Authored by Dan Roselle
“We’re going to get hit!” my wife yelled from across the front seat of our pickup truck.
It was Tuesday, on April 5 of this year, and the memory is still fresh in my mind. When I close my eyes, I can see that moment—the look on my wife’s face as she said this, and then the impact.
My wife and I were driving from Texas to Oklahoma in order to help my elderly mother move to a new house. This trip had been in the works for several months and the first week of April was the only time we could afford to make the trip—squeezing it in between some remodeling projects, filing our tax returns, and taking a much-looked-forward-to vacation. The plan was to complete this visit and return home within three days.
We were on the freeway, only 35 miles from our destination and over 400 miles from home, when a car smashed into the side of our truck. We were taken by complete surprise; we didn’t see this man’s car until a second before the impact. We were in a construction zone traveling at 60 mph, when a 30-year-old man, driving at 80 mph, lost control, skidded one way and then the other, and hit us broadside. Our truck careened off the roadway and almost went directly into the oncoming traffic. Only a few feet before entering the roadway, the truck miraculously turned back into the median, knocking down 12 steel posts. Our tires got entangled in the thick steel cables, which brought us to a stop. The other driver lost control of his vehicle, which flipped a couple of times, landing on the steel post and cable barrier in the middle of the median about 100 feet in front of us.
When our truck came to a stop, my wife and I looked at each other for a moment and then jumped out as quick as we could. We weren’t sure if there was perhaps a gas leak or fire, so we knew we had to exit immediately. Though the truck and our attached utility trailer were a total loss, we were incredibly grateful to be alive. I ran over to the car that had hit us to see the condition of the driver, and thankfully he was fine as well and escaped with only some visible scratches.
Later, when someone who had witnessed the accident described this man’s careless driving to me, I can assure you that I felt a good bit of anger toward this man. Then a few weeks later, after a good deal of phone calls to sort out the insurance and other details about the accident, I again became quite angry toward someone who I felt wasn’t being all that helpful to us and our situation. However, I was aware that my anger toward any particular individual wasn’t going to resolve the situation; in fact, it did nothing to the individuals I was angry with. It was only harming me and bothering those around me, who definitely noticed that I was angry.
My wife and I took some time to pray and discuss the situation, and as we often do, we looked to the Bible for the solution, for guidance, for something that would show us what to do and how to put on “the mind of Christ” in this situation. I didn’t want to be angry, but how could I get over the intense anger I was feeling at someone who was causing me undue and unwarranted inconvenience? From all I could see, I was right. And for those of you who have the experience or habit of going to Jesus with your problems, you know the feeling of relief you experience when you get His answers? We felt that relief almost immediately after we sat down to pray.
Jesus reminded us of His promises in the Scriptures. He also brought to mind Bible stories that could be applied to our situation and which showed me that ultimately my anger was wrong. I want to share with you one story in particular that showed us how, even though the other person may have acted wrongly, or said something mean or unkind, there was no good excuse for me to be angry—and neither would it accomplish anything good. This is the story of King David of old, before he became the official king of Israel. You can find the story in 1 Samuel chapter 25 if you care to read it directly from the Bible. I’m going to put it into my own words so you can get the picture.
The story takes place at a time when David was living on the run with his band of followers because King Saul had sworn to kill him. At this point in time David and his men were camped near a particular wealthy farmer named Nabal. David and his men protected the farmers in the area from robbers and wild animals, so they were generally accepted and appreciated. The shepherds who worked for Nabal apparently had a pretty good connection with David’s men. They even told Nabal and his wife how kind David’s men were and how they protected them and didn’t take any of their flocks for themselves. They said that David’s men were a “wall of protection” both day and night.1
However, at one point, David needed food and supplies for his group of about 600 followers, so he sent some of his men to ask Nabal for a donation of food. Well, Nabal not only refused to help them, but he talked quite rudely about David, who was God’s anointed at the time. Nabal said rather pompously, “Who is David? Who is the 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?”2
As you can imagine, the young men that delivered the message were surprised and upset, and when they told David what Nabal had said, David got angry too. He gathered 400 of his men and told them to strap on their swords, and swore that the following day they would kill Nabal and his household. David regretted having taken such good care of Nabal’s herds and workers. One Bible translation quotes David as saying, “I guarded this man’s stuff in the desert for nothing! Not one of his possessions was missing. Yet, he has paid me back with evil when I was good to him.”3
Have you ever felt that angry at someone, to the point that you just really wanted to get back at them for what they did to you? Well, David, who was a man of God, whom God called a man after his own heart,4 also got angry like that.
