Monday, June 4, 2012

The Spirit of Offense

A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on 1 Samuel 25.

Verse 2 - A man in Maon had a business in Carmel; he was a very rich man with 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats and was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
·       Mount Carmel is located near the Mediterranean coast of Israel, overlooking the city of Haifa.
·       The word “Carmel” can be translated as vineyard, orchard or park. The region lives up to that name and the view of Haifa and the surrounding region from Mount Carmel is quite beautiful.
·       A picture from Mount Carmel that Kay took on our trip to Israel in 2010.

·       There was a wealthy businessman in the area.
·       Notice that his wealth was counted in the number of sheep and goats that he had. This was a common way to value wealth in that time period.
·       Each year they would shear the sheep and sell the wool.
·       It was a time for great celebration and often the sheep owners would throw elaborate parties to celebrate their good fortune for the year.

Verse 3 - The man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name, Abigail. The woman was intelligent and beautiful, but the man, a Calebite, was harsh and evil in his dealings.
·       The wealthy businessman’s name was Nabal.
·       The word Nabal means foolish or wicked.
·       This particular man surely lived up to his name because he is described as being harsh and evil.
·       Though we cannot know for sure why Nabal was harsh and evil, we can assume that something happened in his life to make him that way.
·       Though we may not know exactly why he was so mean, we do know of many reasons that he had to be happy.
·       He was not just rich, he was VERY rich. That should have made him happy. But it did not.
·       He was married to a woman who was both intelligent and beautiful. That should have made him happy. But it did not.
·       He lived in a lovely part of Israel with amazing views and fertile soil. That should have made him happy. But it did not.
·       He had enjoyed the protection of David and his followers, even though he had not had to pay for that protection. That should have made him happy. But it did not.
·       He was one of God’s chosen people, especially blessed by the Father in many ways. This should have made him happy. But it did not.
·       He was even from a prestigious family, the line of Caleb.
·       Caleb was one of the 12 scouts that Moses had sent into the land of Canaan when the Israelites escaped from generations of slavery in Egypt.
·       Caleb was well known among the Israelites as a faithful follower of the Lord.
·       Caleb was given Mount Hebron as a reward for His commitment to the Lord and the nation.
·       However, as the generations passed, the fame of Caleb’s family began to wane.
·       Though historical records are sparse, it appears that as time went by the Calebites were pushed from their mountain and lost much of their previous prestige and honor.
·       Caleb’s family did not deserve such treatment.
·       Perhaps that is what made Nabal so harsh and mean.
·       We will never know what, but something had happened that had deeply offended Nabal.
·       Whatever it was, instead of facing the pain, dealing with its ramifications learning forgiveness and moving on with life, Nabal internalized the offense and developed the spirit of offense.
·       Once Nabal had given in to the spirit of offense, then EVERYTHING in his life offended him.
·       Though he had a great family heritage, a lot of money, an amazing wife, free protection from robbers by David and a great spiritual foundation, Nabal overlooked all these positive things and remained focused on whatever had offended him.
·       This focus on the offense of the past poisoned Nabal’s entire life and all his relationships.
·       It robbed him of the joy and happiness that he should have felt in what was obviously a blessed life.
·       Some may argue that it was his life and he had the right to be miserable if he wanted to be.
·       But his behavior was impacting a lot of people around him in very negative ways, and they did not deserve it.
·       Though we may like to think of ourselves as an island unto ourselves that is just not true.
·       We all have a family, friends, neighbors and co-workers that our actions impact.

Verses 4-6 - David . . . heard that Nabal was shearing sheep so David sent 10 young men instructing them, Go up to Carmel, and when you come to Nabal, greet him in my name. Then say this: Long life to you, and peace to you, to your family, and to all that is yours.
·       David was living in the wilderness at the time, hiding from King Saul who was wrongly seeking to kill David.
·       David needed supplies and thought maybe Nabal would give him some since he had protected Nabal’s sheep.
·       David sent young men, who would not have been as intimidating as seasoned warriors, and instructed them to offer a peaceful greeting that was common for the time period.

Verses 7-8 - . . . When your shepherds were with us, we did not harass them, and nothing of theirs was missing the whole time they were in Carmel. Please give whatever you can afford to your servants and to your son David.
·       David’s messengers reminded Nabal how they had protected his workers and his sheep and then asked for whatever food Nabal might be able to spare.
·       One would think that Nabal would be happy to share with David. After all, part of the reason Nabal was rich was because David had helped protect his flocks without pay.

Verse 10 - Nabal asked them, “Who is David? Who is Jesse’s son? Many slaves these days are running away from their masters.
·       Instead of repaying David’s kindness with generosity, Nabal insulted David, his family, and his men.
·       Nabal said they were no importance to him and that they were no better than slaves.

