Women of the Bible: Abigail
Abigail is another amazing woman in the Bible, a wise, brave and able woman, much like Queen Esther. She was married to a very rich but the most unpleasant and ungodly man — Nabal. We do not know how Nabal treated Abigail, but if he was so horrible to others, it is likely he treated her poorly as well.
He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb. (1 Samuel 25: 2-3)
David sent ten young men to Nabal to collect any gifts he chose to give “Go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: ‘Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have!”. Even with such a pleasant greeting, Nabal turned them away rudely, pretending not to know who David was.
David was furious and set out to destroy Nabal. In the meantime, one of David’s men told Abigail what had happened and Abigail made haste . . . haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. And she said to her servants, “Go on before me; see, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:18-19)
Abigail acted quickly and what a feast Abigail sent to David . . . and David was deeply impressed by this woman and he blessed her for her discretion and thanked her for preventing bloodshed that day. “Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.”
In her wisdom, Abigail waited until the morning before telling her husband what she had done — waited until his mind was clear from the consumption of alcohol. “His wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it happened, after about ten days, that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.”
When David heard that Nabal had died, he asked Abigail to be his wife.
What can we learn from Abigail:
* Abigail was a very wise and intelligent woman and we know this because she is described as having a “good understanding”. She used her intelligences to take charge of a bad situation, acting quickly because she knew if she didn’t, her household would suffer and that wasn’t a risk she was willing to take. We too need to be wise and have the confidences to make wise decisions and there may be occasions when we have to do this independently of our husbands to prevent a disaster from happening just as Abigail did.
* When I was reading the story of Abigail, something jumped out at me — as wives we are told to be submissive to our husbands (Ephesians 5:24) and that they are the leaders of our household and we are to respect their decisions even if they are poorly thought out. However Abigail did quite the opposite, not only did she go behind her husbands back and over-ruled his decision and she also told David about his faults. Abigail was wise and didn't submit to her husbands stupidity, rather she protected her husband and his interests. She took the initiative that he wasn't willing to make and she apologised for his rude behaviour. Abigail is the ideal wife. Biblical submission isn't about blind obediences or subserviences, it is about having the courage to intervene at times, we are not be “yes wives”, but to use our intelligences that God has given us and look after the interests of our husbands and our families (just as Abigail did and Queen Esther and we see the same in Proverbs 31). Be smart, strong and wise.
* Abigail's husband was an evil man, considered foolish, intemperate, and mean and whilst it isn’t spelt out, one can assume her marriage caused her great sorrow. Even though is a sad marriage, she was one of the bible’s greatest peacemakers and saved her family. Even if our marriages are unhappy, if doesn’t mean we need to be unhappy ourselves and be pulled down by our husbands negativity and foolishness. We need to have courage and make the best out of difficult situations and we will be blessed accordingly.
* Years of living with Nabal did not make Abigail a bitter woman out to seek revenge against her husband. God honours those who are faithful even when faithfulness brings difficulty, hardship, sorrow and pain. God rewarded Abigail with her marriage to David.
* Abigail was a brave woman. It would have been tough to gather up all the food and deliver it to David and his many men, 400 who had just been insulted by her husband. Yet, she approached David with great diplomacy, humbling offering him a peace offering. Her quick actions saved her family. We too need to be brave and not crumble under adversary.
* Can you imagine the fear Abigail must have had when she faced her violent and evil husband and told him what she had done — he could have killed her. However, God was with her (as He is with us) and he spared her from his wrath and Nabal had some type of attack, perhaps a heart attacke and died 10 days later. This is so important to remember. God watches over all of us and those in sorrowful marriages and trapped by nasty husbands, God knows and that is SUCH a comfort.
Did you know that Abigail's speech to David is one of the longest speeches recorded in the bible by a woman:
“On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. 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! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent. Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal. And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days. Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.” (1 Samuel 25:24-31)