Posts Tagged 'Fool'

Panic Podcast: Interesting Women of the Bible – Abigail, Part 1

Have you ever wondered how it is that a miserable, low life of a man is able to marry a wise, witty, and gorgeous woman?  People wonder that about me and my wife all the time, but I’m referring to a jerk by the name of Nabal who married a woman way beyond his class, Abigail.  She’s our interesting woman today and Friday, and what she did was simply an amazing demonstration of wisdom, honor, and quick thinking.  She is truly and interesting woman in the Bible.

 

One Smart Broad!

abigail

We all admire smart, clever people. How did they get that way?, we wonder. Were they born smart? Did simply go to all the right schools? Let’s face it, some people are just smarter than others. Think about a guy named Blaise Pascal. He wrote a treatise on vibrating bodies at the age of nine. Vibrating bodies. Most nine year olds are vibrating bodies. Little Blaise was writing about them. Or how about Karl Benz? He had tons of educational achievements by age 19. He would go on to found Mercedes-Benz and design the Benz-Patent Motorwagen, widely regarded as the very first automobile. And there was H.P. Lovecraft, who at the age to two began reciting poems. At five, he was writing them. These are child prodigies, and they are rare. Most of us normal folk have to learn things the hard way. We gain knowledge and wisdom from many sources: our parents, peers, teachers, friends and co-workers. Most of us learn a lot from our own mistakes.

The greatest source of wisdom, though, is the Bible. From its pages we learn everything we need to live “the good life.” We can read about what good people and bad people did and learn from their lives. We can see how godly people walked in the wisdom of the Lord. Such a wise person was Abigail. Her story is found in 1 Samuel 25.

1 Samuel 25:2 – 9

Scholars say this chapter is about one aspect or event of David’s life as a fugitive, but really the chapter is about a most remarkable woman.

After the death of Samuel, David moved into the desert wilderness of Paran. While he was there, he met and got to know a man named Nabal, who was a successful sheep and goat herder. Nabal’s wife was Abigail, whose name means, “my father’s joy.”

She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite. (1 Samuel 25:3 NIV)

Right away we can see the stark difference between Nabal and Abigail. She was “intelligent and beautiful,” her father’s joy, but her husband was “surly and mean.” In fact, his name means, “fool.” So at the beginning of this story we can see two opposites that probably never really got a long.

David made a reasonable request of Nabal:

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 25:8 NIV)

David was looking for a “contribution,” and his request was made in a polite, reasonable manner. David and his men had treated Nabal’s men well, and he expected similar treatment. You’ll note that David’s request was made on a day of festivities. Sharing good things with others at such a time was a tradition, so that made David’s request even more reasonable.

1 Samuel 25:10 – 17

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. 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 25:10, 11 TLB)

Talk about contemptible! “Arrogant” doesn’t begin to describe this man Nabal. He treated David like a runaway slave and refused his request. This infuriated David. He called his men to arms. Things looked bad for Nabal.

Enter Abigail, the wise voice of reason. She must have known what a total boob her husband was and she knew they were in trouble. She came up with a plan. Abigail showed great wisdom here. She knew she had to act and act quickly to defuse the situation. She clearly knew her husband well and she knew talking to him would be a waste of time. She showed the same kind of wisdom David showed. Think about it. David acted reasonably and honorably with Nabal. Nabal acted like a fool; he gave absolutely no thought of the consequences of his shoddy treatment of David. Her plan showed sheer genius.

1 Samuel 18 – 31

Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisin and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. hen she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:18, 19 TLB)

And why would she? She was trying to undo the potential damage caused by Nabal’s idiotic response to David’s request. She knew that her husband would have killed David, so she kept her plan from him.

Abigail approached David with the exact opposite attitude of that of her husband. In great humility, she addressed him in such a way as to demonstrate just how wise and discerning she was. Nabal certainly didn’t deserve a wife like this!

