There are many forms and types of conflict. Most people think of conflict as fighting of which the most extreme form would be war, but I think the most common type of conflict is intrapersonal conflict or the conflict that goes on inside a person, the battle within yourself. I think intrapersonal conflict is common because people are not satisfied with their lives or perhaps with themselves. One of the signs of intrapersonal conflict is a feeling of despair.
David says in Psalm 120:5, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!” David’s decision to flee from Saul may have been practical from the stand point of avoiding conflict with Saul, but it set in motion a pattern of running that was not consistent with David’s usual behavior and personality. David was a courageous man and his defeat of Goliath was an indicator of his ability on the battle field. The reason David ran from Saul may not have been because he was afraid that Saul would kill him, but because David did not want or feel that he was worthy to be king.
David was the youngest of eight brothers. His primary responsibility was to tend his father’s flock. David was a talented musician and he was very passionate in expressing his feelings and emotions. When he said goodbye to his good friend Jonathon, the two men wept and kissed each other as if they were in love. David’s tender heart does not seem consistent with that of a king.
David’s intrapersonal conflict caused him great distress. In his despair, he often cried out to the LORD and that may have been the real reason why he was chosen to be king. Whereas Saul’s arrogance and self-sufficiency caused him to draw away from God, David’s lack of qualification for the job caused him to draw near to God and to rely on him for every victory. David states in Psalm 120:1, “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.”
The most unpleasant thing about conflict, especially intrapersonal conflict, is that it will torment you until you get it resolved. The battle that rages inside you is the worst kind of battle because it is within you and it is always going on.
When you are in distress, talking to God is a good idea. Otherwise, you might go crazy or do something you will regret. In Psalms 140 – 142, David reveals his inner struggle and tells us how he handled it. In each Psalm, there is personal communication going on. “I said unto the LORD…LORD I cry unto thee…I cried unto the LORD with my voice” (Psalm 140:6, 141:1, 143:1).
David’s process is summarized in Psalm141:2-3, “I poured out my complaint before him; I showed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou kneweth my path.” The word translated path, n‘thîybâh (neth – ee – baw´) means “to tramp; a (beaten) track” (5410). I can imagine David saying to the LORD, okay, we’ve gone over this a hundred times…there is nothing I can do about this…I am going to be killed and that’s all there is to it.
David’s final remark, “bring my soul out of prison” indicates his utter despair over the situation and shows us that he is feeling trapped. In spite of his feelings, David does not give up hope. He concludes by saying, “The righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me” (Psalm 142:7).
Next to intrapersonal conflict, family conflict is probably the most painful and difficult to resolve. The complexity of family conflict is due to the length of time that it can go unresolved, sometimes generations, and the emotions that can be triggered by unconscious behavior as well as feelings such as love and hate that are often too intense to control.
David’s relationship to Boaz, a man of great wealth and compassion, no doubt had a strong bearing on his attitude toward family obligation with regard to the Mosaic law. When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, he thought that Nabal would be willing to share his prosperity with David and his men because they had been protecting his flock while they were camping near it. Instead of rewarding them with some food and water, Nabal insulted David and sent his men away with nothing.
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 to him; and he hath requited me evil for good. So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth agains the wall. (1 Samuel 25:21-22)
David’s intention to seek vengeance was against the law. The LORD says in Deuteronomy 32:35, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” David’s anger toward Nabal may have been justified, but he was not at liberty to take matters into his own hands and punish Nabal for his foolishness.
Nabal’s wife Abigail intervenes on his behalf and stops David from killing innocent men. Abigail restores David’s honor by humbling herself before him and is able to diffuse the conflict without anyone getting hurt. In the end, the LORD took care of the problem as he promised to in Deuteronomy 32:35.
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 stone. And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, and he died. (1 Samuel 25:37-38)