The last time, we studied 1 Samuel 25:1. You can read that study by clicking on the following link: A godly wife and an ungodly husband (1). And now, we ask the Lord to lead us in this study and to continue to teach us from His Word.
Description of the ungodly man
“And there was a man at Maon, whose business was at Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats; and he was shearing his sheep at Carmel.” (1 Samuel 25:2)
This is the description of this ungodly man as seen by the world. For the world, this man was successful: he was a business man, he was rich and had many possessions, and he was a man who gave great diligence and attention to his job, and now he was shearing his sheep at Carmel. He may also have been a “good Jew” who followed the instructions of the Law outwardly (even though he didn’t have mercy and compassion which are the heart of the Law…) He may have been a religious man… He may have even been justifying his selfishness with God’s Word! He may have been reciting something similar to the following text: “He cometh to want that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” (Proverbs 10:4) He may have been saying: “I deserve all this, because I work with a diligent hand… After all, is this not what the Word of God says?…” “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou return to the ground: for out of it wast thou taken. For dust thou art; and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19) We can imagine this ungodly man reading this verse in the Law of Moses and saying: “You see? I should work to live, and that’s what I am doing! [he’s barely living, you know…] I am living by my work, and I deserve all this! And I should live and have pleasure in what I have, as tomorrow I will die. And look… God says there is nothing after death! I will become dust, and dust only!”… This ungodly man may have been using such texts, without considering the context of the Bible and without really understanding it with the mind of God… He forgets that he doesn’t have the right to use God’s Word, as he is a wicked man: “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth, Seeing thou hast hated correction and hast cast my words behind thee?” (Psalm 50:16-17) He may also have been a good citizen who obeyed the king of those days (i.e. Saul), and maybe that was one of the reasons why he said he didn’t know David, as we will see… He was a good citizen, and not a traitor!… In our study we will also see how this man didn’t really love his wife and didn’t give her the sacrificial care that a husband should give to his wife, and yet in the sight of the world his wife was the happy wife of a rich man… For the world, this man really earned the title “a very great man”… This is how the world measures success: Do you have a good job? Are you successful in that job, even if that means to cheat and to do things that dishonor God and despise His Law? Do you have a brand new car, the model of this year? Actually, the question is: how many cars do you have? (How many sheep and how many goats do you have?…) Do you have a nice house with an imaginary price? All this shows that you have a “respectful” account in the bank… Do you have a beautiful wife (even if she’s not a godly wife)? Does she follow the fashion, and does she have all the money she needs in order to fulfill her worldly desires? Actually, if the “bad fate” makes your wife so “mad” as to follow Christ and thus be godly, you should do all what you can do in order to show the world that she’s not really that “extremist”… Boast of her beauty and of her intelligence, even if that means to lie and to dishonor your wife before other people and to give a bad example… Do your children go to the best school in the whole region? Do they wear costly clothes? How many insurances you and your family have?… Now, being religious would be optional, but in some societies it is an important additional option; the heart’s attitude toward God is not that important; actually, it is preferred if you be moderate and not a “fundamentalist” in obeying God… All these things and similar things make the criteria according to which the world decides whether you are a great man or not… These are the things that make you respectful in the eyes of the world. “He that is poor is hated even of his own neighbour; but the rich hath many friends.” (Proverbs 14:20)
This is what the world looks for. How sad that many so-called Christians also look for the same things, although they justify them with some “Christian” excuses, like “the Bible says that the righteous man gets rich”, or “how can we live if we don’t have money? Money is for its need only”… etc… This is the worldly way. “Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If any one love the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing, and its lust, but he that does the will of God abides for eternity.” (1 John 2:15-17) For God, the really successful man is the one who doesn’t pass with the world!
Although money is not bad when not loved and when used wholly to the Glory of God, and yet the things mentioned above are not the criteria according to which the value of a person should be decided. In one of the parables of our Lord, we find a “successful” man like the man that we have in our text:
“And he said to them, Take heed and keep yourselves from all covetousness, for [it is] not because a man is in abundance [that] his life is in his possessions. And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The land of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. And he reasoned within himself saying, What shall I do? for I have not [a place] where I shall lay up my fruits. And he said, This will I do: I will take away my granaries and build greater, and there I will lay up all my produce and my good things; and I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much good things laid by for many years; repose thyself, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; and whose shall be what thou hast prepared? Thus is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)
This also is a man who knew how to do his work diligently. He was a successful man, and that year his land brought forth abundantly. And look how he reasoned… Did he ask himself: “how can I glorify God with this blessing that He gave to me?” No. His question was “what shall I do?” He wanted to use that abundance for his pleasure, and wanted to find out the best way to do that. Indeed, he worked diligently… Actually, concerning the possessions that God has put under our stewardship, the whole difference is in the answer that we give to this question: “What shall I do?”… The answer of this ungodly man was: “This will I do…”, and he went on to think how he would enlarge his possessions for his own pleasures; he would prepare for himself many years of pleasure and easy living… as if he knew that he would have many years to live, and as if his life was not in the hand of his Creator… Instead of talking to God and asking Him what to do, he speaks to his soul… Well, the world would call such a man “a great man”… But how did God call this man? He said he is a “fool”… he is a fool… he didn’t get rich toward God, but he got rich to himself.
It is the same with the man of our text: although the world called him “a great man”, yet God called him a fool…
“And the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail; and the woman was of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance; but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was a Calebite.” (1 Samuel 25:3)
The name of this man was “fool”… Actually, “Nabal” means “foolish”, “wicked”, “impious”… His name means both foolish and wicked, as indeed the wicked man is the one who doesn’t really believe in God and thus he is a fool: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They have corrupted themselves, they have done abominable works: there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 14:1) This man was a foolish man, because he was a wicked man who didn’t really believe God existed, and he thought his life was under his control, and he lived his life for himself and not to the Glory of God. Although people called him “a great man”, but God said he was “churlish and evil in his doings”… The world thinks that a man who does good at his work and who takes care of his family (materially) is a good man, good in his doings… but God sees the reality of the heart.
Now, one would wonder why the parents of Nabal called him with this name… Aren’t you surprised that there are parents who may boast of having their child called “wicked and foolish”? And yet many today call their children with such names!! We will see how, and we will continue our study in the next time, if the Lord wills.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