(Photo courtesy of docandhorse.com)
Women of Purity: Abigail
Beautiful, Wise and Discerning
By Selma Komisky
“His name was Nabal and his wife, a beautiful and very intelligent woman, was named Abigail, but the man, who was a descendant of Caleb, was uncouth, churlish, stubborn, and ill-mannered.”
– 1 Samuel 25:3 (NLV)
Abigail’s name means “cause of joy,” and what a great description of her gracious disposition that is. Scripture gives us no genealogy or any background on Abigail. This Jewish beauty was likely given to Nabal’s household. She was a godly woman but unfortunately she was married to Nabal, a wealthy man from Moan who was wicked, a drunk, ill mannered, and also an unbeliever. Although she lived in an unhappy home, she still remained godly and loyal to her husband.
Her story begins in the book of First Samuel, chapter twenty-five, where the scene is set. David, the anointed, was a shepherd. He and his men were struggling to survive in the wilderness, while hiding from King Saul, and ended up in a situation where he helped watch over Nabal’s herdsmen.
Nabal was one of the richest men around. He was Abigail’s husband who owned thousands of goats and sheep. When David was running low on his own provisions, he sent a message to Nabal telling him that he would come in peace and kindly requests a little food during feasting time in return for watching over Nabal’s herdsmen. Naturally, because the shepherds watched the sheep, Nabal should have given David and his men an invitation at feasting time to show his gratitude. However, Nabal, who was very drunk, dismissed David and refused him with contempt. Word got back to David and he was insulted therefore his anger was aroused. In his anger, David commanded his men to get their swords.
Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s men went to tell Abigail the news that David was insulted by Nabal’s response. Unlike Nabal, David was very good to the herdsmen who had integrity and had provided protection for these people.
Abigail, being the wise woman she was, hurriedly packed bread and all kinds of food onto her donkeys and went to meet David. When she did this, she left and didn’t tell Nabal anything.
When she saw David, she quickly showed respect and humbly bowed low before him, knowing her husband’s life was threatened. She then pleaded for mercy on behalf of her husband and made amends for her foolish husbands outburst. She then calmly soothed David’s anger with her kind, choice words.
In verse thirty-two, David blesses Abigail for having wisdom and discernment. He thanks God for using Abigail’s advice to keep him from sinning, and for Abigail’s courage in risking her life before David. At the time, David had planned on murdering and carrying out his own vengeance on her husband and his whole household. Instead, David spared them and showed mercy.
Abigail goes home and waits until the next morning, when Nabal was sober, to tell him of her meeting with David. Suddenly, her husband has a stroke and lays paralyzed for ten days before dying.
Abigail’s story didn’t end there. God blessed her for her godliness and faithfulness to her godless husband. God freed Abigail from a bad situation and gave her a new life with a man who loved God and loved her. The end actually resembles a fairy tale. When David hears of the news that Nabal died, he doesn’t waste time to ask Abigail to be his wife and in the end, she marries David.
This woman is a true woman of purity in that she shows us her great wisdom, courage and faith. Abigail was a peacemaker and she was tactful. She is an example that kindness in a difficult situation dispels all anger. In her difficult marriage, God heard and saw Abigail’s plight and rescued her. This story is an analogy for our savior Jesus who lovingly rescues us out of the darkness in our lives.