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David: A Man After God’s Own Heart Series – Sermon #9


1 Samuel 25:2-44 (Read: Verses 2-13)


Intro:  When we last left David, we were given a glimpse of why he was called “a man after God’s own heart.”  He was given the opportunity to take revenge against King Saul.  He was placed in a position where he could have killed Saul if he had so desired.  Instead of murdering his enemy and claiming the kingdom of Israel for himself, David exercised grace and wisdom.  He allowed Saul to live and David even reached out to his enemy in love and forgiveness.

      Our passage today finds David in a different set of circumstances and in an entirely different state of mind.  This text shows what happens when anger is allowed to control our lives.

      Does anyone here have a problem with anger?  Maybe I should have asked it this way: is there anyone here who does not have a problem with anger?  The fact is we all get angry from time to time.  The problem is we don’t always control our anger as we should.  Often, our anger controls us and before we know it, our anger has caused devastation and destruction on a scale we never imagined.  Someone said, “Anger like fire, finally dies out - but only after leaving a path of destruction.”[1]

      That is the danger of anger.  That is why the Bible has much to say to the believer about controlling the temper.  Listen to a few verses that touch on this issue.

Ψ      Ephesians 4:26 - “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”

Ψ      Psalm 37:8 – “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”

Ψ      Proverbs 14:29 - “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”

Ψ      Proverbs 19:11 - “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”

Ψ      Ecclesiastes 7:9 – “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

Ψ      Matthew 5:22 – “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Today, I want to look in on this episode from the life of David.  I would like for each of us to examine our own hearts as we think on the subject of anger and the problems it can cause.  I want the preach on the thought Analyzing An Angry Man.  Notice with me three thoughts that present themselves in this passage.


  I.  v. 2-13; 21-22    DAVID’S ANGER CONSIDERED

A.  v. 2-11  The Reason For His Anger – David is on the run from Saul.  He and his men are hiding in the wilderness.  While they are there, they are doing two things.  First, they are fighting skirmishes with some of the wild tribes in the area, 1 Samuel 23.  Secondly, they served as a protective force for the shepherds in that area, 1 Sam. 25:7, preventing the enemy from taking the sheep and harming the servants.  David and his men probably took on this sideline as a means to earn food and provisions while they lived in the wilderness.

            Now, it was customary, in those days, for the person who received the protection to reward the person who provided the protection.  Thus, when David heard that it was sheering time, v. 4, he sent some of his men to remind Nabal that they had provided protection and that, as a result, none of his sheep had been lost, v. 7.  David sent his request at sheering time because that was when the shepherds sold their wool and made their profits from the flocks.

            So, David sends his men to Nabal with a kind and courteous greeting, v. 6.  He reminds Nabal of the effective service they have provided, v. 7.  And, he makes no demands, but simply asks Nabal to do the right thing, v. 8.

            Instead of responding in gratitude, Nabal answers David’s men with harsh words.  In verses 9-11, Nabal calls David’s integrity into question; he calls him a rebel; and he refuses to do right by David and his men.


      (Note: Have you ever been done wrong by someone?  Have you ever been hurt by another person?  Have you ever been mistreated, misunderstood or had your name misspoken?  Have you ever had your feelings hurt or been done dirty by another person?  Sure you have!  What was your first response?

            When that kind of thing happens, the flesh tends to get all stirred up.  We get angry and we say and do things we later regret.  Some anonymous writer said, “Anger manages everything badly.”[2] They were exactly right!)


      (Ill. Although Alexander the Great conquered the known world, he couldn't conquer his own temper. On one occasion, Cletus, a childhood friend and a general in Alexander's army, became drunk and insulted the leader in front of his men. Alexander became enraged and hurled a spear at Cletus, intending merely to scare him. Instead, the spear killed Alexander's life-long friend. Remorse engulfed Alexander as he assessed the destruction of his uncontrollable anger. If we don't control our anger, it will control us![3])


      B.  v. 12-13  The Reaction Of His Anger – When David’s men return to him and tell him Nabal’s response, v. 12-13, David blows his stack and gathers his men together to exact revenge on Nabal.  He prepares 600 men to go after one man.  Talk about overkill!  Anger will make you do some pretty stupid things!


