I was reading this story in the ESV, and there’s a turn of phrase that quite’s different in it from the other translations.
In verses 26, 31, and 33, most translations have David and Abigail talking about how it would be wrong for David to avenge himself.
But the ESV, as usual, is more literal here (although you also see it in the footnotes of the NASB). In the ESV, they translate it “saving with your own hand,” “working salvation himself,” and “working salvation with my own hand.”
The NET Bible puts it, “Taking matters into one’s own hands.”
It’s pretty clear why most Bibles translate it “avenge.” Because that’s basically what it means in the context.
Often times we are hurt, and in our anger, we feel the need to take things into our own hands in order to deal with the situation.
But as I looked at the ESV, it just widened my view on the application these verses have to our own lives.
How often do we feel the need to take things into our own hands to save ourselves from whatever trouble we are in?
It might be in business. It might be a family situation. It might be our personal finances. Whatever situation it might be, we are in a crisis, and we think, “I’ve got to do something NOW!”
But unfortunately, so often in those times, our judgment can get clouded. We fail to seek God. The thought to seek him never even crosses our mind. And as a result, we make terrible mistakes that compound the situation.
So often in David’s life, we see him seeking the Lord. “God what should I do? Where should I go?”
But in the midst of this situation with Nabal, the idea of seeking God never even passes through David’s mind. All he can think of is revenge. And because of it, he almost made a terrible mistake. Mistake is not even the right word for it. He would have committed a horrible sin.
The same can happen to us if we get swept away by our circumstances or the crises we find ourselves in. And when we look back, we suffer “grief or pangs of conscience” for what we did in trying to work salvation for ourselves.
So as we turned to God for the salvation of our souls, relying upon him and his grace to save us from our sins, let us turn to him when we face the different situations and crises we face in life. If we do, we’ll find that the same God who saved us before by his grace, will save us again by that same grace. And we’ll suffer none of the grief or pangs of conscience that come with trying to work out our own salvation.