Reacting In Rage

Life can be filled with awkward and embarrassing moments.  I remember when I was about 13 years old when I was at a youth camp, we were learning all sorts of new skills.  My favorite was archery.  I picked it up very fast that first day and even our counselor was impressed.  The next day a different group of guys wanted to go learn and I went with them.  Now, this place had about 30 bows and more arrows than I could count.  I was asked to demonstrate how it was done because I had succeeded the previous day… but today was a new day.  I couldn’t find the same bow and used different arrows.  As I picked up this different bow and it felt strange.  As I drew it back I could tell something wasn’t right…. and as I let the arrow fly…everyone else could tell something wasn’t right either.  Off it went about 2 meters to the left.

You can imagine the comments I was getting from the other kids after the counselor had made such a big deal about how good I was and how easy archery was.  I was embarrassed.  Heat flooded my whole body and the blood rushed to my face.  I was humiliated and angry.  Trying to explain that the bow and arrow were different just made me look worse as if I were making excuses.

Well, in this series, we are examining the real life story of David. A man after God’s own heart and there are times where we see him achieve great victories.  He faces similar challenges as us such as how trust God even when our circumstances look bleak; or how to respond to anger and the temptation for revenge.  Sometimes David makes it look so easy.  Other times he fails miserably and we think….this is a man after God’s own heart?  Can you imagine how humiliating it would be for all the world to read of your failures like we are reading of Davids’?

That is what I love about scripture.  When recording the lives of God’s people it doesn’t hide the failures and highlight the victories.  It exposes them all and I often find greater encouragement and become a better follower of God when I study the accounts of failures of men such as David.  I learn from their mistakes. I learn to embrace humility and respond with service.

With that in mind, today we forge into the next chapter of the story of David – a man after God’s own heart.

  • David is a man quoted more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament character.
  • He is a man whose biography is the longest of any Old Testament biography
  • Last week as we opened the pages of scripture, we re-lived David’s victory over the temptation to seek revenge and take Saul’s life.  What an inspiration it was for us to also refuse revenge!  In last week’s glimpse into David’s life, David truly proved to be a man after God’s own heart.
  • Yet, with every new day comes a new battle – a new opportunity to be more godly – a new obstacle to faith.  Each day offers a choice.  We don’t stay the same.  We either grow closer to God or drift farther from him.  We either celebrate another spiritual victory or lament a spiritual defeat.

In chapter 24 David was an honorable, merciful man of God.

In chapter 25 we see the pendulum swing to the other side and on the very same issue – anger & justice.  In chapter 24 David refused revenge, in chapter 25 David reacted in rage.

Last week’s message was one of encouragement.  Today’s message is one of warning.

BIG IDEA:  You may have won the battle yesterday – BUT that doesn’t guarantee you success today!  You must make the choice to obey everyday!

If it were not for a woman named Abigail – David would have been guilty of murder. Please join me in 1 Samuel 25:1-8

As we explore David’s situation today I don’t just want us to see what happened to David – but to recognize truths for us today.  The first truth we must recognize is that…


Now, this story won’t make any sense to us unless we know the culture and customs of Israel back in this time period.  We wander why David would presume to ask for food for 600 men.

However, according to the customs of that day at the time the sheep were sheared it was common for the owner of the animals to set aside a portion of the profit he made. He was to give it to those who had protected his shepherds while they were out in the fields.   There may have been no formal written agreement, but there was an appropriate cultural expectation. David and his men have been faithfully watching out for the flocks of this man named Nabal. Word reached them that he was shearing his sheep.  It is now payday. (Read v. 9)

Nabal’s Reply – (vs, 10-11)

Nabal = “Fool”

  • In Scripture – “A Fool” was a person who said “There is no God”
  • He lived his life as though there were no God
  • Nabal was a – harsh man – evil man – dishonest man

There are many such men today.  They will provoke us to anger.  The anger may be justified…but we must choose to act in a godly way rather than react in a sinful way.

David had every excuse to retaliate, but David was no fool.  He is tempted to act as if there is no God and exact revenge on Nabal.  But what will he do?  What should he do?

Ephesians 4: 26-27 – “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.”

That is a command; not an option.

