While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!
“‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’”
When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited.
Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”
Sheep-shearing time would have been a time of great celebration for Nabal, as it represented the prospect of financial gain from the wool. David expected to find Nabal in good spirits especially since David and his men had helped to protect Nabal’s shepherds and their flocks while out in the fields. But David did not receive the warm welcome and thank you for his efforts that he had expected. Instead of gratitude and generosity, David was on the receiving end of selfish snubbing.
Nabal acts like he had never heard of David, which would have been nearly impossible. David was well known throughout Judah for his many succeses on the battlefield, including his victory as a young boy over the giant Goliath. But Nabal treats David like a nobody – scoffing at his request. David’s request of food for his men would have barely made a dent in the excess of provisions that Nabal had.
It is easy for us to sit back and say – “Nabal was quite a jerk!” And we would be right. He definitely was. But let’s not be too quick to put Nabal in the “bad guy” category and list ourselves in the “good guy” category. There are plenty times when I have ignored someone else’s need that could have been provided for out of what God has blessed me with. My guess is that you can recall a time or two where you have done the same. We may not have been as overtly crude or selfish about it as Nabal, but the direction of our hearts were aimed in the same direction as his…toward ourselves. Maybe we didn’t think we would have enough for ourselves if we were generous, maybe we didn’t think the person deserved it, or maybe we just didn’t want to. Whatever the reason, being generous because of the generosity shown to us was the furthest thing from our minds.
This week, let’s look to the example of Christ’s generosity and live like that. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8)