“Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”
-Servant to Abigail, I Samuel 25:17, NIV
This verse comes from the story of David, Abigail, and Nabal recorded in I Samuel 25.
In this story, David’s men have protected Nabal’s animals and servants during the harvest time. David is willing to take whatever compensation for his men’s work that Nabal thought was fair for such protection. When David’s men show up asking to be compensated, Nabal insults David and denies them anything for their work.
Nabal is completely unreasonable.
This enrages David who is about to swoop down on Nabal and his household killing them over the injustice and insult of it all. Fortunately, Abigail saves the day.
She sends gifts ahead of herself. Then she entreats David who relents canceling his vendetta against Nabal and his household.
Abigail arrives home and tells her husband what she did the next day. Nabal falls down, and God kills him ten days later. Then the story concludes with David marrying Abigail.
I recount this story as a reminder to pastors and faithful spouses.
Not everyone is reasonable!
It is possible for a faithful spouse to be married to a “Nabal.” All the cool and most reasonable talk in the world will not change this person’s meanness or selfish nature. Nabal’s own servant recognized this fact as quoted above.
Too often, I think we–pastors and Christians–want to assume the issues in a troubled marriage can be resolved through civilized conversation. That works if you are working with a reasonable person.
But if you are working with a “Nabal,” you will get vicious insult and injustice just as David did.
Personally, I do not want to live in a world where people are so foolish and mean. But that does not change the fact that we are living in a world full of “Nabal”s.
The wise person accepts this reality and allows it to inform his or her actions.
We see such wisdom in Nabal’s servant who correctly assessed the character of his master as lacking and turned to the one person, Abigail, who stood a chance of averting the coming disaster.
Just because one spouse is hell-bent on destroying themselves sexually, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and socially does not mean both have to go down due to his or her foolishness. God recognizes this, and mercifully offers divorce in such situations for faithful spouses (see Jeremiah 3:8, Matthew 5:32, I Corinthians 7:15, etc.)
Like the wise servant,
encourage the faithful spouse to take action and avert the impending disaster.
And, please, don’t waste your time arguing with an unreasonable fool!