We find the story of Abigail in I Samuel 25:2. In verse 3, we meet Abigail and her husband Nabal. “Now the man’s name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite.”
The first thing the Bible tells us about Abigail was not just that she was beautiful, but that she was intelligent. What we know about her husband was that he was very rich (vs. 2) and that he was harsh and evil in his dealings. It’s also interesting to note that Nabal’s name actually means fool. I’m not sure if he was given that name at birth, but it was an apt description of the man Abigail was saddled with for life.
The story opens during sheep shearing. This was always a time of celebration. David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s shepherds out in the fields, so when shearing time came, David sent several of his young men to ask for some of the feast. This was a well-known custom at the time. Most landowners would have graciously given David and his men food and wine, but not Nabal.
Instead, Nabal basically insults David. When the young men come back to tell David what Nabal said David tells his men to strap on their swords – they were going to avenge themselves against Nabal and his entire household.
In verse 14, one of the young shepherds goes to find Abigail and tells her what has happened. He tells her that David and his men had treated them well and had given them protection, but Nabal had basically insulted them. Now, David and his men were going to hold Nabal and the entire household accountable for Nabal’s words.
The shepherd’s words in verse 17 gives a good picture what the people in Nabal’s household thought of not only Nabal but also Abigail. “Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”
Abigail, who is well-acquainted with her husband’s character, springs into action. She gathers up loaves of bread, prepared sheep and jugs of wine. She sends her men out in front and follows behind on a donkey. She intercepts David on the path. David is talking to his men and tells them they are going to kill every male on Nabal’s lands.
Abigail, as soon as she sees David on the path in front of her, immediately throws herself at his feet and begs his forgiveness. She draws a word picture of her husband in verse 25, “Please do not let my lord, pay attention to this worthless man, 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.”
Then she talks about how God has restrained David’s hand from revenge, and then she goes on to say how God is going to bless and protect David and that when God does make him ruler, David will be so glad he did not shed blood or take revenge. She lays it on pretty thick between verses 25 and 31.
Basically, she draws a sharp distinction between the two men with David coming out the better guy and Nabal being the fool. She presents him with her gifts and David accepts. I’m sure it helped that Abigail was beautiful.
When Abigail gets back, her husband is drunk and carousing, so she doesn’t tell him what happened until the next morning, where upon, he promptly has a stroke and goes into a coma for 10 days before the Lord takes his life.
David, hearing this, sends a proposal of marriage to Abigail. She accepts and rides right out and becomes his wife.
We can learn a lot from Abigail. For me, the words that come to mind when I think of Abigail are strong, wise, brave and gracious. It is obvious that she commands the respect of the servants in the household. They come to HER to solve the problem because they know Nabal is too foolish to listen.
She has obviously proved that she is good in a crisis, (let’s face it – there were probably quite a few with old Nabal around), because they are looking to her for a solution to the problem of imminent annihilation to all the male population in the household.
Abigail shows bravery because she acts even though, based on his past actions, there is no guarantee that Nabal isn’t going to make her regret it after the fact.
She also shows a lot of wisdom, not only in coming up with the solution, but how she confronts David. She doesn’t come out with guns blazing. Instead, she shows great humility and reminds him of God’s hand on David’s life. She gently commends him for clear thinking when it is obvious that anger is driving David’s actions.
Abigail’s quick thinking saved her household from destruction. Her graciousness gained her David for a husband in the end.
Her difficult marriage (how easy could it be to be married to a fool when that fool had complete control over your life?) did not grind Abigail down. Instead, it made her strong and capable.
While I’m sure there are some people out there who poo-poo the fact that Abigail acted against her husband’s wishes, she actually showed herself to be a true helpmate. The word helpmate is the word “ezer” which means to help or succor. This is the SAME name given to the Holy Spirit when He is called our helper. Abigail acted in the best interests of not only her husband but also her entire household.
David praises Abigail in verses 32-34, for her discernment and recognizes that her carefully chosen words kept David from shedding blood. He is grateful for her intervention.
I think Abigail is an interesting case study of how we can behave when dealing with difficult people. The first thing is do so in humility. Abigail literally prostrated herself at David’s feet. She did not storm up and tell him what was what. She didn’t whine or cry. She was humble.
The second thing Abigail did is that she pointed David back to God and His promises and she reminded David of the man he could be, not the angry, vengeful man he was at that moment. Likewise, we can point people back to God and remind them of who GOD says she or he is.
Finally, we can be brave. It takes courage to be proactive. It’s easier to just react rather than choose our actions and words wisely. Abigail didn’t panic and just react. She had a plan and put it into action quickly. She headed David off before he ever arrived at the house, panting for revenge. Often, if we are proactive, we can head off a conflict before it blows up into something bigger and uglier.
I don’t know about you, but when those difficult people and situations come into my life, I want to be more like Abigail!