We saw in 1 Samuel 23 that David ended up doing King Saul's job of rescuing his people because the king was preoccupied with the idea of destroying David. When the village of Keilah was captured, the Lord directed David to go in and save the day, even though it put him in a vulnerable position for Saul to attack. Now in this study, we look once again at David having to do the king's job in a story that ended well for David, for it gained him a noble wife and imparted another lesson in the ways of God. Let's get busy taking a deeper dive into 1 Samuel 25.
A SECURITY FORCE
It seems that David's presence in an area provided protection for the locals and their businesses. We read,
One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 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" (1 Samuel 25:14-17).
One of the local businessmen named Nabal refused to give David's men any provisions of his own accord, and when he insulted them, David "strapped on his sword" and set out to teach Nabal a lesson. What we read in the passage above is the hired help going to Nabal's wife, Abigail, because they knew something bad was about to happen. Notice the wonderful endorsement they gave David and his men, who operated in complete integrity as they provided a police presence, a job that once again should have been carried out by the king.
David did not demand tribute or payment for the services he rendered. He treated the people like he had treated his father's flock—not as people he could shake down for personal gain, but as sheep to be protected. Yes, he requested supplies from Nabal but he did not demand or seize them. David was doing what he did because it was consistent with the servant leader he was, and the servants told Abigail, "Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them." Beleaguered David, surrounded by a band of malcontents who were greatly outnumbered by the forces loyal to the king, was a wall to the people who needed one.
God will sometimes have you do work for which you get no recognition or monetary return. You do it "as unto the Lord" who is watching and will eventually reward you, but initially He may test your desire to serve Him for no other reason than it is His will. This story reminds us of what Paul told the Ephesian elders:
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive''" (Acts 20:32-35).
Paul said he set an example of hard work that benefited the weak. David and Paul had a chance to be blessed by being a blessing and giving freely with no expectation of any return. Neither man was a "hired gun" or "independent contractor" with specific duties spelled out in a job description. They were servants of the Most High who neither put their services out to the highest bidder nor put boundaries or limits on the good they could or would do. What's more, God expected them to do so without apology.
Are you a servant or a hireling? Do you only do what is mandated by those who pay you or do you look for opportunities to serve others, especially the weak? While it's true that David claimed Abigail as his wife when Nabal died suddenly, we can easily miss what the writer inserted in 1 Samuel 25:44: "But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim." Saul had "given" Michal to David as a reward for his victory over Goliath, but Saul took what was David's and gave it to another.
In other words, Saul shortchanged David after David had initially taken the role of his people's protector. God will test you to prove your motives and when He does, we should remember that David was sorely tested and found faithful. May the same be said for us in the day when God tests us, asking us to be a wall to others while our own needs are not being met. Have a blessed week.