Lesson 4 of 6
March 23, 2022
Mary’s Humanity in first person:
There are many misconceptions about me that are uncomfortable … misconceptions that elevate me to heights I don’t deserve. Some suggest I possess an unconsciously quiet demeanor. Others think I’m a woman of rare qualities, able to submit beyond my will. Some adore and worship me. Statues, beads, poems, movies, outlandish rituals, musical compositions, halos, candles, pictures, religious debates– uphold me as a supernatural healer and intercessor, void of human mortality.
I wasn’t present when the world began, or with God as his Spirit hovered over the deep. I didn’t form one creature from the earth or called even greater creatures from the sea. And I sure didn’t create man from the dust of the earth and breathe into him life so he could become a living soul.
I would never have the courage to bear the weight of your sins. I didn’t … couldn’t … wouldn’t die for you. It would never occur to me to plan an escape for you … to offer you eternal salvation so you could be reconciled to the Father. I never raised anyone from the dead, and never will. I never ever healed the sick, or made the blind see.
I’m not God’s only Son.
I’m God’s servant.
An ordinary young woman.
Present at a time God appointed to fulfill his promises to his people.
So, what is the world doing?
It has been a problem since the beginning. People are easily swayed into thinking too highly of others and of themselves.
No, the spotlight doesn’t belong to me. Or to you. God alone should be praised and adored. Worship him only.
I wish there were more adequate words to convince the world of his greatness.
As I recall, the prophets were very direct. Plain-spoken. Still, the people didn’t listen.
As for me …
I was ordinary. Young. Spry. Happy. An obedient servant looking forward to her wedding day. Joseph and I changed our wedding date several times because the Romans made it difficult to plan. They raised taxes and imposed stringent rules every new moon. Joseph was a good man; worked twice as hard to prepare for our future and wasn’t easily deterred.
It’s one reason Gabriel’s message was so disconcerting. The timing was all wrong. So, I thought.
It was winter. The sixth month. Adar (Uh-dar). Gabriel almost scared the life right out of me, standing there happily proclaiming the good news. He had this wide, silly grin on his face. His apparel, radiant. I, on the other hand, was terrified. Knees shaking. Heart pounding. Unable to hold the jar of water in my hands. Eventually, I flopped to the ground as a thousand questions flooded through my mind. At one point, I looked around to be sure Gabriel wasn’t talking to someone else.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:30-31)
Did you hear that?
He called me by name.
Still, I was perplexed. Why was he talking to me? Why come from on high and visit the likes of me? I could think of fifty young girls in our city who were more worthy. I come from a modest home; raised by a righteous father; a god-fearing mother. Why me?
Gabriel didn’t hesitate to make his visit known to me. And he wasn’t about to entertain the questions swirling around in my head. However, what he suggested was downright impossible and his declaration turned me to stone. I was petrified … couldn’t move … barely breathed. What does he mean, “… you will be with child and give birth to a son, …” How is that possible? I am not married. Have never been with a man.
Oooh no. There’s been a mistake. Either I’ve picked up a jug of overly-fermented wine, or I’ve had too much sun.
I slapped my face as hard as I could and pressed my shaky knees together. I was scared to ask, but I forced the question from my lips anyway. “How can this be since I am a virgin?” His response raised hairs on the back of my neck, and Isaiah 7:14 rang through my ears: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Is it possible? Am I the virgin scriptures spoke about? Would God bestow upon me such great an honor?
Shock and awe settled behind my wide-stretched eyes, my jaw dropped, and reality didn’t reconvene with my brain waves for several minutes. When it did, joy spun me out of control. I wanted to leap in the air and click my heels. Until …
It occurred to me that I would need to tell my parents. My sister. This unexpected news might bring them to their knees … cause them to question my account of Gabriel’s message. I couldn’t help but wonder if father would do the most despicable — beat me. I had heard of such things occurring in other homes but never experienced this kind of violence myself. If he raised his hand, who could blame him. Gabriel’s message could potentially bring about shame and disgrace. In situations like this, women were stoned to death, or cast out.
I gathered myself and tried to invoke reason. Had I dreamed or made this up? Given the hour of the day, it was too early to have dreamed anything in broad daylight. Because of the brilliant blue sky, it was unlikely Gabriel’s radiance was a figment of my imagination. As for my father, he would never do such a thing … never beat me. He was a god-fearing man, full of gentleness, kindness, and love.
Joseph, on the other hand, would not be obliged to show mercy. How would I tell the man whom I love that I haven’t been unfaithful?
Fear got the best of me, and I couldn’t stop shaking. When my nerves and mind finally calmed down, I valiantly stood before Gabriel and declared, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
For me to give birth to a son, would be a miracle like none other. It’s been centuries since miracles like this have materialized. But wait …
Months ago we celebrated with my cousin, Elizabeth. Had not an angel of the Lord come to her and Zachariah and announced they, too, would give birth to a son?
