Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
Date: May 7, 2017
Series: The kings & the King: A Study of 1 Samuel
1 Samuel 25-26
This Week’s Printable Resources:
- Lighthouse Discussion Guide (pdf)
- Lighthouse Leader Study Guide (pdf)
- Free Teaching Resource: Anger – Facing the Fire Within (pdf)
Overview of this Lesson
I have truly enjoyed our study of 1 Samuel. Talk about shoe leather theology! This Old Testament book literally drips with the nectar of life. This week is no different.
Last week we marveled at David’s ability to let God be God and not fall to the temptation to take matters into his own hands. This week, well, let’s just say we get to see what happens when someone truly gets under David’s skin.
When a wealthy farmer refuses to give David and his 600 men food (something David believes he and his men have rightfully earned), David blows. Without thinking, he organizes 400 men (400!) and heads off to teach the farmer a lesson he will not forget…nor live through. Concerning this week’s text, Alan Redpath lamented:
David! David! What is wrong with you? Why, one of the most wonderful things we have learned about you recently is your patience with Saul. You learned to wait upon the Lord, you refused to lift your hand to touch the Lord’s anointed, although he had been your enemy for so many years. But now, look at you! Your self-restraint has gone to pieces and a few insulting words from a fool of a man like Nabal has made you see red! David, what’s the matter?
“I am justified in doing this,” David would reply. “There is no reason why Nabal should treat me as he has. He has repaid all my kindness with insults. I will show him he can’t trifle with me. It is one thing to take it from Saul, who is my superior at this point, but this sort of man—this highhanded individual must be taught a lesson!”
Fortunately for David (and Nabal), Abigail, Nabal’s godly wife intercedes on his behalf and avoids catastrophe.
So, this week, we get to see how David responds when he’s angry, and in the process, we learn some important lessons in controlling our own anger. Less you think this a trivial matter for families today, it is safe to say that ungodly anger has ripped apart more families than many other more obvious sins. Anger is one of those sins it’s too easy to give it a pass. That’s wrong. Like any other destructive sin, we need to bring our anger under the control of the Holy Spirit and learn to control ourselves when things get hot.
Memory Verse for This Week
“And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!” – 1 Samuel 25:32-33
This Week’s Core Virtue
Self-Control (Titus 2:11-13): I have the power, through Christ, to control myself.
This Week’s Take Home Truth
“Instead of taking matters into your own hands, trust God’s guiding providential hand, especially when responding to wrong.”
- Describe someone (without using names) you know who has “a legendary temper.”
- What is a little thing that can cause you to get angry in an instant?
- Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
Read the Text (1 Samuel 25-26)
This is week three of our four-part miniseries we are calling “Man on the Run.” This summarizes David’s life for a 10-year period of time. With the death of Samuel, David and his 600-man militia head into the Wilderness of Paran to hide from Saul. While there, they encounter the shepherds of a wealthy farmer named Nabal, and they protect his men and flocks from bands of thieves that roam the wilderness area. When David asks for some food in payment, Nabal (whose name means “fool”) is insulted at the suggestion and refuses. David’s temper flares, and he organizes a battalion of 400 men to attack Nabal and wipe him out. Aware of Nabal’s foolishness and in an attempt to save his life, Nabal’s wife, Abigail, quickly puts together enough food to feed an army, intercepts David en route to kill Nabal, and intercedes on Nabal’s behalf. In the end, God strikes down Nabal. Read 1 Samuel 25-26.
NOTE: The focus of this week’s Lighthouse Lesson will be on 1 Samuel 25. You can read the entire two chapters, but the lesson is based only on 1 Samuel 25.
1 Samuel 25 (ESV)
The Death of Samuel
1 Samuel 25–26 (ESV)
1 Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah. Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
David and Abigail
2 And there 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.’”
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.
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.”
18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. 19 And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 And as she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, behold, David and his men came down toward her, and she met them. 21 Now David had said, “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.”
