Edition 256 ( 4 min read)
“But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone” 1 Samuel 25.37
Fear is dynamic, in the sense that it's not there one minute, and the next, it has us paralysed.
One minute you are speeding along the highway keeping a keen watch for Police, and the next you are hitting the brakes stone-cold in fear of the radar you didn't see.
One minute you are emailing or texting a naughty story to someone, only to realise that you copied in the wrong person. You freeze in fear.
Fear comes in many forms, often not warning us of its arrival. But sometimes it does and we don't heed. Either way, the effect on our body and mind is surprisingly powerful. It has the ability to turn us immediately from a living soul in command of our life to a petrified, ashen-faced living corpse.
In our story, King David and his band of warriors, by grace, protected Nabal's shepherds as they sheared several thousand sheep. They were a wall of righteousness around them, protecting them from those who would come to kill, steal and destroy (see John 10:10). In return, David wanted an acknowledgement, some food and drink. In essence, appreciation of the grace offered. This, Nabal rejected.
For that rejection, David's was going to slay Nabal. As we know, Abigail diffused the impending scenario. She stood in the breach and sought David's grace. The next morning Abigail informed Nabal of his close call. In the space of a few seconds, we see Nabal change from a master of his own destiny to a calcified shell. He didn't die for another ten days but remained like a petrified log until his death; such is the power of that type of fear. Standing before God on Judgment Day will be the same for us if we haven't accepted his grace.
That threat to Nabal was already gone, so what part of fear affected him? In Abigail's short remark, mentioning his narrow escape from death, this giant of his own world came face-to-face with his mortality; in his mind, shrinking to the size of an undefended pea. No longer a man who could buy or argue his way out of trouble, Nabal faced what we all will face if we come before God unprotected by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
David protected Nabal's shepherds purely by grace, but Nabal ignored it, unappreciative. Abigail, on the other hand, sought his grace. In the end, Abigail was invited to Wed David, which is a type of bride of Christ parallel.
Abigail, for fear of the impending unstoppable demise, threw herself on the mercy of David. She acknowledged him as the righteous King, causing him to understand that her heart was true and her motive honourable. She sought grace for herself and her household.
Nabal chose not to acknowledge David and died in mortal (very mortal) fear. God gave him ten days to repent and go the way of Abigail, but, over time, he had hardened his heart. He was so-self-absorbed he couldn’t reflect on repentance. After those extra ten days of grace, God called his spirit to the Judgment Seat, and he died unrepentant without grace.
This true story is a parallel with the grace God offers humanity, a grace we either accept or reject. We either follow Abigail and appreciate the cost of the grace of protection and bow to it, accepting it freely, or follow Nabal to a fear-driven ending.
When God sent his only begotten son to die on the Cross in place of us, providing the greatest thing we could imagine — grace from our looming spiritual death, the most mind-boggling thing to do would be to ignore it. In preference, our humility will see us seek his favour, accept his grace, and be invited into his kingdom.
This wonderful but brief story shows us the history of mankind; of God’s grace for the humble and fearful finish for the unrepentant. It provides us with a clear difference between the Fear or Favour of God, and the indescribable grace through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for this exciting but sobering parallel, as we see the spiritual image of Abigail being invited to marry the King. Thank you for your wonderful grace.
Photo by Jason Betz