I knocked over my jar of water and hurried home to pack. I needed to see Elizabeth … to share my good news … to compare the miracles we now share. She was eighty-eight and three months away from giving birth to a son. Being with her would give me comfort. If anyone could appreciate my good news, it would be Elizabeth.
I’ll never forget how she greeted me once she heard my voice: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Yes, Elizabeth, “Why am I so favored?” I was just ordinary.
Not every day was joyful. The Roman Empire was a thorn in our flesh. Herod issued an edict, ordering every male child–newborns to two years of age–killed. No child spared. Wails swept throughout Bethlehem and surrounding towns and lingered in my ears all the way to Egypt. I woke up in a foreign land, in the wee hours of the morning to mournful cries filling the sky. What were we doing in Egypt among a people who hadn’t treated us kindly? Shouldn’t we return to Bethlehem and help my people?
I cuddled Jesus close to me and kissed his small hands. Caring for my two-year-old helped ease the sea of hopelessness we left behind. Like our great-grandmothers before us … mothers who walked this Egyptian soil … we would not soon forget our misery. Neither did the Romans waste time reminding us they would exercise rule and control over us. After Herod died and we returned to Bethlehem, there was a stench of death in the air, getting stronger as we approached the city. Along the horizon was a long row of crosses standing beside the road. Most who hung there were dead. Those who were not, begged to die.
It was trying times. A time when we ached for the Messiah.
Little did I know how difficult things would become … what it would be like to be entrusted with raising a child of God.
When Jesus was about seven or nine years of age, bizarre things began to happen. The sick, miraculously healed; prayers answered in what seemed like an instant. After one of our evening meals, we prayed for a father who had nearly drowned while fishing, later coming down with a terrible fever. Before our prayers ended, there was a knock on the door. The father’s adult son announced he was healed. Joseph questioned the son four times regarding the hour of his father’s healing. “Only moments ago,” he said. “Only moments ago.” As soon as the son left, we turned to Jesus, but he had slipped away. We heard him repairing a bench he had promised to deliver the next day.
On a separate occasion, Jesus went missing. How do you lose a twleve-year-old? Our frantic search led us to the temple where we found him teaching the elders. Losing a child is a mother’s worse nightmare. Fortunately, for us, we were spared a painful separation. From that point on, if I was busy churning butter, kneading bread, or weaving cloth, Jesus often slipped away on long escapades to preach and teach strangers in the city. Once, we found him about five miles outside of Nazareth, standing on a hill, preaching to a crowd of children. Ha!! As I look back on it, I’m certain it was his way of practicing before a live audience.
We tried to ignore the miracles, but it became increasingly evident Jesus had a special connection to God.
God was not only with him, but in him.
I questioned him once about all the good works he had performed, but he immediately silenced me. “Quiet, Mother. It’s not time yet.” Hmm. Not time for what?
Too often I found myself sitting on the riverbank pondering this question. I must admit, my conclusions were all wrong. I was a lot like his followers, in the beginning, thinking he would establish an earthly kingdom … that he’d come to rescue us from slavery … that he’d come to replace the Roman Empire and reign supreme. We were too carnal minded and unprepared to address our dreadful, spiritual state … too feeble minded to accept spiritual truth to understand him then. Brings to mind what a righteous man once said to me, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” I had no idea what he meant. His words rang hollow.
I never had special powers. I wasn’t a prophetess. I wasn’t capable of spiritually interpreting those words to mean I would lose my son to evil, brutal men. Hard to fathom losing a child. Harder to lose a son to despicable people bent on crucifying the innocent.
Yes. I admit it. I was warned. But those words weren’t enough to prepare me for the gravest burden ever–his death.
To watch him be taken because of rumors and accusations, jealousy and envy, money and power, to a merciless crucifixion was too unbearable for words.
They took hold of my son and flung him around as if he were fodder for their mindless games. Parading him through the wicked arms of the chief priests … watching as they appealed to Pilate for his death was horrendous. Many in the crowd had witnessed him healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving sins. Yet, there they stood shouting and hurling insults. Their treatment of him resembled the cruelty many go through when thrown in an arena waiting for the lions to pour in and devour you.
They cried out, “CRUCIFY HIM!!”
This is MY son!!! My first born. The one to reign over the house of Jacob forever. “Tell them, Jesus. Tell them how you will rule the earth … that you are the Son of the Most High. Don’t let them do this to you. I have seen what you can do. You have healed and blessed and turned water into wine. For crying out loud, you walked on water. This is the time to reveal yourself … your greatness. Jesus. Please! Show them who you really are.”
