The right thing is usually the hard thing. I think Paul knew this when he penned Galatians 6:9.
“So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”
I love this verse, but the truth is, I do get tired of doing good.
I’m exhausted after the twenty-seventh time my kids have whined at me and it isn’t even lunch time yet, so I respond to them harshly and impatiently.
I get tired of walking in humility in my marriage and grow resentful towards my husband and snap at him when he does one more thing that seems selfish and inconsiderate.
I grow slowly more irritated at the person in my church community who just rubs me the wrong way, and after I’ve smiled and conversed with them in the same painfully awkward way, week after week after week, I decide I’ve earned a break and I avoid them.
My flesh is waging war against my spirit. When I’m worn down, my defenses are weakened and sin looks for the chance to take a victory lap.
David experienced this kind of spiritual exhaustion and vulnerability.
1 Samuel gives an account of David on the run, persecuted by Saul. Homeless and hungry, David finds himself reduced to begging for a meal because he has refused to lay a hand on Saul and lives a life on the run from a murderer.
In a pivotal moment of weakness, after David has just passed up an opportunity to end Saul’s life (and his own homelessness), David encounters Nabal. Nabal is described as “harsh and evil in his dealings” (1 Samuel 25:3) and he refuses to share a meal with David and his men, though “he was a very rich man” (1 Samuel 1:2).
In this moment it is as though something inside of David snaps.
“All of you, put on your swords! …May God punish me and do so severely if I let any of his men survive until morning.”1 Samuel 1:13, 22
David had grown weary of taking the low road. It didn’t seem to be paying off. He had waited patiently, not taking matters into his own hands with Saul but obeying and trusting God to act on his behalf, and now this? He had had enough.
Enter Abigail, the wife of Nabal.
The Lord uses Abigail in a very particular moment in David’s burnt-out, life on the run to strengthen his faith and remind him that He had a plan, and David’s rescue would come.
Abigail falls at David’s feet, with a rich feast in tow, and entreats his mercy. Abigail is a mediator, and a peacemaker. She is not oblivious to her husband’s faults and “stupidity” (25:25), and she considers it her responsibility to patch the quarrels he creates. Abigail is described as “intelligent” and even in a brief encounter, David recognizes her “discernment” and “blessed” dealings (25:33).
Abigail is a gift of mercy from the Lord to David, to keep him on the straight and narrow.
Abigail seems to discern David’s spiritual battle, as well as the Lord’s purpose in it all:
It is the LORD who kept you from participating in bloodshed and avenging yourself by your own hand… When someone pursues you and attempts to take your life, my lord’s life will be tucked safely in the place where the LORD your God protects the living. However, He will fling away your enemies’ lives like stones from a sling. When the LORD does for my lord all the good He promised and appoints you ruler over Israel, there will not be remorse or a troubled conscience for my lord because of needless bloodshed or my lord’s revenge.1 Samuel 25:26, 29-31)
David was ready to destroy Nabal and his entire household in revenge, but the Lord wanted a king who would listen and do things in His timing.
No doubt in this time of deep distress, resorting to violence was an act of desperation for David; his response to Nabal’s message was raw and unguarded. He had been pursued relentlessly by Saul and now could not even get a meager hand up from a man who had plenty to spare.
The Lord sees David in his weakness and intervenes through Abigail.
Our heavenly Father is intimately acquainted with our sorrows and weaknesses–He remembers we are dust.
“He guards the steps of His faithful ones”1 Samuel 2:9
How rare a find a godly woman is in the wilderness! The Lord is guarding David’s steps and preserving him for His ways (Psalm 119:37).
A mere 10 days later that the LORD strikes Nabal dead, and Abigail becomes David’s wife. What a reminder that God’s ways are higher! What an assurance for David, that if he continues to trust the Lord, he will reap a harvest at the proper time.
This blessing comes to David just before to the greatest temptation he would face in his conflict with Saul. Because of the Lord’s care, David’s faith is strengthened and he is able yet again to do the right thing when He has a brush with Saul.
God wants to preserve us for a life of righteousness too.
Holiness is not the way to salvation, 1for we would never merit it, but it is the way of obedience for all who claim to be followers of Jesus.
The people of God are called to “be holy” (1 Peter 1:16), and by pursuing holiness with vigor, we will have a rich welcome into the kingdom of God (2 Peter 1:5-11). Like David, the Lord calls us to trust Him and continue to do good. But even David eventually failed, and so do we. Yet God keeps us “tucked safely” in the land of the living because of the perfect obedience of Jesus (Colossians 3:3).
God sent Abigail to David, and God has sent someone to us, to help us in our weakness:
“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”John 14:26
It is this precious gift of the Spirit in us which
Teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.Titus 2:12-14
As we are helped by the Holy Spirit, may we persevere in doing good, and perhaps do more good by encouraging someone else who is weary.
These dry seasons exist not just in our lives, but your friends’ lives too.
I wonder how God might use us as an “Abigail” to strengthen someone else who is spiritually weary to the bone.
How can we look to encourage the weak, reminding brothers and sisters in the faith not to give up, clinging to the promises of God?
Just listen to the sweetness of His promise to us:
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand…I will open rivers on the barren heights, and springs in the middle of the plains. I will turn the desert into a pool of water and dry land into springs of water. I will plant cedars in the desert, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees. I will put juniper trees in the desert, elms and cypress trees together, so that all may see and know, consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this.”Isaiah 41:10,18-20
I pray this strengthens you to press on in righteousness and look to the Lord as you continue doing the right thing. He will not fail you.