"David's young men went and delivered David's message word for word to Nabal. Nabal tore into them, ‘Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I'm going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I've never laid eyes on? Who knows where they've come from?' David's men got out of there and went back and told David what Nabal had said. David said, ‘Strap on your swords!' They all strapped on their swords; David and his men, and set out, four hundred of them."
I Samuel 25: 9-13, The Message
"The Consequence of Over-Reaction"
"The best remedy for anger is a little time for thought."
Is there a time in my life when I over-reacted to a situation and wished afterwards I had waited before I acted or spoke?
"Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself."
The greatly admired cowboy film legend, John Wayne, had a saying, "Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much."
I can tell you there are many times in my own life when I didn't heed this advice and it was always to my detriment. Always! This is why the initial encounter between Nabal and David is one we should not overlook.
Having already established that David was dealing with a curlish, evil man; and recognizing that it was unlikely David's kindness would be rewarded by such a nasty person as Nabal, it would have been wise for David to take a deep breath, talk low and slow and make certain he didn't say too much after hearing about Nabal's response to his request. Believe me, this is a lesson I'm taking away from this incident and it may be a lesson for your life, as well. Frequently, I've found myself over-reacting to a situation when in fact I may not have had all the information I needed to come to a correct conclusion or worse yet, I engaged my tongue before I used by brain.
The consequence to over-reacting is expressed best by the Roman stoic philosopher and statesman Seneca who correctly stated, "Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it." Truer words could not have been spoken in the case of David and Nabal. When David's men returned to camp and told David of Nabal's outburst, instead of advising his army to cool down, hold their tongues, and do a little reflecting on what would be God's way to respond, David shot from the hip. "Strap on your swords," he ordered. Then in order to make a big point, he took 400 men with him. Now that's over-reacting!
This behavior was in direct contradiction to the instruction in Leviticus 19: 18, where God told Moses to instruct his children, "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge…but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord (K.J.V.)." After reading the verses around this text I didn't find God saying that there was an exemption to treating your neighbor kindly if they were a big jerk. In fact, I am reminded that when Jesus was on earth and was being falsely attacked and Peter pulled out his sword, Jesus requested his disciple put it away.
Just think what kind of slaughter could have taken place had there not been an immediate intervention between Nabal and David. While I won't defend Nabal's evil behavior, David's impulsive response was no better. David's act of revenge might have made him feel like, "I'll show that Nabal who is boss," but I wonder what effect forgiveness might have had, too. Taking time to think before speaking, taking time to ask for God's guidance as David had done so many other times, would have given God time to work in David's behalf and on behalf of those who admired him.
This is a thought I have come to reflect on in my own life when I forget to speak slow, speak low, and don't say too much. It's just another heavenly lesson from God's Word that is given to protect us and guard us from falling into trouble. As one person penned, "One thing that improves the longer it is kept is your temper." Let's not over-react like David and strap on the sword but in the words of Thomas Jefferson, "When angry, count to ten before you speak: if very angry, count to a hundred."
"Anger is just one letter short of danger."
"Father, make me quick to listen, but slow to speak, and slow to become angry."
James 1: 19, Good News
"God, Let me put right before interest,
Let me put others before self,
Let me put the things of the spirit
before the things of the body.
Let me put the attainment of
noble ends above the enjoyment
of present pleasures.
Let me put principle above reputation.
Let me put Thee before all else."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
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