How Long Will You Remain in the Wilderness?

Dark Wilderness, up close is a tree with moss up its side

1 Samuel 25 is a pretty long chapter. I advise you to read it, if not just to better understand what I’m talking about here. Otherwise, here are some footnotes:

  • Samuel died
  • David moved back to the wilderness of Maon, on the property of a wealthy man named Nabal, a mean and dishonest man in all his dealings.
  • Nabal had a wife, Abigail, who was a sensible and beautiful woman.
  • During their stay, David and his men protected Nabal’s servants and flocks, and never stole from them. So when it was time to shear the sheep and goats, David sent ten of his young men to talk with Nabal about being kind to them in the same way. But instead, Nabal insulted him and called them “a band of outlaws”.
  • While David prepared for revenge, one of Nabal’s servants went to tell Abigail.
  • Abigail quickly gathered and sent a boat-load of food and some wine to David and his men.
  • When they found David, they praised him, stroked his ego, and reminded him of the Lord’s provision and claim to vengeance.
  • Abigail apologized for her husband’s foolishness, and made peace with them.
  • The next morning, Abigail tells her husband everything.
  • Nabal has a heart attack (or stroke or something) and dies 10 days later.
  • When David hears of Nabal’s death, he takes Abigail as his second wife (well, first, since Saul had taken his first wife away, who was Saul’s daughter, and given her to somebody else).

One of the main themes here is that vengeance belongs to the Lord, for had David taken it into his own hands, he would have sinned. Notice also that this was the second time that David had the chance to kill somebody, and the 2nd time that the Lord stepped in and stopped from doing so (first time was with Saul in the cave).

Secondly, when I look at what David had done in asking Nabal for provisions, though I hate to give any credit to this side, Nabal’s response actually does sort of make some sense, for he did bring up some good points:

  1. Many servants leave their masters these days. Why is David any different?
  2. Nabal never asked for protection from David and his men.
  3. David and his men never came and introduced themselves to Nabal before now
  4. How is this not like working without permission, then later demanding pay for the work done (ever get a forced windshield washing while waiting for a light?)
  5. How is this not like entrapment?
  6. “We moved in next to you and never attacked your workers, so please pay us now.”

Wouldn’t this also fit in with performing good deeds with hopes of a reward? But David’s view was that they did all this for their sake, and now he’s insulting him?

Culture reminder (not only then, but much so also today in the Middle East):

  1. Prideful
  2. Easily angered and offended
  3. Vengeful

So after being insulted, David is prepared for revenge.

Notice, living in the wilderness, it’s often easy to forget the Lord’s provisions for us. It’s also easy to become hardened, so it helps when the Lord sends somebody to remind us of Him and our mission as His servant (as did Abigail).

Similarly to David, we have all suffered at the hands of others, even people who once called us their friends, right? We too have wandered around trying to find mission for the purpose of being where we were, and “fighting the good fight.” Although, also with David, it’s in the wilderness that we find mission.

The wilderness also makes us hard, and even tries us, as it did with David. But as with David, it is always good to meet up with another of God’s people with whom to have Godly (Christian) fellowship (and consul).

A little bit ago, while waiting for the auto shop to change the oil on my wife’s car, I got into a conversation with one of the owners. We started out talking about 80s metal bands, then moved to Metallica, then Megadeth, then God, then the need to forgive those who hurt us in the past. See, I had been hanging onto pain and bitterness towards a Pastor-team from one of my former churches. In fact, during our church small group the previous Sunday, we talked about forgiveness and I had mentioned that I still did not forgive him (the Sr. Pastor), for I still wanted justice for what he did. Well, this mechanic really let me have it. He rebuked me and corrected me (with Christian love, not mean or anything). When I said I wanted justice, he asked me if Jesus asked for vengeance when He died on the cross? I replied, “No.” He then reminded me that Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Not ‘OK Father, zap them all with lightning bolts for killing me!’ So as ones who are to take on the character of Christ, we too need to forgive those who hurt us and do evil to us, as well as give them into God’s hands, for it’s His battle, not ours. Also, as ones who are to be holy as Christ is holy, if we are to love one another and others in the present and future, then we cannot do so if we are still holding onto bitterness. He actually helped me realize that the bitterness I was hanging onto may be (and probably was) affecting my ministry.

It’s like the wineskins and wine. We can’t put new wine into old wineskins, for they can’t hold it (my current Pastor also mentioned that the old skins would make the new wine taste bitter, too). But if you’re to hold new wine, then you must use new wineskins. The old wineskin is the bitterness that I was holding on to.

If you want to hold the new wine, then you must throw away the old skins and put the wine into the new skins.

Hey, it all made sense to me, and caused me to realize my need to forgive the Pastor of my past. I mean, I had prayed for him over the years, and if not for his pride and bad theology, he could really be a great servant of the Lord. And as I said, I had been praying, not against him, but for him over the years. So for all I know, the Lord could have been working on him ever since. I don’t know, but it’s neither for me to know nor battle. The battle belongs to the Lord.

I also know that the Lord knew, before He even sent me there, that everything that happened would happen. He knew that before we moved there. So for whatever the reason, it was a successful mission. I kicked the dust off my feet and moved on. Now it’s time to completely let go and actually do that, move on.

So the next day, I finally forgave him, the Pastor team, the staff, the families who pretended to be our friends, everybody. And when I did, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and the cloudy day looked a whole lot brighter. All thanks to the Lord communicating to me through a mechanic who knows the Lord and His Word, who was not afraid to lovingly rebuke and correct me. I guess you can say that God sent me an Abigail, lol.

When we’re in the wilderness, we long for such fellowship and it impacts us when we receive it…it energizes us, even recharges us spiritually. Notice, Abigail didn’t just stroke David’s ego, but she also rebuked David of what he was about to do and corrected David by reminding him about God. God will do this, it’s not up to you to carry it out or to carry the burden of this hardened and foolish man.

Spiritual fellowship sets us back on track with the Lord, but when running from those who are out to destroy you, it’s difficult to stop and enjoy Christian fellowship sometimes. That’s why the wilderness is so important, for it:

  • Helps us get back on track
  • Allows God to tend to our wounds and strengthen us (1 Kings 19)
  • Allows and helps us to rebuild the ministry/mission
  • Trains us up.

Often times when we’re in our wilderness, we become comfortable in it…we like it there, but know that there’s also so much more we want and need to be doing. It’s not a stage where we’ll remain, it’s a stage where we will train. Because also like David, I know, and am continuously reminded by others, that God will continue to use us for great things. It’s not going to be our worldly kings or presidents or anything, but as God has told me since the days we got to know each other more, the Lord does have something huge that He wants for us to do. You may just need God to send you an “Abigail” before you come to your senses, to spiritually recharge you, and to help you realize just what that mission is.

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