Let’s continue on with the story of David.  1.  People will provoke us to anger, and now we will see that when they do….


Sometimes it feels good to be angry. David had denied his rage on so many occasions; but this arrogant fool lit the fuse of his fury and it felt good to stoke the fire!


REVIEW from last Sunday:   3 helpful principles for us to live by when it comes to life’s most subtle temptation – revenge

  1. Since man is depraved – expect to be mistreated
  2. Since mistreatment is inevitable – anticipate feelings of revenge
  3. Since the desire for revenge is predictable – refuse to fight in the flesh.

David forgot these lessons. Here David is rushing to commit a terrible sin but God mercifully interfered – v. 12-13


The same guy who months before refused to retaliate now explodes into temporary insanity. Yes, Nabal was a fool deserving of punishment, but really, this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Nabal deserves anger; but he is about to feel the full force of David’s wrath and power.


David was living under immense stress.  He is the victim of injustice upon injustice.  His sense of justice has been offended one-too-many times.  He’s been the target of Saul’s jealousy, fear, and anger for such a long time.  He has finally had enough.


Isn’t that just like us?!?!?!  When we finally snap and let our fury fly the target may be a person who has offended us in a small way; but he or she is receiving the anger we’ve with held from others who have deserved it even more.  The punishment we unleash surpasses the crime committed.


On a scale of 1 to 10 this offense was a 2, but the fury poured out is a 12.  Why?  Because we’ve had enough and it feels good to be angry.  Fury has enticed us and we answered the call!  And it feels so good….for a moment.


But the problem is that we have disobeyed God.  God acknowledged that anger is sometimes a reasonable and even godly response; but we must not act on that anger and sin.  Be angry…but don’t sin!


The problem with anger is that is appeals to our pride.  We should be angry at what makes God angry, but we usually go way past that.  We become selfish and bitter.  We set ourselves up as superior to those who angered us rather than recognizing that we are also faulty frail humans who will offend others and need their forgiveness.    Anger turns to sin when we let our pride drive our anger.


It has been said that you are never more like the DEVIL than when you are angry.  Think of it.  The Devil’s chief sin is pride.  He wanted to exalt himself above God.  He failed.  He’s been angry every since and the world still feels the force of his fury.  You are never more like the DEVIL than when you are angry and right now, David is acting much more like the DEVIL than He is the GOD whom he is supposed to lovingly serve.


You may have won the battle yesterday – BUT that doesn’t guarantee you success today!  You must make the choice to obey everyday!

  • Those victories you have won by God’s grace cannot guarantee strength to you for the future.
  • We are kept from SIN moment by moment.
Galatians 5:16-17 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

I love how Paul concluded verse 17.  It isn’t like we don’t want to do what is right.  We really do…but sometimes doing what is wrong looks so appealing….to our flesh.     There is a war going on inside of us.  The old nature (the flesh) is warring against the new nature (The Holy Spirit).  We must walk by the spirit.  We must keep in step with the spirit.  He marches in the direction of truth at a steady pace.  We often get distracted by enticing lies along the way that cause us hesitate and halt for just a moment….but it is long enough for us to get out of step with the spirit and then head off headlong into sin.

And this isn’t something that only the young and inexperienced all into.  Some of the people I know who are the angriest and fall into this trap have been followers of Christ for a long time.  How tragic when older Christians fall into a silly little trap and ruin their testimony.

  1. Samson succumbed to lust with Bathsheba and lost his life.
  2. Moses – lost his temper and struck the rock rather than speaking to it and was not  permitted to enter the promised land
  3. Lot – became worldly and lost his wife and all his worldly possessions.
  4. Noah – got drunk and lost the respect of his kids

Each one had enormous successes in the past…but each one lost a major battle with the flesh that carried even bigger consequences.

Oh fellow Christians, if only we would learn this lesson = we can choose our actions….but we can’t choose our consequences.

If we learned that lesson then maybe we would take today’s main idea even more seriously: You may have won the battle yesterday – BUT that doesn’t guarantee you success today!  You must make the choice to obey everyday!

