The saints will be persecuted
“And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep.” (1 Samuel 25:4)
While we are studying the character and the conditions of this godly wife Abigail with her ungodly husband Nabal, one of the main issues that are presented to our attention is of course the issue of the fellowship with other godly people. A godly woman has learned from God to love those who love His precepts and to like to have fellowship with them (cf. Psalm 119:63). We have studied this truth in our first study in this series entitled Fellowship with the saints. Contrary to this, her ungodly husband will either honestly oppose any fellowship with the saints, or he will be a hypocrite believer who enters among us to spy out the freedom which we have in Christ (cf. Galatians 2:4). We have seen in our previous study how a wise woman will behave in such cases. So as we study the conditions and the behavior of other godly people (in the case of our study, it is mainly a study of David’s conditions and behavior), we get a biblical idea about this holy fellowship in which a godly woman likes to be, contrary to the worldly friendships in which an ungodly woman chooses to be.
Now, the condition of David is presented by the Spirit of God to our attention. David was fleeing from the king Saul who was persecuting him, and he was in the wilderness. And indeed the Word teaches us: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) This is not an optional fact; it is a necessary fact: All who desire to live godly in Christ will be persecuted. And the very next verse tells us how the ungodly people will be: “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13) This is indeed what happened with the king Saul who went from bad to worse until he was killed, and this is also what happened with Nabal who not only loved his wealth and was greedy (which is idolatry — cf. Colossians 3:5 and Ephesians 5:5) and refused the fellowship with David, but also “his heart died within him, and he became [as] a stone” (1 Samuel 25:37) when he heard the truth, and then “it came to pass in about ten days that Jehovah smote Nabal, and he died.” (v. 38) This is the condition of ungodly people: they go from bad to worse, and they keep deceiving people and being themselves deceived, many of them even thinking that they are doing all those bad things in the Name of Christ (cf. Matthew 7:21-23). For the world, the ungodly people are the ones for whom we should clap, but Jesus said: “Woe, when all men speak well of you, for after this manner did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26) You will be loved by the world if you are of the world and you live and behave like the world and thus you compromise the truth of the holy Word of God, because the world loves its own (cf. John 15:19). When you live like the world, then you are of the world, and you are in the bad company of false prophets. But true Christians who want “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [they] have been called” (cf. Ephesians 4:1) will be hated by the world, because Christ has chosen them out of the world (cf. John 15:19) and has made of them “a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that [they] might set forth the excellencies of him who has called [them] out of darkness to his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). If you have been chosen by Christ out of the darkness of the world to His wonderful light, then Jesus says to you: “Blessed are ye when they may reproach and persecute you, and say every wicked thing against you, lying, for my sake. Rejoice and exult, for your reward is great in the heavens; for thus have they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12) You will be in a good company, the company of the prophets of God! They will say all bad things against you, lying, for the sake of Christ. They will slander you as an evildoer (cf. 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Peter 3:16), and they will be surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they will malign you (cf. 1 Peter 4:4). Yes, indeed, persecution is not always a physical persecution, but also psychological and emotional: They keep saying bad things against you, they humiliate you with words and gestures for being a follower of Christ, they declare that you are idiot or psychologically unbalanced, because you have denied the world and yourself and you have set before your eyes the holy ambition of being like Christ and of pleasing God the Father. The wilderness may be a wilderness of physical enmity by the world, or a wilderness of emotional and psychological enmity by the world, or both. In all cases, we are in a wilderness, and we are strangers and exiles on this earth (cf. Hebrews 11:13). But in all conditions, if you have the Joy of Christ in you and you have really denied all the pleasures of this world to follow Christ, not loving your life even when faced with death (cf. Revelation 12:11), then when persecuted you will rejoice and exult, for your reward is great in Heaven (cf. Matthew 5:12); if you do not fear what you will suffer, and if you remain faithful until death, you will receive the crown of life (cf. Revelation 2:10). If you are really Christ’s own, then He is working in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure (cf. Philippians 2:13), and He will keep you from stumbling, and He will make you stand in the presence of His Glory blameless with great joy (cf. Jude 24)! You have all these promises from God! He will give you the grace to be faithful until death, so be faithful to the end, thus giving the witness that you are really His own and that His Spirit is working in you. If you believe these promises, then you will endure to the end; if not, then you will fall and thus prove not to have the real faith that takes hold of God’s promises of life. It is by faith in these promises that we live and we endure to the end. Whether you are persecuted physically or psychologically and emotionally, or both, and whether you are persecuted by an enemy like it was the case with David, or by your husband (or a relative) like it was the case with Abigail, keep your trust in God’s promises and fight the good fight of faith (cf. 1 Timothy 6:12), for you have the promise that “all that has been begotten of God gets the victory over the world; and this is the victory which has gotten the victory over the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4). You have the promise that, if you are born of God, then your faith is the kind of faith that has gotten the victory over the world. It is only as you believe this promise that you get the practical victory. Yes, we are in the wilderness now; we have come out of the bondage of sin to which Egypt pointed, and we are now walking with the Lord in the wilderness; it is not with all those who have this doctrine of liberation from bondage that God is pleased; it is not with all those who are called Christians that God is pleased, thus they will fall in this wilderness (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:5), as they lust for all what is in the world (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6 and 1 John 2:15-17) and they only have a name that they are alive while they are indeed dead (Revelation 3:1), and thus their names will not be kept in the Book of life which keeps only the names of those who are truly alive (cf. Revelation 3:5). In this wilderness, we need to walk by faith, trusting in the promises of victory that God has given in His Word. And as we walk by faith, we will not practice the works of darkness, as through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ the world was crucified to us, and we to the world (cf. Galatians 6:14), and thus we were separated from that evil system to be Christ’s own, a people sanctified for the service of the living God. We will not lust after evil things (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6), and we will not be idolaters who live to eat and drink and to play (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:7), and we will not commit fornication (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:8), and we will not tempt Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:9), and we will not murmur (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:10)… For if we practice these things, we will fall in this wilderness, thus proving that we never had the living faith that only those who are born of God have and therefore they do not practice sin (cf. 1 John 3:9).
Yes, a great saint like David was in the wilderness, suffering want and troubles, while an evil man like Nabal was shearing his sheep, getting wealth over wealth… With whom do we prefer to be: with David or with Nabal? The answer of our heart shows whose children we are… Where is the treasure of our heart (cf. Matthew 6:19-21)? If our treasure is in Heaven, then we will never suffer any want, for the Lord will provide for our needs, according to His Will, as He always did with David, even in his hardest troubles. When our joy does not depend of grain and new wine, then we will have true gladness and we shall never want (cf. Psalm 4:7). Then we will be able to sing with David who suffered all these things and yet said: “Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1) Yes, indeed, “The steps of a man are established by Jehovah, and he delighteth in his way: though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for Jehovah upholdeth his hand. I have been young, and now am old, and I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed seeking bread: all the day he is gracious and lendeth, and his seed shall be a blessing.” (Psalm 37:23-26) Having these promises, let us make sure that our “conversation [is] without love of money, satisfied with [our] present circumstances; for he has said, I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee. So that, taking courage, we may say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid: what will man do unto me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Yes, let us be with the Son of David in the wilderness outside the camp, and not with Saul and Nabal in the camp of sin; “Wherefore also Jesus, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate: therefore let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach: for we have not here an abiding city, but we seek the coming one.” (Hebrews 13:12-14) This is what Abigail did to David, bearing his reproach, without following that wrong opinion about submission to her husband that says that she should submit to him against God’s Will (cf. our previous study).
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