• Tony Birkhead

Wisdom Week - 5



When we choose humility, we avoid humiliation and honor can follow!


INTRODUCTION

What is your first reaction when you hear the words “humble yourself”? Is it positive or negative? Why?


People tend to think of humility as weakness, as though one has no other choice but to cower under the authority of another. But this is not the humility or submission described in the Bible at all. Biblical submission is decisive, not indecisive; wise, not foolish; confident, not timid; dignified, not undignified, not discourteous; and not self-serving. Abigail in 1 Samuel 25 offers us a biblical example of humility and submission in the context of marriage, community, and relationship to God. Through her humility, Abigail demonstrated that she genuinely cared more about others than herself.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 3:34He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

Proverbs 8:13To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Proverbs 11:2When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 12:9Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

Proverbs 15:33Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 16:18Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 18:12Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 22:4Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.

Proverbs 25:6-7Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; 7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.

1 Samuel 25:1-8

Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran. 2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. 3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite. 4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. 5 So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. 6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! 7 “‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. 8 Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’”

1 Samuel 25:10-11

Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”

1 Samuel 25:12-13

David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.

1 Samuel 25:14-17

One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”

1 Samuel 25:20-22

As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. 21 David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. 22 May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”

1 Samuel 25:23-25

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.

1 Samuel 25:28-31

“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.”

1 Samuel 25:32-35

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.”

Luke 14:7-11

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read 1 SAMUEL 25:1-13.

During a recently completed stay in the Desert of Maon (23:24–25), David had used his men to act as a security team for Nabal’s servants and animals (v. 16). The value of David’s protection is suggested two chapters prior, noting that after the Philistines attacked nearby Keilah, they were in possession of livestock (23:5). Now during the present festive time of taking profit from the animals that David and his men had protected, David “sent ten young men” to deliver a personal statement to Nabal, his wealthy kinsman. This statement included a blessing on Nabal and his servants, a review of the history of the relationship between David’s group and Nabal’s group, and a request for due compensation.


Based on David’s words in verses 6-8, how would you characterize his attitude?

How many times does Nabal use the pronouns “I”, “me”, or “my” in response (v. 10-11)? What does this tell you about Nabal’s attitude?


Based on this account, what might make submission and humility a difficult attitude for Abigail to have?


If Abigail and Nabal were a couple in our community, what advice would Abigail likely receive? Would many fault Abigail for lashing out at Nabal? For leaving him? If Abigail were your friend, how would you counsel her?


Nabal’s response was not out of character. He was known as one who was “harsh and evil in his dealings,” and he showed David this firsthand. Rather than supporting David, Nabal acted as if his famous relative had shirked his duties and was of no consequence. Nabal’s words were so inflammatory that when David heard them, he immediately became enraged and plotted revenge. As a result of Nabal’s foolishness, Abigail and the entire household were in grave danger.


Read 1 SAMUEL 25:14-31.

Both the account of Nabal’s servant calling him a “worthless fool” and the account of Abigail pointing out Nabal’s foolishness to David assure us that Nabal was known for his wickedness. In this encounter with David, Abigail did three things—interceded on behalf of Nabal, prophesied David’s destiny, and persuaded David not to bring judgment down on himself by acting in rash violence.


From verses 18-31, what words would you use to describe Abigail?


In what ways do you see Abigail’s humility in relationship to God? To David? To Nabal?


Considering that Abigail hadn’t done anything wrong, was her confession necessary? Why or why not?


We see in this passage a woman who is decisive, wise, confident, dignified, humble, and considerate of others. Even though her husband was an evil man, she acted in his best interests and in the best interests of those he had wronged. Humility does not throw aside wisdom and dignity; rather, it acts in love and confidence, revealing faith that God is just and we can trust Him to deal with evil people.


MOVING FORWARD

  • What is a situation where you are tempted to take matters into your own hands rather than trusting God’s way? How might submission and humility before God or others actually lead to a solution to the troubles at hand?

  • Are there any areas of your life in which you can be more considerate of others and that humility leads to a solution that has otherwise evaded you?


PRAY TOGETHER

Thank God that He is just and worthy of all your trust. Ask Him to help group members submit to one another decisively, in wisdom, confidence, dignity, humility, and in consideration of others—no matter how they may act.


