One of my all time favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Abigail found in 1 Samuel 25: 2-42. By the way, what a wonderful name for a girl?! Most “Abby’s” we know are probably short for Abigail. Abigail means: “the joy of her father!”
Ironically, when you read the Matthew Henry Commentary for this passage it is under the heading, “the story of Nabal,” who is Abigail’s husband. But I like to call it “the story of Abigail!”
1 Samuel 25: 2-42: (The Message)
"There was a certain man in Maon who carried on his business in the region of Carmel. He was very prosperous—three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and it was sheep-shearing time in Carmel. The man's name was Nabal (Nabal means: Fool), a Calebite, and his wife's name was Abigail. The woman was intelligent and good-looking, the man brutish and mean.
David, out in the backcountry, heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep and sent ten of his young men off with these instructions: "Go to Carmel and approach Nabal. Greet him in my name, 'Peace! Life and peace to you. Peace to your household, peace to everyone here! I heard that it's sheep-shearing time.’"
Here's the point: When your shepherds were camped near us we didn't take advantage of them. They didn't lose a thing all the time they were with us in Carmel. Ask your young men—they'll tell you. What I'm asking is that you be generous with my men—share the feast! Give whatever your heart tells you to your servants and to me, David your son.
David's young men went and delivered his message word for word to Nabal. Nabal tore into them, "Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I'm going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I've never laid eyes on? Who knows where they've come from?"
David's men got out of there and went back and told David what he had said. David said, "Strap on your swords!" They all strapped on their swords, David and his men, and set out, four hundred of them. Two hundred stayed behind to guard the camp.
Meanwhile, one of the young shepherds told Abigail, Nabal's wife, what had happened: "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 took nothing from us and didn't take advantage of us all the time we were in the fields. They formed a wall around us, protecting us day and night all the time we were out tending the sheep. Do something quickly because big trouble is ahead for our master and all of us. Nobody can talk to him. He's impossible—a real brute!"
Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, and 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.
As she was riding her donkey, descending into a ravine, David and his men were descending from the other end, so they met there on the road. David had just said, "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!"
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.
"I wasn't there when the young men my master sent arrived. I didn't see them. And now, my master, as God lives and as you live, God has kept you from this avenging murder—and may your enemies, all who seek my master's harm, end up like Nabal! Now take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to my master, and give it to the young men who follow in the steps of my master.
"Forgive my presumption! 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.
"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."
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."
Then David accepted the gift she brought him and said, "Return home in peace. I've heard what you've said and I'll do what you've asked."
When Abigail got home she found Nabal presiding over a huge banquet. He was in high spirits—and very, very drunk. So she didn't tell him anything of what she'd done until morning. But in the morning, after Nabal had sobered up, she told him the whole story. Right then and there he had a heart attack and fell into a coma. About ten days later God finished him off and he died.
When David heard that Nabal was dead he said, "Blessed be God who has stood up for me against Nabal's insults, kept me from an evil act, and let Nabal's evil boomerang back on him."
Then David sent for Abigail to tell her that he wanted her for his wife. David's servants went to Abigail at Carmel with the message, "David sent us to bring you to marry him."
She got up, and then bowed down, face to the ground, saying, "I'm your servant, ready to do anything you want. I'll even wash the feet of my master's servants!"
Abigail didn't linger. She got on her donkey and, with her five maids in attendance, went with the messengers to David and became his wife.”
I want to make 4 points from this passage! First a little background:
Nabal was from the house of Caleb, and he had inherited Caleb’s estate in the cities of Maon and Carmel. The Commentary said, “Nabal inherited Caleb’s estate; but he was far from inheriting his virtues!”
Nabal was evil and a fool! Nabal’s shepherds and hired help were out in the fields taking care of all of Nabal’s investments, and these shepherds were in the cross fires of the Philistines and the people they were fighting. Two chapters before, in 1 Samuel 23, we read:
“The Philistines were fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the threshing floors.”
Keilah was about 8 miles from Hebron. Hebron was right next to Maon and Carmel, and as stated earlier that was the location of Caleb’s estate.
So David’s soldiers protected Nabal’s innocent shepherds and hired help just because of his soldiers’ integrity and good moral character. That was David’s expectation for them, and they delivered.
So David sends some men to Nabal and basically asks for food…he is like, “look, with all due respect, we have taken care of your hired help, we protected them, and we never took a thing from them, can we have some food…not even a lot of food, just give them what you can spare.”