Those words remained trapped in my throat, never to escape my lips.
Roars of the maddening crowd were heard all around me. Laughter and heckling drowned out everything I wanted to say. Seething anger pressed me like a cake of figs. Loud voices raged. Then they did the unthinkable. The massive crowd inched forward toward Pilate and bargained for Barabbas.
How dare they do this–trade my son’s life for that of a thief. Do they not have children of their own? Can they not see his suffering? They are about to spill innocent blood. Is there no compassion in the world anymore?
John and Mary of Magdalene held me up because I was too weak to stand on my own. Pools of tears blinded me and I could no longer see my son standing before a herd of vipers, or see the jagged edges of torn flesh streaking across his body — flies feeding off him, sweat burning him, spittle caked to his nose … on the side of his face.
I hear the whip lashing his back. Can you hear it? Can you? When was the last time you heard those lashes … the groans … see how the pain distorted and deformed his face?
“Let it be me,” I said inside my soul. “Let me take his place.”
No one heard me. Evil forces clamped my tongue to the roof of my mouth.
Great halls and huge pillars couldn’t … wouldn’t bear his pain. The earth shifted and moaned with him. Rocks cried out and crashed to the ground! The disgruntled sky resembled pillows of smoke. When they pressed the crown of thorns on his head, I gasped … held my breath as blood poured from him like a swollen river. Anguish and terror released from me, and I cried out, “Yeshua! Yeshua! I’m here, Yeshua!” With all my might, I tried to push pass the soldiers, but they hemmed us in. I pleaded, “He’s my son. Let me through.” Our voices, mere whimpers among the soldiers’ scoffs.
Their minds were set. Yes! They were determined. Hearts hard as stone. Hands stained with blood. My son’s blood.
The. Worse. Day. Of. My. Life.
My family has never cried so long and hard. My second oldest, Simon, was angry. Joses wanted to fight everyone involved in his brother’s death. James couldn’t stand it and ran off to sulk in his pain. Several disciples wrestled Judas to the ground to keep him from barging through the crowd to attack the soldiers. My daughters wailed. (Mary’s family – Mark 6:3)
Together we made the unbearable walk to his tomb. Many times I faltered, too reluctant to make another step toward our final goodbye. After placing his body in the tomb, I wept for two days, stealing off to a nearby river to weep, and to allow Jesus’ childhood memories to take hold of me.
Wasn’t it yesterday when he fell and bruised his knee and I thought he’d walk with a limp for the rest of his life? Silly me. Before concern swelled inside me, he was like new again.
I remember his gentleness when correcting neighborhood children on misinterpretations of scripture … how baffled they were at his knowledge. He never missed an opportunity to speak to teachers of the law, speaking with authority–without one day of schooling. He did everything with such humility and patience.
Not long after he died, I prepared his favorite meal–I couldn’t help myself–lentil soup with loaves of fresh Bread, a bowl of cool cucumbers, and roasted corn. I sat them on the table and closed my eyes, remembering how famished he was after a long day of making cabinets, tables, and benches. I ruffled his hair then patted his hand to slow him down so he wouldn’t continue to eat like a hungry animal. My hand patted the table instead. It was clear. He was no longer with me.
A hole filled my heart. I was bruised. Wounded. A sword had sliced through my soul and left me for dead. I couldn’t move … could faintly hear. My pain, too deep to soothe. An anguish too inconsolable.
Why kill my son? What crime had he committed? Who did he wrong?
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, kept watch over me night and day. I couldn’t eat. Couldn’t sleep. If I closed my eyes, I’d see my son’s bloody body and flinch each and every time that whip struck his back.
I still see the blood on my hands … on my clothes … the deep lacerations … long thorns embedded in his brow.
No. No mourning feast for me. Nothing can bring me comfort. Solace forever eludes me.
The only modicum of comfort I received was knowing the women with us would move forward to properly embalm my son. They debated who might roll away the stone. Though they never determined who would help them, they plowed ahead to the tomb anyway.
That’s when everything changed.
Mary of Magdalene burst through the door and announced, “He’s risen! The tomb is empty!” We looked at one another in disbelief. In unison, the disciples asked, “How can this be?” In meticulous detail the women explained how an angel of the Lord declared Jesus had risen from the dead. After inching their way inside the tomb–fear and disbelief in their eyes, a glaring light streaking through the cave, the morning heat warming them–their senses came alive.
The tomb was empty.
Mary of Magdalene recalled she carefully lifted a corner of the burial cloth, her eyes filled with awe and wonder. Others patted the linen cloth as they circled where Jesus had laid. No one spoke. No one attempted to explain.