“I accept all blame in this matter, my lord,” she said. “Please listen to what I want to say. Nabal is a bad-tempered boor, but please don’t pay any attention to what he said. He is a fool—just like his name means. But I didn’t see the messengers you sent. Sir, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, I pray by the life of God, and by your own life too, that all your enemies shall be as cursed as Nabal is. And now, here is a present I have brought to you and your young men.  Forgive me for my boldness in coming out here. The Lord will surely reward you with eternal royalty for your descendants, for you are fighting his battles; and you will never do wrong throughout your entire life.” (1 Samuel 25:24 – 28 TLB)

You can sense the admiration this woman had for David. Remember, this is young David; this was years before he got into trouble with sin. He’s as pure as the driven snow at this point in his life. Abigail wasn’t a prophet, but she was smart enough to realize that David was special; that God’s had was on him and that one day he would be a renowned leader .

1 Samuel 25:32 – 35

David for his part could see the wisdom in Abigail’s suggestion to him. Not rushing to judgment against Nabal would save him from years of regret down the road. Not only did he see the wisdom in what she said, but he was grateful to her for saying it. As far as David was concerned, the Lord Himself had sent Abigail to him to keep him from taking vengeance into his own hands. David well knew the words of the law:

Vengeance is mine, and I decree the punishment of all her enemies: Their doom is sealed. (Deuteronomy 32:35 TLB)

Abigail’s plan worked.

Then David accepted her gifts and told her to return home without fear, for he would not kill her husband. (1 Samuel 25:35 TLB)

1 Samuel 25:36 – 39

When Abigail got home, she found Nabal in the midst of a crazy party. This man was drunk out of his mind; he had thrown a party for no particular reason.

In the morning, though, it was a different story. She told her husband what she had done, and what happened next couldn’t have been written by Hollywood screenwriter:

…when his wife told him what had happened, he had a stroke and lay paralyzed for about ten days, then died, for the Lord killed him. (1 Samuel 25:38 TLB)

God is given credit for Nabal’s death, but the man had probably been heading to the grave for a long time. He had a bad attitude and he lived a hard life. Although, David’s response seems to indicate God’s had was in this fool’s death.

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the Lord! God has paid back Nabal and kept me from doing it myself; he has received his punishment for his sin.” (1 Samuel 25:39 TLB)

1 Samuel 25:40 – 42

David probably remembered something this beautiful woman had said to him:

And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me!

And he did! David remembered Abigail and he wanted to marry her. Why? Well, she was beautiful to be sure. But there was more to it than that. She had saved his reputation and possibly his life with her timely intervention. He knew he loved her. And she loved him.

When the messengers arrived at Carmel and told her why they had come, she readily agreed to his request. Quickly getting ready, she took along five of her serving girls as attendants, mounted her donkey, and followed the men back to David. So she became his wife. (1 Samuel 25:40 – 42 TLB)

And she knew a good thing when it came along.

Up till this point in the story, it’s like a Hallmark movie of the week. But what we read next was something God most certainly did not approve of.

David also married Ahinoam from Jezreel. (1 Samuel 25:43 TLB)

Huh? Where did she come from? Grammatically, David’s marriage to Ahinoam took place before his marriage to Abigail. Just who was she? Most Bible scholars believe this Ahinoam was the wife of King Saul. By taking her as his wife, David had asserted his claim on Saul’s throne.  God had already given the throne to David, but David felt he needed to “do something” to speed things up.

The theme of 1 Samuel 25 is a simple one. David could have killed a man to marry that man’s wife, but he didn’t.  Unfortunately, 2 Samuel 11 carries a similar theme but ends badly. There, David did indeed kill a man, Uriah, so that he could have that man’s wife, Bathsheba. In these two chapters, we see the ascent of David and his descent. David was an amazing man on many levels. But he was just a man. He was a man who loved God but a man riddled with sin. Too bad the David of 1 Samuel 25 didn’t stick around.

Pity The Fool!

MrT.jpg  

When you see the word “fool,” what or who do you think of?  In olden days, kings employed men called “court jesters.”  Today we call them “actors,” but back then they entertained the king and his court, often wearing outrageous costumes, sometimes dunce caps, doing all kinds of dopey things.  These “court jesters,” “actors,” were referred to as “fools” sometimes.

A fool is somebody who seems to lack any kind of wisdom; the kind of person who just wastes his life, letting the world march on by.  Fools sit around thinking, rarely doing.  They are selfish, giving very little thought to their families, to issues important to their neighbors and country.  The Bible talks about fools, and we may gain insight into the mind of a fool by reading some Bible verses.

