David and Abigail

There are a number of adjectives that come to mind for Israel’s King David, but boring isn’t one of them.  David’s life received considerable coverage in the Old Testament giving us an account of his triumphs and tragedies.  He was a complicated character such as being both a psalmist and a warrior.  He showed tremendous faith at times but he had his character flaws as we all do.

His life story has a full cast of interesting characters.  To name a few:  the king who preceded him, Saul, who sought to kill him; his best friend Jonathan who was Saul’s son; one of his own sons, Absalom, who sought to take his throne away from him; and there were some wives and concubines.

He wasn’t your typical king because shepherd boys don’t grow up to become kings.  As a general rule, they are born into a royal family and their title is Prince before King.  Some princes become kings in their early years; whereas, there is one like Prince Charles, a senior citizen still waiting for his turn.  David had a long wait himself.  At a young age, David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel.  The anointing was just the beginning of his long journey from tending sheep to reigning over Israel.

In this journey to the throne, there was a number of critical moments where if David had made a different decision, his journey could have ended without a crown.  In one of those critical moments, David was assisted by a woman who played a pivotal role in David taking the high road instead of giving in to his anger.

Her name was Abigail, the wife of a wealthy man by the name of Nabal.  When Abigail and David encountered one another in 1 Samuel 25, David was a fugitive living on the run from King Saul.  Saul figured out that David was the one whom God had chosen to take the throne after him and foolishly sought to keep that from happening.

Abigail’s marriage gave her considerable social standing, judging by the fact that she had maidservants.  However, she had a big problem.  One that money and social standing must have given her little comfort.  Her husband is described in scripture as “a hard man and an evildoer”.

According to 1 Samuel 25:4-12, David, in need of supplies, sends some of his men to seek provisions from Nabal. He tells the messengers to remind Nabal that David’s men had protected Nabal’s shepherds in the wilderness.   Nabal doesn’t agree he is under any obligation to help David no way and no how.  He essentially tells David to take a hike.

David is incensed at Nabal’s response.  He ordered his men to arm themselves and take provisions from Nabal by force.  Meanwhile, a servant of Nabal brought word of David’s request for provisions and Nabal’s utter rejection of David’s request to Abigail.  It is worthy to note that Nabal’s servant approached Abigail for help.  Evidently, the servant didn’t see Abigail as a weak character and thought that Abigail was at least someone who could possibly avert a showdown.  Truth was, she was the only hope to change David’s mind.

Fearing that David and his army would take what they wanted by force, Abigail was prompted to act.  It was no small thing for this wife to work against her husband by gathering supplies to give to David in defiance of Nabal’s wishes.  She rides out to meet David.  Her motives?  Was she just trying to save herself?  Did she fear to lose the status of wealth?  Or, was she concerned not only for herself but not wanting there to be any loss of life and property?  We don’t have a window into her thoughts.  It just tells us in the scripture the actions she took.

As she came on a donkey near to where David was, Abigail heard David cursing Nabal for his unkindness and swearing revenge against Nabal and those related to him. Abigail prostrated herself before David and pleaded with him to take his anger at Nabal out on her instead.  She apologized for her husband’s behavior, acknowledging her husband was wrong in his treatment towards David and his men.

Abigail demonstrated what a shrewd diplomat she was by assuring David that no harm would come to him because he was God’s choice to be the next King.  What she said was pleasing and reassuring to David’s ears.  Abigail succeeded in calming David down enough that he reconsidered punishing Nabal.  He was persuaded to leave Nabal in God’s hands.  Abigail not only saved herself and her family, she also saved David from committing murders that would not have set well with God.  David could have met the same fate as his predecessor, King Saul, who got in trouble with God for forgetting just who hired him to be king in the first place.

Abigail returned home to find her husband wining and dining.  He went to bed drunk as a skunk.  She waited until the morning when he sobered up before telling him about her conversation with David.  His reaction to learning of his wife’s intervention which saved his neck, the scripture says that “his courage failed him, and he became like a stone. About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died” (1 Samuel 25: 37-38). Abigail then inherited Nabal’s fortune.

When David got word that Nabal had died, he praised God and wasted no time in proposing to Nabal’s wise, beautiful, and rich widow.  Another question:  why did David marry Abigail?  Was he smitten with her at first sight?  Was is love at first sight for Abigail?  Was it her wealth that attracted David to Abigail?  Perhaps he thought that the status and wealth Abigail possessed would help him build support among the people.  Was Abigail drawn to David because he was the future King of Israel?  One can only speculate.

What I do take from the story is that Abigail went where she needed to go that day, met whom she needed to meet, and said what she needed to say.  The story of David might have taken a different turn if she hadn’t followed the conviction on her heart.  We shouldn’t ignore a tug on our heart.  Even a simple act of kindness has been known to change a life, or even save it.

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