A few mornings ago I was having breakfast with my daughters, and it came time to pray before we headed out for our respective days. It dawned on me then that my older daughter had prayed a few days prior for confidence and focus in a performance she was part of. The performance went off without a hitch, so I brought that up as a reminder of ways in which God answers prayer and works on our behalf. It was a helpful, if small, lesson for us.
Often this is how we think of God working: we ask and He helps. But more often than that, perpetually in fact, God is working in ways that are deeper and wider and more complex than we know. The stories of David and Abigail, and then of David and Saul, show this so clearly.
When David was insulted and shamed by Nabal, he was ready to mete out vengeance. His overtures had been made with respect, his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds, and they were in need of help. So of course, he became enraged when he was not only turned away, but with insults.
This is where we see God intervene on behalf of David. The story says Abigail—Nabal’s wise and beautiful wife—rode to meet him, offer assistance to his men, and plead for mercy. What we should see in that is God being merciful to David by protecting him and his future kingship from his own rage.
David recognized it. He saw in Abigail a wise and beautiful messenger from God sent to redirect and protect him, so he blessed the Lord and the Lord blessed them.
A few verses later we see David fleeing from Saul. Again, an opportunity for revenge arises. David could have ended his problems in a single blow. He could have dealt with Saul the same way he intended to deal with Nabal. Instead, he showed humility and discretion. Maybe God’s intervention earlier had made a lasting impression.
God’s direction in David’s life was not always obvious and not always asked for, but David saw it. He saw God leading him, and he learned to trust God even through the odd and unexpected. David had the power to take vengeance, to act on his own behalf, but he learned to let God do that. The more David looked for God’s hand at work, submitted to it, and let God work, the more God led and blessed him. Do we think it should work any different for us?
Written by Barnabas Piper