COMMENTARY

1 Samuel 25

25:1 Samuel’s death marked the end of a significant era for all Israel. His faithful leadership helped the nation make the transition from theocracy to monarchy. The Wilderness of Paran (Gen 21:21; Num 10:12; 13:3) lay beyond Judah’s southern edge.

25:2-3 Maon and Carmel were only about a mile apart on the edge of the Judean wilderness. Nabal was descended from Caleb, a friend of Joshua (Num 13:6; Jos 14:6-14).

25:4 Shearing sheep was normally a festive occasion (Gen 38:12) since wool was a valuable commodity (2Ki 3:4).

25:7-8 David reminded Nabal of a time when he and his men provided protection for Nabal’s livestock. David now asked Nabal to return the favor and provide him and his men with whatever he could afford from his profits.

25:10-11 Nabal’s response was arrogant and insulting. He compared David to a runaway slave, insinuating that he was a nobody who was running from Saul.

25:13 David planned to execute vengeance on Nabal with his soldiers.

25:14 One of Nabal’s young men realized the folly of Nabal’s action and told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, about her husband’s offensive action toward David.

25:17 The words consider carefully what you must do from Nabal’s employees show they had probably come to Abigail on other occasions to cover Nabal’s bad decisions. They would not have referred to him as such a worthless fool unless he had a history of poor judgment.

25:18 The provisions listed represented a sizable and thoughtful gift, though it would not have been enough to sustain 600 men and their families.

25:19 Abigail’s servants would run ahead to David and tell him that she was bringing provisions for his men.

25:20 Since Abigail descended through a mountain pass hidden from view, she may have thought it all the more important to let David know she was coming.

25:21-22 David was so disgusted with Nabal that he did not even mention his name. He referred to him as this man, a translation of one Hebrew syllable ( zeh). When David expected gratitude and hospitality, he received insults. Consequently, David had vowed to kill all the men in Nabal’s household.

25:23 Abigail bowed to David, treating him as a superior and humbling herself before him. Ironically, David had earlier humbled himself before Nabal (v. 8) but to no avail.

25:25-26 Though Abigail referred to her husband as worthless, she interceded with David to save his life. She suggested she was the Lord’s agent in heading off needless bloodshed, the act of which might bring guilt on David and serious damage to his reputation in Israel.

25:28 The expression your servant’s offense refers to Abigail, not to Nabal, and it designates a serious transgression. Again, she took responsibility for Nabal’s sin even as she spoke of what she saw as David’s future— a lasting dynasty. Perhaps Abigail implied the Lord’s battles should not include a skirmish with Nabal.

25:29 Some interpreters believe the expression tucked safely in the place may designate the Book of Life (Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; 22:19), but the expression at least denotes God’s sovereign protection of His righteous ones. The imagery of God flinging away David’s enemies like stones from a sling was well chosen in light of David’s use of a sling against Goliath (17:49-51).

25:31 Abigail didn’t want David to suffer remorse or a troubled conscience after he became king because he had slaughtered Nabal’s household needlessly. The words remember me your servant must have seemed a bit peculiar to David since Abigail was married, but time would prove her words true (v. 39).

25:32-35 David confirmed Abigail’s role as God’s instrument of deliverance for her husband and her household. He told her, I have... granted your request (lit “I have lifted up your face”).



DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8

While recovering from surgery, all heroic notions of self-reliance were literally chiseled out of me (yes, a literal hammer and chisel were used on my vertebrae). An event following my procedure was the greatest illustration of dependence and humility I have ever received, and most likely will be for some time. In short, I was unable to use the restroom under my own power, a lesson not only in humility, but in humiliation.

However, as I lay in my uncomfortable, fold-in-ten-different-directions hospital bed, the Holy Spirit sent a beam of stark, shining light straight at the plank that had lived in my eye for so long: my need to be the hero.

By God’s grace that idol is crumbling in my heart, though not yet gone completely. The longing we have to be our own heroes, our own saviors, is implanted in us from an early age, and it is deadly.

