Vol. 4, No. 9
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
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There are many Bible characters that we know much about. Such people are the subject of frequent studies and may even have whole books or chapters of books devoted to them and the lessons we can learn from them. There are other people mentioned in the Bible about whom we know very little. These people may only be mentioned in passing or are found in only one or two places in the Bible. Often these people are overlooked, yet they appear in our Bibles for a reason.
John 20:30-31 tells us that Jesus did many things that were not recorded in the Bible. The things that were recorded are to strengthen our faith. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that everything in the Bible is from God and is for our learning. With this in mind, there can be no doubt that these little known, "forgotten" men and women of the Bible can teach us valuable lessons today.
Most people who have any knowledge of the Bible at all know of King David. Those who know of David probably also know of his wife Bathsheba. Fewer possibly remember his first wife Michal and fewer still might recall his wife Abigail. Even though Abigail's short story is found only in Chapter 25 of 1 Samuel, there is much that can be learned from this amazing woman.
When we first read of Abigail, David is having a difficult time. King Saul, due to his disobedience to God, was told he would be the first and last from his family to rule on the throne. God promised to give the kingdom to another; the prophet Samuel anointed David as the next king over Israel. Saul, fueled by his great jealousy of David, set out to kill his successor. To escape the wrath of King Saul, David fled and wandered the country with about six hundred loyal soldiers. During his travels, David stayed for a time near Mount Carmel (1 Samuel 25:1-2) where he defended the shepherds of Nabal against enemies and animals. Later David sent ten of his men to Nabal and asked for provisions for his men. Nabal scorned the messengers and David, and gave nothing. In anger, David readied four hundred of his soldiers for battle and marched toward Nabal. His intent was to slaughter all males of Nabal's house, young and old alike. It is at this moment in time that Abigail is introduced.
While Nabal is described as "churlish and evil in his doings," his wife Abigail is described as "woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance" (1 Samuel 25:3). Through her servants, Abigail heard of the rude and inhospitable actions of her husband. This wise woman realized the danger she and her household were in and set about to appease David. Beginning in verse 18 of 1 Samuel Chapter 25, we read of Abigail's actions. She prepared a supply of provisions over and above what David had requested and went out to meet him. Once she met David on the road, Abigail immediately began her appeal.
First, she humbly asked to speak to him. Abigail recognized the greatness of David and his future position as king. Even though she had more material possessions than David did at the time, she placed herself in a position to offer him respect and humility. She also accepted responsibility for the actions of her husband. "But I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send" (1 Samuel 25:25). Even though she was not directly responsible for the turning away of David's men, she accepted the responsibility since it was one of her household that rejected them. In a time when very few accept responsibility for anything, Abigail is a fine example of a woman who made herself accountable for the things in her home. She is also a wonderful example of the humility we as Christians are to demonstrate in our own lives (Matthew 18:4; 23:12; James 4:10).
Next, Abigail appealed to David's love of God and righteousness. She pointed out that Nabal was foolish and it was beneath David to respond so harshly to the offense at Nabal's hand. Abigail continued by pointing out that if David were to carry out his plan, he would be taking the responsibility of vengeance away from God and putting it on himself (Romans 12:19). This wise woman also urged David to consider how he would feel later. After the heat of the moment passed, she knew David would feel guilty if he murdered Nabal and his household for the inhospitable actions (1 Samuel 25:31). As future king of Israel and a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22), David would be happier if he were guilt free in this matter. We also need to remember to let God avenge the wrongs done to us and be free of the guilt of revenge.
In the end, Abigail's words and actions turned the wrath of David. Like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, Abigail used her mouth for wisdom and kindness. Abigail demonstrated with her words the truth of Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." Abigail used sound arguments and soft words to persuade David not to sin against God and his fellow man.
It is interesting that Abigail not once pleaded with David for her own interests. If David had continued with his plan, Abigail would have been left without a husband and a means of support. Yet she never mentioned this in her reasoning. Every indication from the text is that life with Nabal was very unpleasant. David's plan to kill Nabal would have freed Abigail from the unpleasantness of her marriage. Not even this possibility kept this godly woman from doing what was right in intervening on her husband's behalf and in the best interest of David. Abigail is a good example of one who made the best of her situation. She was obedient and godly even with the poor example for righteousness her husband was. Many today use similar circumstances as an excuse for divorce. God clearly states in several passages that the only acceptable reason for divorce is in the case of adultery (Matthew 19:9). God's ideal for marriage is one man, for one woman, for life. This fact is all the more reason for individuals considering marriage to do all they can to be sure the person they marry is one who will be suitable and pleasant a lifetime down the road.
Abigail was rewarded in this life for her wisdom and good character. About ten days after David's aborted attack, God avenged David and smote Nabal (1 Samuel 25:38). When David heard of the death, he sent and asked Abigail to be his wife; she accepted. Many lessons can be learned from the wise Abigail. She truly exemplifies Proverbs 14:3, "In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them."