As we have seen from 1 Samuel and some of the Psalms that we have read, David is hurting, sad, and desperate.
When we endure following a poor leader (just as David did), we need to be mindful that we are not as tough as we might think we are. While our leadership and character is tested we might have less patience to handle circumstances and situations that come our way.
Where we left off yesterday in our study of the young years of the life of David is when he restrains himself and his men from killing Saul in the cave. Then, once Saul leaves the cave, David confronts Saul. He says that he (David) is innocent of the accusations that he is trying to harm Saul, but that Saul has tried to kill him. (You think your leader is bad, David's leader actually threw spears at him in an attempt to kill him!)
In chapter 25 of 1 Samuel we get to see David's patience tested.
In this chapter David has moved down to the wilderness of Moan where he and his men are protecting the herds of a wealthy man named Nabal who owns 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. It was a common practice at that time for brave men to help protect shepherds and sheep from wild animals and thieves. Sheep were often the main income for families so this was a very important task.
David hears that it is time for Nabal to shear the sheep and collect the profits. So he sends 10 of his men to ask Nabal for a "tip" for their efforts to keep Nabal's sheep and shepherd's safe in the wilderness. Nabal harshly turns David's 10 men away saying they deserve nothing.
When the men return to tell David that Nable refused their request, David loses it and says to his men, "Get your swords!" (25:13). David and 400 of his men head toward Nabal's home intending to kill him, saying, "A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good. May God strike me and kill me if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning!" (25:21-22). David is clearly on a mission to kill Nabal and every man part of Nabal's household.
Luckily for David, Nabal's wife, Abigail, greets him with gifts, grace, and respect. These gifts along with her sincere apology for angering the anointed king of Israel eases David's anger. Thanks to Abigail's discernment and quick response to David's men, who were harshly turned away by Nabal, David decides not to kill Nabal and everyone in his home.
David's faith in God's promise and patience waiting for that promise to come true helps David refrain from killing Nabal and his household. That would have been something David regreted for a long time. Abagail says to David, "When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel, my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD has brought my master success, remember your servant" (vs. 30-31).
The point of this story we are going to focus on is that David was at the end of his rope. He was almost killed by Saul on multiple occasions, is running from Saul, and has lost most of the prestige he had received as a leader, warrior, and commander in the Israelite army. When he is denied by Nabal, David loses all self control. He becomes angry, grabs his sword, and swears to kill Nabal and lots of innocent people.
It is akward to say, but this is a position many of us may find ourselves in as we struggle with working for a poor leader or having to deal with situations we can no longer tolerate.
Here are a few observations of David's faith and patience:
- Faith: reliance, loyalty, or complete trust in God; a system of religious beliefs. (NLT Study Bible)
- Patience: the power or capacity to endure without complaint; something difficult; disagreeable; for bearable; long suffering. (NLT Study Bible)
- After all of the running, hiding, and restraint, David does not have any patience left.
- David responds quickly without any thought. In fact, he responds in anger.
- David's emotions (and hunger) control his actions.
Because David "ran out of faith and patience" he almost did something he would have regretted at a later date. If he would have killed Nabal and everyone in Nabal's household it would have been a terrible mistake that might have haunted David for years.
Know what happens in your life that takes away your faith and patience.
What takes away my faith and patience is when I do not get alone time in the morning with God. I have written about this before, but in the mornings I need at least an hour to journal, read my Bible, and pray. When I am able to have that time alone with God I feel grounded, centered, and ready to take on the day and handle it well. If I have several days where I do not have that time with God, I quickly become irritable, lose my tempter, and anger easily. My friend Daniel experiences less faith and patience when he is overly busy and when he does not get quiet time. You might have a similar thing that happens when you begin to have less faith and patience.
While studying the life of David in Chuck Swindoll's book, David: A Man of Passion and Desinty, Chuck reminds us:
God doesn’t give you patience on credit. Every day is a new day.
Every day is a new day and we will need to keep faith and patience. Every day we must remind ourselves of the promises God has given us and the faith we have in Him.
We might not be as lucky as David to have someone to prevent us from doing something we will regret. We need to be careful and find ways to keep our faith in God and stay patient to wait for His promises to come true.
Question: For us as leaders, what happens in our lives that puts us in a position of patience and faith?