1 SAMUEL 25:1-42
The story of Abigail follows the heels of the death of Samuel, the judge and prophet of God, who brought Israel back to God, and who ordained Saul and David as the first and second kings of Israel respectively. The death of Samuel might have come as a fatal blow to David, who was now a fugitive running away from the jealous pursuit of King Saul. You are familiar with the story of King Saul and David. After David had risked his own life for Saul and saved the nation of Israel from shame and defeat, Saul turned against David because of his rebellion against God and his jealousy of David. About 600 men of war knew that David was destined for greatness, and so they became his bodyguards and fighting army to protect David from harm and perhaps premature death. It is in this period of wandering and hiding from the evil pursuit of Saul that the story of Abigail unfolds.
- THE FAMILY LINE OF ABIGAIL
????????? There are only two women named Abigail in the entire Bible. The other Abigail was David?s half sister, who became the wife of Jether also known as Ithara. Her story is found in both (2 Samuel 17:25; and 1 Chronicles 2:16-17). However, we will not concern ourselves with the other Abigail, the half sister of David, but the Abigail who became David?s wife.
The Bible does not provide any clue as to the parentage or genealogy of Abigail. Nothing is said of her mother and father. Abigail was married to Nabal of Maon, a wealthy rancher. The name Abigail means, Father of Joy, or Cause of Joy, or My father [is] joy.
Three people play prominent roles in this narrative. They are Nabal, Abigail, and David. Nabal?s name means, ?A fool.? You wonder how and why a woman of beauty and wisdom ended up married to a fool. Nabal is described as ?the man churlish and evil in his doings? (1 Samuel 25:3). In other words, Nabal was a rich man but arrogant and mean- spirited. There is no wonder he is called Nabal, a fool. Not only was he rude, but also harsh, brutal, avaricious, and selfish. Nabal was a self-centered man, who thought only of his possessions. He was also a drunken wretch, unmanageable, stubborn, and ill tempered.
Nabal was likewise an unbeliever, who bowed his knee to the god of this world and not to the God of his fathers. As a staunched follower of King Saul, he shared the rejected king?s jealousy of David. Added to his brutal disposition and evil doings was that of stupidity, as his name suggested. Ladies and gentlemen, be careful of the name you choose for your child. As Nabal?s name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him (v. 25). Nabal was a fool by name and a fool by nature.
Let us look into the person of Abigail before dealing with the narrative. Abigail is ?a woman of good understanding, and of beautiful countenance.? In her, winsomeness and wisdom are present. She has beauty as well as wisdom. Today, many women are trying to cultivate beauty on the outside and neglect wisdom. While I think that there is nothing wrong in correcting a physical abnormality with plastic or cosmetic surgery, it is wrong to do a radical surgery to alter your entire physical appearance to become someone else. Young people do not try to use cosmetic surgery to change your face to become like Brittany Spears. The Lord created you as a unique person, and He wants you to be you. God does not want you to become a carbon copy of Brittany Spears. You can change your physical appearance with cosmetic surgery as much as you want, but you cannot change your heart. Men look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. While you are not to ignore or neglect your outward beauty, God wants you to focus more on your inward beauty. The inward beauty is what makes Abigail stands out as the beautiful and wise woman of all time in the Bible. Do not make the women of Hollywood your models, because a lovely face sometimes hides an empty mind and heart. That is why some of them commit suicide. Many of the Hollywood stars have everything that money can buy, and yet they are empty on the inside.
However, with Abigail, loveliness and intelligence go hand in hand, with her intelligence emphasizing her physical attractiveness. A beautiful woman with a beautiful mind as Abigail has is surely one of God?s masterpieces. Added to her charm and wisdom was that of piety. Abigail was a godly woman. She knew God, and although she lived in such an unhappy home, she remained a saint.