Let’s see what the Bible has to say about fools.

A fool denies God

That man is a fool who says to himself, “There is no God!” Anyone who talks like that is warped and evil and cannot really be a good person at all.  (Psalm 14:1  TLB)

Only a fool would say to himself, “There is no God.” And why does he say it?  Because of his wicked heart, his dark and evil deeds. His life is corroded with sin.  (Psalm 53:1  TLB)

The Hebrew word translated “fool” might look familiar to you:  nabal.   You’re thinking, “Where have I seen that word before?”  When you saw it, it looked like this, Nabal, because it’s the name of a very dim witted man in 1 Samuel 25, who was married to the beautiful Abigail.  Nabal refers to a “simpleton” or perhaps “a madman.”  You get the idea—you don’t want to be called a “nabal” and who in the world would name their child, “Nabal”?

Fools, in the Bible, are called that, not because they are intellectually deficient, but because of moral failings.  The smartest man in the world is a fool if he denies the existence of God.  That’s a terrible way to describe the atheist, because an atheist, as defined by the Bible, is a “warped and evil person” who is not good.  He is “wicked” and the things he does are “evil.”  This is because denial of God is no small matter; it’s big sin.  It is morally perverse to deny the reality of God.

Now, we’re not talking about becoming a Christian here.  The psalmist is not thinking about the Messiah; he is simply talking about the foolishness of not acknowledging the Creator.  There are plenty of people (and even demons, according to the New Testament) that steadfastly believe in God but have nothing to do with His Son.  Why are atheists described as “fools?”  It’s because their sense of morality comes from someplace other than God.  One may not have a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior, but a belief in God may keep one living a moral and ethical life.  The atheist has to get his sense of morality someplace, so if not from God, then where?  Or from whom?

This is why fools are evil and wicked.  They have a warped sense of morality because instead of respecting objective truths concerning right and wrong, everything with them is subjective; they will do and live in a way that seems good to them.  This reminds us of another verse:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.   (Proverbs 14:12  NKJV)

A fool is sick

Others, the fools, were ill because of their sinful ways.  (Psalm 107:17  TLB)

This not only refers to the consequences of sin and of being a fool, it is also a characteristic of a fool.  One scholar succinctly notes,

Folly denotes moral perversity, not mere weakness or ignorance; it leads to ruin.  It is the opposite of wisdom, which leads to life.

Indeed.  Since more often than not, gross immorality follows one who denies the existence of God, or lives like there is no God, it’s easy to see why the psalmist sees how sin makes the fool sick—physically sick and spiritually sick.

The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below.  (Proverbs 15:24  NKJV)

A fool is overly self-sufficient

Another characteristic of the fool is that they are far too self-confident; they are heedless.

The wise man is glad to be instructed, but a self-sufficient fool falls flat on his face.  (Proverbs 10:8  TLB)

In contrast to the fool, the wise man loves to be taught or instructed.  He knows that he doesn’t know it all; that he can learn from others.  Not so the fool.  He’s so sure of himself and of his own abilities that he barges ahead and, invariably, fails miserably.  Having confidence in one’s abilities is good, but that confidence must be grounded in reality.

Along the same line of thought is this observation:

Winking at sin leads to sorrow; bold reproof leads to peace.  (Proverbs 10:10  TLB)

The one who is wise knows the seriousness of sin and appreciates correction when it’s needed.  The fool, though, is the one who “winks” at sin; he has no clue how serious it is or of what kind of trouble it can cause.  The fool hates to be told he’s in the wrong and refuses to see the benefit of reproof.  This foolish person has no peace.

To the fool, other people’s opinions are merely noise; they are distractions because, in his mind, he knows it all and he doesn’t need anybody’s help or advice.

A fool’s fun is being bad; a wise man’s fun is being wise!  (Proverbs 10:23  TLB)

Another contrast shows why the fool remains in his folly:  he enjoys being an idiot.  Imagine that!  Imagine being so self-centered that you have no clue how truly foolish and idiotic your behavior is to the rest of us.  The wise in heart, though, derives joy from being wise.  What a difference!  The fool finds pleasure in being “bad,” or in wickedness.

