Salt Losing its Saltines (Salt has Lost its Savor)

Salt Losing its Saltiness
Robert Wurtz II

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13 KJV)

Everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another. (Mark 9:49–50 NKJV)

In Lev. 2:13 God commanded that all grain (meat in KJV) offerings be sprinkled with salt before offering them. This example and many others along different lines illustrate the importance of salt for daily life, worship, and its use as a symbol in covenant relationships. “The salt referred to in verse Mark 9:50 is probably the humility and dedication that is reinforced by trial and testing. If the believer loses this salt he or she is not easily renewed (v. 50a), but by maintaining this salt, Jesus’ followers can more easily be at peace with one another (v. 50b). The simple purity of dedication to Jesus that does not seek its own advantage enables one to be a servant to fellow disciples, and thus promotes peace.” (Larry W. Hurtado, Mark, New International bible Commentary 18 vols.; Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989, 156.)

Jesus told the disciples, Ye are the salt of the earth […]” In other words, God designed His people to be living expressions of right relationships before this present evil world. In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we have love for one another, we will be pure examples of how relationships are supposed to work–examples of how God intended human beings to treat one another. If we don’t we have become good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matthew 5:13b). 

It is interesting to note that in Revelation 2 the Ephesisians “left” their first love; but in Matthew 5 we are warned of “losing” our saltiness. The rabbis used salt as a symbol of wisdom; hence, the Greek word for “lost its saltiness” actually means to become foolish, insipid, or dull. The renowned late Greek scholar Marvin Vincent said the word means to play the fool. Our Lord refers here to the familiar fact of salt losing its pungency and becoming useless. Dr. Thompson (“The Land and the Book”) cites the following case: “A merchant of Sidon, having farmed of the government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over a great quantity from the marshes of Cyprus — enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for many years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the government out of some small percentage of duty. Sixty-five houses were rented and filled with salt. Such houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground was in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the road to be trodden under foot of men and beasts. It was ‘good for nothing.’ (Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament)

Foolishness, ambition, and greed, are merely three things that can cause salt to lose its savour. In a figure, these are the very things that destroy Christians ability to fulfill God’s design for His people to be living expressions of right relationships before this present evil world. When we behave like the world, treat people as would an unbeliever, conduct our business like greedy–insensitive sinners, we become worse than the world. Why? Because the world needs to see the thing God designed, but their expectations are dashed. 

I sometimes think of passages like Matthew 5:13 and losing our savour and becoming good for nothing. Others stinging verses like 1 Cor. 5:1 where the Corinthian fornicators were doing things that sinners don’t even do. Then there is 1 Tim. 5:8 where Christians who refuse to properly love their needy family members by meeting their needs have denied the faith and are worse than infidels. Or the Ephesian church whose fiery love had almost gone out–to the point that Jesus was near to removing their dark and dying lamp stand. Why not? Who needs a darkened lamp stand to stumble over in an already darkened world? Perhaps Laodicea is the worst. Jesus said to them, Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of my mouth.(Revelation 3:16 YNG) How much worse can it get that backslidden believers would be likened to spittle or vomit? 

These are the things that happen when believers play the fool. They stop behaving like Christians ought and become a law unto themselves–operating by their own rules. What diabolical influence would give a group of Christians the notion that they can behave and do things that are worse than the world? It is shameful. Jesus warned over and over about the importance of loving every one and treating people the way we would want to be treated. This is how relationships are supposed to work. There is hardly a week goes by that I don’t have to answer a report for how rude a so-called Christian is acting in public to people who work in the public. Pick up the salt shaker at their favorite eating spot, act out, and wist not that they have lost their savour. It’s a disgrace. What happens to them? Jesus asked, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” 



Imagine being trodden under foot and then saying to yourself, “this is God’s will for me!” But it’s exactly what happens. People lose their savour–begin treating people worse than they could expect from sinners, and then when they lose friendships, relationships, congregational members, et. al. they blame the Devil or even God. This is why it is essential to understand that the word “lost its savor” literally means “to play the fool.” 

Nabal (a man whose name means “fool”) is a case study on “playing the fool.” He was an irrational alcoholic who was nearly killed by David and his mighty men for his folly. Nabal’s servant’s perspective is insightful, “For evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he (Nabal) is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.” (1 Samuel 25:17 KJV) This is a prime key to playing the fool; you won’t listen to people who have sense. Nabal’s wife took it a step more when she rode out to meet David to beg for mercy; Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! (1 Samuel 25:25 NKJV)

In other words David was being asked to do what everyone around Nabal does, “overlook him.” This is how he has lived to the age he has because so many people in his life took his meanness, tolerated his rudeness and irrationality–overlooking it for one reason or another. Now, his wife Abigail is begging David, the man of God, to overlook him once more. David did overlook him, but God did not. We read, “But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died. And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head.” (1 Samuel 25:37–39 KJV)

Men may overlook it; Christians may overlook it; family members may overlook it and make excuses for it; but God does not. Eventually the salt that loses its savour will be trod under foot (as salt), removed like a cold dark lamp stand, or spit out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus. As surely as God dealt with Nabal, he will deal with the ones that people continually have to overlook because of their folly — especially those who name the name of Christ.   

