David, while on the run from King Saul, has protected Nabal’s flocks and shepherds. In doing so, he and his man have run themselves short of supplies. They ask Nabal if he would please provide food and water. Unfortunately, Nabal is in the middle of a hardy sheering party (probably drunk) and instead of extending aid to David and his men, he insults his future king. David is furious and is now on his way to going to teach that ungracious Nabal a lesson he’ll never forget.
But, in the meantime…
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.” 1st Samuel 25:14-17 niv 2011
He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him… The King James Version says it this way:
for he [meaning Nabal] is such a son of Belial that a man cannot speak to him.
Belial. It’s a Hebrew word that means: wicked, ungodly, evil —Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
This guy (Nabal) is unreasonable…a man cannot speak to him. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for his wife. He was like the devil. And now, because of his foolish remarks, the entire household is at risk! But…
18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 1st Samuel 25:18-19 niv 2011
Abigail is first described to us in verse 3, and the narrative says intelligent, but here’s the Hebrew word that describes Abigail:
śekel, and it means: understanding, wisdom, prudence, knowledge, sense, discretion
—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
Abigail has a lot going on upstairs. She’s not flighty. She doesn’t panic. She doesn’t trash her husband to the servants. Instead, she gets together a very generous gift for David and his men. Her husband has put the entire household at risk, but she will defend it with understanding, wisdom, prudence, knowledge, sense and discretion. And she’s not a moment too late.
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!” 1st Samuel 25:20-22 niv 2011
David is seething, obsessing over the barb that Nabal spewed at him. Offended doesn’t even come close to what David is feeling. He’s rehearsing in his mind a very deliberate vengeance. He can’t wait to get there and kill. And then he meets Abigail…
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. 1st Samuel 25:23-27 niv 2011
Abigail knows who’s going to be the next king – everyone in Judah, including Nabal, knew – but she shows David royal respect. She knows the desire within David’s heart at this moment, and that is to kill Nabal and his household. She never once tells him he’s wrong, only asks that her gifts be accepted for use by him and the men who are with him.
Down on her face, before the King. Think about that for a moment. These husbands of ours do crazy things, and I know God thinks about taking their lives – we’ll get to that point in our following lessons.
The influence of a wife is a powerful thing to be reckoned with, and we must use that power with the utmost understanding, wisdom, prudence, knowledge, sense and discretion. And the only place to figure it out is on our face, before our King.
Back to our dear Abigail:
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.” 1st Samuel 25:28-31 niv 2011
your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling…
She knows of how David killed the giant and his righteousness in fighting for Israel that day. She spills her heart out to David, reminding him that he’s the anointed one who will rule.
George Williams wrote this about Abigail:
David generously said that Jonathan’s love to him surpassed the love of women, but it did not surpass nor equal the love of Abigail […] She recognized in David his title as king; his personal perfection; his valor in fighting God’s battles; and where others only saw a rebel, she saw a redeemer; and all this was not just merely the intelligence of the head, it was accompanied by the affection of the heart.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary © Kregel 1994
And we should see all those qualities in our King, Jesus Christ. He should be the center of our affection, but all too often I see us gals putting our husbands into that center…and then when that ole husband, made of flesh, acts like a…well, like a husband instead of the Christ we’re shocked and horrified, and sometimes we get really angry. But here’s the thing – only Jesus should be that center of our affection.
Abigail has one last request of the future king: remember your servant.
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.” 1st Samuel 25:32-35 niv 2011
David heard her heart, and Abigail saved the lives of her entire household.
There is more to this story! Please join us next week for Part 3 of A Warrior and Her King.
© 2014, 2018 Ta`Mara Hanscom
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