Winners and Losers: Part 13 -
Abigail: A Woman Whose Faith and Discretion Won the Admiration of the King
Kathy's Sunday School Lessons Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia
© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2001. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
Abigail was a woman who faced a difficult home situation: she was a believer married to a wealthy, unsaved man. But while she enjoyed some of the privileges of her position (her own donkey with which she traveled the mountainous area surrounding her home (1SA 25:20), and five personal maids (1SA 25:42)), Abigail’s husband, Nabal, was a mean individual who was surly in his dealings with people (1SA 25:3). When Nabal offended David, who was still fleeing from Saul and was living in the desert area of the Sinai Peninsula near their home (1SA 25:1), she was forced to become a “peacemaker” for him in order to save his life (see MAT 5:9). Her obvious faith in God and her persuasive arguments not only saved Nabal’s life and prevented David from shedding needless blood, but they created a lasting good impression upon David which would eventually culminate in a whole new life for Abigail as David’s wife. Let’s take a look at 1SA 25 and see how Abigail honored God, saved her husband, and won the king’s admiration.
I. Who Was She? (1SA 25:1-42, 27:3, 30:1-19; 2SA 2:1-3, 3:3, 5:5)
A. What was her name? Her name was Abigail, “My father is the source of my joy”.
B. When did she live? She lived in the last days of Saul’s monarchy and through David’s monarchy.
C. Who were her people?
1. She was probably a Jew living in Maon (the “Main”, or the mountains of Judah) at Carmel (1SA 25:2); certainly she was a believer in God..
2. She was married to Nabal, a Calebite of Carmel (the present day Kurmul on the mountains of Judah: 1SA 25:3).
3. She has no personal genealogical information notated in Scripture.
D. How old was she? Scripture does not say but she was young enough to be attractive to David who was not yet 30 years old (1SA 5:4).
II. What Did She Do?
A. She was commendable
1. She was winsome (1SA 25:3).
a. She was a “woman of good understanding”, i.e. intelligent.
b. She was “of a beautiful countenance”, i.e. comely.
B. She was pious (1SA 26-31).
2. She was wedded to Nabal (1SA 25:3, 9-11, 14, 17, 25, 36-38).
a. Nabal, i.e. “fool”, was a difficult man
1) He was rich (3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats: 1SA 25:2).
“The rich man’s wealth is his fortress” (PRO 10:15).
2) He was “surly and mean in his dealings” (1SA 25:3).
“A cruel man brings trouble on himself” (PRO 11:17).
“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall… (PRO 11:28).
a) he was selfish (1SA 25:11).
b) he was “a wicked man” whom no one could advise (1SA 25:17).
c) he was a drinker (1SA 25:36).
HOW COULD ABIGAIL HAVE COME TO BE MARRIED TO SUCH A MAN?
It was the custom for Israelite parents to arrange marriages for their children: Nabal could have been attracted to Abigail because of her appearance, and Abigail’s parents would have found Nabal to be a suitable match because of his wealth (since he obviously could support a wife: see GEN 24:28-50).
*Abigail probably had a difficult life with her husband but because of her character we may conclude that she “made the best of it”. It would have been particularly difficult for her in light of the fact that she calls him “fool” (1SA 25:25), i.e. an unbeliever (see 2CO 6:14).
b. Nabal was a Calebite, a descendant of Caleb the son of Jephunneh, one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan at the time of the Exodus; the Calebites were of the tribe of Judah, possibly of a mixed background (with Kennites, non-Israelites who allied themselves with the Israelites). *This may have been a factor in Nabal’s foolishness, his unbelief.
