Dear Abby, I have a problem !

Charles Shultz, the Christian cartoonist who created the Charlie Brown comic strip wrote this for little Charlie, “There’s no problem too big which I can’t run away from !” Problems are a fact of life and James wrote so too, “My brethren, count it all joy WHEN ye fall into divers temptations” (1:2) and in the book of First Samuel, David had his share, one of which was trying to stay alive from the murderous envy of King Saul – And we think we have problems at times !!

In chapter 25 David dispatches some of his men to seek provisions from a man who legitimately owed him: Nabal.  Yet tightwad Nabal pretended to not know David nor his debt to him and insulted and ignored David’s representatives.  When word soon gets back to David, naturally he is going to be ticked.  That is one problem but let me focus on another person with a problem that is going on at about the same time, namely Nabal’s wife Abigail.  She is made aware by her servants how her husband mistreated David’s men and she is now concerned about David’s vengeance upon them all !   Note the words of her servants to her: “Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do: for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him” (vs17).  There is a stark contrast here that is a real key in handling problems well, she was willing to humbly listen while her husband was proud !   I know it sounds cliche but as a pastor I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given scriptural counsel to someone with a problem only to see them ignore what God says and do what they want any way.  Not so with Abigail, she listened carefully to what eyewitnesses to this growing problem told her rather than write it off, ignore it or go with her gut !  Carefully consider the problem you have from God’s perspective before you act, it will save a lot of grief !!

Then something else we see that helps us get through any problem well is she then took prompt action (once she had listened well & considered what was the course of action God wanted her to take): “Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed. . . ” (v18).  What was she doing? She was gathering up provisions for David and his men in opposition to her husband’s wishes.  This was not a lack of biblical submission to her husband but obedience to God ! And it would throw water on a simmering problem by feeding it (pun intended) with Christlike compassion. Dear Abby moved swiftly to quell the mounting anger of David, so don’t waste time moving to do what you can solve a problem. Later on David would commend her for this as not only reminding him that vengeance belongs to God alone but sparing the lives of people who would be hurt in the process had she not acted so righteously.  Sometimes with our troubles, we want to just close our eyes to them and hope they will blow over on their own but normally they get worse until you address them well – so do what’s right and don’t delay !

Finally, be humble !  When Abigail meets David the encounter is the exact opposite of the treatment her husband had given to David’s emissaries. She “fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground.” (v23).  Often, what causes a problem simply needs to be reversed in some way.  Her husband had “dissed” David, she had shown him intense respect. As she begins to speak, she helps David’s emotions become governed by truth by pinpointing the problem is her husband and his foolish nature not the rest of them (whom David would’ve killed). Unless truth is elevated in a problem we can become unduly angered, emotionally hypercharged and misdiagnose the source of the problem which in turn will result in a wrong plan of attack. Often the problem will be compounded in our pride to lash back and attack (not the problem) but people. Military experts call this collateral damage.  So be humble, work at arresting your emotions and pride by asking God to put you in check and Him in the driver’s seat and work on truly solving problems not making them worse.   In the end David and Abigail came to a great resolution and David proclaimed “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel. . .” (v32).   There is a lot to be gained even from problems, if you’ll handle them His way !!

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