Pride presents itself in various forms: legalism, works-based righteousness, arrogance, a holier-than-though mentality, and sadly, utter despair. But when we rightly understand our complete dependence upon Jesus as Savior and Hero, then, and only then, can we truly begin to walk in humility from a changed heart. Dependence enables humility because we ultimately realize Jesus is the only possible strength for our weakness. To pretend otherwise is folly.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Exodus 3:11

Moses is named in Scripture as the most humble man ever (Numbers 12:3). Reading of his encounter with God at the beginning of Exodus, we can see this humility in his speech. But, if we turn back a few chapters, we learn that humility wasn’t something Moses possessed naturally. He grew up in the posh setting of Egyptian royalty. After growing up in the royal house, he decided to visit his oppressed brothers, the Israelites. He then witnessed some of them being beaten by an Egyptian (Exodus 2:11). We can assume, by his actions after seeing this, that he assumed it was his God given role to save the Israelites from the oppression of the Egyptians, and he killed the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12). This doesn’t appear to be the mark of a humble man. He eventually fled Egypt in fear and spent 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness.

God had a plan for Moses from the beginning to save his people. But, Moses did it his way instead of God’s way and in turn, ran away. It was during this time that we can assume Moses learned the importance of humility and was molded into the man God wanted him to be. God often uses these times in the wilderness to refine us for his future works as he did with Moses. You might feel a great call from God for a mighty work, but yet need some refining. Embrace the the wilderness as a time to grow closer to God and become more like him.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:21-23

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that the gate to heaven is narrow (Matt. 7:13-14). The easier route through life is the path of happiness, which has side roads to decadence and self-indulgence. But the way to eternal life is marked by self-sacrifice and humility.

The Lord warned His followers not to be deceived about their salvation. Those who find heaven’s road have trusted Him as Savior and acknowledged that His sacrificial death paid their sin debt in full. This is important because we meet many people who appear to be walking the narrow path but have never made a decision for Christ. They may be busy with church work, but they have placed performance before commitment. At the judgment, Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

You don’t want to be among those who think their deeds will earn them admission to heaven. Receiving Christ as Savior is the only way (John 14:6). Then you can be sure that at the end of your life, you’ll step off the narrow road and into God’s presence forever (1 John 5:13).

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 4

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

I remember one of the many introductions I have received over the years. A fellow stood before the audience I would be addressing and said, “It is my pleasure to introduce you to my brother, Charles Stanley, servant of the most high God.” What a God-honoring introduction that was!

But the title of servant is not reserved only for those employed by the church. Jesus’ promise from John 12:26— that God would honor those who serve Him—was made to all believers. We are to approach every activity of our day as if we’re working for the Lord, so that servanthood becomes a way of life.

A believer’s willing acceptance of the servant role is countercultural. The world teaches us to chase after power but advises ignoring opportunities to serve unless there’s personal benefit. The leaders of the early church, however, were taught to see things differently. Jesus instructed them to feed the poor, draw near to those who were sick, and wash dirty feet. These men were honored to refer to themselves as bondslaves—in other words, lowly servants.

The Lord has placed each one of us in a position to serve others and thereby serve Him. The feet we wash, figuratively speaking, are those of our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We must give our best effort to the relationships and work we have been given in this world. To offer anything less is to refuse the life we have been called to live—a life of service to the most high God.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke 18:14

The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “I have had more trouble with D. L. Moody than with any other man who has crossed my path. If I can keep him right, I don’t have any trouble with other people.”

We love to blame things on other people when, in reality, the problem lies with us. We can point fingers and complain about this person doing that thing and that person doing another thing. But the truth is that our own hearts aren’t right.

It’s no different than Adam and Eve shifting blame in the Garden of Eden. Adam said, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then Eve said, “The serpent deceived me. . . . That’s why I ate it” (Genesis 3:12–13 NLT).

All too often we blame other people or our circumstances rather than admit that we’re responsible for what we do. Jesus told a parable about two men who went into the temple to pray. One was a sinner, and the other was a Pharisee. The sinner would not even lift his eyes to Heaven. Instead, he said, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” (Luke 18:13 NLT). This guy was bad, and he knew it. Meanwhile, the Bible says, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (verse 11 KJV). Jesus said, “I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (verse 14 NLT). The one who admitted his sin, the one who owned it, is the one who went home justified before God.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11

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