Upon hearing the women’s account, I immediately thought someone had stolen my son’s body. Why would the soldiers do this? The disciples dismissed the women’s account and left to go home, or go fishing. But John and Peter raced to the tomb to see for themselves if what the women had said was true.
As crazy as it sounded, I still hadn’t fully convinced myself that someone hadn’t stolen his body. I wondered if I was just an overwrought mother still grieving the loss of her son. Oh, how I wanted to see my son. In truth, I didn’t care how crazy the women’s report sounded. I would do anything, believe any report if it meant I could see my son again.
It wasn’t until Cleopas, my sister’s husband (John 19:25) and his companion rushed through the door and told us they had seen him. I retreated to a corner of the room, wondering if they had fantasized as we had done or if it was indeed true. These last few days have been hard and long. Wouldn’t my son have pity on me and come reassure me how things really are for him? Wouldn’t he be sensitive enough to ease my soul from this indescribable pain?
Then it happened.
He did not knock and walk through the doorway. He did not call out from the heavens. He did not send messengers to alert his coming. He appeared–standing among us to ease our burning hearts and help us accept truth.
Hadn’t he warned us? Hadn’t he told us on many occasions that he was “about his father’s business?” That he’d come to “seek and save the lost.” That in three days, he’d rise again? I, for one, thought the number three was symbolic. It never occurred to me he literally meant in three days he’d be alive again.
Jesus, the Son of God, had risen from the dead.
Jesus, the Son of God, stood here in the house with us. In the flesh. In the Spirit. Three Persons in One. Alive. Breathing. Flesh and bones. Thomas’ misgivings about the Christ gave us an opportunity to see my son’s wounds for ourselves … the holes … the scars and lacerations … to see they were real.
The reasons we concocted for his arrival in this world were wrong. He subjected himself to a lowly birth and became human in a fallen world so he could reconcile us to God. He came to bear the weight of our guilt and shame. It was our sins that made the earth shake, the sky darken, the dead to rise and walk the streets.
This understanding demolished our confusion.
Healing eased our pain.
Joy replaced our anger.
Confession eradicated blame.
Every one of those 40 days he was with us was indescribable joy. I was never so happy. I must have rubbed his head, hugged his neck, and kissed his cheek a thousand times. I’d walk beside him, squeeze his arm, just to reassure myself he was flesh and blood … again.
When he left us for a second time to ascend into heaven, a part of me wanted to go with him. As he rose, I reached for him, my tear-filled eyes pleading for him to stay and allow me to hold him one last time … to cup my hands and memorize the contours of his face. But in that moment, it became evident, he no longer belonged to me alone. He was God in the flesh, spiritually transformed for us all. He looked into my eyes and gave me comfort. Then he said,
“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power on high.”
While he blessed us, he left and was taken up into heaven.
I don’t have enough words to describe the impact of his promise and the indelible imprint he left on my life. I am indeed a blessed woman of all women. I thank God for finding favor and choosing me to give honor and glory to him, and an opportunity to live out the mission he set before me.
As ordinary as you are, he has designed a mission for each of you … a plan tailor-made which will bring glory and honor to Him.
Listen and Obey.
May our God who knows all grant you peace.
by Donna B. Comeaux
one in a billion women who love the Lord our God
Lesson 3 of 6
March 2, 2022
Sheep shearing season.
Somewhere near the Jezreel Valley, close to the northern mountains of Judah lies an estate belonging to a wealthy Calebite named Nabal, a descendant of the Tribe of Judah. His estate is in Carmel, seven miles from Hebron, at the southern tip of the Dead Sea. Don’t confuse Carmel with Mt. Carmel which is near the Mediterranean Sea.
Years ago twelve men spied out the Land of Canaan. Two were convinced Israel could conquer the land. (Numbers 13:23-33) Caleb and Joshua were the faithful few while the other ten waddled in doubt. God wasn’t pleased and made the Israeli nation wander the wilderness for another 40 years.
The whole family suffered the consequences of someone else’s sin.
Personally speaking, I would be one hot mamma if these ten men caused me to wander the wilderness again. Going without conveniences is no fun — no home to call my own, no modern amenities to make daily life easier to bear, no fresh seasoning for cooking. HA! Instead of grumbling about returning to Egypt, I’d get a frying pan and pop those rascals over the head. You can’t convince me the Israelite women didn’t want to lay hands on them.
Yet, there’s something sobering and familiar about their way of thinking. They, like us, suffer from unbelief.
Abigail is surrounded by men just like this … men who struggle to walk in obedience … men who–no matter how much of God’s power they have witnessed–choose to doubt.
As an example, take a look at King Saul, Nabal, and David.