C. She was conciliator
1. Nabal offended David when he refused him hospitality at sheep shearing time (1SA 25:4-13).
1SA 25:10,11, “Nabal answered David’s servants, ‘Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?’” i.e. Nabal dismissed David as a rebellious vagrant whose services and claims were unfounded.
a. Sheep shearing was usually accompanied by a festal meal, i.e. a time of abundance when food could be readily shared (GEN 38:12; 2SA 13:23); in fact, Nabal’s feast was “a banquet like that of a king” (1SA 25:36).
b. David sent 10 emissaries to request supplies in the friendliest manner (1SA 25:6-9).
c. David had a legitimate claim on Nabal for services rendered him in the past and should have been welcomed (1SA 25:7, 15,16).
2. Abigail mediated the situation (1SA 25:17).
“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” (1SA 25:17).
a. Abigail was appraised of the situation by a servant (1SA 25:14-17).
1) She was told of David’s service to them: “they were very good to us… they were a wall [of protection] around us and our sheep”.
2) She was told of Nabal’s insulting reception of the messengers: “he hurled insults at them”.
3) She was warned that everyone was in danger because of Nabal’s actions: “disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household”.
WAS THE SERVANT’S WARNING VALID? YES:
1SA 25:13: “David said to his men, ‘Put on your swords!’ So they put on their swords, and David put on his. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies”.
b. Abigail gathered food for David and his men and loaded it on donkeys (1SA 25:18).
1) She took 200 loaves of bread
2) She took 2 skins of wine
3) She took 5 dressed sheep
4) She took 5 seahs (about a bushel: 8 gal. or 4 pecks) of roasted grain
5) She took 200 cakes of pressed figs
WHY DID SHE GATHER UP THE SUPPLIES?
She knew that David had a right to payment for services rendered and she knew that he would punish Nabal and the whole household for acting so unjustly.
HOW DID SHE KNOW HOW MUCH FOOD TO GIVE?
David had been fleeing before Saul for years (since 1SA 19) and his flight and the band of men who followed him were common knowledge (600 men: 1SA 23:13). David had been in the desert of Maon since 1SA 23:24 so Abigail must have known all about David through word-of-mouth.
*Abigail did not tell her husband of her plans (1SA 25:19). Was this right?
c. Abigail intercepted David
1) Abigail set out on her donkey following her servants (1SA 25:19).
2) Abigail met David in a mountain ravine as he was vowing his revenge: “He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!” (1SA 25:20-22).
WHY WOULD DAVID GET SO UPSET OVER NABAL’S INSULT?
KEIL-DELITZCH offer this explanation: “David is so full of the consciousness of fighting and suffering for the cause of the kingdom of God, that he discerns in the insult heaped upon him by Nabal an act of hostility to the Lord and the cause of His kingdom” (Keil-Delitzch Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 2, Eerdmans Publishing House, © 1978, pg. 242); i.e. David was the anointed king of Israel who was fighting evil and he saw Nabal’s rejection of his righteous claim as rebellion against God’s rule.
d. Abigail interceded with David
1) She approached David
a) She prostrated herself and bowed down before David as an act of homage (1SA 25:23,24).
b) She took the guilt of transgression upon herself and begged pardon for herself because she had been unaware of David’s servants’ request (1SA 25:25).
c) She excused Nabal’s behavior on the grounds that he was just a foolish unbeliever with whom God would deal (1SA 25:25).
*She was talking to David frankly, as one believer to another.
2) She appealed to David on three grounds:
a) She pointed out that God had providentially caused her to meet David to prevent him from committing murder and thus to become bloodguilty (1SA 25:26).
b) She pointed out that God is the rightful avenger (He deals with fools like Nabal- fools correlate to the ungodly who deserve punishment: 1SA 25:26).
c) She pointed to the gift that she brought and reminded David that he would receive greater gifts, a dynasty, if he served God in honor (1SA 25:27,28).
3) She appeased David
a) She reminded David that God would protect him [from Saul] (1SA 25:29).
b) She reminded David that God would judge his enemies (1SA 25:29).
c) She reminded David that God would keep His promise to David to become king (Abigail knew of God’s promise somehow), and that David would be a better king if he had a clear conscience about Nabal and his household (1SA 25:30).
d) David’s response:
i. He praised God Who sent Abigail to meet him (1SA 25:32).
ii. He congratulated Abigail on her wise intervention (through her judgment and actions: 1SA 25:33).
iii. He sent her home with the assurance of his pardon (1SA 25:35).
