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Vol. XVIII No. 36
6 June 2021


The Bible speaks about “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (2 Tim 3:6). Not all women are like that of course. It must be said that it is not just the women; there are equally foolish men who are full of sin and greed. Not all men and women are like that of course. There are foolish men who have the good fortune of having a wise wife and vice versa.

In 1 Samuel 25, we find a very rich man by the name of Nabal who owned 3000 sheep, 1000 goats, a whole lot of cattle and many other possessions. He lived in Israel during the time when David was running for his life because King Saul was pursuing him. Now, Nabal had a wife called Abigail. 1 Samuel 25:3 tells us that Abigail “was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance” but Nabal “was churlish (ie mean-spirited) and evil in his doings.”

David who was living in the wilderness at that time showed kindness to Nabal by protecting his servants and sheep from robbers and bandits. Owing to David’s kind protection, Nabal could live in peace and prosperity. But David and his men were living in poverty and danger. They were hiding in caves and had to hunt for their food.

During the summer, Nabal sheared his sheep and goats. After shearing the sheep and goats, there would be a time of celebration and feasting. David who was in great need at that time sent ten of his men to ask Nabal for some food. David told his men to bless Nabal and his house and to remind him how they had protected his servants and his sheep from being robbed or killed. Even when they were protecting Nabal and his servants and sheep, they did not take anything that belonged to him.

Nabal was very angry with such a request, and replied the men most rudely, “Who is David?... Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?” (1 Sam 25:10–11). With great disappointment, the men returned to David and told him what Nabal had said. David was justly indignant and called on 400 of his men to arm themselves to slay Nabal for his cruelty.

One of Nabal’s servants reported to Abigail what Nabal had said to David’s men. The servant also told Abigail how David’s men protected them day and night when they were shepherding the flock and were very friendly towards them. Abigail realising the great injustice and also the danger quickly loaded 200 loaves of bread, some raisins, cakes and wine onto some asses and hasted to meet and appease David. She did not tell her husband what she was about to do. That was very wise of her for her foolish husband would surely have stopped her.

When she met David, she fell on her face and bowed herself to the ground, pleading with David to spare the life of Nabal. She admitted that Nabal was truly a foolish man and he lived up to his name for that was what his name means. David praised the Lord for Abigail and thanked her for stopping him from taking vengeance on Nabal (cf Rom 12:19). David accepted the gifts of food from Abigail and sent her away in peace.

That night, Nabal had a lavish dinner for all his friends and the men who sheared his sheep. He partied away all night and got drunk, not knowing what his wife Abigail had done for she did not tell him. It was only in the morning when Nabal was sober and quiet that Abigail told him the whole story. When he heard that his goods had been given away, he suffered a stroke and was paralysed, for the Scripture says, “his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.” (1 Sam 25:37). Nabal should have been glad and grateful for the good things he has in life, but instead he was selfish, greedy, and mean. “And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.” (1 Sam 25:38).

Do you have a wise wife? Better thank God for her and cherish her. Don’t be a foolish and churlish man like Nabal—so greedy and ungrateful. Be like David who was giving and forgiving. When we grab and grab, we will lose more and more. But when we give, we find ourselves blessed and happy. Hear what our Lord has said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38). The Apostle Paul remembered the words of the Lord and set a good example himself, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). JK

John Calvin

Isaiah 57:1, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”

The righteous man hath perished. Isaiah continues his subject; for, after having shown how fearlessly hypocrites indulge in their luxuries, and with what impudence they despise the word of God, he likewise complains that they do not consider the works of God. We have been placed here, as in a spacious theater, to behold the works of God; and there is no work of God so small that we ought to pass by it; lightly, but all ought to be carefully and diligently observed.

And no man layeth it to heart. The Lord holds out as a mirror this event of his providence, more remarkable than all others, that he takes away good and worthy men out of this life, when he determines to chastise his people severely. But no man considers it, or reflects that it is a token of approaching destruction, that God gathers them, and places them in safety from being distressed by prevailing afflictions. The general meaning is, that wicked men grievously deceive themselves by supposing that there is no greater happiness than to have life continued to a great age, and by thus pluming themselves on their superiority to the servants of God, who die early. Being attached to the world, they likewise harden themselves by this pretense, that, by nothing else than a manifestation of God’s favor towards them, while others die, they continue to be safe and sound.

Men of mercy are gathered. If by “men of mercy” be meant kind or tender-hearted men, this description ought to be carefully studied, by which the Prophet shows what is the true righteousness of the children of God; for hypocrites reckon this to be of no value. But nothing is more acceptable to God than kindness, by which we give evidence of our righteousness, and manifest that our heart is free from all hypocrisy. Yet we may with equal propriety take the phrase “men of mercy” in a passive sense, as meaning those whom the Lord has embraced by his mercy; for it is a phrase of frequent occurrence in Hebrew writings. Nor will it be inappropriate to suppose that there is an implied contrast between the grace of God and the wicked and unfavorable judgments of men; for they are wont to look on those persons as condemned who are taken away in the flower of their age. But, since God, in many passages of Scripture, represents gentleness and kindness as a distinguishing mark of his children, this may be, as I have said, a definition of true righteousness.

Hence we see that the Lord, at that time, gathered many good men, whose death portended some dreadful calamity, and yet that the Jews paid no regard to such forewarnings, and even proceeded to more daring lengths of wickedness; for they thought that all went well with them, when they were the survivors of many excellent men. This doctrine is highly appropriate to every age. It frequently happens that God takes good men out of this world, when he intends to punish severely the iniquities of the ungodly; for the Lord, having a peculiar regard to his own people, takes compassion upon them, and, as it were, snatches them from the burning, that even survivors may perceive in it the wrath of God. And yet this is not an invariable rule; for righteous men are frequently involved, along with the reprobate, in temporal punishments; but it is so frequent that it rarely happens otherwise.

In our own times a remarkable instance of this was given in the death of Luther, who was snatched from the world a short time before that terrible calamity befell Germany, which he had foretold many years before, when he exclaimed loudly against that contempt of the Gospel, and that wickedness and licentiousness which everywhere prevailed. Frequently had he entreated the Lord to call him out of this life before he beheld that dreadful punishment, the anticipation of which filled him with trembling and horror. And he obtained it from the Lord. Soon after his death, lo, a sudden and unforeseen war sprang up, by which Germany was terribly afflicted, when nothing was farther from her thoughts than the dread of such a calamity. Instances of this kind occur every day; and if men observed them, they would not so heedlessly flatter themselves and their vices. But I thought it right to take special notice of this event, both because it happened lately, and because in so distinguished a preacher of the Gospel and prophet of God it must be more clearly seen. We ought, therefore, to consider diligently the worlds of the Lord, both in the life and in the death of “the righteous,” but especially in their death, by which the Lord calls them away to a better life, that they may be rescued from those afflictions in which the wicked must be plunged.

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