Last week we began exploring the Biblical story of Abigail, a very beautiful and intelligent woman who was married to a very ugly-tempered and foolish man – sounds almost like a fairy tale, but not so. She suddenly found herself in a precarious situation that required wisdom…the kind of wisdom that comes from the mind and heart of God.
Upon hearing the arrogant and insulting response of Nabal, Abigail’s husband, to David’s legitimate request of compensation for the protection he and his soldiers had provided, David reacted impulsively and with no thought of the consequences. “Put on your swords!” he instructed four hundred of his warriors.[i] Immediately they headed out to destroy Nabal and his men.
I find it rather ironic that one of Nabal’s servants, who had heard of David’s plot, came running to the wife of his master. He obviously knew she would listen. I can hear the panic in his voice as he hurried to tell her, “Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”[ii]
I love Abigail’s response: she “lost no time”.[iii] A wise person knows when to act quickly and decisively. She prepared a very generous supply of food and wine, had it loaded on donkeys and sent her servants off to meet David’s entourage. “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.”[iv] Scripture carefully points out that she didn’t tell her husband any of this. She knew he would flatly refuse and order her to stop. But Abigail wisely concluded that her action may divert a disaster. Showing great courage, she rode her donkey into a mountain ravine to meet David, a man bent on revenge.
Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” David was in great danger of committing an act that would define his future and Abigail knew this. She could have chosen to stand up to this rapidly rising leader, give him a piece of her mind and set him straight. The temptation to speak her mind in the absence of her hot-headed husband could have been present. But I believe Abigail knew she was facing a future king and he was about to make a monumental error in judgment. She did have something to say and David needed to listen to the voice of wisdom.
Instead, Abigail “quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground…Please let your servant speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name – his name is Fool, and folly goes with him…let this gift…be given to the men who follow you. Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the Lord will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the Lord’s battles. Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live…and when the Lord has brought my master success, remember your servant.”[v] Abigail’s humble response echoes King Solomon’s advice in Ecclesiastes 9:17-18, “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war but one sinner destroys much good.”
And it worked! David immediately saw the error of his ways and completely changed his attitude. He said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord…who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.[vi] He then accepted her gift and sent her home with a blessing.
Abigail’s wisdom didn’t stop there. A wise person also knows when to show restraint and choose the right time to speak up. Upon returning home, she found her husband partying and drunk. She wisely waited until morning to inform Nabal of all she had done. As she did, this evil man suffered heart failure and died within ten days. When David heard the news he praised God for keeping him from committing sin and said God “brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”[vii]
Furthermore, Abigail’s wisdom saved her from becoming a helpless and defenseless widow. David honoured Abigail by marrying her. She became the wife of Israel’s greatest king who was even known as a man after God’s own heart.[viii]
I like to think that Abigail was a woman who knew the heart of God! He is the source of true beauty and wisdom!
Until next Sunday,