How do you handle conflict?

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July 24, 2021

This week we finished 1 Samuel and read chapters 21-31. We see a change in David. He went from fearless and dependent upon God, to fearful of Saul. Skip Heitzig has said, “Even the best men are men at best.” And that was David. Even though he was a man after God’s heart, he was only a man.

While he was fearful of Saul, he did have good moments too. We are going to talk about one of those moments and another from a different character, Abigail, and discuss what they have in common. The chapters we are focusing on are 1 Samuel 24 and 25.

In Chapter 24, David and his men were in a cave. Saul came into that cave to go to the bathroom. David had an opportunity to kill Saul and his men actually wanted him to do this. While Saul was in the cave David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. David’s was convicted that he should not kill Saul.

After Saul left, David called out to him. In David’s exchange with Saul, we find that Proverb 15:1, which says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

This is what transpired in verses 8-22. My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”

22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.”

You see, David spoke truth to Saul, but in a respectful, kind and loving manner. It softened Saul’s heart.

1 Peter 3:9 says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

Another example of a gentle answer turning away wrath was from Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. David and his men had protected a man name Nabel’s sheep and shepherds. When the celebration day of sheep shearing came, David wanted remuneration for their protection. Nabel said in 1 Samuel 25:10, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”

When David heard this, he was very angry with Nabel and wanted to kill Nabel. Again, David was not perfect here at all.

When Abigail, Nabel’s wife, heard this, she took 200 loaves of bread, 2 skins of wine, 5 dressed sheep, 5 seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and 200 cakes of pressed figs, and with her servants, she brought them to David and his men.

1 Samuel 25:23-35 says, “When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

Ten days after this happened, Nabel died. David then asked Abigail to be his wife.

Abigail was very humble when she spoke to David. She spoke truth, but in a respectful manner.

In both of these stories it took a lot of courage to speak the truth in love. It takes a lot of courage for us to do the same when someone has wronged us.

As you can see, it be done, and positive results can come from it.

How do you feel about confrontation? Do you avoid it? Do you confront but with an angry manner?

Or are you like David in the first story and Abigail in the second and become humble and gentle but truthful?

I challenge you to do the same. I will quote Proverbs 15:1 again, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Next week we will read 2 Samuel 1-10. Have a blessed week and let me know how I can pray for you.

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