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Abigail – Joy in the Midst of Tribulation

Abigail – Joy in the Midst of Tribulation

Corina Timofte, Women’s Ministries Director, Franco-Belgian Union

David said to Abigail, 'Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me.'


1 Samuel 25:32 NIV

What a wonderful blessing this woman received from a future king!
But, unfortunately, Abigail, whose name in Hebrew means "the joy of my father/mother", had to pass through many difficulties in her life. Married to a madman, she feared the destruction of her home and the loss of her entire family because of a needless provocation by her husband who had a background of alcoholism and absolute selfishness instead of being her protector.
Chapter 25 of the first book of Samuel describes a dark period for David.  Bereaved by the death of Samuel, and on the run from the wrath of Saul, king of Israel, David finds himself in the wilderness of Paran surrounded by 600 men whom he can barely feed. David considered it legitimate to benefit from Nabal's liberality, in exchange for services rendered in tending his flocks. David planned to rejoice with his men, for it was the season for shearing the animals.
But Nabal had a hard heart and could not understand the suffering of others. He categorically refused David's claims. For David, such a response was unacceptable and wrong in every way. Nabal's refusal triggered David's anger. Too much pressure, uncertainty, fear, lack of food, feelings of humiliation, and misunderstanding are all factors that generate violence. David gave in to these destructive emotions and prepared his revenge.
When men clash, fortunately women can bring them back to their senses. The place of a woman is not always so simple among men, especially when they lose their minds. The Bible is full of examples of women who show courage, intelligence and judgment: Deborah, Mary, Hannah, Naomi, Miriam, Rahab, Lydia, Priscilla, and many more.
In this account we find Abigail’s three principles:
SEE, Will, GO
1.         See: get information, listen, be up to date with the news (she knew who David was)
2.         Will: the will to evolve, avoid a tragedy and change things
3.         Go: to act, to go to the meeting, to go with the servants, to take the risk
Just as Esther, Moses or Daniel identified themselves with God’s people, Abigail takes on herself her husband’s faults. She does not seek to dissociate herself from his follies, for she is bound to him.
Her approach could be considered controversial because on that day she did not respect her husband's word. But Abigail did not dwell on customs, she took the risk of insubordination by taking control of the situation responsibly. Abigail plays the card of humility, appeasement, and wisdom. She could have used seduction, as she was a very beautiful woman; or she could have tried to manipulate David, but she chose not to give free rein to the tensions of these two adversaries.
Abigail used common sense and tact in addressing David in language that contained what he needed to hear: "When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant." (v. 30-31).
Her spiritual qualities as well as her inspired and prophetic words convinced David. His agitation turned to gratitude to God for sending this woman to meet him. But Abigail's mission was not over. Another complicated situation awaited her at home. She decided not to confront her husband that evening, but to wait until the next morning, hoping to find him with a clearer mind. She then took the risk of revisiting the previous day's event. She feared, of course, an untimely, even uncontrolled attitude on the part of her husband in response to her retrospective account, but this was not the case. With his heart set like a stone, Nabal suffered a stroke that led to his death 10 days later.
David, hearing this news, realized once again the wisdom, generosity and courage of Abigail. He recognized that he was wrong and that she had helped him avoid a tragedy.  He now wished to marry her, but he gave her the freedom to choose.
Proverbs 31:10 reminds us, "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”
If her first marriage had been arranged, this time Abigail had a say. David sent men with this proposal. She was aware that life at his side would not be a long peaceful river, as he already had a first wife, was not yet the king and many obstacles would still arise. She considered her answer carefully and prepared for her new life. The years spent at the side of a madman had not made her bitter, on the contrary. The trials of life had forged her character and kept her human, generous and balanced.
In our daily relationships, let this woman be an example for us. Let us act with humility, wisdom, courage and responsibility. Let us learn not to fix our eyes on obstacles and difficult situations. The goal of our actions must be to save lives all around us. We can act in many ways when we ask the Almighty for help. Thus, countless people will one day be able to say to us, "Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you " (v. 33ESV)