Thomasville Times Enterprise

November 30, 2013

Generous meal: Pathway of love, honor

Ann Nunnally

— Several weeks before Thanksgiving, I began to poll family members concerning their favorite request for Thanksgiving lunch.

The first response came from my 94-year-old mother-in-law, who wanted chocolate pie. You know the kind that’s really fudge in a pie crust. No Jell-O pudding pie, but the kind her mom used to make in the 1920s.

The second request was from my husband, who always wants cornbread dressing. No stuffing for him.

 The response continued and Thursday was a feast. Everyone enjoyed their favorites and the love and camaraderie flowed. I felt I had created a pathway for love and honor to flow.

I was reminded of the many times in the word of God where a feast was the site of something special. I was reminded of the promised “marriage supper of the Lamb” of the feast parable where a man prepared a feast and invited his friends but they were too busy to come.

And one of my favorites found in Psalms 23:5-6 where David declares, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” NLT

Consider Jesus and His disciples in Luke 22, “When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”

After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people — an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” NLT

There has never been a more generous meal than this one. The love and honor expressed by God the Father through Jesus changed mankind forever. Clearly in the scripture, a generous meal is a pathway of love and honor.

One of my favorite Old Testament stories centers on a generous meal and its power to change the course of circumstances.

It unfolds in 1 Samuel 25 where Samuel, the prophet and spiritual leader of Israel, had died and been buried in his hometown of Ramah. All of Israel attended the funeral.

David, the anointed king who has not yet ascended to the throne, has lost his number one mentor and friend.  He is in the wilderness hiding from King Saul with a band of mighty men numbering about 600.

 David hears of a feast being prepared for the sheep shearers of a rich man named Nabal. He has befriended the shepherds of Nabal’s flocks, 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and has offered protection for them from thieves.

David and his men are hungry.  He sends ten men to Nabal to request an invitation to the sheep shearing feast but Nabal is rude, arrogant and mean in his response to David’s request. David is very angry and takes 400 of his hungry men to destroy all that Nabal has.

Let’s pick up the story in 1 Samuel 25:14-35. NLT  

Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s servants went to Abigail and told her, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he screamed insults at them. These men have been very good to us, and we never suffered any harm from them. Nothing was stolen from us the whole time they were with us. In fact, day and night they were like a wall of protection to us and the sheep. You need to know this and figure out what to do, for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family. He’s so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him!”

Abigail wasted no time. She quickly gathered 200 loaves of bread, two wineskins full of wine, five sheep that had been slaughtered, nearly a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins and 200 fig cakes.

She packed them on donkeys and said to her servants, “Go on ahead. I will follow you shortly.” But she didn’t tell her husband Nabal what she was doing. As she was riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, she saw David and his men coming toward her.

 David had just been saying, “A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good.  May God strike me and kill me if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning!”

When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him.  She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. But I never even saw the young men you sent.

“Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is. And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men.

Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The Lord will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the Lord’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.

“Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling!  When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands.  For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.”  Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”NLT

Abigail’s generous meal had prepared a pathway of love and honor for David and his men.  This holiday season we can prepare a generous meal that will affect the fabric of our life circumstances.  We can express love and honor and stay the swords of anger and revenge. Lord, please grant us Abigail’s wisdom.