The Bad-Tempered Man
1 Samuel 25:17
Now therefore know and consider what you will do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household…

In this chapter you find a perfect picture of a choleric, bad-tempered man. There is a saying "that the worst temper in the house always rules," and often it is so. I have seen father and mother weakly yielding to some boorish, ill-tempered child. You have met the workman who was feared by all his fellows because he was a churl, a sullen, violent-tempered man, a modern Nabal, which means a fool. What a picture of home life is drawn for us here in this chapter. In the foreground is Nabal, the grumpy, sullen, beetle-browed, coarse-tongued, drunken husband — the prototype of hundreds of husbands of today, Who rule in their own little world with all the despotism of a Nero, and who only need a larger platform and greater power to show us how inhuman, how cruel, and how like the devil men can become. That is Nabal in low life, but you find Nabal in high life, in political life, ay! and in church life too. And then there is Abigail, Nabal's wife, in the picture, and she is its redeeming feature. She is as tactful as she is beautiful, and she knew her husband's moods well, and she is always particularly gracious when the wind is in the east, and Nabal is most out of temper. "He's gey bad to live with," was the testimony of Carlyle's mother, and the reading of some of the letters his wife wrote are nothing less than heart breaking. "If he would only be satisfied," she said, "but I have learned that when he does not find fault he is pleased, and that has to content me." Such a wife as Abigail is a crown to her husband; a daily blessing from God; but Nabal had the dark spirit within him, and never saw her worth. There are men who will go through a rose garden and never smell its sweet fragrance. Graciousness, and sweetness, and gentleness are wasted on such natures as Nabal's, but let those who have to deal with these churls remember that it is always worth while to practise these virtues, if only for their own sake. Abigail did not let Nabal destroy her good temper, although her married life was little better than a martyrdom. "The mind," Milton tells us, "is its own place, and it can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven," and Abigail, denied the love of her husband, won the love and respect of the servants, and was a shelter in the time of storm to them. "Nabal," says Dr. Whyte, "died of a strange disease, indebtedness to his wife." He could not brook the thought that he owed his life to the good sense of his wife and to the forbearance of David; it was wormwood and gall, and it poisoned him, and he died of a heart frozen by his own wickedness. Have there not been times when our bad temper has ruled, and we have forgotten to be either just or generous? Nabal died of a frozen heart, but he has had a resurrection in many a life. Boorishness and churlishness were not buried in Nabal's grave. "Temper," says Bishop Watson, "is nine-tenths of religion." "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," pleads the Apostle. It is the Christ mind that is the great thing, not simply doing the right thing, but doing it in the right spirit. Nabal was a rich man, but he never was a gentleman; you could not make a gentleman out of such stuff as constituted Nabal's nature. Have you met him — this loud-voiced, blatant, well-dressed, overfed churl. A quaint old Methodist used to say, "Never judge a man by the size of his house. A very small rabbit may live in a very big hole." "Behaviour," says Emerson, "is the finest of the fine arts. Manners are the garments of the spirit, the eternal clothing of the being." Even religion turns sour with some men, and that which should spell light, brightness, and cheerfulness spells instead sourness, unrighteousness, and exclusiveness. You remember how Robert Falconer's grandmother hid away his fiddle, fearful lest the lad should be tempted by it into worldly things, never dreaming that God melts the heart of some by touching the bow of a fiddle with His own figures, as He speaks to others by the voice of some great preacher. He has many ways of fulfilling Himself. How this churlishness destroys the best in life, and robs it of sweetness. The prodigal came home, and his reception would have been perfect but for the one thing, and that was his brother's churlishness. "Sir," said Dr. Johnson, "a man has no more right to say an uncivil thing than to act one; no more right to say a rude thing to another than to knock him down." Epictetus has left us a great lesson in his famous saying, "If a man is unhappy, remember that his unhappiness is his own fault; for God hath made all men to be happy."

(Samuel Herren.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.

WEB: Now therefore know and consider what you will do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his house; for he is such a worthless fellow that one can't speak to him."

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