1 Sam. 25:1-13
As I mentioned before, David's one of my favorite heroes in the Bible, but Allister Begg’s saying is still true: “The best of men are men are men at best.” I remember studying 1 Samuel in depth for the first time using a guide from Navigators, and I was struck by an important point that they made about this story.
David was presented with an opportunity to kill Saul, not once but twice. Both times he said no to what his friends, his common sense, and circumstances all seemed to tell him to do, namely to end the threat once and for all. He had two reasons for saying no. First, as we noted before, he viewed the king as a divine appointment and firmly believed that only the One who put him into this office had the right to remove him from it. But the second is an even more immediately practical lesson for us. Earlier, when reasoning with Saul, he appealed to the Lord as the Judge between him and Saul, and called upon this Judge to bring about justice between him and the mad king. He never even harbored a treasonous thought, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t call upon the Lord to deal with Saul as he deserved.
In today’s reading, however, David’s natural leanings were on full display. Apparently, David’s patience towards Saul was not because of an easygoing attitude or an even temper, but because of a strict adherence to principle. The reason we might suspect it is because when it came to Nabal it was very different. All Nabal did was insult him and his men, and David ordered his men to strap on their swords. His plan was to invade Nabal’s home and kill every male living within its walls. This one offence was enough to stoke David’s temper out of control.
Um, David? What’re you doing?! This fool is no threat to you or your men. True, what he did was inexcusable, and his lack of gratitude was shocking. But does that justify killing the man, much less murdering all the innocent men and boys within his household?
What this reminds me of today is that all of us can fall. The best of us can, in a moment of anger, make rash decisions which we’ll regret for a lifetime. Several years after this incident, David’s son Solomon wrote “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control." In other words, if we don’t have self-control we’ll be under the control of whoever happens to be passing by during the moment. If someone can make you lose your temper, they're controlling you. David let his temper get the best of him, and it nearly made him do something he'd regret for the rest of his life. Thankfully, there was someone to stand in his way, who'll be the subject of tomorrow’s reading.
Lord Jesus, how quickly I can fall when I let my emotions take control. The only one I want controlling me is you. Please.