Verses 12-13 - David’s men retraced their steps. When they returned to him, they reported all these words. David said to his men, “All of you, put on your swords!” So David and all his men put on their swords.
·       Though David was a good man, when he heard how harsh Nabal was to his men, David lost his temper.
·       He told his men to get their swords and David planned to find Nabal and kill him.
·       Though it was wrong for David to react this way, we can understand his frustration.
·       David had spent months being nice to a man he barely knew and the only thing he got in return was insults.
·       People with a spirit of offense can even get “nice” people stirred up and as a result, sometimes even “nice” people hurt them, which only compounds their offended spirit.
·       Is it possible that the reason EVERYONE seems upset with us all the time is that we make them that way?

Verses 14, 18 - One of Nabal’s young men informed Abigail, Nabal’s wife . . . Abigail hurried, taking [a lot of food and supplies], and loaded them on donkeys.
·       One of Nabal’s workers realized that David was angry enough to kill Nabal for being mean to David when he should have been nice, so he told Abigail.
·       Abigail quickly gathered up some food and headed out to stop David before it was too late.
·       Friends and family members of people who have a spirit of offense often have to run interference for them and keep them out of trouble.
·       They seldom realize this and even when they do, they do not appreciate it like they should.

Verses 23, 27 - When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off the donkey and fell with her face to the ground in front of David. Accept this gift your servant has brought to my lord, and let it be given to the young men who follow my lord.
·       Abigail not only has to gather the gift and take it to David because her husband was too mean to do it, but then she has to humiliate herself by kneeling on the ground and begging for David to accept the food instead of going to kill her husband.
·       Family and friends of people with a spirit of offense are often embarrassed by the stupidity of their actions and often are humiliated in their efforts to keep the peace and make things right.

Verses 32, 34 - Then David said to Abigail, “Praise to the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Otherwise . . . if you had not come quickly to meet me, Nabal wouldn’t have had any men left alive by morning light.”
·       David is thankful that Abigail came and stopped him from doing wrong.
·       David realizes that two wrongs do not make a right and he decides not to go fight Nabal.
·       What is interesting in David’s reaction is that he could have developed a spirit of offense as well.
·       Remember, David’s life had not exactly been perfect either.
·       David’s older brothers often made fun of him when he was a kid.
·       King Saul was jealous of David and seeking to wrongfully kill him.
·       David was living in the wilderness protecting other people’s sheep and not getting paid for it.
·       If anyone had a right to be offended, it was David.
·       David had learned how to deal with offenses. He had learned how to forgive. He refused to allow a spirit of offense to take root in his heart.
·       We ALL have issues. What differs between people who bitter and those who are not is HOW we choose to handle our issues.

Verse 37 - In the morning when Nabal sobered up, his wife told him about these events. Then he had a seizure and became paralyzed.
·       The next day when Abigail told Nabal about the disaster that his mean spirit had almost caused, it bothered Nabal so much that he had a seizure.
·       The seizure paralyzed him and ten days later he died from it.
·       When we allow a spirit of offense to take root in us, it will grow into a massive tangle of vines until it chokes the life out of us.
·       It will choke us emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and often, even physically.
·       An offense is not worth holding on to!!!!

Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond is a psychologist from San Francisco who maintains a website on the psychology of forgiveness. He says:
ANYONE who has ever been victimized—and that includes survivors of crime, accidents, childhood abuse, political imprisonment, warfare, and so on—must decide whether or not to forgive the perpetrator. There can be no middle ground to this decision: either you decide to forgive the person who hurt you or you hold on to bitterness and anger.

I found a blog kept by a mother who was angry at her ex-husband because he had abused her and her children. She said she knew she was supposed to forgive but just could not. She said this:
It's been a bad few weeks, and my emotional state has landed me on probation at work and losing hours. So now I am going to have to see if I can get on disability to try to iron out the depression that has reared its ugly head again and my life is still a shambles even after 5 years.

Many of us have been deeply offended by something in our past. That offense was real and should not be taken lightly. But at some point, we must learn to forgive and move beyond the offense. Otherwise, a spirit of offense will take root in our lives and it will eventually poison every aspect of life. Like Nabal, we can have money, family, spiritual connections, and even people behind the scenes helping us out without us knowing it, and none of it will bring us peace. We must get rid of the spirit of offense in order to have a happy life.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:


  1. This sermon was for me! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I wish you could come preach that sermon in our church. Beleive me, a lot of our people need to hear it!

  3. That was one of the best sermons I've ever heard. And when you asked people to write the initials of a person who offended them on a card and then bring the card to the altar and tear it up as a sign of them letting the offense go, WOW, I just could not believe all the people who came up, must have been at least 50 or more, they just kept coming. Made me weep.

  4. speaking of spirit of offense good sermon on Sunday. Needed that.

  5. Jeremy, Bobby, and the other three commenters,
    thanks for your input. glad the sermon was a blessing. feel free to share the link with others. so many people need to let the junk from the past go.

  6. Hershel StricklandJune 5, 2012 at 3:21 AM

    Very good sermon. ARe you preaching it at our place Sunday when you bring your son over to give his testimony about missions?

