Christ’s invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to all irrespective of any past misdeed. We learn from David-Bathsheba relationship that earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They can coexist, do not offset each other, and are fulfilled at his choosing. David incurred severe punishment from seducing Bathsheba into adultery, murdering her husband to cover up the affair, and overall for covetousness. The punishment was fulfilled but did not interfere with David’s earned blessing: an inheritance from God’s promise to Abraham to father the ancestral lineage of the Messiah and a direct promise to David that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel. Both promises were fulfilled through Solomon, a son to David-Bathsheba marriage.
David’s interactions with Bathsheba resulted in both severe punishment and fulfillment of previously earned blessing for David. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Seduction Covetousness Displeases God, David’s sin in the affair with Bathsheba consists of seduction, adultery, murder, and covetousness. He incurred severe punishment from the sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. All the promises were fulfilled.
However, as events representing fulfillment of the punishment unfolded in his life; other events that represent fulfillment of David’s earned blessing occurred in parallel and unaffected by the punishment. First, he inherited blessing from God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to David through several generations via his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba conceived after their marriage.
The blessings did not buy him out of the punishment, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
King David had an illicit interaction with Bathsheba, wife of a soldier under his authority. He tried unsuccessfully to conceal the affair through her husband, ordered him killed in desperation, and re-married his wife thereafter. Prophet Nathan confronted David about the affair, pronounced his punishment, but also announced he had been forgiven because he repented. However, the promise of punishment appeared fulfilled despite forgiveness. We discuss an understanding of David’s sin and punishment in the context of a difference between human and eternal consequences of sin.
The biblical account of David-Bathsheba relationship includes events that occurred before and after their marriage. We divide the relationship into two parts as pre-marriage and post-marriage to understand that David’s actions during the first part displeased God and brought him severe punishment. In contrast, his experience regarding the second part of the relationship provides an understanding that God’s promise of blessing can coexist with, but does not nullify, his promise of punishment. This bible study focuses on the first part.
David could not resist a beautiful woman that he saw from a lookout vantage of the king’s palace. He had the woman brought to him and shared an illicit interaction with her. The woman became pregnant as a result. David tried unsuccessfully to conceal the affair by tricking the woman’s husband, a soldier under his authority, but the man did not fall for the trick. In desperation, David ordered him killed by over-exposure in battle and married his wife after her mourning.
God sent Prophet Nathan to confront David regarding his interactions with Bathsheba. The prophet pronounced punishment on David: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. In addition, Prophet Nathan responded to David’s expression of repentance by telling him as follows [2 Samuel 12:13–14]: “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
The son of the illicit affair died soon after. Furthermore, the two other promises of punishment also apparently were fulfilled through the rebellion of Absalom. Therefore, David was not absolved in full from the consequences of his illicit premarital interactions with Bathsheba despite being forgiven of his sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him. To understand David’s punishment despite forgiveness, we examine his sin and punishment in the context of a possible difference between human and eternal consequences of sin.
David and Abigail discovered love through mutual admiration of shared core values. They met as Abigail sought to mediate an escalating dispute between David and her husband. She recognized David as a leader and future king of Israel with God-fearing reputation and mediated the dispute by appealing to his Godliness. She prayed he would avoid any blemish that could constitute a guilt on his conscience. Thus, she sought to preserve his reputation that she and others admired. David appreciated and admired her for understanding and respecting his virtues and principles. Their mutual admiration of shared values became foundation for love and marriage.
The biblical account of interactions among Abigail, Nabal, and David begins with a quarrel between Nabal and David that threatened to escalate into David attacking and destroying Nabal’s household. However, Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened and mediated the dispute successfully. She used her understanding and respect for David’s Godliness and his mission in Israel to redirect him from seeking vengeance against Nabal. David appreciated Abigail: “…for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands” [1 Samuel 25:33]. Further, he thanked God for placing her in position to redirect him from anger: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me” [1 Samuel 25:32].
This encounter between Abigail and David formed the foundation for them to fall in love. They later got married when Abigail became available to remarry after Nabal died. Therefore, we study their encounter as a biblical example of successful courtship.
Abigail’s entreaty to David was motivated by needing to save her household from potential attack by David and his men. She sought to dissuade him from the attack by appealing to his reputation as a God-fearing man and future king of Israel. Her appeal struck a chord of appreciation and admiration in David: he appreciated her as an “angel” that God placed in his path to redirect him from anger and admired her for recognizing, understanding, and respecting his core virtues and principles. He had taken leave of his values to seek retribution against Nabal, but she called him back by reminding him that his reputation as a child of God and future king of Israel is inconsistent with “the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” or self vengeance [1 Samuel 25:31].