      (Note: Anyone know what I mean? Have you ever said or done anything in anger that you wish you had not said or done?  We all have!  God help us to manage your tempers for the glory of the Lord.  Aristotle said, “It is easy to fly into a passion—anybody can do that—but to be angry with the right person to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way—that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it.”[4]  How true that is!  An old Chinese proverb says, “He who flies off handle always makes bad landing.”)


      (Note: Nabal’s response should not have surprised David.  Look at how the Bible describes this man, v. 3.  He is called “churlish.”  This word means that Nabal was “hard to get along with.”  He had a bad attitude!  We are also told that “he was evil in his doings.”  This means that Nabal made a habit of doing others dirty in life and in business.  Verse 2 tells us that he was a rich man.  The phrase “very great” means “heavy” and that tells us that Nabal was loaded.  This also indicates that he was selfish.  Even his very name gives us a glimpse into his nature.  The name Nabal means “Fool.”

      So, David encounters a man named Fool who lives up to his name.  David responds to Nabal by going off in a blind rage to get even with him.  Here is what we need to get into our hearts today: we cannot always control what the other person does to us; but we are in absolute control of how we respond to what the other person does!)


C.  v. 21-22  The Results Of His Anger – As a result of his anger, David is temporarily insane!  He takes a force of 600 men to kill one guy just because he feels insulted!  That is insanity! David had refrained from killing Saul, because he saw Saul as “the Lord’s anointed”, 24:6, and as his own superior.  Here, David sees Nabal as an ant that he can stomp into submission.  David, after all, was going to be king someday; Nabal was a nobody!  What right did this nobody have to rise up against King David?  David would make him pay.  David was blinded by rage!

            That is what anger does!  It takes control of the mind and turns sane men and women into raving lunatics.  Anger will cause you to say things you wouldn’t ordinarily say.  It will cause you to do things you would not ordinarily do.  Anger will make you act like a fool!  Anger will make you do things that you will have to repent of later!  (Ill. Can anyone identify with what I am saying?)


      (Note: Listen to these quotes concerning anger and its effect on the mind.

Ψ      “A man in a passion rides a horse that runs away with him.”[5]

Ψ      “Anger is a momentary madness.”[6]

Ψ      “Anger blows out the lamp of the mind.”[7]

Ψ      “The proud man hath no God; the envious man hath no neighbor; the angry man hath not himself.”[8])


(Note: May God help each of us to take a close look at our own hearts and lives today.  I am sure, that if we were honest, we would admit that anger is a problem we deal with often.  Thankfully, there was a solution for David and there is one for us as well.)


 II.  v. 14-31             DAVID’S ANGER CONFRONTED

A.  v. 14-20  Abigail’s Appraisal Of The Situation – Nabal was a fool, but his wife was everything that he was not.  Her name is Abigail, which means, “My father is joy.”  She was a beautiful woman physically, and she was a wise woman spiritually.  She was as lovely of heart as she was of appearance.

            When she hears what her foolish husband has done, she takes the necessary steps to make matters right.  She gets together the food and things David and his men needed and she goes out to meet David with the hope that she can change his mind.


      (Note: Look at verse 19.  We are told that she did this without consulting her husband.  She isn’t working against him, she is working for him!  A carnal woman might have said, “This is the opportunity I have been waiting for.  I’ll just sit here and wait and David will take care of that old fool for me.”  But, Abigail did not do that.  She went to work behind the scenes trying her best to protect her husband.  In fact, she very literally saved his life!

            Why didn’t Abigail tell Nabal what she was doing?  The same reason the servants did not talk to him, verses 14-17. Nabal was totally unapproachable.  He was probably so stubborn that when he made up his mind, he would not listen to reason.  Being a stubborn man is as dangerous as being an angry man!

            Let me just say this and move on.  Fellows, you ought to listen to your wife.  God gave her to you as a “helpmeet.”  She is your completer.   She will often have wisdom and insight that you do not have in the situations of life.  Wise is the man who consults his wife and listens to what she has to say.)

B.  v. 23-31  Abigail’s Appeal In The Situation – When Abigail meets David, she humbled herself at his feet.  She refers to herself as David’s “handmaid” six times and calls him “my lord” fourteen times.  She comes into his presence humble, open, and honest.  She admits that David and his men have suffered wrong at the hand of Nabal.  She admits that her husband is a wicked man and a fool v. 25.  She asks for forgiveness and pleads with David to accept her gift and to spare Nabal and the rest, v. 27-28.