  7. Great stuff I'm going to try to make it in to a story sermon. Thanks.

  8. Hershel,
    If you invite me to preach it, I'll be glad to share it with your congregation.

    Thanks Jamie, Julie and Krystine for your kind comments.


  9. Brother Royce,
    If it inspires someone to get rid of the offense so they can be closer to the Lord, then turn this into whatever kind of sermon you want to. God bless.


  10. Nancy Ann BrooksJune 5, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Hi Pastor Terry

    That was an eye opener and very helpful - thank you for sharing

  11. Wow, Terry. This is really good. Can I plagiarize it?

  12. Yes people are going to be offended... the cross was offensive, it was designed to humiliate while killing in a horrible way. We have become so socially conscience of trying not to offend people that we can't to the job we are commission by God to do make disciples of men. Churches are watering down the truth to not offend is wrong, what happen to the higher calling of honor God and His plan. I feel that Jesus offended more than a few people with is ministry, it is the way to truth and our world no matter the time will try to hid the truth with taking offense. I don't know how many times I have been offended by people in this world but you don't see me yelling about it, I pray and talk it out with them. I work in a public environment it is easy to be offended by the language and conversations around. I teach young elementary students, you would believe how offensive they and their parents can be, it is hard to break the students of some of these offensive statement and behaviors their parents have taught them.

  13. Hi Terry,
    I wanted to tell you what a great message Sunday was, Wow! I agree on how blessed we are to live where we do too!
    I also find myself during the service being so thank full for all God has done for me and sometimes wonder why me, especially when lots of people pray about there hard ships, some times I feel spoiled.

    Years ago I heard someone say troubles are the tools that God prepairs us for better things. Knowing that and the fact that he will never give you more than you can handle... it's a great feeling.

    Joel Olsteen's message on TBN Sunday Morning was so similar to yours, his story was different, but the message of letting stuff go was the same. He also said God did not intend for us to live in dome in gloom and that if you hang on to junk you will be missing out on Gods favor. If you can watch the 8:30am showing it was a good one.

    Thanks again, Sunday reminded me that I need to work harder on focusing on the good and not the negative.

  14. Thanks Ralph, Joy and Gregg,
    Your words are an encouragment.

  15. John and Janet BrumbyJune 6, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Well they were offended at Jesus Christ, actually it can be a clear sign that the message is getting through. I think I remember one preacher from the past who said something like this. If you preach and nobody gets offended, then you did not preach right.

  16. Oh yes I totally agree and that is what Paul said they became offended. People will always get offended when they can't handle the truth. Jesus spoke truth and the people couldn't understand Him and they became offended. One of the things I have learned and that is I can't be overly concern about someone being offended I must say what God's word says because His word is truth and if I get concerned about who was offended then you become more of a people pleaser then pleasing God...


  18. People are offended when they are not living up to the message. No one wants to hear that they are out of sync with God. This is a stiffnecked, spoiled nation full of whiners and complainers. Maybe they ought to take a trip to some places in Nigeria where Christians are dying because of sharing Jesus with the unbeliever. Maybe then, they would'nt get offended and gripe so much about the church messangers here!

  19. I remember a story of an old saint discipling young men to preach (before women were welcomed to the pulpit). When they returned after preaching on Sunday he asked them if the people got saved. "No sir, they did not," was the response. "Well," he said, "did they get angry." " No sir," the young men said. "Then," the old saint ventured, "You better take off your preaching frocks, You aren't called to preach."

  20. John and Janet BrumbyJune 7, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    Lawence, maybe he got it wrong the last speaker was offended because nothing happened.

  21. Rev. Joseph Samo Kolleh, Jr.June 11, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    i love this.

  22. Anger can be both a work of the flesh and the Devil or both. Sometimes its justified but can be sin if its prolonged that is if the sun goes down on this anger. Solution is to walk in the Spirit so that you dont fulfill the works of the flesh. This will lead to self control. Do also please check out my book spiritual laws. Can be got on

  23. A wise pastor once told me that if a person has a feeling to be hurt, you better believe the devil will find a way to hurt it. I think of what the Scripture says, "Man's anger does not bring about the righteousness life that God desires" (James 1:20).

    As the church, we must be willing to strive to live at peace with everyone as we share the gospel. Forgiveness, mercy, grace--these are not just spiritual words that we bandy about within the Sunday school class. These must be the expression of the men and women of God in the church.

    The overriding quality of Christianity is the love of Christ expressed.

    Thank you for sharing this! God bless.

  24. Apostle Prophet D.D HavenJune 16, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    Dr Terry lets speak this Hebrews 5:13-14 the maturity in the Leaders are not there anymore the church leaders are not teaching meat to the flock many pastors hurting the flock Elder boards are controlling pastors to say how far to go with the sheep pastors should be under Apostles and Prophets pastors should be in God's Word and not psychology in the church Isaiah 11:2 eph 4:11-13 too many church members are on antidepressants that do damage to the body we speak of the spirit and body but the soul is not minister to in the right

  25. Wow, great explanation. Very helpful.