  

A Worthless Mind

A Worthless Mind
Robert Wurtz II

Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him. (1 Samuel 25:17 NASB)

I have chosen this insightful text to introduce an important incident that took place just prior to David becoming king of Israel. It is relevant to our times because it is a picture of the mentality many people are moving in today. The story deals with a man whose behavior was so evil that he was called Nabal, the Hebrew word for fool.  

Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was of good understanding and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite). (1 Samuel 25:3 NASB)

You will notice that he is contrasted with his wife who was of good understanding and beautiful in appearance. Nabal was a very rich sheep-master on the confines of Judea and the desert. His ranch was on the southern Carmel, in the pasture lands of Maon. It was the custom of the shepherds to drive the sheep into the wild downs on the slopes of Carmel. While on one of these “pastoral excursions” they encountered David and his mighty men who protected them day and night. Nevertheless they did not take or receive anything from the shepherds in return for their services. (1 Samuel 25:7, 15, 18) 

Please Help Us

When David heard in the desert (cf. v. 1) that Nabal was shearing his sheep (which was generally accompanied with a festal meal), he sent ten young men up to Carmel to him. He told them to wish Nabal peace and prosperity in David’s name, and having reminded him of the friendly services rendered to his shepherds, ask for a gift of food for himself and his men. (see Keil and Delitzsch) Though exceedingly rich, he refused to share anything with David and his men– who had risked life and limb protecting his shepherds and flock. We read, Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” (1 Samuel 25:11 NKJV) This response shows the level of madness this man was moving in. In order to justify his own covetousness, he posited David as a vagrant slave who had run away from his master! 



Nabal totally dismissed what he had been told about David’s kind protection of his sheep and shepherds. The information went in one ear and out the other so fast that it’s as if his mind was made up before the conversation began. Why? Because he was making all of his thoughts serve covetousness. The man had money on the brain. Everything is being spun to serve mammon. Was it reasonable? No, but that didn’t matter to Nabal. His twisted mind refused to see the wisdom of giving David and his men some basic food rations for their services. He was not asking for the farm; he just wanted something to eat and to get by on. 

A Warped Mind

This is an example of what theologians call “the noetic effects of sin.” Sin turns a decent mind into an utterly obstinate and irrational one. Nabal was covetous and therefore an idolater (Colossians 3:5). This was just one of the obvious sins that corrupted his thinking processes. Think about it. Would it not be common sense to give David and his men some “gift” for the services rendered? Nevertheless, this man could not see the sense of it. We can be reasonably certain that if it was Nabal in David’s place he would expect compensation; but this is how the mind corrupts itself into treating others in ways they would not want or accept being treated. 

A good rule of thumb is that if you would not do it, don’t expect someone else to. Nabal wanted something for nothing, but he certainly would want to be paid. In fact, he got angry and acted out because they asked! This is sin making its effect on the reasoning.

Deadly Repercussions

When word gets back to David, he is furious, and rightfully so. And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff. (1 Samuel 25:13) Things are about to go bad for Nabal. David could slay this man and his whole house as if it were a light thing. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident. (Proverbs 14:16) Nabal went running headlong into mortal danger. A wise man would have had the good sense to know that David and his men deserved “something” — especially in light of how nicely they asked for it. Had David and his men been a band of thugs they would have just taken what they wanted and defied anyone to say something. Nevertheless, Nabal’s foolish heart was darkened to this fact.

A wise man would have been careful, thoughtful, self-mistrusting and reserved; a disposition which flows from the reverential awe of God (fear of the Lord). The fool, on the contrary, is self-confident, regardless and secure. While a wise man will avoid evil and carefully goes out of its way, the fool has no sense of the situation he or she is in. Death was at the door and he just kept being himself. 

Utterly Irrational 

Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him. (1 Samuel 25:17 NASB)

Talking to a person like Nabal is like talking to the wall. They simply cannot reason about moral and spiritual issues and will even act out so that no one can speak to them. This is the carnal mind at full enmity with God. But why? We have a few clues from the Psalmist, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psalm 14:1 KJV) Here is our word Nabal again, only it is translated as fool in English. 

The word for fool in Hebrew comes from a root nabel and it means “to wilt.” We have this word used in the negative sense concerning those that delight in the law of the Lord. 

