He who practices righteousness
“Then David sent out ten young men; and David said to the young men, Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. And thus shall ye say: Long life [to thee]! and peace be to thee, and peace be to thy house, and peace be to all that thou hast!” (1 Samuel 25:5-6)
We are still studying the kind of people with whom the godly woman likes to have fellowship. In our text, it is mainly David who is the subject of our study. David was anointed as king of Israel, but he didn’t have the practical authority yet; and he was persecuted by Saul. We can imagine the conditions through which this man of God was passing… He was the king anointed by God, but he was being persecuted by the anointed king of God, Saul. He respected and obeyed the order God had put, therefore Saul was for him the anointed of God, as we see in passages such as 1 Samuel 24:6. He surely felt sad for being persecuted by this anointed of God whom he respected; he was getting hatred for his love from those who in principle should be the children of God who love and care for other children of God… He was also being misunderstood by many as being a rebel against his master (as seen in 1 Samuel 25:10)… Enemies from outside and enemies from inside… And besides all this, his beloved prophet Samuel also had died recently, as we have seen in our first study in this series… This is how troubles come one after the other to destroy the children of God, but we have the sure promise of God in His Word: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19) And in all this desert of troubles, a child of God wishes to find some streams of water in the children of God… For the children of God are supposed to have the truth and righteousness of God in them, to encourage each other in doing what is right. David understood this truth: “May those who fear You see me and be glad, Because I wait for Your word.” (Psalm 119:74) “To the saints that are on the earth, and to the excellent [thou hast said], In them is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:3) One expects to see the righteousness and the truth of God in a child of God, and this truth is not just a mind-truth, and this righteousness is not just an imaginary righteousness… If a man is in the truth, so he walks in the truth, and if a man has the righteousness of Jesus Christ, he will walk in that righteousness: “Children, let no man lead you astray; he that practises righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7). There is no value in saying that you believe in Christ and that you have the right doctrine (even if you really have the right doctrine) when you don’t walk in the light and you don’t obey the Lord’s Will; for if you don’t walk in the light according to His Will, then you are lying and the truth of God is not in you; you are deceiving yourself: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practise the truth.” (1 John 1:6) “He that says, I know him, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4) The truth and righteousness of God are not in you if you claim to be a believer and you don’t walk in the righteousness of God and you just claim to be righteous in yourself… Sadly, many people claim to be true believers and “better than others”, while they don’t walk in the truth, but they practice lawlessness. Many people think that because they are members of an evangelical church or of the oldest traditional church, or because they have godly relatives, or because they have made a “decision for Christ” in the past, or because they do many good works and they “don’t hurt anyone” (in their opinion), or because they serve in the church etc., then they are acceptable before God… But they deceive themselves with a very sad and fatal deception, because all of the above mentioned things do not prove that they are justified and acceptable before God! Jesus said about such people: “Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he that does the will of my Father who is in the heavens. Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through thy name, and through thy name cast out demons, and through thy name done many works of power? and then will I avow unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Maybe Nabal also thought about himself as a righteous man… After all, was he not a son of Caleb, one of the greatest saints of the past??… Was he not a child of Israel, belonging to the chosen people of God?… But he was surely deceiving himself, because he was not walking in the righteousness of God, but he was living in sin. And do you think that David didn’t know that Nabal was “churlish and evil in his doings” (1 Samuel 25:3)? I think he knew. After all, his men helped Nabal’s men in the past (cf. 1 Samuel 25:16), and David surely knew the man whom he was helping. But look how the truth of God about true love is fulfilled in the life of David… God says about true love that it “believes all things, hopes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). As John MacArthur explained this in an accurate way, “Love believes the best in someone else. Instead of being suspicious and eager to denounce an offender, love believes the best. Instead of saying, “He probably got exactly what he deserved” or “He’s so far gone now, he’ll probably never change,” love believes the best. Love sees the weakness, throws a mantle of silence over it, and then believes the best. Love doesn’t go through life cynical and suspicious–suspecting everybody and everything. Love doesn’t automatically jump to the conclusion that when somebody does something wrong it proves that they were rotten to begin with. Love always believes the best.” “You see, love is hopelessly optimistic–it never stops hoping. Love says, “God is still God and He can do it, so that’s what I have to hope in.” Love refuses to take failure as final. God wouldn’t accept it from Israel, Jesus wouldn’t accept it from Peter, and Paul wouldn’t accept it from the Corinthians. Many a loving wife has held on to a husband with nothing but that rope of hope. Many a loving parent has held on to a wayward child, and many a loving friend has held on to a fallen brother…just holding on to hope.” (John MacArthur, Perfect Love, The Qualities of True Love — Part 4) So love doesn’t judge a man automatically as being a hopeless case, but gives that man the opportunity and the time to repent, and does all things to awake that man to the truth. This is what God does with the sinners; this is what He did with Israel. God “desires that all men should be saved and come to [the] knowledge of [the] truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) And “the goodness of God leads thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4). God reaches the sinners with His truth with all kindness, leading them to repentance. God does not say about