Thursday, June 2, 2022

David the Outlaw (1 Samuel 18-20, 23-25)

King Saul Turns on David

READ 18:6-9, 12

What causes King Saul to turn on David? 

Jealousy of the praise David receives from the women of Israel.

He realizes that the “Lord was with David and was departed from Saul” - in other words, he realizes that David is the next anointed King of Israel.


READ 1 Samuel 18:1-5

How is it possible that two men, Saul and Jonathan, could respond so differently to the loss of the throne?

One has the pure love of Christ and the other does not (or has lost the Spirit).

How is it possible that one man, David, could respond with the same loving attitude toward two men, Saul and Jonathan, who treated him so differently?

Again, the pure love of Christ – but it’s about to be tested.


But from that time on, King Saul tries to have David killed; and eventually to hunt down and kill David himself.  David flees to the Judean wilderness along the border of the Dead Sea, where he gains the leadership of a group of outlaws.  Things escalate to the point that Saul gathers 3,000 men to hunt David and his outlaw band in the desert.  As luck may have it, Saul finds a large cave in which to spend the night - the same cave that David and his men use for their headquarters.


READ 1 Samuel 24:3-4

Why did David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe?

To show the King that he could have killed him, but didn’t.

To make it clear that the rumors that David is trying to take the kingship are false.


READ 1 Samuel 24:12

How does David really feel?

He still wants the Lord to avenge him of the many hurts that Saul has caused him - he’s sort of cursing him (“the Lord avenge me of thee”).

But David will not do the deed himself.

We will see this passive-aggressive behavior play out again with David in the story of Uriah.

But David does not always “forgive and forget” or love with charity, as we will see in the Story of Nabal and Abigail…



David and Abigail on the Road to Carmel

David escapes to the desert with his band.  While there, they protect the flocks of a wealthy man named Nabal from other outlaws and Bedouin tribesmen, in return for a future payment of food and some sheepskins for clothing.  But when David’s servants went to collect the payment at the end of the season, Nabal said “Who is David and who is the son of Jesse?  …Shall I then take my bread and my water and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be?”


READ 1 Samuel 25:12-13

Why is David’s response to Nabal’s fraud and personal slight different from his response to Saul’s murder attempt and banishment of David?

Everyone in Israel knew who the “son of Jesse” was!  David’s pride could have been pricked.

It’s not fair - they provided a service, are in need, and have been defrauded.

The wilderness of Paran (south Judean desert) is a very inhospitable place (think Lawrence of Arabia) - their “need” may be desperate.

David is still a natural man at this point - he had a love for Saul which he chose to continue to honor but for Nabal, the stranger, he had no prior relationship or love – he is not filled with charity – for Nabal at least, as his love was conditional.  This begs the question can you have the pure love of Christ for some people but not for others – that doesn’t ring true to me. 

What is David’s intent for Nabal and his household?





The same thing Saul is attempting to do to him  (Saul is the King but David has been “unfairly” anointed by the now dead prophet Samuel to take the throne from him).

Why is being mistreated the most important condition of mortality?

Eternity depends on how we view those who mistreat us.

Mistreatment implies injustice – if we deserve what happens to us, it is easier to accept; but if it’s unfair, our hearts are really put to the test.


Nabal’s wife, Abigail, finds out about what Nabal had done to David.  Fearing that he would march on their home in the hill country of Carmel, she prepares all that is owed, and MORE, has it loaded on donkeys, and secretly rides out to head off David and his army of 400 angry men. 


READ 1 Samuel 25:25

Who is Abigail?

The wife of Nabal.

An innocent in this matter, and probably one who was mistreated by Nabal herself.

She is a type of Christ.


READ 1 Samuel 25:23-24, 28

What did Abigail do for Nabal?

She atoned/recompensed for his sins by delivering to David all that was owed and more.

She took upon herself his sins - “upon me let this iniquity be” - "forgive the trespass of thine handmaid".

Even though it was not her fault and she had done no wrong.

She saved Nabal from certain death at the hands of David.

She played the role of “savior on Mount Zion” – an advocate and mediator who begged to be blamed for the legitimate sins of another she cared for in order to save them from warranted destruction.