- THE REQUEST OF DAVID TO NABAL VV. 4-9
Having often helped Nabal?s herdsmen out, being in need of food for his little army, David sent a kind request to Nabal for help. In his ill-humored and rude manner, Nabal bluntly refused to give David a crumb for his hungry army. It is only a fool who would act the way Nabal did. First, David instructed his men to extend a blessing to Nabal and his household, wishing the man ?long life? and ?good health.? Ironically, Nabal would be denied both because of his mistreatment of the one who sent the blessing (vv. 37-38). Second, David?s men were to remind/inform Nabal that during the time they protected the wealthy man?s servants and flocks, David?s forces did not mistreat them, and nothing theirs was missing (v. 7). Third, David?s men were to make a request for an unspecified but appropriate gift to be given in return for the protection provided and a gesture of support and goodwill during this ?good day.? Nabal was to give David?s messengers whatever he could lay his hands on. David was not asking for much.
- THE RESPONSE OF NABAL TO DAVID VV. 9-13
????????? Nabal?s response to David?s request is consistent with his mean and arrogant nature. Rather than supporting David, a member of his own tribe, Nabal rebuffed or snubbed him. He rejected the significance of ?this son of Jesse? (v. 10) and implied that David and his troops were nothing more than a band of rogue slaves who had broken ?away from their masters.? Nabal implied that David and his men were individuals who had abandoned those they were supposed to protect. As such, he felt no obligation to take the food, water, and meat he had set aside for his own slaves and give them to men coming from who knows where (v. 11). In verse 11, by the use of first personal pronouns, it becomes apparent Nabal?s sinful self-centeredness in this affair. Not only is Nabal self-centered; he is also full of pride; but pride comes before destruction. Here Nabal is acting just like the devil ?I,? ?My,? and ?Mine.?
When David?s men turned around and went back to Paran, they brought the contemptuous words that Nabal had spoken to David. David?s response was instant and heated: ?Put on your swords!? Mustering two-thirds of his troops, David led them up to get revenge on Nabal. Now Nabal is a marked man and who can stop David from carrying out the death of Nabal. Nabal?s unbridled tongue has put him in deep trouble.
- THE READY INTERVENTION OF ABIGAIL VV. 14-31
Abigail?s encounter with David is one of the most remarkable female-initiated encounters between a man and a woman in the Bible.
One of the workers of Nabal brought word to Abigail concerning the way her husband had treated the men of David with contempt. Abigail listened with undivided attention. The worker, who evidently had confidence in his mistress? sagacity, reminded her that David and his men had been like a wall of protection to Nabal?s herdsmen. The worker added that David?s men had come to the house in peace, asking for that to which they were justly entitled. You and I can be assured that Abigail possessed an innate dignity and had won the admiration, respect, and faithfulness of the workers in her household.
Abigail, a woman of wisdom and wit, knew in her heart of heart that her drunken husband?s rude behavior towards the messengers of David might have incensed David and revenge was looming in the horizon. The servant of Nabal who came to Abigail urged her to consider carefully the substance of his report and act appropriately. Losing no time, Abigail put a plan together and acted swiftly. Gathering a quantity of food and wine, sufficient she thought for David?s immediate need (v. 18). The text does not say, but I think that Abigail, who was a godly woman, might have sought wisdom from God concerning the gravity of the problem her drunken and insensitive husband had brought upon the household. Abigail sent her servants ahead of her and followed them on her own donkey into a mountain ravine, where David and his army descended to meet them. What a momentous meeting that turned out to be. With discreet and tactfulness Abigail averted David?s just anger over Nabal?s insult to his messengers, by placing at David?s feet food for his hungry men. It is true that a hungry man is an angry man; sometimes a hungry woman too is an angry woman.
In this meeting, Abigail demonstrates a breath of wisdom that is incomparable. First, she fell at the feet of David, as an inferior before a superior, and agreed with David in his condemnation of her brutal and foolish husband. Abigail humbled herself before David and his men. Ladies, please learn from Abigail?s example. When your husband is at fault in a matter do not go and argue or defend him. Abigail did not attempt to check David?s turbulent feelings by argument, but won him with wise and kind words. ?A soft answer turns away wrath? (Prov.15:1). Abigail interceded and apologized for her husband?s folly. Abigail?s beautiful appeal from her beautiful lips captivated the heart of David. As his own harp had appeased Saul, the sweet-toned voice of Abigail exorcised the demons of revenge and woke the angel that was slumbering in David?s bosom.