Paul learned this lesson.  That is why he shared his secret to success in 1 Corinthians 9:27. Paul said in I Corinthians 9 – “But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

When it comes to anger, we must discipline ourselves to react properly.  Remember this,

I John 3:15 – “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer”

So, we have seen that (1) people will provoke us to anger and (2) we have seen that fury is an enticing feeling.  Now let’s notice a godly woman’s intervention changed everything.


In verse 3 we were told that Abigail was discerning and beautiful.  She had inner beauty and external beauty.  So, you would wonder why in the world she was married to Nabal, a man who was harsh and badly behaved.

In those days women had little to say about whom they married.

  • No doubt Abigail’s father saw that Nabal was a wealthy man.
  • He could give a good dowry for Abigail
  • It appealed greatly to Abigail’s father
  • He was more interested in riches than righteousness

Note to fathers: protect your daughters and teach your sons to be men of integrity.

Vs. 23-28   She pleaded with him not to stoop to the same level as her ungodly husband. It would not be good for the future king to have killed fellow Israelites, not matter how badly behaved and rude they may be.  Nabal had broken a cultural expectation, but not a law. David would be shedding innocent blood.  He must let God remove his enemies, not take vengeance himself.  And that was the point of last week’s sermon.

You will never regret forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve it!!!

But, as Abigail points out to David here, the opposite is equally true. You will usually regret taking vengeance on someone who does deserve it.

What a Godly example Abigail is here.  A living example of the truth found in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Her soft answer was a respectful request that helped David to restore a Godly perspective.

We must remember when issues are left in God’s hand things go well for us… BUT when we take things into our hands we make a huge mess.  All we get is problems for ourselves and for others.  This is not the way for a man of God.

Notice David’s response – David melted – See vs.32-35

David was so thankful not simply for her gift BUT for her intervention in his life that would have left a stain on him for life.

Do you know why David was “A man after God’s own heart?” Because he had a teachable spirit.

David wasn’t perfect.  Far from it!  He made big mistakes, but when confronted about those failures David responded with humility, repentance, and a teachable spirit.

For David to give up taking vengeance meant breaking the vow he made in v. 22, however, this was a vow to sin.  It is better to break the vow than to commit the sin that was vowed. But you see, David’s conscience had been conditioned that to break a vow was a huge sin as well.  Sometimes our conscience is trained wrongly based on misplaced priorities.  We must train our conscience based on the truth of God’s Word; not the cultural expectations or even cultural interpretationsj of God’s Word.   He was torn in two by a cultural and spiritual dilemma.

David made a rash vow in v. 22 which according to Leviticus 5:4-6 was a sin; but at least he repented of one sin and avoided committing two sins.  This revealed his teachable spirit. He trusted God’s Word more than his over-developed cultural conscience.  Others who had made such rash vows did not learn this lesson.  Both Jepthah in Judges 11 and Herod the Tetrarch in Matthew 14 should have broken their sinful vows, but they did not.

Jepthah murdered his daughter because he promised to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house when he returned from a victorious battle

Herod murdered John the Baptist to please his evil wife

But David murdered his own pride.  He died to self. He died to vengeance.  He put an end to his rage and avoided the sinful reaction he had rashly vowed to perform.  May we be more and more like David.  May we have a teachable spirit.  May we be men and women after God’s own heart.

Well, let’s conclude this chapter in the story of David with this final lesson:


God’s Happy Ending v. 36-42

  1. The divine judgement of God fell upon Nabal. It was death in Nabal’s case; but this was God’s choice rather than David’s.
  2. David asked Abigail to marry him.
  3. She became his wife

He finally had a wife of equal heart to him – a heart after God’s own heart.  She finally had a husband of equal character who appreciated her discernment.  What a tremendous end to this chapter in David’s life.

What could have become a dark stain on David’s reputation resulted in a blessed union of Souls in marriage.  What could have ended in disaster ended in blessing.  But it only ended this way because David learned the invaluable life lesson that I hope we have also learned today.

You may have won the battle yesterday – BUT that doesn’t guarantee you success today!  You must make the choice to obey everyday!


One of the great dangers in the Christian life is living in the past…whether that be past victories or past failures.  I trust today we will have learned this lesson from the life of David.

Pastor Jamie Smith