3. Nabal was dealt with (1SA 25:36-39).
a. Abigail confessed to Nabal all that she had done:
1) She approached him immediately upon her return but could not talk to him because he was drunk (1SA 25:36).
2) At daybreak, when he was sober, she told him of all that had transpired (1SA 25:37).
b. Nabal was judged (1SA 25:37-39):
1) His heart failed him and “he became as a stone” (1SA 25:37). (This apparently means that Nabal had a stroke and was paralyzed.)
2) He died ten days later when “the LORD struck him” (1SA 25:38).
C. She was courted
a. Abigail was a widow:
1. Abigail had five possible options:
* As a widow she was left with nothing: all of her husband’s property and belongings went to the man in the family who owned the birthright.
a) Abigail’s sons (if she had any) could take care of her as required by Law.
b) Abigail could have appealed to the Levirite Law and had her husband’s oldest brother (if he had one) take her in as wife to raise up a family for the deceased, if she had no sons.
c) Abigail could return to her father’s home, if she had no sons (as Orpah did in the book of Ruth).
d) Abigail could remarry.
e) Abigail could become destitute, if no one helped her.
*This information came from “The Victor Handbook of Biblical Knowledge”, by V. Gilbert Beers, Victor Books, ©1981, pg. 162.
2. David sent a proposal of marriage to Abigail when Nabal died (1SA 25:39).
WHY WOULD DAVID HAVE PROPOSED TO ABIGAIL?
He obviously admired her devotion to God (“deep calls to deep”: PSA 42:7), her discernment, and her beauty.
a) Abigail accepted David’s proposal (1SA 25:31).
WHY WOULD ABIGAIL ACCEPT DAVID’S PROPOSAL?
He was the LORD’S anointed and full of the Holy Spirit (1SA 16:13), he was under the blessing of God (1SA 25:28), he was handsome (1SA 16:12), he conducted himself wisely (1SA 18:5, 14); she felt honored and privileged to be the wife of such a man.
1) She bowed down and said, “Here is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master’s servants” (1SA 25:41).
2) She quickly rode to David, along with her five maidservants (1SA 25:42).
b) Abigail became one of David’s wives (he had previously married Michal, Saul’s daughter and Ahinoam of Jezreel: 1SA 25:42-44).
c) Abigail lived in exile with David
*Abigail knew that marriage with David would be difficult because he was fleeing from King Saul but she unhesitatingly joined him in his time of exile.
1) She joined him in the wilderness (1SA 25: 42).
2) She lived with David in Gath, a Philistine city 12 mi. E. of Ashdod (1SA 27:3)
3) She lived with David in Ziklag, another Philistine city located 12 mi. N. of Beersheba (1SA 27:6).
i. She was captured by the Amalekites during a raid on Ziklag (1SA 30:1-5).
ii. She was rescued by David (1SA 30:18).
d) Abigail lived as royalty with David
1) She lived with David in Hebron after he was anointed as king over Judah, where she bore him a son, Chileab or Daniel (2SA 3:3).
2) She lived with David at Jerusalem after he was crowned king of all Israel (2SA 5:5, 7).
WAS SHE A WINNER OR A LOSER?
III. What Can We Learn From Her?
A. Marriage between a believer and an unbeliever is a mismatch that brings trouble for the believer.
B. The study of God’s word makes one wise.
C. God takes care of his people, sending believers to interact with each other to give counsel and encouragement in time of need.
D. God can be trusted to take vengeance for us: our duty is to do good and overcome evil with good (ROM 12:17-21), not to punish those who mistreat us ourselves.
E. God does work everything for good in the life of a believer (ROM 8:28).
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