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3) 

Here wither is nebal. The Law is the revelation of God; that is to say, it is light. It is reduced to the two great commandments. Those who walk in the light as He is in the light will not wither. If we love God as He has commanded and our neighbor as ourselves; that is, if we will simply walk in the revelation of truth that God has provided us and delight in His word we will not wither. We would never behave like Nabal behaved towards David. Moreover, the word “wither” implies that the withering ones were once healthy.

Wilting Minds

Wilting in plants can be caused by either lack of water or sunlight. If this condition progresses, wilting becomes withering. Plants typically need water and light to maintain water pressure internally. When the pressure drops, wilting occurs. This is explained on a spiritual level in Romans 1:22, professing themselves to be wise they became fools. They became vain (emataiōthēsan) in their imaginations, etc. The word “became” implies that this was not the person’s original state. It took place through a process. As the old Greek proverb goes, “Empty persons think about empty things.”

Evil For Good

Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath repaid me evil for good. (1 Samuel 25:21)

Let us observe another facet of the mentality of a fool; they reward evil for good. Such dastardly behavior ought to smite the conscience, but not Nabal. His mind had been darkened until he could not make the most obvious moral judgment in providing for David and his men’s needs. Nabal refused to acknowledge that David had done good towards him. This is what a fool does. That is to say, they will not acknowledge the goodness of God, as coming from God, so as to acknowledge Him and repent. It is the goodness of God that leads men and women to repentance. If this goodness can be attributed to something other than God, then the person can pretend they don’t have to acknowledge. The problem for those that are bent on denial of God is that a day of reckoning is coming.   

A Closer Look 

Sin impairs the moral judgment by three things: 

1. His/her own personal sin and refusal to walk in known truth (Hebrews 5:12-14). 

2. The devil that blinds their minds (2 Cor. 4:4) 

3. God that sends strong delusion to those that have pleasure in sin. (2 Cor. 3:14, Romans 11:7, John 12:40, Matthew 13:11-15) 

When a person is moving in these three things, their judgment is totally out of calibration. They are self-deceived, and invite more deception. This is how Nabal can reward evil for good as if it was normal behavior. Everyone around him is in distress; David is nearly in a rage over his behavior; nevertheless, Nabal looks on as if it’s another day in paradise. Sin had pickled his mind. What a fearful thought! 

When God Chooses the Delusion

We read in Isaiah, Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. (Isaiah 66:3b, 4) He continued in sin; Satan blinded him; and now God has come to serve judgment in choosing the delusion. The mind bent on sin and rebellion simply cannot see the truth no matter how much evidence is brought forward. The understanding is impaired. This ought to alarm us so that we are ever careful to make sure we follow the light of truth. We must hear His voice and hearken unto Him when He calls. 

Understand that the problem is progressive. It can subtly take over the mind. However, Nabal’s wife Abagail went to David and brought a large gift and pleaded with him to have mercy on the “scoundrel” (as she called him 1 Samuel 25:17). Though he had not the good sense to see the danger he was in, his wife interceded with the “soon to be king” for him. David spared Nabal for her sake. He received a short-lived reprieve. 

The Finality of the Fool

So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. (1 Samuel 25:37) 

Nabal was not only drunk with wine, but he was staggered in the strong drink of sins’ intoxication. Somehow in the morning he sobered up. Once he realized that he narrowly escaped death for himself and his whole house, his heart died. What a terrible way to go. Perhaps Matthew Henry summed up his life best when he wrote; “His heart overnight merry with wine, next morning heavy as a stone; so deceitful are carnal pleasures, so soon passes the laughter of the fool; the end of that mirth is heaviness. Drunkards are sad, when they reflect upon their own folly. About ten days after, the Lord smote Nabal, that he died. David blessed God that he had been kept from killing Nabal. Worldly sorrow, mortified pride, and an affrighted conscience, sometimes end the joys of the sensualist, and separate the covetous man from his wealth; but, whatever the weapon, the Lord smites men with death when it pleases him.”

Who Exactly is a Fool?

Who Exactly is a Fool? 
Robert Wurtz II

“Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.” (1 Samuel 25:17 NASB)
I wish to examine a carefully placed account of a man that the Bible defines as ‘a fool.’ I have chosen this text in 1 Samuel 25:17 to introduce an incident that took place just prior to David becoming king of Israel. It happens that David was traveling with about six-hundred mighty men that had been keeping a certain part of the country secure, including the flocks and shepherds of Nabal. Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was of good understanding and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite (1 Samuel 25:3 NASB)

Nabal is the Hebrew word for fool. You will notice that he is contrasted with his wife that was of good understanding and beautiful in appearance. Nabal was a very rich sheepmaster on the confines of Judea and the desert. His ranch was on the southern Carmel, in the pasture lands of Maon. It was the custom of the shepherds to drive the sheep into the wild downs on the slopes of Carmel; and it was while they were on one of these ‘pastoral excursions’ that they met a David and his mighty men, who showed them unexpected kindness, protecting them by day and night, and never themselves taking anything from them. (1 Samuel 25:7, 15, 18) 

A Love Gift? 