READ 1 Samuel 25:32-33

What did Abigail do for David?

She pled for him to not exact retribution.

She stopped him from exacting revenge - and sinning himself in the process!  So, she atoned for David’s (and his army’s sins), too.

She softened his heart and enabled him to forgive Nabal.

She gives him comfort in his legitimate hurt at the hands of Nabal - David was deprived of Nabal’s love, but he receives Abigail’s instead (and more).

Who is the real “sinner” in this story?


…and Nabal.

It is the story about a sinner (David) responding sinfully to the sins of another sinner (Nabal).

Who committed the greater sin?

This is impossible to know - it’s a trick question.

However, David, as the victim, will feel that his sin of non-forgiveness is “not as bad” as Nabal’s sin against him.  However, this is even harder to overcome because it feels unjust to let it go.



The Atonement of Christ

When Christ stands before the Father (and comes to us) to atone for the sins of another and seek our forgiveness, does He say “forgive them for they know not what they do” or does he say “forgive the trespass of thy servant?”

He has taken upon himself our sins.

He says, “forgive the trespass of thy servant (me, Christ)”.

Neither Abigail nor Christ actually committed the sin, but their willingness to assume another’s sins illustrates who forgiveness is for; so who is forgiveness for?

Forgiveness is for the victim who was sinned against - the Lord will forgive who He will forgive, but we must forgive all men.

Why must the victim forgive a legitimate offense?

To remove the poison that the perpetrated sin has placed within the heart of the victim, that the victim may be healed.

Because the Savior has taken the offense upon Himself – for the good of all concerned (sinner and victim).

Why does Christ/Abigail not haul the sinner forward and make them beg the victim for forgiveness (“say you’re sorry, and MEAN it this time!”)?

For the victim’s sake.  The victim may still feel justified in withholding that forgiveness from the perpetrator, but how can they withhold it from a loving Lord?

To enable them to more easily repent of their failure to forgive.

Because they have taken the sinner's sin upon themselves - Christ became guilty of sin so He could suffer the atonement and overcome those sins before the Father.

The Lord says, “upon me let this iniquity be”; in effect, He says “let me deal with it, if there is any dealing to be done – I will be the judge of that because I know more than you about what has really happened and why.  But you, please let it go, for your own sake!  Let me take it, as I have already done.”

Should it matter to the victim if the sinner is really repentant or not?

No - not if the victim wants to be healed and forgiven themselves  (This is a HARD DOCTRINE - who can hear it?).

And not if the victim doesn’t also want to add “self-righteous arrogance” to “failing to forgive”.


It is as if, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord’s agony came in waves - a first wave for the sins that we commit against the Lord, each other and ourselves, with all of the regrets, shame and guilt that come with realizing truly what we have done - standing in the light of day with a full realization of all our guilt.  But then it is as if a second wave would follow and mirror the first, and in the second wave He suffered the pains endured by the victims of the acts committed by those in the first wave - now it was anger, bitterness, loss and resentment. 

Why might the second wave (the victim’s hurt) be harder to suffer than the sins of the first wave (the sinner)?

When the sinner comes to themselves and sees their sins in their full context, they feel a natural regret; plus, their sin is more obviously a sin.

But the victim may feel it is their right to hold resentment, and to judge their persecutor - to withhold the peace and love for that person - they feel justified in doing that; they will feel justified in their righteous indignation against the sinner.

Why are we required to lay down any burden we may be carrying - including forgiving those that unjustly sin against us?

When we withhold forgiveness from others, we are in effect saying that the Atonement alone was insufficient to pay for this sin. 

We are holding out for more. 

We are finding fault with the Lord’s offering. 

We are, in essence, demanding that the Lord repent for an insufficient atonement. 

So, when we fail to forgive another, we are failing to forgive the Lord - who, of course, needs no forgiveness. 

Christ can share with us His insights into the suffering He has suffered for those who have hurt us and for those we have hurt.  These insights into the Atonement form the basis of the “pure love of Christ” - they are truth - things as they truly are, not just as we think they are, and at their heart is love - the kind of love that encourages and comes from sacrifice for another.  Whatever we may see in others that troubles us, He cries to us: “Upon me let this iniquity be.” 


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