Week of June 24
The Right Words
By Skip Heitzig
Sometimes we can be ironic in our use of words. For instance, the word “peacemaker” has been applied to both the huge B-36 bomber of the 1950s and the Colt .45 revolver used by lawmen and the Army in the late 1800s.
Jesus uses the word for something a lot less intimidating. In the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). 1 Samuel 25 gives us a great example of what it means to be a peacemaker.
David is living in the wilderness, keeping his distance from King Saul and protecting the people. He sends his men to ask for provisions from a man named Nabal. Nabal is a rich man, and his name literally means “fool.” That’s a volatile combination! He’s described as “harsh and evil in his doings.” Even his own servants call him a “scoundrel.”
Nabal quickly lives up to his name. He not only refuses the request but insults David, comparing him to a runaway servant. David’s response is to go ballistic. He and his men grab their swords and march out to kill Nabal. So the hard-headed Nabal is about to be destroyed by the hot-headed David.
Here’s where the peacemaker steps into the picture. The wife of the fool Nabal is a woman named Abigail, who is called “a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance.” It seems like opposites do attract! She’s the “rose between two thorns,” and she keeps the two men from coming to bloodshed. She quickly gathers supplies for David and rushes out to meet him.
With soothing words, she takes responsibility for the insult against David, and she cools his hot anger. Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Abigail has the right words, and the right demeanor, and that makes all the difference. David, faced with the sweetness and humility of Abigail, repents of his anger.
Here’s my point about peacemakers. Peacemakers seek solutions to problems rather than arguments. Peacemakers seek to calm the waters rather than stirring them up. And peacemakers work hard for reconciliation rather than retaliation. By seeking to make peace, Abigail not only keeps her husband from being killed, she also keeps David from doing something he would regret.
Peacemakers are courageous, but they’re also humble. They know that “a soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).
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