            She tells David that God sent her to stop him from murdering a man in anger, v. 26.  She tells David that if he kills Nabal in anger it will hang over his legacy like a dark cloud.  If he does what his anger is telling him to do, he will regret it forever.  She appeals to the spiritual side of David!


      (Note: In these verses, Abigail reminds me of the Holy Spirit.  When the flesh gets its anger stirred up, the Spirit of God will remind us that we need to act slowly, and sensibly.  He will remind us of James 1:19-20, which says, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”)


C.  v. 32  Abigail’s Achievement In The Situation – Abigail’s wisdom overcame the anger in David’s heart and he backed away from his plans. Disaster was averted because David was willing to listen to reason!


      (Note: Sadly, the loud cry of anger in our hearts is so strong that we cannot, or will not; hear the still, small voice of the Spirit of God as He tries to reason with us.  If we could just learn to calm down, listen to what the Spirit is saying to and respond to Him instead of the flesh, it would save us a lot of heartache in every relationship in our lives.)


III.  v. 32-42              DAVID’S ANGER CONQUERED

(Ill. The closing verses of this chapter show us how and why David was able to overcome his anger.  My friends, I think we could all use these lessons in our lives!)

A.  v. 32-35  Conquered By The Openness Of David’s Heart – David backed down because he saw that God had worked in the situation to send Abigail to him to prevent him from committing a terrible sin.  David accepted the things Abigail brought and allowed her to return home with his promise that all was well.           What would have been so wrong if David would have taken matters in his own hand and gave old Nabal what he deserved? The wrong would have been in the fact that God, not David, is the One authorized to right all our wrongs!  Anytime we take matters into our own hands and seek to get even with one who has wronged us, we sin against the Lord.

            But, as usual, God has a better way, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:17-21.  David conquered his anger because he was open to the Lord and willing to do things God’s way.  That is a plan that will work for any of us!

B.  v. 36-42  Conquered By The Operation Of David’s Heart – When Abigail returns home, she finds her husband drunk.  She knows that if she tells him in that state, he is liable to do something really foolish.  So, she waits until the morning and she tells him what she has done.  When she does, Nabal experiences what many believe to be a stroke.  Either he is overcome by anger at what Abigail did and what David threatened to do; or he is over come by fear.  Either way, he stays in that condition for ten days and he dies.

            Now, because David was willing to allow the Lord to take care of his problems for him, he enjoyed the victory over Nabal.  Instead of taking revenge and getting his hands red with the blood of an enemy; David’s hands were clean.  In the end, David married Abigail and probably came to possess all that had belonged to Nabal.  In other words, David got it all simply because he refused to allow his anger to rule his life.


      (Note: David proved by his actions in this encounter why he was called “A man after God’s own heart.”  David responded properly to the voice of the Lord and his anger was kept in check.  Let that be a lesson to each of us!  No matter how strongly we may think that we have a right to get revenge against those who have hurt us, it is never right to violate the Word of God by allowing anger to rule our lives!)


Conc:  So, what are we to do with this message? We need to bring our anger to the Lord and ask Him to help us act like Him toward those who offend us.  Some of us need to get before the Lord today and ask for help, because we know that we might not be angry right now, but it could happen before the lights are out tonight.  And, we know that when anger comes, we will need God’s help to respond properly.  Others have been simmering in your own anger for quite a while now.  The best thing you can do is get to the Lord and ask Him to turn down the heat in your heart before you have a melt down.

      I know most folks don’t like to come to the altar after a message like this.  But, here are the facts; we are all cut from the same cloth.  We all have problems with anger from time to time.  The best thing we can ever do is to yield our feelings, our rights and our anger to the Lord.  If He has used this message to speak to your heart, I challenge you to get before Him and get the help you need!

[1] http://elbourne.org/sermons/index.mv?illustration+3376

[2] Compelling Quotes

[3] Moody, March 1993, p. 74

[4] Nicomachean Ethics, 2.9

[5] Thomas Fuller, M. D., Gnomologia, No. 283

[6] Horace, Epistles, Book I, epistle ii

[7] Robert G. Ingersoll

[8] Bishop Hall

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