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
Donna Donna Donna..this was so eye-opening! Again, I have never viewed Abigail and her story in this light. You made her come to life, so funny and kinda like you🙂. Thank you so much for letting Papa use you….and for sharing. Blessings dear sis,!
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