A fool is thoughtless

On the heels of describing a fool as being overly confident, we read these verses:

A fool is quick-tempered; a wise man stays cool when insulted.  A good man is known by his truthfulness; a false man by deceit and lies.  (Proverbs 12:16, 17  TLB)

Using another contrast, we can see that fools can be spotted from a distance!  They’re the ones who “fly off the handle” at the least provocation.  The fool is the one who deceives others.

So then, the fool is one who is self-opinionated but the wise man is one who is teachable.  The fool has little self-control, but the wise man keeps his cool.  Worse than boorish behavior, the fool has no foresight or concern for the future.

A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t and even brags about it!  (Proverbs 13:16  TLB)

A fool is thoughtless in his behavior and in life in general.  He lives for now, not for the future.  To him, his actions carry no consequences.  While others plan for the future, he doesn’t and he’s proud about it!  He’s sure somebody will be there to take care of him, come what may.

A fool is clueless

If you are looking for advice, stay away from fools.  The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face facts.  (Proverbs 14:7, 8  TLB)

Here is some sage advice:  stay away from fools and don’t pay any attention to what they say!  The fool may appear wise, but their advice is deplorable.  They are corrupt down to their hearts and that corruption is betrayed by the words they speak.

Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.  (Proverbs 14:9  NKJV)

Clueless behavior!  A good example of one who “mocked at sin” would be Jezebel.  And if we look at what happened to her, we’d have to conclude that there is NO hope for the fool; for the one who mocks the Word of God.  She ended very badly, being devoured by dogs.  Such is the end of those who scorn the Lord and His Word.

It is pleasant to listen to wise words, but a fool’s speech brings him to ruin. Since he begins with a foolish premise, his conclusion is sheer madness.  A fool knows all about the future and tells everyone in detail! But who can really know what is going to happen? A fool is so upset by a little work that he has no strength for the simplest matter.  (Ecclesiastes 10:12—15  TLB)

The fool is clueless about the peril his speech and behavior puts him in.  Folly destroys the fool!  Words mean things, and both wisdom and foolishness are revealed by one’s speech.  We’re all familiar with that old saying:

A fool may be mistaken for a wise man if he keeps his mouth shut; but open it and he removes all doubt.

Verse 13 shows how deep that root of foolishness grows.  Since the fool doesn’t see himself or his world clearly, there’s no way he can make sense of anything going on around him.

Verse 15 is difficult to translate.  The Authorized Version gives it a different flavor:

The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.

Adam Clarke thinks the proverb means something like this:  The fool knows nothing; he doesn’t know his way to the next village.

Indeed.  Of the stupidity of the fool, we would say:   He’s so clueless, he doesn’t know enough to come in out of the rain!

A fool is dull

It isn’t just the Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament that speaks of fools.  Jeremiah describes fools like this:

Until my people leave their foolishness, for they refuse to listen to me; they are dull, retarded children who have no understanding. They are smart enough at doing wrong, but for doing right they have no talent, none at all.   (Jeremiah 4:22  TLB)

This verse is the culmination of very hard-to-read portion of Scripture:

My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain; my heart pounds within me. I cannot be still because I have heard, O my soul, the blast of the enemies’ trumpets and the enemies’ battle cries.  Wave upon wave of destruction rolls over the land, until it lies in utter ruin; suddenly, in a moment, every house is crushed.  How long must this go on? How long must I see war and death surrounding me?  (Jeremiah 4:19—21  TLB)

We’re not sure who’s speaking here; it could be the Lord, or Jeremiah, or even the people themselves.  Regardless, the wholesale destruction of the land is in view here.  Both the Lord and His prophet were touched with what was happening to the hapless population.  Verse 22 describes them as foolish dullards.  Why were they dull?  Their dullness was caused by their stubborn refusal to pay attention to the Word of the Lord.  God’s people had become so estranged from Him, that all they could do well was wrong!  They had “no talent” for doing what was right.

The truly wise person is one who is in fellowship with God.  That relationship strengthens his sensibilities; it helps him maintain the proper perspective of the people around him and of the events going on in his world.  Without the moral compass provided by the Lord, nobody, no matter how educated or worldly wise he may be, will in the end play the fool; one who majors in evil and minors in good.

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