King Saul is enraged over David’s popularity. The killing of Goliath haunts him. Aware God has taken the kingdom from him aggravates his situation and his jealousy of David turns to hatred. His hate is so overpowering he is willing to kill. Spilling blood hardens his heart and to his unawares sin becomes a slow burn, then an all-consuming fire which engulfs his soul.
The king has gone from innocence and obedience to ruthlessness and murderous conduct. He’s gone from following God’s lead to succumbing to his own desires. When Jacob foretold each tribe’s fate, he described the Tribe of Benjamin this way:
“… a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.” (Genesis 49:27)
In other words, all day long this spirited and warlike (strong and daring) tribe of Israel will prey upon and plunder their enemy to enrich themselves. As further evidence of this tribe’s character, read Judges 19-21. The read will cause you to sit up and pay attention.
King Saul is from the Tribe of Benjamin. He is living up to Jacob’s prophesy.
Nabal is not much better. Though I have no idea what led to his sinister and selfish behavior, one thing is very clear. He possessed enough arrogance to cover a mountain range. He’s described as being, “… surly (hostile, arrogant, mean) and mean in his dealings.” His servants say of him, “He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”
Nabal is no Caleb. He reminds us not everyone born into a good family will walk in full obedience. Undoubtedly, Nabal has either forgotten the story of his family lineage, or accredits himself for his success and flatly refuses to acknowledge God.
Either way, he’s in spiritual trouble.
David, is not thinking straight. His men haven’t eaten and he’s desperate. Nabal’s refusal to accommodate him with food doesn’t make him look good in front of his men. Honor and pride are at stake. He’s in a pickle; justifiably angry, wants to avenge the wrong done to him, and feels the pressure to “do” something to remedy Nabal’s disrespect. He’s not exhibiting the mindset of a future king, but more like an ego-driven man in search of a kill.
The plot thickens because he and Nabal not only know each other, but they’re from the same tribe–the Tribe of Judah–and are distant cousins. If David is successful with his plan to kill Nabal, he could possibly taint his reign on the throne. It never occurs to him that he’s about to replicate King Saul’s murderous behavior and bring God’s wrath down on him.
Abigail is surrounded by three men.
From the same nation.
From two different tribes.
Serving the same God.
People from the same family determined to destroy each other.
All engaging in destructive behavior.
No matter what Abigail chooses to do to save her servants, she could be killed.
King Saul could kill her during his pursuit of David, intercepting her on her way to bring David food then accuse her of helping David escape like he accused the 85 priests he slaughtered earlier. (I Samuel 22)
Nabal could accuse her of being too sympathetic and kill her for extending kindness toward David.
David might kill her for merely being Nabal’s wife, blaming her, in part, for Nabal’s selfishness; giving her no opportunity to explain her position and plea for her servants’ lives. Or worse, he could ignore her pleas and let her watch as he assassinates everyone with his sword.
This beautiful and intelligent woman is the complete opposite of the men around her. She’s brave. Understands the danger before her and still presses forward to save her servants, with no idea how this will end.
What must have gone through her mind when Nabal’s servants reported what he had said to David? Fear had to turn her blood ice cold. Her knee-jerk reaction may have been, “Idiot!” I see her calculating how much time before a barrage of David’s soldiers burst through her door to cut down every man. Images of dead people all over the floor cloud her brain. It unnerves her to think of children whimpering for their mothers, death looming through the thick night air, the horrible stench reeking along corridors.
“This can’t happen,” Abigail says to herself. Before contemplating her next step, fear takes a turn and invigorates her, moving her swiftly through hallways, in and out of servants’ doorways. She rattles off one order after another, pushing people to move faster; snapping her fingers, clapping her hands, commanding them to pull out more grain, gather more figs, feed and water the donkeys.
I see the frenzy of activity … the coordination involved to prepare the load: “… two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seats of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins, and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, …” (I Samuel 25:18) [five seahs are equivalent to: 9 quart; 8.5 liters; or 144 medium size eggs]
Soon, a quiet desperation overtakes Abigail and she visualizes standing–no–kneeling before David, the future king of Israel. “My lord,” she whispers. God’s anointed. Her hands tremble. Acid rises and burns her throat. Abigail coughs. Coughs again. Rips off her headdress. Claps her hands. Servants rush in. “Help me get in more comfortable clothes. I’m going to meet the future king of Israel.” Those words weaken and buckle her knees. Her servants catch her right before she hits the floor. Still, they waste no time to find suitable clothes for her.
Abigail talks to herself, cautions herself not to ask, but to plea with David to not destroy her people.
“What do I say to a king?” In a split second, she whispers, “Nothing. You beg, Abigail. Yes, you beg. Say whatever is necessary to save these people. Exchange your life for theirs if it comes to that.”
