The Heroine Abigail –
Abigail was a beautiful, intelligent woman and one of the most overlooked heroines in the Bible. She was remarkable, especially considering the ancient times she lived in, but her story can still be applied to our lives today. Her saga is empowering and many women will be able to relate to the value of her discretion and strength in the midst of trying circumstances.
Abagail carried a burden in her heart, she was married to Nabel but it was not a good match. They were practically opposites.
“She was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings.” – 1 Samuel 25:3 NKJV
Nabel was a rich, mean brute, who owned extensive property near the area where the future King David and his men held camp. David’s presence close to Nabel’s property gave his household security and guarded them from marauders but Nabel, in his arrogance, did not see it that way.
One day David sent messengers to Nabel’s home and politely asked if they could “share any provisions they might have on hand.” Nabel mocked and refused them. He said, “Who is this David.” “Do you think I’m going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheep shearers and give it to men I’ve never laid eyes on?” It seemed Nabel thought David was trying to extort ‘protection’ money.
Well, David was powerful, he had fame and some hubris himself, so when David’s servants told him what transpired, he was highly insulted and ready to destroy them all. “Strap on your swords,” he commanded! Four hundred of his men set out. – 1 Samuel 25: 12-13
Abigail’s terrified servants alerted her of the horrible mistake her husband had made. “David sent messengers from the backcountry to salute our master, but he tore into them with insults. Yet these men treated us very well,” they told her. “Do something quickly because big trouble is ahead for our master and all of us. Nobody can talk to him.” – 1 Samuel 25: 14-17
They all feared for their lives. After all, David had slain the giant Goliath! Nabel did not have very good sense. Thank goodness Abigail did. She was clever and quick-thinking and took heroic measures to save her family.
“Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep dressed out and ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes, and she had it all loaded on some donkeys. Then she said to her young servants, ‘Go ahead and pave the way for me. I’m right behind you.’ But she said nothing to her husband Nabal.” – 1 Samuel 25: 18-19 MSG”
Meanwhile, as David rode on to seek his revenge, his anger grew. He grumbled, “That sure was a waste, guarding everything this man had out in the wild so that nothing he had was lost—and now he rewards me with insults. A real slap in the face! May God do his worst to me if Nabal and every cur in his misbegotten brood aren’t dead meat by morning!” – 1 Samuel 25: 20-22 MSG
“As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and fell on her knees at his feet, her face to the ground in homage, saying, ‘My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him.'” – 1 Samuel 25: 23-25 MSG
Abigail went on the explain that she was not there when David’s men arrived. She reasoned with him and chose her words carefully. She didn’t point out that David would be wrong to take revenge; instead she turned his focus to how God was working in his life and spoke as if God and David had already chosen not to shed blood. By humbly going to David and honoring him, she was able to diffuse the situation. Her wise words and respectful manner towards him were important in saving her entire household from David’s wrath.
Abigail Gives a Blessing
Abagail humbled herself far more than her high social status required. Recognizing David’s anointing, Abigail referred to David as her “master”. “Forgive my presumption,” she said. “But God is at work in my master, developing a rule solid and dependable. My master fights God’s battles! As long as you live no evil will stick to you. If anyone stands in your way, if anyone tries to get you out of the way, Know this: Your God-honored life is tightly bound in the bundle of God-protected life; But the lives of your enemies will be hurled aside as a stone is thrown from a sling. – 1 Samuel 25: 28-29 MSG
Abagail prophecies with these final words, “When God completes all the goodness he has promised my master and sets you up as prince over Israel, my master will not have this dead weight in his heart, the guilt of an avenging murder. And when God has worked things for good for my master, remember me.” – 1 Samuel 25: 30-31 MSG
Abigail Recieves a Blessing
David saw saw beyond Abigail’s beauty and saluted her as a good, smart woman. He thanked God for blessing her with sound judgement and reasoning that kept him from revenge.
“And David said, ‘Blessed be God, the God of Israel. He sent you to meet me! And blessed be your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and taking charge of looking out for me. A close call! As God lives, the God of Israel who kept me from hurting you, if you had not come as quickly as you did, stopping me in my tracks, by morning there would have been nothing left of Nabal but dead meat.’” 1 Samuel 25: 32-34 MSG
David accepted the gifts Abigail brought to him and blessed her with peace and understanding. I can imagine how she must have felt meeting a young, strong, reasonable man like David. He was more of a match to her qualities than Nabel. Could there have been a touch of longing in her heart? Yet, Abigail returned to her husband.
When Abigail arrived home, she found her husband partying and very drunk, she did not speak to him will he was intoxicated. In the morning, when he sobered up, she told him the whole story of their ‘close call’. Right then and there, he had a heart attack. He died about ten days later.
After Nabel’s death, David sent his servants to asked Abigail to marry him. She eagerly accepted and went to him with five of her maids in attendance. Could David’s proposal have been a strategic move? Now doubt, he considered the fact that he was chosen as the future King of Israel. Maybe it was only a gesture of kindness? In the Jewish tradition, Jews were exhorted to be benevolent toward widows. It might be that David was in love, smitten by her wisdom and beauty. Jewish Rabbi’s call her “one of the four most beautiful woman who ever lived.” In any case, Abigail was lovely and I think David was a blessed man!
A peacemaker, Abigail saved lives and kept David from sinning. She took risks to honor God over man. Abigail is known as a woman of faith and David’s wisest wife. Jewish Rabbis depict Abagai as wise and practical with qualities of positiveness and goodness.
I was particularly impressed by the talented artist, Sarah Beth Baca and her interpretation of Abigail. I think her portrait captures the heroine’s beauty and character, and yet still holds a lot of her mystery.
In her ancient world, where women were defined by their husbands, Abagail stands out as an independent thinker, confident in her own skin. I like this story because it points out that, you are allowed to use your common sense in the Christian idea of submission to your husband. Submission is dependent on you husband’s godliness and God’s covering over his actions. Abigail was the one who acted godly, not her husband. You are not required to acquiesce to a husband’s stupidity and rudeness. It’s regretful, that sometimes the Bible is wrongly used to subjugate women.
The Bible contains many things that only apply to the culture of those times, for example, most of the book of Leviticus and some of Paul’s writings on gender and slavery. I consider myself Christian but I do not adopt everything in the Bible literally. Abigail was just one of David’s several wives, he already had a wife when he married her. That wouldn’t be allowed today. I have never found a church or group of Christians that agreed on everything in the Bible or interpreted it the exact same way; nevertheless, this story is rich with good spiritual and practical information for me to apply to my life today.
I bought Sara Beth Baca’s lovely art print and keep it in my office as a reminder of God’s goodness and power in forming our character. The print can be purchased here.
As we continue to seek wisdom, we ask ourselves, “How can I be an ‘Abigail’ in my family and sphere of influence?”
Thank you God, I have a loving, honest and open relationship with my husband. May we build each other up in moral strength. Father continue to strengthen and shape our relationship. Guide me to be a good helpmate to my spouse. God, I ask that you restore marriages that are broken and heal relationships. All things are possible through your love, mercy, grace and goodness.
As women rise in power, may we lead in God’s strength. May we all be blessed with Abigail’s wisdom, bravery, upstanding character and good sense. The world needs this now more than ever.
~ Blessings, Linda
“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.” – Psalm 119:66