Nabal made a huge mistake! He not only said, “no,” but his response was one of indignation that anyone would ask such a thing of him.
POINT 1 from this passage:
We must never forget that everything we have belongs to God!
I love the this quote from the Commentary:
“Whereas we mistake if we think we are absolute lords of what we have and may do what we please with it. No, we are but stewards, and must use it as we are directed, remembering it is not our own, but His that entrusted us with it.”
That was one of Nabal’s many mistakes…he forgot that everything he had was not really his! We can all learn from this message, whether it is our own lives, our children, our “things,” everything is from God, and we are but stewards and should surrender them to Him and have Him direct what we do with it.
So word gets back to David, and basically he is furious!
Verse 13 says,
“Then David said to his men, “Every man gird on his sword.” So every man girded on his sword, and David also girded on his sword. And about 400 men went with David.”
POINT 2 from this passage:
Let’s be slow to react and slow to anger when someone wrongs us!
David, more than anyone, knew that Revenge belongs to the Lord!
He was about to take matters into his own hand! We can all identify with David, and we can easily make a case for the way he reacted and responded, but remember: Our ways are not God’s ways!
So Abigail gets word about what is going on, and she springs into action.
All the commentaries on this passage agree that she was a very wise and prudent woman. Several referenced the Proverbs 31 woman, one saying:
“A virtuous woman will herself look well to the ways of her household, and not delegate this duty wholly upon others.”
She didn’t assign the task to a servant, she didn’t go and tell all her girlfriends about it and get their input, she didn’t call her mom and say, “Mom, what do I do?
She was wise, and she knew what she had to do. She knew how to manage the situation, and she knew there was no time to waste!
She goes to meet David. She fell on her face before him, humbling herself and apologizing for the rudeness of her husband!
The Commentary says: “she put herself into the place and posture of a penitent and of a petitioner, and was not ashamed to do it when it was for the good of her house, in the sight both of her own servants and of David’s soldiers.”
POINT 3 from this passage! When it comes to our husbands, our children, our households, we have to be willing to humble ourselves and do whatever we have to, to protect, to provide, to prevent or to purpose! Team __(Your Family Name)_____! Take one for the TEAM!
She even took the blame for what her husband did! She was like, what do you expect from him, his name means Fool!
At that point, she was in survival mode! She had everyone from her husband’s estate on her shoulders!
She reminds David that God will fight his battles. She reminds him that vengeance belongs to the Lord!
She knows God. She knows the ways of God. She uses this knowledge to make her case before David! She is full of wisdom!
She tells him that after all is said and done, and when David reflects on allowing God to handle the situation, that he will be free of any guilt or regret, and he will be so glad!
30-31 "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.”
Ultimately, she saves David from doing something that he would terribly regret and would, at worst, anger God but at least, grieve God!
POINT 4 from this passage: When we are tempted to sin we should consider consequences. We need to try and think about our actions. Let us never do anything for which our own consciences will afterwards have occasion to find fault with us, and which we look back on with regret.
Another observation about this passage is how it reveals the fact that David was in tune with God. He was in communication with Him every day, and David had completely surrendered to Him. I can’t help but notice that God sent Abigail to prevent David from committing this major sin! Verse 22 says he had planned to annihilate every last one of those men, and those men were innocent! It wasn’t their fault their boss was an ass!
David not only takes the advice of Abigail, but he thanks her and blesses her!
“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.”
God took care of the situation! Nabal’s men were saved. Nabal died shortly after of a natural death, and David married Abigail so she was well taken care of too!
I want to close with the words from my Bible, the NKJV Spirit-Filled Bible, that describe this passage:
Women in God’s Design, which is under the heading of “A Woman of Understanding:”
“Abigail’s life was difficult. Her husband was harsh and evil in his doings. Yet Abigail was a woman of good understanding. She was wise, respectful, and obviously kept her heart right before the Lord. When her husband played the fool, she did not try to change his behavior, but she did intervene. She went directly to David to intercede for the lives of her people. So struck was David by her courage and wisdom that he not only spared her people, but with great respect he also heeded her counsel, which had eternal consequences for his own life. Abigail knew God and His ways. As a result, God could use her to powerfully influence others – even a king!”
Yes, we can all learn from Abigail. She was a woman of understanding, and we can be one, too. Amen.