23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25 Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. 26 Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. 27 And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28 Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29 If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30 And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31 my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”
32 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! 34 For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” 35 Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”
36 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37 In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38 And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” 41 And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42 And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. 44 Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
4. What service did David and his men perform for Nabal?
Still on the run from Saul, the death of Samuel causes David to run into the wilderness of Paran, which is to the South. This is the northern most part of the wilderness area the nation of Israel wandered for 40 years following the exodus from Egypt.
There David encounters the shepherds of a wealthy farmer named Nabal. Shepherds often lead their flocks into the wilderness where they could find plenty of food and water for their animals. The wilderness was also a dangerous place. There were often bands of misfits who would roam the wilderness areas looking for easy prey to rob. Shepherds were easy prey. They were often alone, and it was simple for a band of misfits to steal their flock. Valiant men like David and his 600-man militia often protected innocent people from the bands of criminals. As one of the shepherds later reported to Nabal’s wife, Abigail, “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. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep” (1 Samuel 25:15-16).
The word translated “wall” in verse 26 is actually the word for “hedge,” in other words, David’s men provided a hedge of protection for the shepherds while they were in the field.
5. Did Nabal owe David anything for the service he performed?
Legally, Nabal did not owe David and his men anything. The protection they provided was voluntary, and Nabal had not asked them to protect his flocks.
Still, it was customary to provide some form of payment for the protection provided. Remember, there is not official police force, and King Saul, who should have protected his people from the criminals, was too busy chasing David in order to kill him to have his men patrol the wilderness areas. David, on the other hand, even though he was running for his life, still felt the responsibility to protect and care for the innocent people.
6. How does David respond to Nabal’s refusal to provide any form of payment or supplies?
Simply put, David is going to kill Nabal and every boy and man who is with Nabal (v. 34). To make sure the job is done and done quickly, David doesn’t take just a couple of soldiers with him to kill Nabal, he organizes a battalion of 400 men to go and wipe out Nabal and everything he owns.
In a word, David is angry. Not just a slow, burning anger, but a flash of righteous indignation that causes him to seek the blood of the man who has offended him.
Is anger always sinful? If not, what is the difference between sinful anger and anger that does not cause us to sin?
As we know from the Bible, there are two kinds of anger: sinless anger and anger that causes us to sin. The Apostle Paul notes in Ephesians 4:26 that we can be angry yet not sin. But that’s the trick, isn’t it? After all, In Galatians 5:19, Paul identifies anger as a work of the flesh. Perhaps the simplest line of demarcation between sinful anger and righteous anger is the root cause. Sinful anger is always rooted in self-serving motives; righteous anger is that which seeks either God’s good or God’s will.
As much as we might like to think that our anger is righteous anger, it’s usually not. Attempting to walk that fine line is equal to trying to light a candle in a room filled with natural gas hoping not to ignite the gas. To complicate matters even more, those of us who try and act from a righteous anger position find ourselves stepping into God’s shoes, which also is sinful. It is not our place to seek vengeance for the Lord; vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19). Anger, like the sin of lust/adultery, is a sin of passion. Once ignited, it takes on a life of its own. It quickly leads us to sin. Proverbs 6 is describing the danger of adultery, but I believe the same reasoning applies to anger when Solomon asks, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27).
7. What important responsibility did Abigail take upon herself?
The Bible describes Abigail as a woman who is discerning and beautiful (1 Samuel 25:3). As I read this story about Nabal and Abigail, I could not help but think of the words Solomon used to describe a virtuous wife:
Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. –Proverbs 31:10-13
This is Abigail. When the Bible describes her as discerning and beautiful, it means she was literally beautiful inside and out.
Recognize, too, that Abigail is married to a complete jerk. In contrast to Abigail’s beauty and wisdom, the Bible quickly describes Nabal as a man who was “harsh and badly behaved” (v. 3). If you want to know what kind of man Nabal was, listen to his response when David’s messenger kindly asks for some food:
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. 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?” – 1 Samuel 25:10-11
I… my… my… my… I… my… I…. Gracious guy, huh?
As you read this, you quickly get a picture of the kind of man Abigail is married to. Amazingly, when she hears that her husband has rudely snubbed these soldiers and they are now determined to kill him, she quickly puts together enough food to feed an army (literally!) and runs to intercept David and intercede on his behalf. You can read her valiant speech to David in verses 23-31.