Let’s recall that Abigail went to David to mediate an escalating dispute between him and her husband. The mediation was successful [1 Samuel 25:35]: “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.’” Thereafter, Abigail returned to her home and husband while David and his men returned to their base. However, the mediation process established mutual admiration and respect between Abigail and David. After Nabal died, David proposed marriage to Abigail and she accepted. In this bible study, we examine what happened in the mediation that became the foundation for love and marriage of Abigail and David.
Authority to Represent Family:
in Abigail-Nabal Interactions
Authority to represent family requires access to family resources and capability to mobilize the resources as needed. Abigail used such authority to mediate a dispute and forestall potential attack against her family. They faced possible attack from David and his men as retribution for her husband denying their request for assistance. She recognized the men deserved what they requested and her husband was indisposed to help. She mobilized and delivered the supplies and persuaded them against attacking her family.
The biblical account of interactions between David and Abigail provide information about two marital relationships: Abigail was married to Nabal in the first part of the account, was introduced to David in the process of mediating a potential dispute between David and her family, and eventually married David when she became available to remarry after the death of Nabal. The account provides opportunity to learn from a specific event in Abigail-Nabal marriage and from the courtship of Abigail and David that led to their marriage after Nabal’s death. We focus on the lesson from Abigail-Nabal marriage in this study and reserve a follow-on study to examine Abigail-David courtship.
Nabal was a wealthy farmer in Carmel (the same city we encountered Elisha in Interactions Among Shunammite Couple). He had thousands of sheep and goats and several shepherds and servants in his service. The event from his marriage that is of interest in this study occurred during the period that David was a fugitive from Saul, leading an approximately 600 strong fugitive army through wilderness refuges (Please see David and Saul Close Encounters for more information). David requested food from Nabal during sheep shearing and expected Nabal to honor the request because his men assisted Nabal’s shepherds during encounters in the wilderness. However, Nabal rejected the request with contempt, hurling insults at David and his men. A quick-thinking servant sensed an impending retributive attack against Nabal from David and counseled Nabal’s wife Abigail to intervene.
She took the servant’s counsel to heart, mobilized resources, and set out to intercept David and his men that, in fact, were on their way to attack Nabal’s household. Abigail used her understanding and respect for David’s mission in Israel at the time to persuade him that an attack against Nabal would be inconsistent with, and demeaning to, David’s character and Godliness. She was successful. David accepted her gifts, appreciated her intervention, and turned around with his men.
In this study, we focus on Abigail mobilizing family resources in an emergency to protect her family from an impending disaster. Modern day couples live in societies several times more complex than did Abigail and Nabal. However, the principles that enabled her to save her family are applicable today even if the details are more complicated. She had unrestricted access to family resources and was sufficiently knowledgeable to mobilize the resources as needed to address a family emergency. Her husband was indisposed to help as we discuss presently. Therefore, her family’s fate depended on her authority to represent the family. As we discuss herein, the authority to represent family consists of two aspects: access to family resources and capability to mobilize and deploy the resources as needed.
A marriage arranged to serve extraneous interests likely will be unsuccessful and bring no benefit to the couple. Example: David-Michal marriage was motivated by interests different from any desire by the couple to live in marital love. Michal’s father Saul sought the marriage to lure David into danger. David embraced the marriage to show military valor and triumph over Philistines. Michal, on her part, was infatuated with being the king’s wife. Furthermore, while David believed in life founded on worshiping and serving God, Michal had no such belief or understanding. They were unequally yoked before God; therefore, incompatible for marriage.
We discuss David-Michal marital interactions to learn from their experience. Their marriage was driven by inappropriate motivations, got off on the wrong foot, and ended without discernible benefit to them individually or as a couple. We study negatives from their marriage to enrich our understanding of positive aspects of modern day marriages.
Michal’s father, Saul, the first king of Israel, lobbied hard to persuade David to marry Michal, because he wanted to use the marriage to lure David to death to eliminate him from contending for the throne of Israel. Michal, on her part, appeared to love David. However, later events showed that all she really cared about was getting married to a young man that was highly admired among her contemporaries and expected to become the king of Israel sometime later. She was in love with the prospect of such a marriage but did not know or understand David enough to care about him as a potential husband. David apparently got into the marriage to show himself equal to the challenge for a gruesome conquest and mutilation of several Philistines, the then number one enemy of Israel. He cherished his “prize” for the valiant victory, brought to life through marriage to Michal, but did not love or care about her as a wife.
