One Smart Broad!

abigail

We all admire smart, clever people. How did they get that way?, we wonder. Were they born smart? Did simply go to all the right schools? Let’s face it, some people are just smarter than others. Think about a guy named Blaise Pascal. He wrote a treatise on vibrating bodies at the age of nine. Vibrating bodies. Most nine year olds are vibrating bodies. Little Blaise was writing about them. Or how about Karl Benz? He had tons of educational achievements by age 19. He would go on to found Mercedes-Benz and design the Benz-Patent Motorwagen, widely regarded as the very first automobile. And there was H.P. Lovecraft, who at the age to two began reciting poems. At five, he was writing them. These are child prodigies, and they are rare. Most of us normal folk have to learn things the hard way. We gain knowledge and wisdom from many sources: our parents, peers, teachers, friends and co-workers. Most of us learn a lot from our own mistakes.

The greatest source of wisdom, though, is the Bible. From its pages we learn everything we need to live “the good life.” We can read about what good people and bad people did and learn from their lives. We can see how godly people walked in the wisdom of the Lord. Such a wise person was Abigail. Her story is found in 1 Samuel 25.

1 Samuel 25:2 – 9

Scholars say this chapter is about one aspect or event of David’s life as a fugitive, but really the chapter is about a most remarkable woman.

After the death of Samuel, David moved into the desert wilderness of Paran. While he was there, he met and got to know a man named Nabal, who was a successful sheep and goat herder. Nabal’s wife was Abigail, whose name means, “my father’s joy.”

She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite. (1 Samuel 25:3 NIV)

Right away we can see the stark difference between Nabal and Abigail. She was “intelligent and beautiful,” her father’s joy, but her husband was “surly and mean.” In fact, his name means, “fool.” So at the beginning of this story we can see two opposites that probably never really got a long.

David made a reasonable request of Nabal:

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. (1 Samuel 25:8 NIV)

David was looking for a “contribution,” and his request was made in a polite, reasonable manner. David and his men had treated Nabal’s men well, and he expected similar treatment. You’ll note that David’s request was made on a day of festivities. Sharing good things with others at such a time was a tradition, so that made David’s request even more reasonable.

1 Samuel 25:10 – 17

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?” (1 Samuel 25:10, 11 TLB)

Talk about contemptible! “Arrogant” doesn’t begin to describe this man Nabal. He treated David like a runaway slave and refused his request. This infuriated David. He called his men to arms. Things looked bad for Nabal.

Enter Abigail, the wise voice of reason. She must have known what a total boob her husband was and she knew they were in trouble. She came up with a plan. Abigail showed great wisdom here. She knew she had to act and act quickly to defuse the situation. She clearly knew her husband well and she knew talking to him would be a waste of time. She showed the same kind of wisdom David showed. Think about it. David acted reasonably and honorably with Nabal. Nabal acted like a fool; he gave absolutely no thought of the consequences of his shoddy treatment of David. Her plan showed sheer genius.

1 Samuel 18 – 31

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 raisin and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. hen she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:18, 19 TLB)

And why would she? She was trying to undo the potential damage caused by Nabal’s idiotic response to David’s request. She knew that her husband would have killed David, so she kept her plan from him.

Abigail approached David with the exact opposite attitude of that of her husband. In great humility, she addressed him in such a way as to demonstrate just how wise and discerning she was. Nabal certainly didn’t deserve a wife like this!

“I accept all blame in this matter, my lord,” she said. “Please listen to what I want to say. Nabal is a bad-tempered boor, but please don’t pay any attention to what he said. He is a fool—just like his name means. But I didn’t see the messengers you sent. Sir, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, I pray by the life of God, and by your own life too, that all your enemies shall be as cursed as Nabal is. And now, here is a present I have brought to you and your young men.  Forgive me for my boldness in coming out here. The Lord will surely reward you with eternal royalty for your descendants, for you are fighting his battles; and you will never do wrong throughout your entire life.” (1 Samuel 25:24 – 28 TLB)

You can sense the admiration this woman had for David. Remember, this is young David; this was years before he got into trouble with sin. He’s as pure as the driven snow at this point in his life. Abigail wasn’t a prophet, but she was smart enough to realize that David was special; that God’s had was on him and that one day he would be a renowned leader .

1 Samuel 25:32 – 35

David for his part could see the wisdom in Abigail’s suggestion to him. Not rushing to judgment against Nabal would save him from years of regret down the road. Not only did he see the wisdom in what she said, but he was grateful to her for saying it. As far as David was concerned, the Lord Himself had sent Abigail to him to keep him from taking vengeance into his own hands. David well knew the words of the law:

Vengeance is mine, and I decree the punishment of all her enemies: Their doom is sealed. (Deuteronomy 32:35 TLB)

Abigail’s plan worked.

Then David accepted her gifts and told her to return home without fear, for he would not kill her husband. (1 Samuel 25:35 TLB)

1 Samuel 25:36 – 39

When Abigail got home, she found Nabal in the midst of a crazy party. This man was drunk out of his mind; he had thrown a party for no particular reason.

In the morning, though, it was a different story. She told her husband what she had done, and what happened next couldn’t have been written by Hollywood screenwriter:

…when his wife told him what had happened, he had a stroke and lay paralyzed for about ten days, then died, for the Lord killed him. (1 Samuel 25:38 TLB)

God is given credit for Nabal’s death, but the man had probably been heading to the grave for a long time. He had a bad attitude and he lived a hard life. Although, David’s response seems to indicate God’s had was in this fool’s death.

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the Lord! God has paid back Nabal and kept me from doing it myself; he has received his punishment for his sin.” (1 Samuel 25:39 TLB)

1 Samuel 25:40 – 42

David probably remembered something this beautiful woman had said to him:

And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me!

And he did! David remembered Abigail and he wanted to marry her. Why? Well, she was beautiful to be sure. But there was more to it than that. She had saved his reputation and possibly his life with her timely intervention. He knew he loved her. And she loved him.

When the messengers arrived at Carmel and told her why they had come, she readily agreed to his request. Quickly getting ready, she took along five of her serving girls as attendants, mounted her donkey, and followed the men back to David. So she became his wife. (1 Samuel 25:40 – 42 TLB)

And she knew a good thing when it came along.

Up till this point in the story, it’s like a Hallmark movie of the week. But what we read next was something God most certainly did not approve of.

David also married Ahinoam from Jezreel. (1 Samuel 25:43 TLB)

Huh? Where did she come from? Grammatically, David’s marriage to Ahinoam took place before his marriage to Abigail. Just who was she? Most Bible scholars believe this Ahinoam was the wife of King Saul. By taking her as his wife, David had asserted his claim on Saul’s throne.  God had already given the throne to David, but David felt he needed to “do something” to speed things up.

The theme of 1 Samuel 25 is a simple one. David could have killed a man to marry that man’s wife, but he didn’t.  Unfortunately, 2 Samuel 11 carries a similar theme but ends badly. There, David did indeed kill a man, Uriah, so that he could have that man’s wife, Bathsheba. In these two chapters, we see the ascent of David and his descent. David was an amazing man on many levels. But he was just a man. He was a man who loved God but a man riddled with sin. Too bad the David of 1 Samuel 25 didn’t stick around.

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