It takes two to make a great marriage. What happens when only one cares and the other is cruel? In today’s episode of All God’s Women, we conclude our Love and Romance series of women in the Bible with Abigail, a godly woman married to an ungodly man.
Abigail’s Love Story
Women in Abigail’s day didn’t always get to choose who they would marry. Oftentimes marriages were arranged by families for political or economical reasons that had nothing to do with love or romance. This was likely the case in the marriage of Abigail to Nabal.
Nabal was rich, powerful, and cruel.
Abigail was beautiful.
Perhaps he saw her and wanted her as a trophy wife for her beauty. Her parents went along with it because he was rich. So what that she didn’t love him or that he was mean? He could provide for her financially and that was good enough.
They married and did their own thing. Nabal raised sheep. Abigail managed the household. Abigail learned how to coexist with a hot-tempered husband, calming him down if possible, diffusing fires when she couldn’t. When Nabal insulted David, Abigail jumped into action, scurrying to prepare food for David and his men before they retaliated.
She snuck out without telling Nabal what she was doing. She knew it was the only way to protect him from himself. When she reached David, she immediately apologized, taking responsibility on herself. She explained that Nabal was foolish, but she should have seen David’s men when they came to the house, and she should have handled the situation so that Nabal didn’t have to be involved. She served the food she’d prepared then went on to offer advice to David.
Abigail knew that David intended to kill Nabal and his men, but she reminded David that he would someday be king, and it was important that he not shed unnecessary bloodshed. Using the skills she’d acquired from years of marriage to Nabal, she was able to calm David and help him to see the wisdom of her words.
Abigail returned home to find Nabal holding a feast, like the feast of a king. She knew it would be foolish to address him in his intoxicated state, so she said nothing about what she’d done. When he sobered up, she told him, and “his heart died within him, and he became like a stone.” 1 Samuel 25:37
Ten days later, he died.
When David learned of Nabal’s death, he proposed to Abigail and took her as his wife.
As Nabal’s wife, Abigail lived a life of luxury, but it came with a price. Though Nabal provided financially, he was controlling and mean. Abigail was constantly on guard, never knowing what might set him off. This put extra pressure on her. She had to handle the affairs of the house, managing the staff, and stepping in whenever needed to diffuse potential outbursts.
Nabal was a partyer. When he drank, it became even more critical that Abigail avoid confrontation.
Ideally, a marriage is a man and woman watching out for each other. But we have no indication that Nabal ever watched out for Abigail. He thought only of himself with no concern for how his actions might impact others.
Nabal was so self-absorbed, he didn’t even know who David was. Or maybe he just didn’t care. Regardless, it didn’t matter. Though Nabal enjoyed financial blessings, and though he should have been indebted to David’s men and willing to share with them what was due them, all he cared about was bottom line. Everything was his and he had no desire to share it.
When Nabal died, Abigail went on to marry David. Though he was certainly a kinder and wiser man than Nabal, marriage to David was not without its own struggles.
David was already married to Michal, though at this point Saul had given her to another man. David went on to marry Ahinoam as a wife as well. What kind of marriage would you have married to a fugitive with two other wives?
Abigail left her luxurious home to go live with David in the wilderness. Though eventually he would be king and she would live in a mansion, their earliest days together were spent in primitive conditions.
We see in Abigail a woman who lived life to the fullest regardless of circumstances. Like Paul, she knew how to be content whether she was in need or had plenty, whether well fed or hungry. She drew her strength from the Lord rather than the position she was in.
During her difficult days of being married to Nabal, Abigail withstood.
Where he was weak. She was strong. She took on the cares of the household, governing the servants, being there for them when they needed wisdom or advice, managing situations when Nabal mismanaged. Though the servants were afraid of Nabal, they knew that they could turn to Abigail and she would handle what needed to be done.
When Nabal insulted David, Abigail took the skill set she’d acquired from years of marriage to Nabal and used them to calm down David. She knew the importance of acting swiftly, knowing that the longer it took, the angrier David would get. She knew to approach him with humility and sensitivity. She knew to focus not on Nabal and what he’d done, but to direct her focus on David and what he needed to do.
And in 1 Samuel 25:31, she told David that when the Lord had dealt with Nabal, to remember her.
She knew that someday David would be ruler. Though I doubt she was expecting him to marry her, she was hoping that he would watch out for her. And he did.
Abigail’s Secrets for Romance
Though Abigail was married twice to rich and powerful men, she never had a fairy tale romance. She was never loved in the way she deserved to be loved. She was provided for but never cherished. And yet, Abigail accepted her marriages for what they were.
Though Nabal was not a man worthy of respect, Abigail treated him with respect nonetheless. She served and protected him though it would have been easier to let him suffer the effects of his foolishness.
Abigail understood the importance of timing. She acted quickly to soothe David and waited to confront Nabal. She knew that though David was a fugitive, he would later be king. She was willing to wait for him to remember her kindness.
Abigail made it her business to be sensitive to the needs of those around her. She never acted selfishly, but put others above herself. Rather than drowning herself in pity, she focused on what she could do to better the lives of those around her.
Your Love Story
I hope that you never have to experience a marriage like Abigail and Nabal, but if you do, may you look to Abigail as an inspiration of how to act with wisdom and discernment.
Abigail was a godly woman who sought to follow God. She accepted her lot in life but wasn’t afraid to take action if needed. She watched out for the safety and future of others.
Whatever your relationship status, take it to the Lord. If you’re single and searching, seek a man who loves you more than he loves wealth or power. If you’re in a loveless marriage, pray that you’ll learn to love him as God loves him. If you’ve lost respect for your husband, treat him with respect he doesn’t deserve. And if you’re worried about the safety of you or those in your care, don’t hesitate to seek refuge.
You don’t have to feel alone. Remember, God is there for you. Put your trust in Him to guide you to where you need to be.
Lord God, thank You for showing us stories like this that remind us that things are not always the way they seem. Help us to seek Your will and the things on high rather than the things of the world. Forgive us those times we lose sight of You and put ourselves in situations we shouldn’t be in. Protect us when we’re in danger. Deliver us to safety. Give us wisdom and discernment. Grow us into the women you want us to be. We love You so very much. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week for our Wicked Women of the Bible series starting with Samson’s Wife.
1 Samuel 25
Bible Study Review
- What does the Bible tell us about Abigail’s character?
- What does it tell us about Nabal?
- What does it tell us about David in this instance?
Thoughts to Ponder
- What kind of marriage did Abigail and Nabal have?
- How did they treat each other?
- How were they in harmony?
- Do you watch out for your husband?
- Do you support each other?
- Are you in tune to your husband’s moods and needs?
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