1 Samuel 25:1-17 True Riches is in Being Thankful & Contented
1 Samuel 25:1-17
1 Now Samuel died, and all Israel gathered for his funeral. They buried him at his house in Ramah.
Then David moved down to the wilderness of Maon. 2 There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the town of Carmel. He had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and it was sheep- shearing time. 3 This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was crude and mean in all his dealings.
4 When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, 5 he sent ten of his young men to Carmel with this message for Nabal: 6 “Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own! 7 I am told that it is sheep- shearing time. While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. 8 Ask your own men, and they will tell you this is true. So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please share any provisions you might have on hand with us and with your friend David.” 9 David’s young men gave this message to Nabal in David’s name, and they waited for a reply.
10 “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. 11 Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”
12 So David’s young men returned and told him what Nabal had said. 13 “Get your swords!” was David’s reply as he strapped on his own. Then 400 men started off with David, and 200 remained behind to guard their equipment.
14 Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s servants went to Abigail and told her, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he screamed insults at them. 15 These men have been very good to us, and we never suffered any harm from them. Nothing was stolen from us the whole time they were with us. 16 In fact, day and night they were like a wall of protection to us and the sheep. 17 You need to know this and figure out what to do, for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family. He’s so ill- tempered that no one can even talk to him.
Prophet Samuel’s death has put an end to any possible mitigation and reconciliation between Saul and David. Samuel’s prophecy of a lasting Davidic dynasty will run its course. David’s move to the wilderness of Moan led him to a chanced encounter with his soon to be wife Abigail. But not without the danger of David staining his own reputation over a selfish and thankless tycoon. This episode teaches us about the spiritual poverty of the materially rich, and the danger of degeneration to a state of being soulless and insensitive to the needs of others. True riches is not material but spiritual in appealing to the virtues of being contented, thankful, kind, gentle, patient and gracious. Then Jesus said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Luke 12:15.
So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? – In those days when the Israel’s central judiciary system is yet adequate to provide protection to every city and village, independent warlords play an important role. David, forced by circumstances gathered his private army and moves to the wilderness of Moan, which is in the vicinity of Carmel, where Nabal, a rich property owner and farmer lives. David, while serving as an independent law enforcement agent to the city volunteers his service by protecting Nabal’s shepherds and his property. When the time comes for sheep sheering, which is also the time of profit taking, David reaches out to Nabal making known the services that he and his men have been providing to his business. As may be expected, the local businesses and residences undertake the obligation of providing for those who contribute to the city’s security.
Nabal’s response towards David’s men shows a discreditable lack of gratitude, of disrespect, taking for granted the work others have done for him. On top of that, Nabal makes a number of vile accusations against David even when he has done him no harm. He asserts that David is an outlaw who rebels against his master, he vilifies David’s heritage as one “who comes from who knows where?” and who is unworthy of his gifts.
Get your swords! – Nabal is not unaware of David’s heritage and his rising influence and clout within Israel: Who does this son of Jesse think he is? When David’s men related to him the details of their encounter with Nabal, in a fit of anger, he immediately musters 400 men to destroy Nabal’s entire family. For not only is Nabal thankless, he vilifies and denigrates David even when he does him good. Meanwhile, Abigail is being told of Nabal’s behavior and how David’s men have been a constant wall of protection for them and their property. Nabal’s servant, expecting certain retaliation because of Nabal’s behavior urges Abigail to figure out what to do, for there is going to be trouble for the whole family.
- Material things do not make us rich, but thankfulness and contentment does. The crisis the present generation is facing is the attitude of ingratitude and thanklessness at all levels of society. Incessant dissatisfaction and whining are prevalent among societies that are better developed, with a large proportion of the population associated with the middle class. Once people have greater earning power and had their basic needs met, they tend to be more demanding and less grateful. On the other hand, we see people of poorer nations being more contented and thankful even for the little things they receive. Nabal is not a joyful person, he is described as so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him; he looks down with disdain on those who are perceived to be poorer than him. And he is ungrateful despite the goodwill David and his men have shown towards his estate. He perceives material wealth as the most important possession in life and snubs at those who attempt to receive from him.
Therefore, people in developed nations need to practice greater thankfulness and contentment in step with greater material possessions. They need to take their eyes off the lure of wealth supposing that material possessions could increase their happiness. True riches belong to a person of virtues, who possesses the attitude of thankfulness, being contented with what we possess and willing to share his possessions with family and friends.
- The onus is on us to repay with gratitude those who have contributed to our benefit even though there is no explicit agreement. People tend to be less grateful for the things that they have not worked or ask for. In fact, 80% of what we currently enjoy and possess comes without our express requests or personal effort. Hence, in well-developed nations, people having an abundance of utilities and infrastructure take for granted things that are impossible to come by in developing nations. David serves Nabal out of the kindness of his heart although there is no express agreement to be repaid for his services. However, there is still a moral obligation to pay for meaningful services rendered.
As the people of a nation rides the tide of progression in many instances without their direct contribution, we still need to repay with gratitude by helping the poor and lifting them up from poverty; we need to give back to society by helping the poor and being involved in their lives.
- Are you thankful for every little thing that people did for you? Or do you perceive the gestures as well deserved, taking for granted the efforts others have put in? The attitude of thankfulness flows from a heart of contentment, who enjoys the things he possesses and being sensitive to the people around him.
- Put into your calendar a weekly event to reach out to the community and serve those who need help especially the children who hold the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in their family.
Dear Lord, I thank you for your kindness towards me and family for sustaining our health and providing for us daily. I will not ask anything for myself only that you use me to help those who are in need. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.