Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can you have it all?

4:17 p.m. Today's project was to teach I Samuel Chapter 25 to our Thursday Bible study group at Malinda's lovely home.

The frustration of the morning started early when the caregiver did not arrive even 15 minutes past the appointed time of 9:30. My neighbor Cindy was here at 9:30, so she and Steve and I were visiting while we waited and the agency tried to track down the caregiver, who normally is here pretty close to time and very good with Steve. Poor Steve--he was alreading standing with the dog leashes and his hat on, but he basically had to sit down and wait. The agency scheduler had someone on the way, so Cindy and I left, arriving 15 minutes late, ugh, this is very hard for a punctual person like me. But now I am living in a different mode, depending on others to arrive at the house with the vagaries of traffic, the caregiver not knowing they were scheduled, etc. I guess nothing is certain but uncertainty!

When Cindy and I arrived, the ladies were all seated in the living room visiting, and we dived into our review of last week, and then our lesson. The subjects we covered included stealing, wifely submission and obedience, generosity to those around you, fair payment for services rendered, multiple wives. We had quite a mix and lots of openings for sharing our thoughts and experiences, based on God's word.

But the essence of this book, to me, is character, pure and simple. Either we reflect the character of Jesus, or we reflect the character of the devil. Jesus said in John 8:44 during an intense rebuke of the Pharisees,

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

In Chapter 25, we see a strong contrast between Nabal "the fool" and his wife Abigail "the joy of her father." Nabal was a churlish, foolish, wealthy braggart, with thousands of sheep and goats that were being sheared in the area of Carmel while David's army was there. So David's men unofficially guarded the shepherds and shearers.

Sheep shearing was a time of feasting, so David sent messengers to Nabal to ask for food for his men, since they had kept the shepherds and shearers safe, and not one thing had been stolen. Nabal went ballistic, insulted David in every possible way, and refused to share his bread, his water, or his meat, with some "runaway servant" (v. 10). In our group we looked at the fact that everything on the face of the earth, including the air we breathe, is God's. We are merely stewards of His gifts to us. I Corinthian 4:7 reminds us Christians,

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

After this egregious insult, David and his men strapped on their swords, preparing to kill every male member of Nabal's household. Word came to Abigail of the impending slaughter through a servant who recounted the way that David kept them safe. He told her to "fix it." That servant reminds me of the Holy Spirit, informing, guiding and warning us faithfully when action needs to be taken.

So Abigail, described in verse 3 as "a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance," swung into action and commanded her servants to take the best of everything in the household, load them on donkeys, and set out before her. She rode behind to meet David and hopefully prevent him from reacting vengefully to Nabal's insults.

Abigail prostrated herself on the ground, begged forgiveness, and convinced David that to murder all of the men in the household was beneath him, especially when he had been fighting the Lord's battles heretofore. Abigail reminded him that when he became King of Israel, this murderous deed would haunt him. David accepted this wise reproof, accepted her gift, and the two parted ways. The day following Nabal's drunken feast, Abigail told her husband about their narrow escape, he had a heart attack, and God killed him 10 days later. Justice was served.

Beauty and brains, courage and conviction are all portrayed here by Abigail. She had it all, including eventual marraige to the future King of Israel. Is it possible for a woman who fears the Lord to have it all today, when shallowness seems to accompany beauty, and greed and aggressiveness pass for conviction?

I believe so! There is outstanding beauty in a woman who loves the Lord and is engrossed in His word as her guide for living. As for brain development, Psalm 119:99 says,

I have more understanding than all my teachers,

For Your testimonies are my meditation.

On the topic of courage, Proverbs 28:1 tells us,

The righteous are as bold as a lion.

Conviction? The Holy Spirit within us convicts us of right and wrong, leads us in the way of Christ, and ensures us that His promises are true, because He has told us, in Hebrews 13:5,

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."

As Christian women we do have it all--in Jesus!

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