It can be that easy to give a hand to others. God even decreed that the poor shall be cared for from our fields, our income. He has blessed us and asks us to in turn bless others.Read More
Abigail has always been an interesting character (1 Samuel 25). She seems to fulfill all the descriptions in Proverbs 31 for a wife of noble character, and she is beautiful and intelligent (1 Samuel 25:3). It is all the more perplexing that she has married a fool, this man named Nabal.
Abigail must have known who this man was, and surely her family knew as well. Given the times, she likely would not have had all that much to say about who she married, but I would expect that some attempt at a decent match was made. I wonder if Nabal changed after they married or perhaps riches had gone to his head.
Considering the ‘Proverbs 31 woman’, it would seem that verse 11 did not apply in this case: her husband did not have full confidence in her and lacked plenty of value (all he lacked will have to be set aside for this post. It would get a bit long!). Nabal would not have sent Abigail as an envoy to a king. I doubt anyone at the time would have sent a woman as an envoy. Yet, we find a very capable and considerate envoy.
Abigail provides a nice formula for the approach: providing unflattering information about the enemy, her husband; then proceeding to offer a gift of food; and ends with flattery and praise of David’s work the Lord. I doubt I would have thought so quickly and prepared so well for the encounter, not in my haste to prepare the food and race out to find the gentleman intent on destroying my family. Indeed, the words and the speech that she delivers marks her as one who is close to God, only one who has gained the wisdom of God could have done so well.
Drawing near to Him, we take on His character. Abigail was level-headed in conflict, direct and truthful in her words, and had the goodwill of all on her heart. She clearly carried herself in a way that was remarkable for David to then call on her and ask her to be his wife. What a change from the wife of a fool to the wife of a king and man after God’s own heart!
I think that might get anyone’s attention if you know the story of Delilah and Samson found in Judges 16. When a person is so vengeful and deceitful, surely they are not one of God’s own. I guess in the traditional sense, I would concede. Hers the rub: God created Delilah and God used her to bring about His purposes.
This story brings to mind the people that we have such a hard time getting along with. The ones that don’t seem to be completely forthcoming, the ones who find gain in all the bad, the ones who seem to come out on top every time, the ones who don’t seem to care much about others. My husband was in just such a situation with not one, but two people. Looking back on it now, it wasn’t just people God put there to test and try us, but I am certain that my husband was there to protect and support others who were in their path. As imperfect as we are, God may not put these people in our path just to challenge or develop us and make us grow. In tough times, we often see only the our own tough spot, but here, at least in hindsight, I can see that God may also have us there to alleviate the troubles of others.
So, was Delilah a woman of God. Not by most standards, but God still used her for His purposes. It just might take time to see that purpose when we face our own Delilahs.
The other things I noticed in reading about Saul, Goliath and David (1 Samuel 17)
I realized the phycological impact that Goliath must have had, not just by his size and the challenge that he made. In fact, I think the challenge was made in order to spare an annihilation of life on the battle field. Clearly Goliath was an impressive guy, absolutely huge. But this too takes away from the fact that when David arrives to provide refreshments for his brothers, Goliath has made this declaration already 80 times. 1 Sam 17:16: For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening. Forty days, twice a day this was yelled in their faces and no one had responded. I wonder how long it was before Saul offered the reward. And what was he thinking- would a reward guarantee them victory, or merely push them into certain slavery? I see such a lack of leadership here in Saul that it is not surprise that from here he begins to lose his throne. We are never told that he sought the Lord or even asked the prophets and priests to intervene. God can bring about the change in perspective that Saul required. He could have taken David’s faith as a beacon to change what he was doing or at least how he was doing it.
Then of course there is the image that Malcolm Gladwell provided about how David essentially ignored the rules of war that were in place at the time, thereby offering the idea that David cheated by not approaching with a sword and shield. The rebel in me wants to point out that the challenge never stated any limits other than to chose one man to fight him – no comment on the time, weapons, style, etc. But I know that we are in fact bound by all kinds of limitations in our minds that culture and circumstance have placed there. For truly, I do not see any cheating here, what I see is an alternate perspective. God’s perspective. For man was thinking in confines, but God was not. Isaiah 55:8 ‘"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’ (Isn’t the NLT version just fantastic at the end phrase?) His ways were in David’s mind, not human thoughts: not fear and not despair. We can imagine that fear and despair dominated Saul and all his army. But God can change our perspective – He is the Living God and the God of Angel Armies. How could we not win?!?
What else stuck out to me? We always think of David as a small shepherd boy in this scene. But look at what next unfolds, verses 38-39:
Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off.
David has put off the armor because he is not accustomed to it. We always, well maybe it is just me, please comment and let me know, imagine this scene as David being swallowed up by Saul’s armor – but this is not accurate. It says that he has not had time to test out the armor: surely the weight changes how one can move, limiting and off-balancing one. We know Saul is tall, quite tall. 1 Samuel 9:2 says of Saul, ‘…From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.’ Yet, we do not find that Saul’s armor was too large and could not be strapped on David. On the contrary, David had no trouble strapping on the armor – he was clearly already much older than so many children’s stories imply, and very well likely fully grown.
David was apparently in his early twenties at this point. This fact reminds me that so often we read the Bible and picture only flat informational scenes. We don’t (or is it me?) always consider the feelings and thoughts behind the character and their own experiences which brought them to this scene. It requires more of us to stop and ask about age, developmental experiences and feelings of those that we read about. But what a perspective we have if we do!
David may have been the youngest of his brothers, but he had the life experiences that lead him to a strong faith in God, the living God. So, we need to let David grow up from the little shepherd boy to a strong opponent of Goliath. I wonder how the brothers responded after the death of Goliath. How did that relationship change when they were forced to see that David was a capable man?
How old have you always imagined David to be when he killed Goliath?
Several months ago, in reading the story of David and Goliath, I was struck by several things that I never noticed before. Perhaps, I had simply never spent enough time of careful study of the old testament traditions and the kings and all they did wrong. But I was particularly struck by the fact that Saul is there at the battlefield and in I Samuel 17:19 we find the situation:
Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
So, all the men of Israel are there. Preparations for battle, campfires and tents, cooking and roasting to feed all these men. I can only image a rather large temporary city has sprung up. But this time when I read, there was something missing, a glaring oversight. How had I not noticed before? How had Saul not included the priests? Why were there not hourly sacrifices to God, requesting His favor? Where was Israel’s God? Truly, did not one person ask and finally bring this to Saul’s attention?
It is not until verses 36-37 when David draws God into the battle:
“…he [Goliath] has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”
And Saul replies with this short encouragement to David. Yet, Saul still doesn’t think about asking God to go with him, or the Israelites or to pave the road to victory. He hands everything over to this ‘boy’ David. Where is God? We know He is present and very aware of the situation at hand, yet He has not been invited to participate or go before the Israelites. These are the same people who drove out so many in the promised land, with God; but they do not invite intervention at this so pivotal a battle.
I also really love that David has such an intimate relationship with God that He is ‘the living God.’ Our God is living and cares and wants to be involved in everything. This statement screams to me that David knew God: a shepherd and now-warrior. He has the firm belief that God is with him and on his side.
Have we invited God to our side? Asked Him to join us today? Sacrificed at the altar of prayer?