When David heard in the desert (cf. v. 1) that Nabal was shearing his sheep, which was generally accompanied with a festal meal (see at Gen. 38:12), he sent ten young men up to Carmel to him, and bade them wish him peace and prosperity in his name, and having reminded him of the friendly services rendered to his shepherds, solicit a present for himself and his people. (Keil and Delitzsch) Obviously Nabal was a very greedy man, though exceedingly rich, he refused to share anything with David. We read, Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” (1 Samuel 25:11 NKJV) This response show the level of madness this man was moving in. In order to justify his own covetousness, he posited David as a vagrant slave who had run away from his master! He had totally ignored what he had been told about David’s protection of his sheep and shepherds. His twisted mind could not see the wisdom of giving David and his men some basic rations for their services. This is yet another example of the noetic effects of sin. He was covetous, therefore an idolator (Colossians 3:5). This was one of the sins that corrupted his thinking processes. Think about it. It would be common sense to give David and his men some gift for the services rendered; but this man could not see the sense of it. He got angry and acted out even for them asking! This is pure unmitigated madness. 

Saddle Up Boys!

When word gets back to David he is furious, and rightfully so. And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff. (1 Samuel 25:13) Good times are about to go bad for Nabal. David could slay this man and his whole house as if it were a light thing. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident. (Proverbs 14:16) Nabal went running headlong into mortal danger. A wise man would have had the good sense to know David deserved something, especially in light of how nicely he asked for it. Had he been a common thug he would have just taken what he wanted and defied anyone to say something. Moreover, a wise man would have been careful, thoughtful, self-mistrusting and reserved; a disposition which flows from the reverential awe of God (fear of the Lord). The fool, on the contrary, is self-confident, regardless and secure. While a wise man will avoid evil and carefully goes out of its way, the fool has no sense of the situation he/she is in. 

The Wilted Mind

“Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.” (1 Samuel 25:17 NASB)

Talking to a fool is like talking to the wall, but why? They cannot reason rightly about moral and spiritual issues and will even act out so that no one can speak to him. But why? We have a few clues from the Psalmist, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psalm 14:1 KJV) Here is our word Nabal again, only it is translated as fool. The word in Hebrew comes from a root nabel and it means ‘to wilt.’ We have this word used concerning those that delight in the law of the Lord, And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3) Here wither is nebal. The law is the revelation of God; that is to say, it is light. Those that walk in the light as He is in the light will not wither. This implies that what withers was once healthy. Wilting in plants can be caused by either lack of water or sunlight. If this condition progresses wilting becomes withering. This is explained on a spiritual level in Romans 1:22, professing themselves to be wise they became foolsBecame vain (emataiōthēsan). Ingressive first aorist passive indicative of mataioō from mataios (empty). Empty reasonings as often today. Became fools (emōranthēsan). Ingressive first aorist passive of mōrainō, to be a fool, old word from mōros, a fool. (This means he had entered into a state of being a fool). An oxymoron or sharp saying, true and one that cuts to the bone. (Robertson)
Evil for Good

Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath repaid me evil for good. (1 Samuel 25:21)

 Let us observe the mentality of a fool, they reward evil for good. Such dastardly behavior ought to smite the conscience, but not Nabal. His mind had been darkened until he could not make even the most obvious moral judgment. What caused it? Obviously he was not born a fool. The word Nabal implies wilting from a state of health. This is the pattern for the Noetic effect of sin. Sin has a direct effect on a persons moral reasoning. However, Nabal’s wife Abagail went to David and brought a large gift and pleaded with him to have mercy on the ‘scoundrel’ (as she called him 1 Samuel 25:17). Though he had not the good sense to see the danger he was in, his wife interceded with the soon to be king for him. David spared Nabal for her sake. 


The Finality of the Fool

But that was not all. So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. (1 Samuel 25:37) Nabal was not only drunk, but he was in a state of moral intoxication. But somehow in the morning he sobered up in both cases. Once he realized that he narrowly escaped death for himself and his whole house, his heart died. Matthew Henry comments, His heart overnight merry with wine, next morning heavy as a stone; so deceitful are carnal pleasures, so soon passes the laughter of the fool; the end of that mirth is heaviness. Drunkards are sad, when they reflect upon their own folly. About ten days after, the Lord smote Nabal, that he died. David blessed God that he had been kept from killing Nabal. Worldly sorrow, mortified pride, and an affrighted conscience, sometimes end the joys of the sensualist, and separate the covetous man from his wealth; but, whatever the weapon, the Lord smites men with death when it pleases him. 





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