So, she paces back and forth, back and forth, practicing her lines.
Confrontational relationships are difficult. You’re constantly on guard. Defensive. You lie to yourself and assert, “It’s me! I need to change.” You go about working harder, praying longer, giving more, only to wake up exhausted, confused, and lost for words. You’re lost for words because you’ve said everything you can think to say to God.
But that’s not entirely true. Is it?
You were never honest. You didn’t tell God how you hated these people who did you wrong. You never told him how bad you wanted to leave. Why would you? You’ve been programmed to accept punishment because you “deserve it.”
What are you to do?
You try again. That’s what you do. You make every effort to please, but again, you’re unsuccessful. You go from doubting the individual causing the discord to doubting yourself. Confidence erodes and you’re forever in search of a moment of peace.
I see Abigail hiding away in one of the many rooms in Nabal’s large estate, trying to appease her disdain for him. How many times was she interrupted by grumbling servants who needed her to intercede on their behalf?
What a dreadful state to be in … to bear the weight of responsibility for a people; and be subservient to a terrible master.
What was it like to sit across the dinner table to watch her husband eat like a glutton and bark orders like a selfish, mindless dog? I don’t think for one moment Nabal’s refusal to give David aid was the first time he had denied anyone food. Yes, he’s done this time and time again. At each unbearable meal, Abigail listens to his misgivings of people who can’t provide for themselves. Never once does he recognize the power he has to help them.
If I were Abigail, I’d escape for a long trek across the Jezebel Valley and not think of returning. The slow journey would provide much needed peace.
But I’m not Abigail.
For whatever reason, Abigail didn’t seek refuge. Was she comfortable? Perhaps. Did she feel a burden of responsibility for her servants? It’s likely. We may never know.
We can, however, relate to what it’s like to be cornered in relationships with people who turn out to be evil doers. We want to distance ourselves, but don’t know how to do so in a godly manner. We don’t want to seem rude. CAUTION: Joseph ran from Potiphar’ wife. Some situations call for drastic action–rude or not. Running might be necessary. There’s no shame in it.
Waiting certainly wasn’t a part of Abigail’s DNA, at least not as far as this story goes. Scripture specifically states, “Abigail acted quickly.” (ESV) “Abigail lost no time.” (NIV)
No sitting and praying and meditating on Torah.
No seeking the counsel of others.
No more pacing the floors in frantic displays of hysteria.
No second-guessing herself.
This woman is on a mission and comprehends what ought to be done.
I love this part of Abigail’s story. She moves with precision, while having no idea if her plan will work or if she will die in the process.
Think about what’s going on here.
The political climate is hostile. The region is on edge. There are fighting skirmishes everywhere. The Amalekites want to kill the Jews. The Philistines want King Saul’s head. A chapter or two ago, King Saul slaughtered the chief priests and about 85 men who wore the linen ephod (priests of the Lord). In addition to killing the priests, he annihilated the city of Nob, including women and children and livestock. (I Samuel 21) WHY? Why would he do such a thing? Because he thought they had helped David escape. All of Judah knows Saul is after David and he will kill anyone who gets in his way. The smell of blood is in the air. Everyone is afraid.
King Saul should have shied away from spilling innocent blood. In a weird sort of way, the blood fueled his hatred rather than curtail it.
Abigail isn’t a woman isolated from the world. She’s up-to-date on the latest news; mindful of the conflicts within the region. She’s made privy of the hot pursuits and skirmishes of war. What she doesn’t know firsthand, her servants are sure to inform her as soon as news arrives.
Too often our Christian brotherhood is lured into thinking they either need to hide away in their homes or should button up and shut up.
This method of survival is short-lived and dangerous. Dangerous because it offers a false sense of security. It allows too much distance between us and the world and weakens opportunities to spread the Word. We can’t show the world how to live out the Word if we don’t interact with them. You can’t be an example to a people with whom you have no contact.
No, Abigail was never on the run. She knew exactly what was happening outside of her home, and keenly aware David would reign over Israel.
Beginning in I Samuel 25:23-31, Abigail shares some of what she knows.
- 1. Abigail and Nabal, along with their servants, knew David before he requested food. God had declared David the next king of Israel through the prophet, Samuel, and word spread among the people.
- 2. Abigail is smart and humble enough to greet David as if he’s already a king. (see v. 23) She acknowledges him as superior to her (see v.24) Her humility reveals her willingness to die.
- 3. After Abigail begs David to listen, she pleads for her life. WHOA!! Where did I see that verse? Look in v. 25. Why do you think Abigail says, “And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” What is Abigail saying? If Abigail wants to save her household, there needs to be a clear distinction between she and Nabal. Abigail probably thought that if David sees her as a mere extension of Nabal, he might kill her. Abigail knows she can’t save her household if she dies before she’s had a chance to plea for her servants’ lives.
