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Walk This Way

Walk This Way – The Foolishness of Selfishness (1 Samuel 25:10-11)

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 25-27

Today’s Reflection: 1 Samuel 25:10-11

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?”

When David and his men were on the run from Saul, they were at the mercy of the kindness of strangers.  One such stranger was a wealthy but foolish man named Nabal.  David’s men had encountered Nabal’s servants in the field, and had even ensured their safety as they watched over Nabal’s flocks.  In return they hoped for some hospitality, some food on the feast days.  But Nabal was not so generous and made the response in today’s reflection text.  When Nabal’s refusal reached David, he was ready to kill Nabal and every man in his household.  Only the wisdom of Abigail, Nabal’s wife, prevented a massacre.

This may seem like an odd tale.  While Nabal’s response was unwise, David’s response seems like an overreaction.  Or does it?  In the Torah there are numerous instructions for those who have to share with those who do not have—widows, those without fathers, strangers traveling through the land.  A portion of the tithe was to serve this purpose (Deuteronomy 14:28-29), a portion of their harvest was to be left behind for those in need (Deuteronomy 24:19-22), and on feast days people were to prepare enough food to be able to share with those who did not have (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).  These instructions came with specific admonitions from God: I am the Lord; I provided for you while you were slaves in Egypt; I command you; do this that I may bless the work of your hands.

So while Nabal clearly enjoyed the blessings of God, he didn’t live up to his responsibility to provide for the widow, the fatherless, and strangers passing through his land.  David’s anger against Nabal wasn’t selfish, it was a matter of upholding what was Godly behaviour for the children of Israel.  And though Abigail managed to stay David’s hand of vengeance, God rendered His own judgment against Nabal soon after (2 Samuel 25:36-38).

This example is also for us.  In our highly individualistic culture we may think what we have is ours; we may feel we have no obligation to help others who may not have the necessities of life.  But this is not God’s desire for his people.  Not only did God expect the rich to look after the poor in Israel, not only did Christians in the early church sell their possessions to make provision for others (Acts 2:45), but God expects those who have to aid those who lack even now (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).

So what can this story tell us about honouring God with how we share our possessions?

1)    We must acknowledge that everything we have comes from God.  We may think we work for what we have, but the Word tells us it is God who gives us power to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).

2)    God’s blessings for others may come through us.  The very fact that God commands those who have to share some with those who do not have suggests that God may well make provision for some people indirectly.  Giving to some in abundance so they can share with those who lack (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).

3)    Providing for those who do not have requires preparation.  Whether it’s making more food than needed on a feast day, or leaving a portion of the harvest unpicked, Biblical examples of making provision for others is a deliberate, planned act.  We often throw some spare change at a homeless person, or drop a dollar into a charity box, but making a significant impact will require a more significant effort.

4)    Providing for those who do not have allows us to help fulfill God’s heart towards those in need.  God has a special place in His heart for those in need due to circumstances beyond their control.  He wants us to as well.

Deuteronomy 10:18 – He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

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