You can never gauge the effects of your words and actions upon others. The intervention of Abigail just in time teaches us that when we have wisdom to impart, faith to share, and help to offer, we must not hesitate to take any risk that may be involved. Abigail poured oil on troubled waters, and when she humbly approached with a large peace offering; her calmness soothed David?s anger and gave her the position of advantage.
Not only did Abigail come to intercede and apologize on behalf of her husband, she also prophesied over David. The statement that Abigail made in (vv. 28-31) could have been given to her only by divine revelation. This shows that Abigail was a godly woman, who walked intimately with her God. Her intercession, apology, and prophecy disarmed David from seeking revenge.
- DAVID?S REPLY TO ABIGAIL VV. 32-35
David replied to Abigail in a three-fold beatitude, which began with the word ?blessed.? First, David declared, ?the LORD, the God of Israel blessed? (v. 32) for putting it in Abigail?s heart to come to David. Then, David declared Abigail?s perceptiveness (v. 33), which was so evident within her words, to be blessed. Finally, David declared Abigail herself to be blessed (v. 33) since she prevented David from bloodshed and avenging himself with his own hands. Having provided Abigail with a blessing, ?David accepted from her hand what she had brought him? (v. 35). David gave Abigail a verbal reassurance and commitment to turn his armed force back and encouraged her to ?go home in peace.?
- ABIGAIL?S RETURN TO HER HUSBAND VV. 36-42
Nabal, the rich fool who did not know what was at stake was feasting and getting drunk again. When Abigail saw what was going on, she did not say anything to her husband. Ladies, learn this lesson from Abigail. If your husband gets drunk, angry, or in a cantankerous mood that is not the right time to share important news with him. Let him calm down and be sober before you get his attention. Abigail waited patiently until the next morning when her husband Nabal was sober before she told him what David and his men were up to. This was Nabal?s descent into judgment. When he heard the words from Abigail?s lips his heart, mind, and emotions died inside of him. In other words, his heart failed; he had a heart failure and he became like a stone. In more contemporary medical terms, ?Nabal may have experienced a stroke that resulted in a coma.? Whatever the case, ?ten days later Nabal died? (v. 38). However, the Bible does not attribute Nabal?s death to an unfortunate medical problem: ?The LORD struck Nabal.? His death was a direct result of God?s judgment on Nabal. David?s oath was fulfilled (1 Sam. 25:22). A similar case is found in Acts 12:23. Can I share some insight with you? Have you studied the lives of King Saul and Nabal as they relate to David? King Saul and Nabal both were socially powerful individuals who were members of wealthy families. Both had benefited from David?s actions, yet both acted hostilely against David; both had female clan members who married David and acted to help him avoid a personal catastrophe; David spared the lives of both Saul and Nabal. However, both died under God?s judgment. This is where the divine promise ?Do not touch God?s anointed? came true. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul expresses in Romans 12:19. David did not rejoice in Nabal?s death. Rather, he thanked the Lord for restraining him from shedding the blood of Nabal (v. 39).
The Lord vindicated David and punished Nabal. David was so impressed with Abigail that he asked her to become his wife. Abigail was a woman of beauty, wisdom, patience, piety, humility, and faith. She was a woman of faith because when she consented to marry David, he was a fugitive and wanderer. However, Abigail was a wealthy woman, who had several maidservants. Could it be that it was Abigail?s wealth that later rubbed on David? Abigail had a baby boy with David whose name was Chileab/Daniel (2 Sam. 3:3; 1 Chron. 3:1). It was not by accident that Abigail and David named the son Daniel, which means ?God is [my] Judge.?
Today, some single ladies want to marry a self-made man instead of marrying someone they would begin to build their lives together. Therefore, they marry wealthy men who do not know Christ and their lives are devoid of joy and peace. Abigail saved David?s life from bloodshed, which could have caused him the throne. I believe Abigail saved David many times from anger and impatient decisions. I also believe that Abigail became one of David?s wise and godly counselors. Ladies, God can use your beauty, wisdom, patience, godliness, humility, faith, and even your wealth to accomplish His divine purposes if only you would yield your life to Him and His word.
Happy Mother’s Day.