Photo credit: Pixabay photo gallery (winning)
“Choose your battles!” This is the warning of the wise and experienced to the quick-tempered flame-throwers. There are many reasons to make this choice carefully, the most important of which is that every action has an opposite and equal reaction (says Newton), and biblically, we see this concept in “whatever you sow, you shall also reap”, simply put: actions have consequences. The snap decisions we make to fight back, often do not bode well for our future (near future or years to come). If we could always remember this in those moments, wouldn’t we avoid, ignore or otherwise brush off many of the battles we engage in? When making the choice of whether to engage a fool or follow the advice of the wise, it is always a good time to remind ourselves of our ultimate goals and purpose, that is where we are headed, not just our current positions or the swollen and painful bruise on our ego in that moment.
David had some help with that choice in I Samuel 25 from the “beautiful” and “intelligent” Abigail (1 Samuel 25:3NIV), who was able to put things into perspective for the anointed king of Israel (in training). When Abigail met David, he was armed, (with a sword, not a sling this time), and ready to go to war with a man whose action lived up to the meaning of his name “Godless fool”. Nabal knew how to party like a king, yet all his wealth could not make up for his “surly and mean” demeanor; his speech and actions revealed exactly who he was at heart. He refused to acknowledge David and his accomplishments and he bristled at the notion of showing gratitude to a man who was not of equal standing.
Sure, David was a king on the run without a throne or crown, having only 600 scraggly but loyal followers, but one thing was sure, He had the favor and protection of Yahweh (GOD). David was seriously offended that all his hard work was being thrown in his face and he was about to wipe out the man’s entire lineage in one day. Do not miss the fact that this was no longer the sling-swinging boy who wanted to defend the name of His Father against a belligerent giant (see previous post – Slay This Giant). Some time had passed, he had been through a lot, but he had also earned some legitimacy as a warrior, songs were being chanted about his conquests. So this time, the attack was personal. It was a stinging insult laced with ingratitude and disrespect. David was about to show Nabal why he should never be underestimated and with the sword, defend his pride. In a break from his usual demeanor (1 Samuel 23), he did not ask for or receive permission from his FATHER for what he was about to do.
Then Abigail, Nabal’s wife stepped in as peace maker. In wisdom she reminded David who he was, who he was called to be and what his future held. She pointed out that his actions would have consequences reaching beyond his conscience and into his future as King of a great nation. Essentially she said, you may not yet be on your throne, but even in the wilderness you are still a king, therefore it is not in your best interest to fight with the foolish.
If you have ever been challenged, your worth questioned and devalued, you know pain and shame that provokes you to lash out and defend your position, to prove your worth and remind the cruel just how you made your way here. It is almost reflexive, unless you recognize the inner voice that reminds you, Yahweh (God) vindicates, you could jeopardize your greater goal by responding to the goading of the foolish. Nabal’s slight was not a threat to David’s future, only to his pride. Save your energy for the battles that matter, the ones that could derail your purpose.
The way to your promise may be through the wilderness but even there you are still royal, and must act accordingly. Remember that the battles we choose could have lasting implications for our future position. Therefore when you take on a battle, consider whether it is more important to protect your ego, or lift up His standard by maintaining your integrity. As children of the King, we can be sure that He will defend His own and fight our battles (without us lifting our voices or cutting down another’s character). He exalts the humble! Choose your battles.