Now, in the meantime when David was gathering his troops, some of Nabal’s workers went straight to his wife, Abigail, to tell her what was going on. They told her about David’s men coming to Nabal to ask for food and that Nabal had refused to give anything. They told her how kind David’s men had been to them and how they were protected by them. I find it interesting that the workers, when talking to Abigail about Nabal, their boss and her husband, refer to him as a worthless man, who wouldn’t listen to anyone. They were afraid for their lives not because of Nabal or Abigail, but because they knew that David and his men would probably wipe them out because of how Nabal had treated them. So they pleaded with her to do something.
And Abigail responded quickly. She got her servants to start loading up donkeys with hundreds of loaves of bread, a lot of wine, some sheep, bunches of raisins, bushels of grain, and loads of figs, and told them to head straight for David’s camp. The Bible clearly says that she didn’t tell her husband what she was doing. I imagine she probably had to run interference for Nabal more than once, and that he probably treated many people badly. And she probably knew David and his men well enough to know that what her workers said was true—that they could all lose their lives because of Nabal’s bad treatment of David’s men.
It must’ve been a dramatic scene, like something you’d see in a movie. Abigail is riding a donkey quickly up a mountain path, when all of a sudden she meets up with David and his men angrily marching down the same path. On that ride she must have been thinking about what she was going to do and say, because when she saw David and his men, she didn’t hesitate. She quickly dismounts and runs over and falls down before David and takes the blame. She tells him that all the blame should be on her.
I thought that this was a very interesting point. First of all, Abigail, the wife of a very wealthy man, was a respectable woman. She was not to blame for what her husband had said, and yet she humbled herself and took the blame for his behavior. She obviously was trying to stay calm and to pacify the situation. She referred to her husband as “a man of Belial”—which has also been translated as evil, wicked, and ungodly—then she apologized that she was not around when David’s men came, indicating that she would have gladly helped them. She ends by saying that when David is the king of Israel, surely he wouldn’t want to have the grief of remembering that he killed innocent people out of anger and revenge.
Then it was David’s turn. He thanked God for sending Abigail to stop him and commended her for her good judgment. He accepted her peace offering and told Abigail she could go home in peace because her petition was granted and he would do as she asked. Now remember that David was with 400 of his men, so it took some guts for him to accept this explanation and then to relent of his anger in front of his men.
The rest of the story is quite interesting. If you want to find out what happened to Nabal, Abigail, and David, you can read it in the Bible in 1 Samuel chapter 25, starting at verse 35.
David mentions that getting angry and seeking revenge against Nabal was like taking things into his own hands rather than trusting that God would work things out.5 And that’s often how it is with us when we are angry—we want to set things right in our own way and time, and that’s one of the reasons why there is so much hurt in the world. So much pain and suffering is caused by those who are angry and feel that they have a right to punish someone for wronging them or wronging their loved ones. But when it comes down to it, Jesus taught us something entirely different.
You may remember the story from the gospels, starting at Luke 9:51, where Jesus was headed to Jerusalem and He sent His disciples into a village to find a place for them to stay. But those in the village didn’t welcome the disciples. James and John, who had been walking all day and were tired and hungry, were probably very upset and angry at the village people. They said to Jesus, “Lord, do You want us to call fire down from heaven and destroy those people?” and then comparing it somewhat to the prophet Elijah, they added, “like Elijah did?” Wow! They were angry. That might sound pretty drastic, but have you ever gotten so angry that you wished something bad would happen to those who harmed you or said something unkind to you?
In this story of James and John, Jesus rebuked them and said, “You don’t know of what spirit you are. For the Son of Man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save.”6 He was trying to get the point across that just because things don’t go your way, no matter how great or good your plans or intentions seem to you, and how bad the other person might seem, the right thing to do is to love and not destroy. Jesus preached love, not hate or anger. He didn’t use His power to hurt those who didn’t go along with Him or believe the way He did.
Everything Jesus preached was love. When you really study His teachings, it’s love pure and simple. That was the basis of His good news. And that’s what we have to remember in our day-to-day lives. When we face problems with someone who doesn’t treat us kindly or doesn’t show us respect or does something really mean to us, how should we react? What if someone, through their carelessness, wrecks your car, causing you a lot of inconvenience and pain? What should you do? What should I do?
I remember the words that Jesus said when He was dying on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”7
1 1 Samuel 25:16 NLT.
2 1 Samuel 25:10-11 NIV.
3 1 Samuel 25:21 GWT.
4 1 Samuel 13:14.
5 1 Samuel 25:33.
6 Luke 9:55-56 KJV.
7 Luke 23:34 NIV.
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by Simon W. Copyright © 2011 by The Family International