The Wise, the Fool, and Their Riches

TODAY’S READING: 1 SAMUEL 25-27

1 Samuel 25 is the story of David, his young men, Abigail and Nabal. In this story, I believe we see a foreshadowing of two of Jesus’ parables – the parable of the sheep and the goats and the parable of the rich fool.

THE CHARACTERS

David means beloved. He is a picture of Jesus.

The young men of David picture “one of the least of these my brothers.”

Abigail means “my father is joy” or “the Father is joyful.” According to 1 Samuel 25:3, Abigail was “discerning and beautiful.” The word discerning in this verse is from two Hebrew words that more literally mean good understanding or good comprehension. We could say that Abigail was wise.

Nabal means fool, foolish, senseless. 1 Samuel 25:25 says, “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.” Also, 1 Samuel 25:3 says Nabal was “harsh and badly behaved.” Nabal was a fool.

THE STORY

Nabal was a rich man who had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. David heard he that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So, David sent ten young men to Nabal. Seeing as David and his young men did no harm to Nabal’s shepherds and protected Nabal’s flocks, David asked Nabal that his young men and he would find favor with him and partake of his feast.

In 1 Samuel 25:10, Nabal answered, “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?” So, despite all of his riches, Nabal refused to give any of them to the young men and David.

When Abigail heard this from of Nabal’s servants, she “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.” Abigail rode on the donkey to take the provisions to the young men and David. So, Abigail provided what she could to the young men and David.

When Abigail came back from providing for David and his young men, Nabal was holding a feast, “like the feast of a king.” Nabal’s heart was merry because he was drunk.

In the morning, Abigail told Nabal what she had done and Nabal’s heart died within him. About ten days later, Nabal died.

THE WISE AND THE FOOL, THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS

I believe we can seem similarities between the story of Abigail, the wise, and Nabal, the fool, and Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats.

David and his young men were hungry. But, Nabal said “Who is David?” So what about all these servants. Despite his riches, Nabal refused to feed David and his young men.

In Matthew 25:42-45, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me…Then they will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger…and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'”

Nabal refused to feed David’s young men, which was the equivalent of refusing to feed David. It’s very similar to what Jesus says about us and feeding the least of these.

In Matthew 25:34, Jesus says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepare for you from the foundation of the world.” Remember, Abigail means “my father is joy” or “the Father is joyful.” Certainly, this verse seems to fit Abigail.

In Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus continues, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?’…And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Abigail merely heard the report of one Nabal’s young men and she leapt into action to feed and give to drink David and his young men. She certainly seems to fit the type of person Jesus says should come and inherit the kingdom.

Abigail was discerning and beautiful. She was wise. Nabal was harsh and badly behaved. He was a fool. Proverbs 10:21 says, “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.”

NABAL AND THE PARABLE OF THE RICH FOOL

We saw that Nabal was a rich man. But, he was unwilling to help out David and his young men. In Luke 12:15, Jesus says, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” It’s pretty clear Nabal was guarding himself against covetousness. Surely, his life consisted of the abundance of his possessions.

Nabal had built up quite a flock of sheep and goats. And, when he prepared a feast, he was merry and got drunk. However, when he heard what Abigail did with his possessions, Nabal’s heart turned to stone and he died 10 days later. Abigail said that Nabal was as his name, a fool.

In Luke 12:19-21, Jesus says, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

This fits Nabal perfectly. He never got to enjoy the possessions he had prepared for himself. He could have enjoyed by being rich toward God and sharing them with David and his young men.

Proverbs 17:24 says, “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” Nabal had his eyes on the ends of the earth, the riches of this world, and it cost him.

We need to be wise like Abigail and use our riches, whatever they are, for the Lord at a moment’s notice.

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