Abigail: A Profile in Courage

Posted By on Oct 26, 2020 | 0 comments


Abigail was known for her intelligence, beauty, and courageousness.  Her name mean’s, “My father is joy”.  Abigail’s intelligence would end up saving her own life, her husband’s life [temporarily]; and keep the soon to be king, David from sinning against God.  Conversely, Abigail’s Husband named Nabal, was harsh, miserly, and evil in his dealings (1 Sam. 25:3).  The name Nabal means “fool” and even his own wife referred to him in derogatory fashion: “For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him…” (1 Sam. 25:25a).  In fact, Nabal was so evil he was disrespected by virtually all he was acquainted: his wife, an employee (v. 17), David, and ultimately by God in a fatal sense.

While David was hiding from King Saul in the wilderness, he was hired by Nabal to protect his flocks of sheep.  David’s shepherding provided a fortress of safety and security for Nabal’s sheep and their shepherds (1 Sam. 25:15-16).  Upon hearing of Nabal’s post sheep-shearing feast, David dispatched ten young men to greet [“bless” him] prosperous Nabal, and to receive just compensation (1 Sam. 25:4-6).  Tragically, Nabal viciously rebuffed the young men, pretending to not even know David; so, they returned to David and reported Nabal’s scornful response (1 Sam. 25:4-12).   When David heard this, he was filled with rage and vowed to avenge Nabal for his maltreatment: “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 four hundred men went with David, and two hundred stayed with the supplies. (1 Sam. 25:13, cf. 17, 21-22).  Great woe was about to befall the house of Nabal!

However, when Abigail heard that Nabal cursed David’s men, she wisely wasted no time loading five donkeys with food to present to David.  Then mounting her own donkey, she swiftly rode out to meet David and his army. (cf. 1 Sam. 25:14-20).  How incredibly courageous it was for Abigail to risk her life to intercept the infuriated David, who was intoxicated with vengeance against her husband Nabal.   Once Abigail saw David, she quickly dismounted and humbly bowed down at his feet. (1 Sam. 25:23-24).  With meekness and humility she addressed David (speaking the most words ever spoken by a woman in the Old Testament, 153 Hebrew words–1 Sam. 25:24-31) 1   Abigail revealed bravery by taking the blame for Nabal’s offense, even though she was completely innocent of any wrongdoing: On me alone, my lord, be the blame… But I, your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.” (1 Sam. 24a, 25:25b, cf.28).  Incredibly, Abigail incredibly allowed her dastardly husband’s sin against David to be charged against herself.    

Furthermore, Abigail was used by God to convince David from sinning and avenging Nabal by his own hand: “Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, since the LORD has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal.” (1 Sam. 25:26, cf. 31, 32-33).  A truth that David also realized (1 Sam. 25:32-33).

Abigail appealed to David by speaking prophetically, as she foretold of David’s future greatness: “…for the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you all your days.” (1 Sam. 25:28—bolding added).  Amazingly, a glimpse of the Davidic Covenant is revealed before the prophet Nathan revealed it to [King] David (2 Sam. 7:8-16)!  Moreover, she utilized a “sling” analogy affirming God’s protection over His king, perhaps reminiscent of David having been previously delivered from Goliath’s hand. (1 Sam. 17:47-50): “And should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling.  And it shall come about when the LORD shall do for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and shall appoint you ruler over Israel.” (1 Sam. 25:29-30—emphasis added). 

Abigail concludes her address to David by boldly imploring him to show her kindness: “that this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord [Nabal’s offense], both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the LORD shall deal well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.” (1 Sam. 25:31—brackets and emphasis added).   David responded in awe by declaring a three-fold beatitude: “Then David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed, and from avenging myself by my own hand.’” (1 Sam. 25:32-33).  He then accepted the gifts Abigail brought him, blessed her departure, and vowed to heed her words of wisdom: “So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and he said to her, ‘Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.’” (1 Sam. 25:35).

The humble yet intrepid woman of God, returned home to discover a festive Nabal in a drunken state.  She wisely waited until the next morning, when the affects from the wine had worn off Nabal and then told him all that had transpired with David.  Upon hearing it, Nabal’s heart “died and became like a stone”.  Then it happened, after about ten days, that the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.” (1 Sam. 25:37-38) –thus, fulfilling Abigail’s prediction (v. 31) — “… When the LORD shall deal well with my lord.”  God avenged Nabal on David’s behalf.   “When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept back His servant from evil. The LORD has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.’ Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife.” (1 Sam. 25:39—emphasis added). 

In closing, Abigail displayed a multitude of virtues that revealed a proven character (Rom. 5:4).  Not only did she sacrifice a large bounty of food to David, but she willingly accepted culpability for her foolish husband’s behavior.  In light of Nabal having cursed David, a “servant of God”; the Abrahamic Covenant explicitly states whoever curses God’s people, will evoke God’s cursing upon himself: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” (Gen. 12:3, cf. Num. 23:8, 24:9).  Abigail’s hope for forgiveness was not only from David, but from God as well.  Abigail sagaciously reminded David that personal revenge was not only forbidden by law (Lev. 19:18, cf. Rom. 12:19), but would tarnish his future as Israel’s king and his descendants after him–who would forever rule from his throne. (2 Sam. 7:12:16).  Abigail’s heroism, courage, and obedience should serve as an inspiration to all those who zealously heed God’s Word—for the Lord will reward obedience — Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife.”(1 Sam. 25:39).  

1 Robert D. Bergen, New American Commentary 1,2 Samuel, Boardman and Holman Publishers, 1996, pg. 249—brackets added

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