08.29.2010 Grace Summit Sermon – Abigail – How to Respond to a Power Struggle

Last week we gave out backpacks – and Tiffany and Mandy did a great job meeting the parents – and they spent a lot of time being a light for our church.

There are a lot of needs in the neighborhood. – We hope to do a coat giveaway before Winter.

We are looking at 1 Samuel 25 – next week, Matt Cramer will be sharing.

Today, we are looking at the story of Abigail – it is a long story – there are three characters we will look at – the first two are living in, and being controlled by, their weaknesses and sins. The first is Nabal, Abigail’s husband, and David. The third knows how to live under grace and mercy above her flaws.

David, on the other hand, has failed to recognize his own flaws and is about to throw it all away.

Last week, we looked at David in the caves – and we’ll refer back to that because it ties back..

1 Sam. 25:2 Now [there was] a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel 3 (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in [his] dealings, and he was a Calebite),

They are moral opposites – already in the story – you know something is going on – because there is this massive conflict of the opposites. Nabal had a lot of livestock – and David and his men are camped in the general area of Nabal’s livestock.

Oftentimes, robbers and criminals would steal some of the sheep. While David was out there, no robbers would come by – so Nabal’s flocks were protected. It was custom then, for the owner of the flocks to demonstrate generosity toward a protector. David sends and asks for some food. This brings up the conflict.

In our culture, this is kind of odd – “as long as I’ve lived next door to you, no one has robbed your house – so give me some food.” The right thing for Nabal to do would be to share and give to his men.

10 But Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master.

He knew who David was… – He knew all the battles with Saul – and just the chapter before, Saul even acknowledged that David was the rightful king.

11 “Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?”

There is a power struggle between David and Nabal – how do we react when we are threatened? All of us have power struggles in life. Some of us have that on our commute! How will you react? For some, it is in the family – in the marriage – or at work. Every job has power struggles – and the issue is – how do you react? Churches have power struggles – and we’ll look at the wrong and right ways to react.

David: the wrong way to react:

12 So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13 And David said to his men, “Each [of you] gird on his sword.” So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage.

SO David responds to the power struggle with overwhelming power.It is as if he guns the engine, cuts the guy off, and slams on the brakes.

In your family – it might be who can yell the loudest. David responded improperly.

What is odd in this situation – when David had a power struggle – what did he do? He did the opposite – he responded properly when it was with Saul – he didn’t take matters into his own hands.

The next scene – one of Nabal’s servants – tells Abigail…

14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. 15 “Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16 “They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep.

Here is someone who understands what is going on and speaks the truth in the situation…

17 “Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”

This guy – his name means fool – or worthless – I don’t know if his parents named him that – or if they changed the name when he was 10!

He knows something – where real power lies.And she is going to save the kingdom in her response.

David – with 400 warriors – vs. Nabal, who is rich, but doesn’t have 400 warriors – but he knew there was power who could solve the situation. He understood something about her.

18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred [loaves] of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded [them] on donkeys. 19 And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

Her response is in contrast to both of them – They are like – I am better than you! But Abigail responds with grace and generosity. Her life is at stake here. And she responds with tremendous dignity and grace. You have seen the woman of dignity responding with grace – that is Abigail.

l20 And it came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. 21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this [man] has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22 “May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave [as much as] one male of any who belong to him.”

And David still responds wrongly. David is out for revenge. What we see is the key to David’s flaw. He is a man of violence and revenge – and it gets him in trouble and ruins his life time after time. This evidence is becoming clear – David has this issue.

23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David, and bowed herself to the ground. 24 And she fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant.

Abigail responds so graciously – let the blame fall on me!

25 “Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent. 26 “Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand,

This is an amazing speech by Abigail – she is totally humble, yet sharp as a tack – nothing is getting past her in this situation. ‘avenging yourself by your own hand’ – that is the very thing he condemned in the last chapter – and now he is about to do the same thing.

…now then let your enemies, and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. 27 “And now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord.

We see this tendency toward revenge in David. You are born with similar tendencies – things you are natually ‘bent’ to do in the way of evil – in the way of sin. For David – it was violence and revenge. For you it might be lust, greed, or pride. Each person is enticed by his own personal lust – addiction – whatever it is. We need to understand what that is in our lives – you need to understand where you will most likely fall. Do you know that? Do you know where you are most likely to trip up? What area it is? Are you willing to acknowlege it? We all have them – and we need to be willing to acknowlege what they are. The reason we have to do that is to be able to thoroughly and continually address them. For David, there were times when he did not address his violence – and it got him in trouble. You know where it is. Maybe you address it for a period of time – or for years – and then you go lax and find yourself falling into the same hoole.

It is like credit card debt – you know what it is like – if you get in debt, it is so hard to get out! and then you are stuck and it is an enormous hole to get out of.

In bigger ways, there are areas of life like that – that can cost you a job, a friendship, or a marirage – so we need to know what it is and address it. And in addressing it – you might have to go back in your life to when you allowed it to come to fruition. We have to move on…

Isn’t it interesting that David’s greatest weakness is also the area of his greatest strength! David is seen as a great warrior and courageous hero – and it is in his strength is now his weakness.

Think about the person who is compassionate and merciful. Oftentimes – that person is unable to understand justice. We see it in so many areas of life. Usually that is the way it works – maybe not all the time – but I know it is true for me.

As you go through your Bible, you will see that in men and women of the Bible. Strong leaders can often be domineering and users. It is the flip side of the same thing. There is this thin – razor line – of our walk with God that doesn’t flip it into the other side.

The other thing we see – His defeat comes after a great victory. Saul, a few verses before – has acknowledged him and given him the kingdom. With Saul, he refused to take revenge – but now, it was like his instant response. I don’t know why this is – it is like there is a let-down. In the cave – you see this total trust and dependency on God – and now – he has the upper hand and the army – and when you have the upper hand in a power struggle – that is where you have to be careful – because that is the circumstance in which you are most likely to sin – because you have the capability of getting your own way.

Abigail was hospitable – politically correct – polite, proper. There is a sense of humility – she bows before David – blames herself – and understands her brokenness, her situation – and recognizes that her life depends on someone else (David) – but she also understands that there is power in being the weak one. In David – in his strength we see his weakness. In Abigail – her strength is her humility – the way she approaches David – but at the same time – she is holding the ace – and the only one who knows it – and is not afraid to play it – and is about to play it on David. She is not going to get walked on in her humility here. “She is playing for high stakes, and it calls for playing high cards”

28 “Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you all your days. 29 “And should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling.

30 “And it shall come about when the Lord shall do for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and shall appoint you ruler over Israel, 31 that this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the Lord shall deal well with my lord, then remember your maidservant. ”

Abigail understood God’s greater purposes for David and she uses it in the situation. She has an understanding of his purpose. “David – you are KING! Don’t be a knucklehead!” That is effectively what she is saying, in a gracious and honoring way.

Don’t stoop to his level – rise above it.

She saw David in a different way. When we think of these power struggles in our lives – we need to look at them in a different way.

First, his identity was not found in light of her wound and fear – she didn’t see Him that way. When we are dealing with others, it is easy to see them through our wound and fear – and to react that way.

Nor was her identity found in HIS personal flaws – she saw that he was a man of violence and revenge – but she saw him in light of God’s call and purpose.

In your own circumstance – if you see the person as flawed or as being made perfect by Christ – to one day sit at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb with Jesus.

For this, she is honored by David and honored by God – for all eternity.

Father – help us to learn from the story of Abigail – to be people of humility in relation to others – She responds with grace – help us, when the power struggles of life come to us, to respond with grace and humility. In Your name we pray.

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