This week, we are going to enjoy a series of devotions bases on women in the Old Testament. Thank you, Wendy, for being part of our devotions team.
Abigail is an interesting woman of the Old Testament. She actually becomes the wife of King David, but in the Biblical account we will look at today, she is married to Nabal and upon meeting King David for the first time tells David, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him.” This is certainly not the way I would expect a wife to talk about her husband! Let’s turn to 2 Samuel 25 and read ‘the rest of the story.’
1 Samuel 25: Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran. 2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel.3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. 5 So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. 6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!7 “‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. 8 Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore, be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’”9 When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited.10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers and give it to men coming from who knows where?”12 David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So, they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.14 One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”
Abigail knows that her husband has acted rudely and wickedly. He snubbed the protection they had received and failed to observe cultural protocols. In doing so to the King, he has put them all in danger. I love the next 2 verses:
18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five measures of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys.
Ah, yes! Let me quickly bake 200 loaves of bread, slaughter, clean and cook 5 sheep, and along with all the other foods I have gathered, load them onto the donkeys! Living in a time of no ‘skip the dishes’ she makes a plan, focuses on fulfilling that plan and then ‘ubers’ the take-out order directly to David’s men. Yes, she is going to appease the men with food. Additionally, all this time she said not a word to her hubby. She did not reprimand him for his foolish actions which put them all in danger. She did not ask his permission to rectify the situation. She did not let him in on her plan. She just moves. And in doing so, she saves her family, her servants and all her male relatives from being killed in retaliation. She also saves King David from what could be the biggest mistake of his life.
19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.20 As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. 21 David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. 22 May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”
23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.
28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel,31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”
Abigail not only thinks and acts wisely, she speaks wisely too. Note the purple verses. She chooses her words carefully to almost ‘manipulate’ David into seeing the folly of his plan. And it works.
32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”
God uses Abigail to appease the anger of David. It is because of her humility (bowing down), wisdom, quick thinking, quick provision and carefully chosen words that David, who has just vowed to annihilate this family instead says, “If you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive at daybreak.”
Abigail shows us that God expects us to use wisdom and take action when appropriate. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman; you can be used greatly by God to bring about His desired result. One person can really mess it up [Nabal] but another can step in and not just be resigned to the consequences. The same is true in our relationship to God. We can really mess it up, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. God is always ready to relent should we come to Him with confession and a repentant heart. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.