31 Days – Abigail and the Provision of Sensibility {Day 28}

by Lynn on October 28, 2012

Abigail and DavidThe story of Abigail takes place during the time when Israel is ruled by her first king. The people had clamored for leadership like their pagan neighbors had, so God gave them Saul. Unfortunately Saul had developed some significant character flaws and had become disobedient. So God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint a shepherd boy by the name of David to become Israel’s second king. Well, this didn’t sit too well with Saul, who was jealous of David’s popularity after that whole Goliath incident. He attempts to have David killed, and so now David is on the run. Despite being hunted like a criminal, some of the priests help David with provisions, and he has amassed an impressive group of 600 fighting men.

When our story opens, David and his men are in the area of Carmel. It is sheep-shearing time, and they’ve been providing protection for a group of local herders who work for a man called Nabal. Now, the name “Nabal” can be translated “fool” so you can probably see where this story is going. In addition to being a fool, he is also mean and surly and all around just a very disagreeable man. After the servants of Nabal return home, David sends some servants of his own to ask Nabal for a bit of consideration, along the lines of food and provisions. After all, his men did provide protection for the shearers allowing them to do their jobs effectively, thereby increasing the profits for their master. Respectfully, David sends a message to Nabal.

So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!

“‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’” When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited.  1 Samuel 25:5-9, NIV

So this is where the “fool” in Nabal rears his ugly head.

Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word.  1 Samuel 25:10-12, NIV

Well, now David and his men are not only hungry, but insulted. And as hot-headed men frequently do when they are ticked off, they make rash decisions.

David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.  1 Samuel 25:13, NIV

Whoa, Nellie! Now Nabal is in for it. David and 400 of his closest friends are on their way to teach Nabal a lesson he’ll never forget! Servants of the household get word of this and knowing that all of their lives are in danger, they go to Nabal’s wife for help. Abigail is nothing like her dim-witted husband. She is not only beautiful, but intelligent, honorable and just. She is sensible, practical, organized, responsible and a champion problem-solver. The servants are confident that Abigail will know just what to do.

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. 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. Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 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.”  1 Samuel 25:14-17, NIV

Abigail springs into action (motivated) and comes up with a plan (takes charge). From her well-stocked pantry (resourceful), she quickly assembles a picnic feast (organized). She does not tell her husband (sensible).

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. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.  1 Samuel 25:18-19, NIV

Meanwhile, David has been stewing about the insult over the course of his journey. His anger has risen to a fever pitch and his plans for Nabal have escalated.

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. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”  1 Samuel 25:21-22, NIV

Just as David is mulling over his revenge, Abigail comes into view.

As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 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. 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. 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. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.  1 Samuel 25:20, 23-27, NIV

David is taken off-guard, and Abigail has disarmed him with her beauty, her intelligence, her kindness and her respect. And she comes bearing food.

Abigail goes further to acknowledge David’s destiny as the future king of Israel, reminding him that taking revenge on her foolish husband would only burden David later on with a guilty conscious.

“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. 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. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 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.”  1 Samuel 25:28-31, NIV

David is completely wowed. The lady is smart, and she is right.

David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 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.” 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.”  1 Samuel 25:32-35, NIV

David respects Abigail and is thankful for her sensibility. After having an intelligent conversation with a respectful man, Abigail returns home to find her own husband drunk. She waits until morning to tell Nabal everything that had happened. He is not pleased. About ten days later, God strikes Nabal and he dies. When David learns about Nabal, he is happy that God has avenged him, but even more happy that Abigail is left without a husband. After all, she’s so beautiful and intelligent, that what she really needs is a husband who will love and respect her, and treat her in a way that she deserves to be treated. Hmmm… who might David have in mind for that assignment?

His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.” She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.  1 Samuel 25:40-42, NIV

God used the sensibility of an intelligent woman to avert bloodshed. Lives were spared, David was kept from sinning, and Abigail became the wife of a king.

Abigail’s story was one of crisis, but God’s provision was one of sensibility.

Join me tomorrow for a story involving a reluctant matchmaker, some thirsty camels, and a provision of direction!

If you’ve missed any part of this series, you can find all of the posts in the side bar category 31 Days of God’s Provision.

On the journey toward Home,

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