Yesterday we met Nabal, whose name means ‘fool,’ and his wife Abigail. After hurling insults at David and his men, Nabal has put his whole family at risk of being killed in the anger of retaliation. If it wasn’t for Abigail stepping in and appeasing King David with her words and her gift of food for his army, not one male of her whole household would have been left alive by morning. (1 Samuel 25) Now Abigail has one more thing to do. Remember that ‘wicked man that no one can talk to?’ She now has to return home and tell her husband that she totally disrespected his wishes and did the very thing he was so against. In addition, she needs to inform him that she used his resources in the process! We pick up the story in 1 Samuel 25:36.
36 When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So, she told him nothing at all until daybreak. 37 Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him, and he became like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.
Nabal is either feeling very powerful or is very naïve. His whole household has just been on the brink of being wiped out, and he is not only holding an opulent banquet, but it isn’t to drown his sorrows. He is in high spirits and drunk. What does wise Abigail do? Nothing at all. She simply leaves without saying a word about what has transpired and goes to bed. This woman of the Old Testament is very wise! Why engage in a conversation with a drunk man? He isn’t reasonable at the best of times, so why would you expect him to be so now? What I like about Abigail here is she seems sure of herself, but not in a prideful way. She exudes confidence that she has acted according to God’s will and seems to draw her confidence from that fact. She isn’t married to a man who is kind, let alone seeks the Lord’s way, but that doesn’t stop her from being who God wants her to be. She also does not seem to be afraid of him because she went to him right away and we know that she does tell him at daybreak. I have never seen my husband drunk given that he doesn’t drink, and his name is John not Nabal, but I have been in situations where I am right and he is wrong, and I’m confident that I didn’t have the same reaction. All too often I am itching to argue. All too often I am willing to point out my ‘win.’ Abigail has literally saved the day, but off to bed she goes. Her interest seems to be in doing what is right and kind and good. God’s way.
Remember when Abigail first came upon King David? We are told 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.” She is respectful. She is wisely defusing a volatile situation. She isn’t fighting against every man. She is humbling herself.
The next morning Abigail tells her now sober husband what she has done, and the result is he has a heart attack or stroke. His heart fails him, and he became ‘like a stone.’ For about 10 days Nabal cannot move or speak, but he most likely can think and has more than enough time to reflect on how he has lived his life. He has more than enough time to process what his wife has done while God halts him from being able to respond. Approximately 10 days later God strikes him, and he dies, not because of the heart attack, but because God says so. In King David’s words, “He has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.” Then, David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. 40 His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”41 She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.
Abigail so impressed King David with her level-headed and practical, kind response that he actually asked her to marry him. And she said yes.
By God’s grace may we all learn to be more like Abigail and less like Nabal in our interactions with those at home and those we meet out in the world. To coin a popular phrase, in a world where you can choose to be anything, be kind.