David and Nabal or Honour, Shame and Insult.

1 Samuel 25, kjv :

4 And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep. 5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name: 6 And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace beto thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. 7 And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel. 8 Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.

9 And when David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. 10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. 11 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 be12 So David’s young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings. 13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.

Acts 13 v 22, kjv : “And when he ( Jehovah ) had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.”

David was seemingly a man of great conflicting extremes. Sometimes a man able to stoop to commit great sins and at others capable of a deep and intense love of Jehovah. He was able to steal Uriah’s wife and send her husband away to deliver his own death warrant by his own hand. On the other hand he wrote sublime psalms and danced naked before the ark of the covenant in a state of ecstatic joy. As we consider this account it is evident that David is also a man who would not hesitate to kill another man in revenge for putting him to shame and causing him to lose face.

My own belief is that David would have broken the Mosaic Law if he had killed Nabal and his men. It is understandable how David felt. He had done Nabal a service and a kindness by protecting his shearers and his flocks from harm. His servants remind Nabal courteously of this fact. Nabal scoffingly derides David before his servants. He could not have insulted David to a greater extent than this. David was understandably livid and fuming with a desire to revenge himself and restore his honour. He would have been in the wrong if he had done so. Jehovah intervenes by providing Abigail’s wise intervention on behalf of her husband.

The example of Mohammed and the absence of any command in Islamic writings to refrain from seeking revenge, coupled with calls to fight unbelievers, seems to foster an atmosphere in which it is considered just for muslim men to seek violent revenge in return for written or verbal insults, or what they perceive to be insults, to their honour. The biblical injunction rather forbids this response:

Leviticus 19, kjv : “17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD”.

If anyone has been wronged by another it must first be ascertained if the act was a criminal act or not. In that case it must be avenged by being punished in a court of law. That being done there are no more grounds for the aggrieved party to bear a grudge. The offended party must then lay aside their enmity and consider the matter closed. A verbal or written insult is not a criminal act as defined by Mosaic law. The only exception being the child who curses his mother or father. It is against  the teaching of the Bible to criminalise offensive speech. If men are to live in peace with each other we must learn to “bury the hatchet” and forgive others for insulting us. Truth is the God ordained weapon with which to strike back. Jesus showed this as he replied to the insults of his detractors with the superior fire-power of the truth.

Leviticus 19 v 17 teaches that the correct response to a verbal  insult is to rebuke politely and firmly the person from whom it comes. “And not suffer sin upon him”; as I understand this phrase means not to respond in a violent manner. As non-muslims we are on the receiving end of much hatred and many insults directed at us in the Koran. As a natural consequence this hatred is dutifully directed by Muslims to non-muslims. If hatred is criminal then the Koran is full of incitement to criminal behavior. Obviously hatred of other human beings is a thing obnoxious to God if one considers the laws and teaching of the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that no man has the right to respond to insults with violence.

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One Response to David and Nabal or Honour, Shame and Insult.

  1. Anonymous says:

    The offender was used to be either killed, or chained, in the Bible:
    Acts 25:11
    For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
    Acts 21:11
    And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

    Religious blasphemy and political sedition are two serious offenses.
    Acts 25:8
    While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

    Paul didn’t abrogate the Torah’s blasphemy law:
    Acts 23
    4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

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