- 4. Abigail is smart and strategically redirects (shoulder) blame when necessary. Her goal is to diffuse David’s anger by diverting his attention from Nabal to her. (see v.25) She sees David as powerful and capable of wiping out Nabal’s household.
- 5. Abigail recognizes God’s sovereignty and relationship with David. (see v.26) “Now, since the Lord has kept you, my master, from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, …” This is interesting because God has not kept David from doing anything yet. Let’s hold this thought for a moment. We’ll come back to this.
- 6. Abigail is convinced God will make David’s dynasty a lasting one because David fights the Lord’s battles. (see v.28)
- 7. Abigail wisely helps David see his wrongdoing if he goes through with his plan to destroy his kindred (Nabal). (see v.28) HA!! So, Abigail knows David’s lineage … that David and Nabal are from the Tribe of Judah; that they are distant cousins.
- 8. Abigail knows David’s reputation. (see v.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.“
Notice she uses the word sling in this verse. If David isn’t telling Abigail his story, how does she know about David and Goliath? Let’s not forget the songs sung about David: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (I Samuel 18:7)
David and Goliath’s encounter was a big deal and news spread all over the world. And though David is older now, the stories of his victory are not soon forgotten. Wars won by our God are never kept secret.
The eight things I previously mentioned were taken from Abigail’s plea to David in I Samuel 25:23-31. I want to draw your attention to something you may have missed. Consider what I’m about to say as one of your bible nuggets.
Out of all the things Abigail said, can you distinguish what she knows from what she hopes?
How did she come to know these things?
The majority of what Abigail said are “not” things known to her.
That’s right. She didn’t “know” half of what she said.
You probably think I’m insane. Trust me. She did not “know” most of what she said.
It wasn’t factual.
It was FAITH.
Read the passage of scripture again. Diligently.
Abigail’s plea to David was based on FAITH. She didn’t “know” anything beyond what was common knowledge to her people. She didn’t have the mind of God. She couldn’t see the future. She’s no prophet. Not a priest. Not an angel.
Unlike the ten Israelites who spied out the Land of Canaan, along with Caleb and Joshua, Abigail believed in God and recognized his power and what was possible through him.
Abigail began her plea of mercy–and that’s precisely what it was–a plea of mercy spoken as if it had already come to past. Abigail is bold throughout her petition, hoping but unknowing, for an outcome yet to unfold.
This was a plea spoken in FAITH.
Print out the diagram below. If you can’t print it, draw one. Reread I Samuel 25:23-31. As you read scriptures, on one side of the chart, fill in “What Abigail Knew” and, on the other side of the chart, fill in “What Abigail Hoped.” This is a nice exercise to do with a friend.
While doing this exercise, constantly ask yourself: “Did she really know this?”
MORE THAN LIKELY, you have concluded most of Abigail’s pleas to David were borne of FAITH, not knowledge.
You can’t help but respect the way Abigail navigated through all that was going on around her. Oh, we could say she was trying to save David’s life or trying to prevent his kingdom from being tarnished, but we know full well she was more interested in saving her people. David’s welfare was secondary.
You know what’s intriguing about this story? God had options. He could have gathered a thousand angels to prevent David’s plan of attack. He’s been known to unite an army to fight a battle. At times, he’s used as few as fifty men to fight an enemy. In this story, God uses one person. A woman. Someone who was smart enough to safeguard her plan to save the lives of others. Someone whose need far outweighed David’s thirst for vengeance. Isn’t it amazing how everyone’s need collided, yet God’s plans are uninterrupted?
Abigail’s god-given ability to strategize leave no doubt in my mind that she also used her beauty to capture David’s attention. She could have sent her servants in her name. She chose to go in person.
For one thing, her beauty made David pause; softened his anger. For another, knowing God had approved David’s kingship helped Abigail appeal to David’s sense of reasoning and the possibility he might fall from grace if he acted on his plan to kill Nabal.
Whatever strength she had; whatever tenacity she possessed was derived from the one and only Savior. I’m certain her daily struggles with Nabal equipped her with the necessary boldness to face David. How much worse can it be than daily interactions with a cantankerous old fool?
Trials and tribulations have a way of preparing you for battle.
James 1:2-4, reads: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Nabal was Abigail’s trial. Nabal sat on Abigail’s last nerve, ripping and shredding those synapses into little bitty pieces. God used that evil man to temper Abigail and make her ready for the situation she found herself in with David. For me, Abigail is our first Esther.