sinners “they are just hopeless cases”… He gave His Son for us! He doesn’t deceive sinners as religions do: He tells them the truth about their condition, i.e. that they are lost sinners. And He works by His truth and His kindness to lead the sinner to repentance. When the Lord was calling the disobedient and hypocrite Israel to repentance, He didn’t say “I will just not find any fruits on this tree”… No, He went to that tree, hoping to find some fruits: “Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.” (Matthew 21:19) But note that this curse was after He worked for about three years and a half on this tree of Israel hoping to find a positive response… That was a warning to all sinners who despise the goodness and patience of God that lead them to repentance. But as long as it is said “today”, God still says: “To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7) The Lord Jesus explained this long-suffering of God in the following parable: “A certain [man] had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit upon it and did not find [any]. And he said to the vinedresser, Behold, [these] three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree and find none: cut it down; why does it also render the ground useless? But he answering says to him, Sir, let it alone for this year also, until I shall dig about it and put dung, and if it shall bear fruit — but if not, after that thou shalt cut it down.” (Luke 13:6-9) God gives time to the sinner to repent, but the sinner should not despise His loving-kindness and patience that lead him to repentance. We should not take it for granted that God will still give us time to repent. God warns the sinner about his condition, not because He hates him and wants to show him his errors, but because He wants to save him from his sin that will kill him in Hell forever! In all this, God tests the inner parts of man and seeks fruits and not just words… You can’t just deceive God by saying that you’re righteous while you walk in unrighteousness… God does not ask you questions like: “Have you made a decision for Christ?” or “are you a true believer?”… He goes with you the whole way practically and He tests your faith in fire and He shows you whether you have true faith or not. This is how He acted with Abraham. He didn’t come and ask Abraham: “Abraham, do you trust in My goodness more than you trust your wisdom? Do you love your son of the promise whom I gave to you more than you love Me?”… No, He didn’t ask him such questions as many people do today with those about whom they want to make a judgment whether or not they are true believers… Instead of that, God told Abraham: “Take now thy son, thine only [son], whom thou lovest, Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and there offer him up for a burnt-offering on one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2) And it is not in vain that Abraham is called the father of believers… In the life of this man God showed us what true faith is and how God tests true faith… Look what was the answer of Abraham… Did he question the Will of God, trying to examine it with his wisdom? Did he doubt God and His love? No. Here is what Abraham did: “And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up and went to the place that God had told him of.” (Genesis 22:3) And thus the faith of Abraham was proven to be a true living faith by the fruit of obedience that it gave. In the same way, God is not impressed with positive answers that people give to His Message. To those who gave the positive answer of belief to what He said, Jesus proclaimed: “If ye abide in my word, ye are truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Note that this was said “to the Jews who believed him” (v.31). Thus, God works in the lives of people and wants to see fruits. If there are no fruits, then there is no faith. Words do not impress God. In the same way, the children of God should go with every man to the end practically. They should not judge from the first reactions met that they are hopeless cases… They should keep telling them the truth with love, awakening their consciences to the truth of their condition, hoping that God will lead them to repentance. But false believers and unbelievers will judge the children of God with self-righteousness, telling them that they should not judge those “poor people” by telling them how bad is their condition. Such people do not know what they are doing, and they are in fact being the most judgmental people with those sinners: they think that they are hopeless cases and that God can save no one by leading them to repentance… Contrary to this, a true believer keeps hoping that the sinner will leave his ways and repent and come to the knowledge of the truth. This is how the truth of God about true love was fulfilled in the life of David… He didn’t judge that Nabal would not be kind to him… He believed the best about him and he hoped the best… When in need, he considered him a believer to whom a child of God can go and seek some fruits of righteousness, and he thus gave Nabal the opportunity to show his faith through his works if indeed he had a true faith… So he came to Nabal in the same way God came to us, sinners: with love. God didn’t say about us “they are hopeless cases”, but He came with that great act of love on the cross for us. And David, after having helped Nabal’s men, he didn’t come to him as the anointed of God who can command whatever he wants or as a creditor who has the right to ask for something in return from his debtor for the good that he has done to him… He came with a blessing, asking for a favor and not for something due (cf. the verse of our present study and verse 8)… David gave Nabal the possibility to show fruits of righteousness… But Nabal answered with unrighteousness, thus proving that he is an unrighteous man. David didn’t judge that Nabal will just not give anything… He didn’t ask Nabal if he’s saved by a past decision of faith… David came to Nabal with a practical opportunity to practice righteousness. His men came to Nabal in his name (i.e. as representatives of David, having the same attitude of David, the attitude of a humble messiah). When Nabal showed his unrighteousness, the right attitude would be to forgive him and leave the judgment to God who judges with perfect righteousness and truth. But David made the error of wishing to take his revenge with his own hands. Abigail awakened him to the truth, thus saving him from a great unrighteousness. In the same way, God saves His children from death and condemnation with His discipline. And we see later how God judged Nabal. You can’t claim to be a believer who accepted Christ and live in unrighteousness and still expect to be declared as righteous before the judgment-seat of God.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