Abrasive - 1 Samuel 25:1-44
I was married for ten years before I grew a beard. During that time, I frequently mentioned to my wife that I was thinking about growing one, but she begged me not to. She thought it would be too “scratchy” and she cringed at the thought of me kissing her with a face that felt like it was covered in thorns.
When I finally took the plunge and grew the beard, she was patient with me during the early stages of my experiment. In time, she readily admitted to liking it because it wasn't terribly abrasive once it grew out.
In most contexts of our daily life, we come in contact with abrasive things - unshaven skin, sandpaper, or prickly weeds that grow in the yard. And just as frequently, we encounter people with abrasive personalities. People who, with little self-realization, tend to push others away by their callous, harsh and offensive demeanor.
The book of 1 Samuel tells us of one such person. There we read, “A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife's name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings.” 1 Samuel 25:2-3.
We know very little about Nabal, but what we do know of him is very unfortunate. It appears that the Lord had blessed him with many good things in this world. We know that he had wealth so it doesn't appear that he spent too much time worrying about his daily needs. We also know that he was blessed with an “intelligent and beautiful” wife named Abigail. What more could a guy want in this world?
Yet instead of living his life as one who expressed thankfulness for God's obvious blessings, we are told that Nabal was ungrateful and offensive. His wife was “intelligent and beautiful” and he was “surly and mean.” A surly person is the type of guy who always seems to gravitate toward anger. So Nabal was rich in many ways, yet he had a reputation for treating others poorly.
Maybe he thought too highly of himself? Maybe he was extremely insecure and put others down in a vain attempt to puff himself up? The Scripture goes on to tell us that David, the soon-to-be king of Israel, had been protecting Nabal's property, yet Nabal refused to share food and provision with David and his men. And if that wasn't bad enough, Nabal was dismissive and mocking in his reply to their request for help.
In response, David was going to destroy Nabal and all the men in his household, yet Abigail, Nabal's intelligent and beautiful wife, gave David and his men food before the act was carried out. She also spoke with grace and respect toward David and for her sake, David showed mercy toward their home.
When Nabal learned of what took place - how Abigail had intervened to spare him from the calamity that his abrasive ignorance had almost brought upon their home, he was stunned. He was shocked to learn how close he had just come to certain ruin. He was so troubled by this realization, that “his heart failed him” and soon after, he died.
As you think about Nabal's life - the many blessings he enjoyed and took for granted as well as the glaring defects in his character, what comes to mind? How has God blessed you? Do you take His blessings for granted? Are you mean and abrasive toward others because you're trying to mask something about yourself that you don't like? Or do you treat others with wisdom and grace?
If you had to summarize Nabal's personality and manner of relating to others in just a few words, you might say he was surly, mean or abrasive. How would you describe the way you relate to others? How do you think they would describe you?
Lord, please give me wisdom and grace to honor others above myself. Reveal to me if I have a needlessly abrasive personality and fill me with the desire to reflect your gracious character. In Jesus' name, Amen.