David-Michal marriage, therefore, was arranged to satisfy interests totally extraneous to the marital interest of David and Michal. The marriage was driven by inappropriate motivation. In this study, we discuss events leading to David-Michal marriage to understand the marriage got off on the wrong foot because of inappropriate motivation. Also, we note that David and Michal separated for a long time and re-united thereafter. We discuss the separation and re-unification to underscore their lack of personal commitment either to their marriage or to each other. Further, we discuss a specific event that brought their mutual dismay to the surface. We use information from the event to understand their marriage was unsuccessful because they were unequally yoked before God and, therefore, incompatible for marriage.
Responding to Adversity—
Base Burnt, Flocks and Families in Captivity
We discuss a biblical event to illustrate that God could use adversity to guide a person to greater purpose. The adversity of follower families taken captive from his base led David to an opportunity to enunciate principles of basic civil rights and responsibilities. To respond to the adversity, he sought and received direction from God, pursued and caught up with the raiders, defeated them in a battle, and recovered everything and people taken from his base. Also, as he worked toward the rescue, he evaluated and disposed of issues as they arose; such as letting two hundred of his men that were exhausted return to base while four hundred continued in the pursuit. By so doing, he set the stage for resolving a dispute on sharing battle proceeds, which led to his ruling on civil rights and responsibilities.
An adversity could present opportunities for greater accomplishment. We discuss an example in David’s rescue of follower families captured from his base by a raiding party. The rescue led him to define basis for civil rights and responsibilities while settling a dispute on sharing battle proceeds among his people.
David and his men had left their base in Philistine territory to present themselves to fight alongside their Philistine host. However, the Philistines refused their offer and asked them to return to their base. On their return, they found their base raided, burnt, and plundered and their families taken captive by the raiders. David sought and received God’s direction, pursued and caught up with the raiders, defeated them in a fierce battle, recovered all that was taken from his base including family members, and took additional plunder. Subsequently, the plunder opened an opportunity for David. To settle a dispute among his people on sharing the plunder, he made a ruling that became a lasting foundation for the interpretation of basic civil rights and responsibilities.
The study provides opportunity for increased understanding that God may use an adversity to guide a person toward greater purpose. Therefore, seek his direction in every adversity. He establishes a way to communicate with every person and will respond to guide you if you seek his direction. Recognizing potential opportunities in an adversity will motivate a person to respond positively by seeking direction from God to defeat the adversity and any temptation that it might represent.
The experience of Job indicates that recognizing adversity as an attack from the devil is an important step in seeking God’s guidance and direction and ultimately defeating the adversity and the temptation that it represents. If a person lives in the image of God, representing God among other people and fulfilling his/her responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, then an adversity in the person’s life is more likely a temptation instead of punishment for wrongdoing. We learn from Job’s experience that the appropriate response is to declare war against the devil by renewing your commitment to worship and serve God.
We begin a bible study series on Responding to Adversity, with intention to study events and personalities described in the bible to gain insight into what a Christian should do when facing adversity. The current study examines the temptation of Job to expand understanding of the nature of adversity. Job was an upright, blameless, and successful man: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” [Job 1:1]. Yet, he suddenly came under a storm of adversity that included losing his children and every earthly possession.
Job’s experience indicates adversity may befall anyone, even a person that has done nothing wrong. His adversity was a temptation whereby the devil attempted to pull him away from God by destroying his earthly comfort and happiness: “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face” [Job 1:11]. God permitted the devil to tempt Job within a wide but limited scope: “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person” [Job 1:12]. Therefore, we learn from this account that God protects us from temptation but may permit the devil to tempt a person. The devil may in that case choose how to tempt the person. He chose to rain adversity on Job in the study example.
Recognizing adversity as temptation will affect how a person responds. Because Job was upright and blameless, he most likely recognized the adversity as temptation and, thus responded by focusing on his relationship with God and leaving it all with him in prayer [Job 1:21]: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Also, we have encountered previous studies that showed adversity as a springboard to launch a person onto another phase of life with opportunities of great significance. Notable examples include the experience of Joseph in Joseph Called to Mission and Ruth in Ruth Joins Naomi, among several others. There also are cases of adversity befalling a person as punishment for wrongdoing: a possible example being the revolt in David’s family during his reign as king of Israel in Absalom Rises Against His Father David.
This study focuses on the experience of Job to learn that adversity may befall a person as temptation at pulling the person away from God. Recognizing the adversity as such will help fortify the person to respond by relying more on his/her relationship with God. A person that lives in the image of God (e.g., Job’s reputation as upright and blameless) will more likely recognize an adversity as temptation, instead of punishment for some wrongdoing. Thus, he/she will be better prepared to respond positively.