David is openly amazed at her response and quickly backs away from his plan to kill Nabal. In fact, it was Abigail’s ability to defuse David’s anger that saved him from making a terrible mistake (vs. 33-34).
Before we leave Abigail, think for a moment how easily it would have been for her to respond quite differently. She is a young, beautiful woman who has a lot going for her. She’s married to a real world-class jerk. Wouldn’t it have been easy for her to see this as her opportunity to free herself from this creep? Nabal has famously shot off his mouth one more time and this time someone is going to hold him accountable for it. Rather than run to intercede on Nabal’s behalf, it would have been very easy to go to her closet and casually begin looking at the clothing she would wear to his funeral. After all, she would have the play the part of the “mourning” widow. But, she didn’t. Who can find a virtuous wife? Nabal had, but he never appreciated her.
There is, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.” Not long after this incident, Nabal died, probably of a stroke or heart attack. (Regardless, the Bible is clear that the Lord struck Nabal and he died.) As soon as David heard of Nabal’s death, he rejoiced:
Blessed be the LORD who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head. – Samuel 25:39
Moreover, he quickly sent a marriage proposal to Abigail (who is now indeed a widow), and she accepted.
9. How can we learn to control anger in our life to avoid sinful words and actions, and hurting our family, friends, and co-workers?
Anger is not something you can hope to rid yourself of and be free from for the remainder of your life. As we see in this week’s text and the example of David, anger ignites in the most godly of people. So, while we can’t rid ourselves of anger, we can learn to control anger and not let it become a sinful, destructive pattern in our life. Here are four helpful hints when you find yourself wrestling with anger:
- Recognize the spark that ignites anger. The spark that leads to anger is almost always rooted in a strong sense of injustice, and the focus is always on either ourselves or those we love. We have a strong inner sense of what is right and wrong for us, and when someone crosses that line, it sparks anger within us. Learn to spot the small spark landing in your heart and quickly extinguish it. Don’t let it simmer until it becomes an uncontrollable flame.
- Watch for the physical signs of anger. You may not think you have them, but if you ask your family or those close to you, they can tell without question when you are getting angry. The signs may be subtle (e.g. your face or ears get red), or they may be obvious (e.g. you start to pace or your voice gets louder). Whatever are your signs of anger, learn to detect them and observe the warning.
- Learn to trust those who love you and know your patterns. Just as Abigail rushed to derail David’s anger in this week’s text, learn to trust those around you who attempt to derail your anger before you sin. Understand, however, that depending on your past history, this may take time, perhaps a lot of time. If you have vented your anger at your family and others close to you over the course of many years, they have likely learned to retreat from your presence rather than walk toward you when you are angry. Few things can sow more mistrust and relationship destruction than anger. Solomon warned, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger” (Proverbs 22:24). If you have subjected those in your family and circle of influence to the heat of your anger, you will need to walk in humble repentance for a long time as you re-earn their trust.
- Guard your physical and emotional health. As we noted above, anger is an emotion of passion, and we tend to be most vulnerable when we are physically and emotionally depleted. In our text this week, David and his men have been out on patrol, protecting the flocks of Nabal while running for their lives from Saul. They were tired and hungry. When Nabal refused to give his men food David felt they had earned, his anger sparked and he was off to the races to kill Nabal. We are no different. We are most vulnerable to sinful anger when we are tired, hungry, or lonely. In fact, a key tool used in 12-step programs is summarized by the acronym H.A.L.T., which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Those are triggers that make us vulnerable to temptation and sin. It’s important to be extra cautious with our emotions when we know we are vulnerable, because it’s at moments like this when anger can go from 0 to 100 in seconds.
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
10. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember? 11. Do you have a plan to control anger in your life? If so, share it with your spouse or a close accountability partner. If not, develop one today! 12. Do you need help getting control of anger in your life? We are offering a free 44-page Bible Study titled “Anger: Facing the Fire Within” by June Hunt. You can pick up a copy of the Bible Study at the info wall or download a digital copy at http://myffc.co/2pCISVe
 Alan Redpath, The Making of a Man of God: Lessons from the Life of David (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2004), 107. ↑