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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stuck Or Strong?

Abigail is one of my favorite women of the Bible.  (After all, I named my third born after her!)

I am struck by Abigail for the following reasons:  1)  Abigail’s lousy situation;  2)  Abigail’s brave response; and 3)  God’s ultimate provision.

1)  Abigail’s lousy situation.

Abigail is smart and beautiful, but she’s (unfortunately) married to a jerk.  Samuel describes it like this.
“She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband [Nabal] was surly and mean in all his dealings.”  (v.3)

We can assume that Nabal was likewise a jerk to Abigail.  Was he always a jerk, or did he turn mean after they married?  We’ll never know.  What we do know is that she was stuck in a bad situation that was about to get worse.

Nabal was so stubborn and stingy that he wouldn’t even compensate David for protecting his property.  This angered David, who vowed he would not “leave one male alive of all who belong to him!” (v. 22)

In other words, destruction would soon descend on the house of Nabal.  One of Nabal’s servants warned Abigail the evening before David’s army would attack, pleading with her to take action.

What’s a woman to do when her husband won’t respond to the voice of reason, and she knows her household is about to be destroyed?

2)  Abigail’s brave response.

“Abigail lost no time.” (v. 18)  She takes matters into her own hands.  While Nabal is unaware and drunk, she packs up food and gifts and rides on her donkey to meet David.

She puts herself in harm’s way – she pleads for peace when David and his men are ready to fight.
And she doesn’t just act.  She takes responsibility for her entire household.

“My lord, let the blame be on me alone.  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.”  (v. 25)

Notice what Abigail doesn’t do. 

She doesn’t make excuses for Nabal or pretend that everything is “fine.”  She also doesn’t say, “There’s nothing I can do, my household is doomed.”

She also doesn’t try try to harm Nabal.  Don’t think it didn’t cross her mind!  Maybe she thought about poisoning him in his sleep.  She doesn’t even plead to God, “Strike my husband dead!” 

Instead, she influences the situation for good.  She looks at where she can make a difference.  She acts swiftly and decisively. 

3)  God’s ultimate provision.

Did Abigail honor God with her actions?  I think she did.  She acted with grace and honor and left the results to God.

God likewise honored Abigail.

After Abigail saved the day (and Nabal sobered up) she went back and told Nabal what had happened.  He had a heart attack.  Ten days later, he died.

You guessed it, when David learned of Nabal’s death, he “sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife.”  (v. 40)

Did Abigail live happily ever after?  I don’t know exactly.  But I do know that God provided for her in her time of need. 

******

I don’t know your situation.  It might be lousy.  But learn from Abigail and use your influence for good.  Instead of an attitude that says, I'm stuck, there's nothing I can do, Abigail teaches us that, even in the midst of what appears to be a hopeless situation, we can act in faith.  Instead of being stuck, we can be strong.



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10 comments:

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

"Instead of being stuck, we can be strong." I like that! Great story, great post -- and a great reminder.

Happy summer, Susan.

Unpolished Parenting said...

I was not familiar with this story - thank you for sharing! Especially since I think I am "stuck" in many situations. That is obviously not the case.

shrinkingthecamel.com said...

Oh, these old testament stories have more drama than prime time TV! Poor Abigail. And I can't get over these constant vengeance attacks that seem to drive David and many of the other OT characters. Much like contemporary life, except without so much killing, right?

This really is an encouraging story. Especially how she takes such bold initiative rather than sitting around complaining. Go, Abigail!

Tina said...

Thank you for this perspective. I have always struggled with this part "...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.” I've always thought that a wife should not speak negatively about her husband to anyone. Yes, she can pray and talk with God honestly and openly, but that she should never belittle him or "out" him so to speak, even if what he did was awful. ... Any insight on that part - it just feels wrong to me.

Laura said...

I love that Abigail too. Sometimes you just have to call it as you see it. It's easy to forget that the women from these times didn't have the same freedoms we had. We can wonder how lovely Abigail ended up with that fool Nabal, but the truth is, he was probably considered a good catch by her family. That she took action regardless of the danger is pretty cool. Then, of course, she does end up with a pretty cool guy too. Another sticky situation considering David was already married (a couple times if I remember correctly). So many lessons here. You render a great telling of this story, Susan!

Hands to Work, Hearts to God said...

Amen! It takes a strong woman to continue to look at the positive and act righteously in the face of a bad situation.

Anna said...

I do love the story of Abigail! I love how you personalize it at the end, reminding how we don't have to be stuck, but strong. That is a much-needed reminder.
Your post reminds me of one I wrote on this very story about a year ago! We share some similar ideas. Feel free to read it:
http://pathoftreasure.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/you-rock-abi-girl/

So nice to find you through Playdates!

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

I think I might like Abigail, too, from the sounds of things. I am in the midst of reading Samuel right now -- perhaps I will come across this story soon?

Cheryl Smith said...

This is oh, so good!

Susan DiMickele said...

I think there are some interesting comments here. Yes, it was indeed a "sticky" situation -- the Old Testament is not necessarily a playbook for the perfect marriage. But I also think that God gives us the grace and freedom to call it like it is. Nabal was indeed a fool. Trying to cover for him didn't advance the situation here. Acting in truth and leaving the results to God did. Such a fine line.