There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the town of Carmel. . . . When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, he sent ten of his young men to Carmel with this message for Nabal: “Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own! I am told that it is sheep-shearing time. While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. Ask your own men, and they will tell you this is true. So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please share any provisions you might have on hand with us and with your friend David.” David’s young men gave this message to Nabal in David’s name, and they waited for a reply.
“Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”
(1 Samuel 25:2-11)
Nabal’s name means “fool” (25:25), and his actions show the aptness of his name. He rudely refused David’s request to feed his 600 men. If we sympathize with Nabal, it is because customs are so different today. First, simple hospitality demanded that travelers—any number of them—be fed. Nabal was very rich and could have easily afforded to meet David’s request. Second, David wasn’t asking for a handout. He and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workforce, and part of Nabal’s prosperity was due to David’s vigilance.
As the old saying goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Nabal’s insolence nearly cost him his hoarded wealth, and especially his life, as David moved to take revenge. Selfishness can be costly.
We can be generous to those who protect us and help us prosper, even if we are not obligated to do so by law or custom. Yet many times, we allow worry to veto our generous thoughts. We ask ourselves, “If I give what I have, what if I don’t have enough?” Yet if God moves us to give, such questions reveal a lack of trust. Be sensitive to God’s leading.