October 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Abigail is one of my favorite female Bible characters. She has a wonderful character, is kind, is gracious, and is the complete opposite of her foolish husband. We see her godly nature in her brief record in 1 Samuel 25:2-42.
The story unfolds as follows: David has come to Nabal’s house on a feast day, and because of the kindness his servants bestowed on Nabal’s servants (as well as, I assume, because of a culture of hospitality), David expects to dine with Nabal on this feast day. According to verse 2, Nabal is “was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats.” (I Samuel 25:2 NKJV). He certainly had enough food to feed his household and David’s entourage. Yet, he is described as “harsh and evil in his doings” and even his name means fool (I Samuel 25:3 NKJV). Therefore, he answers David’s kind request with a harsh answer; “Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said,
“Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” (I Samuel 25:10, 11 NKJV).
His selfishness almost brings about his ruin and his death, for David became so angry that he rallied his men to get ready for war against Nabal.
Thankfully, the story does not end with massive amounts of bloodshed. A young servant, perhaps knowing of Abigail’s godly character, tells her of David’s intentions due to Nabal’s foolishness. He defends David’s request because David’s servants had shown kindness to him and his fellow servants; he says,
“Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them. But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.” (I Samuel 25:14-17 NKJV).
Abigail, in her wisdom and kindness, hastily set up a feast as a peace offering to David and rode to where he was. And she arrived right on time, for David had said that because Nabal repaid him evil for good, he would not leave one man alive in the household. But here comes Abigail who, once she sees the king, falls prostrate before him and asks him for his pardon.
Now, she does something interesting in asking for David’s forgiveness; she asks him to place her husband’s iniquity on herself. She knows that Nabal is his namesake, a fool, and she wishes that she had met David first. I wanted to focus on this first part of her address to David because it reminds me so much of the plan of salvation. Are we humans not fools? Full of sin? Often repaying evil for good? Just as Nabal thinks that he can slight David although he has provided protection to his house, we think that we can slight God and ignore the blessings that He has given us. In our sin, we deserve to die. Note that God is not looking to punish us for our sins, but He is a God of justice. According to Romans 6:23, the result of sin is death. But the verse doesn’t end there; it continues to say that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus says to God, “Let their iniquities fall on Me. I’ll die the death that they should that may live eternally with you.” It is through Jesus that we can have eternal life. Abigail took on this role of intercessor and gave Nabal the opportunity to humble himself and live. David accepted her request for pardon and rescinded his previous statement on killing all the males in Nabal’s house.
With this good news, Abigail went back home tell Nabal of how David decided to spare his life. What does she find? Nabal feasting like a king and drinking to excess. Because of his drunkenness, Abigail didn’t tell him the news until the next morning. When she told him, “his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it happened, after about ten days, that the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.” (I Samuel 25:37-38 NKJV). Nabal was feasting perhaps because he thought he was safe from David’s wrath. It was only when Abigail told him how close he and every male in his house was to death, his pride took a fall and his heart failed him. The consequences of his previous actions had caught up to him, and because of his foolishness, he died within ten days.
Abigail embodies the character of Christ in how she humbles herself before David and intercedes for her husband. Nabal elevated himself to his ruin while Abigail humbled herself to her exaltation (she later became David’s wife). Didn’t Christ humble Himself as well when He died for our sins? He thought nothing of Himself while on the cross, but He only thought of saving us.
Lastly I’d like to leave you with this quote from Daughters of God by Ellen White:
“In the character of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, we have an illustration of womanhood after the order of Christ, while her husband illustrates what a man may become who yields himself to the control of Satan.”
When we have a character like Christ’s, God will lift us up. And I pray that we can all live a Christ-like life.