troops were on the run from King Saul, they found themselves near Nabal’s flock during shearing season. As they were low on supplies, David sent men to Nabal to request some food.
2there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. 4 David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5 So David sent ten young men. And David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. 6 And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’” – 1 Samuel 25 2-8 ESV
In these times to have 3,000 sheep and 2,000 goats, it really set you up as well off. This was no typical shepherd leading his flock along a hillside.
Nabal didn’t honor God. Nabal was an entrepreneur and he built a prosperous business in sheep and goats. But the Bible says he was “harsh and evil in his dealings” (1 Sam. 25:3). He was the kind of guy no one really wants to be around: pompous, corrupt and selfish. When David came seeking food for his troops, Nabal refused to help. He didn’t care about God’s kingdom because he was focused totally on building his own.
9 When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. 10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 11 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?” 12 So David’s young men turned away and came back and told him all this. 13 And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage. – 1 Samuel 25:9-13 ESV
Nabal answers David’s polite request not just with a refusal, but with contempt. You can almost hear him mocking the request: “Who is the son of Jesse?”. He actually calls David out as a run away slave. There have been many arrogant men in my life that played out similar roles in my life, and they never prospered long. They get so caught up in themselves, they lose the concept of a higher power.
David’s men return with the report of Nabal’s attitude and David makes the decision to go take care of the disrespectful herdsman, himself.
14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17 Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” – 1 Samuel 25:14-17 ESV
One of Nabal’s own servants goes and tells Nabal’s wife, Abigail what happened. The servant pleads with Abigail indicating how well David’s troops took care of him, supporting David’s message to Nabal in verse 7. This servant was more of a man of God than Nabal was. He knew that there was protection with David and his troops.
Abigail responds by gathering food and not even telling Nabal. When Abigail runs across David, he declares Nabal’s lack of respect and is actually quite upset that he has been fighting and protecting the exact region where Nabal has been pasturing his animals and getting wealthy.
21“Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. 22 God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.” – 1 Samuel 25:21-22 ESV
Abigail actually bows down and pleads for her husband, she offers the food to David and his men, to make up for the inconsiderate response Nabal gave. The whole section of verses 26-31 on what the LORD is going to do with her lord (notice the lower case l in the section). She closes her statement with a fine open door…
31when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant. – 1 Samuel 25:31 ESV
David goes on to thank her for interceding between him and Nabal. He knows that he would have probably done the wrong thing and he is thankful of her work. David backs off of the attack on Nabal and Abigail returns home, to find Nabal putting on a party. Here is Petersen’s Message version of the encounter:
36-38 When Abigail got home she found Nabal presiding over a huge banquet. He was in high spirits—and very, very drunk. So she didn’t tell him anything of what she’d done until morning. But in the morning, after Nabal had sobered up, she told him the whole story. Right then and there he had a heart attack and fell into a coma. About ten days later God finished him off and he died. – 1 Samuel 25:36-38 MSG
I don’t know about you, but I have met a couple Nabals in my life. He was rude and would not even assist the people that were protecting the country he was safe and successful in, but then turns right around and throws a huge party. As if to throw it in the David’s face, to let his local buddies know who is in charge and who is the man.
Abigail could not even talk to him that night, she had to wait until the next morning for him to even be cognitive enough to comprehend what she had done.
I confess, I have been this Nabal multiple times in my life. My focus was about what I wanted. I wanted other to approve of me and I thought throwing parties and outlasting the best of the best was admirable. But to be honest, nothing any good ever came out of those moments. Yeah there was some laughs, there was some excitement, but if faded fast.
Need to surrender all
Wise men yield their life as well as their money and careers to Christ. Many men will go to church and write a check, but where are their character motivations coming from?
Nabal didn’t listen to his wife. His wife Abigail is described as “intelligent” (see v. 3) and she is praised in verse 33 because of her discernment. But Nabal didn’t benefit from his wife’s wisdom because he ignored her. She was a deeply spiritual woman, and she stopped David from making the foolish mistake of attacking Nabal. David listened to Abigail, but Nabal arrogantly refused.
Equally yoked in Christ
Wise men marry women who love God—and they learn to treasure their wives’ advice. Many of us have been in situations where we just wanted to loved, and we risked our identity. We were willing to soften our stance to be with a particular person. When we stray away from the truth it is costly.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 ESV
Nabal never broke free from his sinful nature. Abigail painted a pitiful picture of her husband when she begged David not to attack Nabal.
25 Let not my lord, I pray you, regard this foolish and wicked fellow Nabal, for as his name is, so is he — Nabal [foolish, wicked] is his name, and folly is with him. – 1 Samuel 25:25 AMP
Nabal never rose above the depravity of his past. He never grew spiritually. He refused to change.
Do you see yourself being transformed from your former self? Not just from your prior days of conversion, but do you acknowledge the sanctification of your life by the Holy Spirit?
Transformation is possible
Wise men don’t always come from the best backgrounds, but they trust Jesus to free them from every sinful tendency.
Nabal let his addictions control him. After Abigail successfully prevented David from slaughtering Nabal’s men, she went to tell her husband and found him so drunk that she had to wait until morning to talk to him. Alcohol was his drug of choice, and he became totally debilitated because he couldn’t kick his habit.
We might not have a substance abuse problem, but we might have other prideful things in this world that we put our identity in. For some it is sports, for others it is work. There are families broken and lost of men holding on to their worldly identity.
Tend to the Heart
Wise men don’t allow any unhealthy behavior to control them. They seek help and confess their sins.
Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. – James 5:16 AMP
He had a hard heart. When Abigail finally told Nabal how she had successfully intervened in David’s life, and how David was destined for the throne of Israel, Nabal’s heart “died within him so that he became as a stone” (v. 37). His physical condition mirrored his spiritual deadness. His stubborn refusal to submit to God’s authority ended up taking him to an early grave.
It is about community
Wise men maintain close, intimate fellowship with Jesus and his disciples, so their hearts stay moldable. For us to be changed and available we need that pliable heart that can be reshaped.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” – John 5:6 ESV
One of the tragedies of our generation is that so many Christian men are sitting in the back rows of churches, struggling to become true disciples. Some have been haunted by certain behavior patterns since they were young, yet they never found emotional healing or deliverance from the shame of their mistakes. Others are secretly addicted to alcohol, drugs, porn or gambling.
Many other men I have prayed for struggle in their marriages because they view their wives as inferior. Sometimes a prideful attitude erupts in anger or even violence. As a result, many modern day Abigails are suffering because of their husbands’ stupidity. They are praying for a holy intervention.
Let’s get real & get healed
We need to acknowledge that we are broken. All of us. We are not perfect and we still have some rough edges and challenges in our life. Many of us have still be carrying around that rock in our pocket. We are getting so accustom to it, it is just a part of us. We have felt that rock in our pocket time after time. The sharp edges have actually worn down because we have fumbled with it so long. We have mastered the management of sin in our lives and the enemy convinces us that it is not that bad. Actually promoting and feeding our ego that we are great managers. We even judge other men that don’t do so well managing their sin and we justify in our own mind how good we are doing.
We need to drop the rock and be freed of the consumption of sin management!