There are commentators who look at this story from a different angle, taking the position that Abigail slighted her husband … disrespected Nabal by not sharing her plan to appeal to David. Of course, most of those commentators are men. They imply, “men tell us everything.” Really? What planet do they live on? I like to think Abigail exhibited wisdom by not telling Nabal that she was rushing off to give food to David and beg for the lives of her servants. If Abigail had shared her plan, who’s to say Nabal would not have turned on her and killed everyone.
The man had the understanding of a goat. He’s mean. Hot-headed. Stingy. Arrogant. Wealthy. Intimidating. Insolent (downright rude and insulting). Think about it–if he’s bold enough to give David a piece of his mind–the future king of Israel, then we must conclude he wasn’t about to withhold his evil tongue from his wife.
To reveal Abigail’s intentions is a lot like disclosing a planned attack to your enemy.
Proverbs 10:14 and 12:23, read: “Smart people don’t tell everything they know, but fools tell everything and show they are fools.”
Scriptures warn us we will encounter people like Nabal. It’s spiritual warfare. The Father has written we should ready ourselves for this fight. In Ephesians 6:13, it says: “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
If Abigail had gone to David in any other way than with the spirit of humility, we would not have the opportunity to learn from her story.
Because she’d be dead!
Not every battle is or should be fought with a sharp tongue. It’s unnecessary to scheme and manipulate … lay awake fretting over the misdeeds of others. This battle belongs to the Lord. (II Chronicles 20:15)
You will not fare well, however, if you deny your pain. Emotions may go silent for a time, but trust me, they don’t go poof and vaporize.
To heal, we must admit truth. Your truth. Let God heal.
No matter how ugly you feel toward someone, admit it before God. He won’t leave you. He won’t turn his face from you. Instead, he’ll rescue you and heal you from the poison growing inside you. He can do immeasurably more than you can imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
So, FIGHT BACK! Fight back with OBEDIENCE. OBEY! Even during your trials … in your toughest moments … when confrontations are at their worse, FIGHT BACK!
FIGHT BACK with obedience. Be holy as he is holy. FIGHT BACK with spiritual obedience!!
What type of fighter are you? One who stands ready and prepared? One who will obey even when you don’t want to? (Matthew 21:28-32) Or perhaps you’re someone who likes to peep between the curtains and wait for someone else to do the dirty work? Are you more like David and likely to draw your sword and cut off the heads of those who have offended you? Or do you crave to be more like Abigail, using grace and tenacity, wisdom and patience?
To mimic her, you’ll need to:
- 1. Know your enemy and the danger imposed by them.
- 2. Appeal to God.
- 3. Create a plan before you act or react.
- 4. Be willing to prostrate yourself to bring about peace.
If you’ve done this, then all you must do is WAIT ON THE LORD.
What have we learned from this lesson on Abigail?
- 1. Nothing wrong with Brawn (physical strength), Beauty (pleasing to look upon), and Brains (intelligence). Don’t conceal your intelligence and leave only your beauty to be magnified by the world.
- 2. Understand the world around you. Don’t shelter yourself to the point of ignorance. Stay apprised to the new fads and world events so you can help your family navigate around spiritual and physical danger. You can be holy and aware rather than unholy and consumed.
- 3. Maintain integrity and poise during adversity. No screaming and hollering or going ballistic on others. And stop cursing/cussing. It sounds awful. It’s sinful. You are becoming worldly. Rather, you are called to peace. Don’t react as the world does. No overreacting in private. No overreacting in public. Ever. If you see a sister doing so, consider yourself and correct her with gentleness.
- 4. Failing at point #3–to maintain your integrity and poise during adversity–won’t encourage others to listen to your testimony. Temper yourself so others will consider your faith. Think of Abigail and how she would have been received by David if she were to react like Nabal.
Confrontational relationships are not easy. In your confusion, you don’t know which way to go, or what to say. Close communion with God determines how well you’ll listen to his voice. A lack of communion increases our potential to spiritually fail.
Where there is a slack in obedience, there is sin. Sin grows. Like a roaring lion, it crouches and waits for an opportunity to devour you.
Let God do what he does best. Love. Heal. Forgive.
Don’t aggravate volatile situations. If you do, you may be the one who suffers the consequences for someone else’s bad behavior.
WAIT ON GOD. Even if it means you might appear to be the one in the wrong for a time. WAIT ON GOD. He will vindicate you.
Feed off God’s Word. Let it nourish you so you can spiritually grow stronger to ward off the devil’s evil schemes. Fear not! For if God is for you, who can be against you. (Romans 8:31)
Walk in His ways and remain OBEDIENT. Keep in mind that you are not the only one who will suffer from your sins. Continue to do wrong and your entire household will suffer … the entire family of God will suffer. Remain OBEDIENT.
Go in peace.
by Donna B. Comeaux
another woman out of billions who love the Lord our God