Today’s Bible readings

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  — Matthew 5:43-45

Read I Samuel 25

[Excerpt] One of Nabal’s servants went to Abigail and told her, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he screamed insults at them. These men have been very good to us, and we never suffered any harm from them. Nothing was stolen from us the whole time they were with us. In fact, day and night they were like a wall of protection to us and the sheep. You need to know this and figure out what to do, for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family. He’s so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him!”

Abigail wasted no time . . She packed [gifts] on donkeys and said to her servants, “Go on ahead. I will follow you shortly.” But she didn’t tell her husband Nabal what she was doing . . When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. But I never even saw the young men you sent.

“Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is . . .Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! . . .

David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”

More thoughts for meditation

Nabal’s enmity with David was different than Saul’s. Nabal wasn’t trying to kill David, but he was full of sneering ingratitude. This is the kind of enmity we are likely to encounter all the time in the course of our daily lives. It made David really mad. It makes us really mad. 

When Christ talks about enemies, he’s not just talking about those who are trying to kill us. He’s also talking about those who interact with us who are full of sneering ingratitude. He’s talking about those people who everyone agrees – everyone, even their own partners and families – are wicked and ill-tempered fools. These enemies, too, are to be met with love. 

If it’s true that murder in response to murder is evil, then it’s also true that insult in response to insult is evil. Jesus tells us that emphatically. Right before the passage about loving your enemies is the passage about insult and murder: 

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.  But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

David did not kill Saul because he knew that to do so would mean to lose his soul. He was so mad at Nabal, though, that he forgot he was in danger of losing his soul. And this is where friends come in. When we’re interacting with wicked and ill-tempered fools, we’re especially tempted to be our own source of judgment and punishment. David needed Abigail to remind him that punishing Nabal would mean to lose his soul. We need friends to help us hold onto our souls, too. 

Suggestions for action

Pay attention to your heart when you find yourself around wicked and ill-tempered people today. Do you feel yourself starting to justify your own small evils in response to their small evils? Find a friend and talk to them about it. 

Pray: “Dear One, You ask us to love our enemies. You ask us to pray for those who wish to harm us. You teach us that to insult or curse each other is to lose our souls. Help me to love my enemies, even those who insult me. Help me to let go of vengeance and to hold onto my life and onto my soul.”