We meet Abigail in the Bible in 1 Samuel 25 when she was married to Nabal, a wicked man. When God rescued her, she became David’s wife.
Have you ever thought to yourself if only you were rich and beautiful, all your problems would disappear? Have you ever been envious of another woman for her wealth or beauty? Have you ever been jealous of another woman only to discover a dark side to her life that you never could have imagined?
Abigail in the Bible
Abigail was a beautiful woman married to a wealthy man, but her home life and her marriage were anything but picture perfect.
We meet Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. We’re told that she was beautiful and intelligent, but she was married to Nabal, a rich man who was harsh and evil.
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.
Abigail and Nabal
Nabal owned three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. Abigail and Nabal’s story opens at sheep shearing time. For a sheep farmer, this was a festive time of celebration where the owner would host a feast and share his wealth by providing gifts to those who had helped him throughout the year.
David and his 600 men were camped in the area, and as was the custom, they helped protect Nabal’s shepherds and sheep. Night and day, they provided a protective barrier.
So when David found out it was sheep sheering time, David sent messengers to Nabal to seek their portion of the feast, a reward of sorts.
Only Nabal didn’t respond as they expected. Instead of joyously thanking them and sharing of his bounty, he rebuked them and pretended not to know who David was. He treated them with contempt rather than the respect they deserved.
When the servants returned to David and shared with him what happened, David immediately gathered four hundred of his men and told them to grab their swords. He prepared to attack Nabal, killing all the males in his household.
Fortunately, one of Nabal’s servants ran to Abigail, alerting her to the situation. With extreme haste, she threw together enough food to literally feed an army, and without saying a word to her husband, she hopped on a donkey and followed her servants to David’s camp. She met up with him and his army along the way.
As soon as Abigail spotted David, she dismouned from her donkey and fell on her face before David. In a beautifully eloquent speech, she begged him to listen to her, apologizing for her husband, explaining that he was a fool. She then took responsibility herself for the situation, explaining that she should have seen David’s servants and provided for them.
She offered to him the food for his men, then went on to prophesy to him, assuring him he would be king because he was good and he fought the battles of the Lord. She told him that though Saul pursued him, he would be victorious. But she warned him that when that time came, he didn’t want unnecessary bloodshed on his hands but rather should leave the revenge of Nabal to God.
Her words hit hard. David thanked her for preventing him from doing something he would later regret.
Abigail returned home to find Nabal drunk and still feasting. She waited until the morning when he was sober to told him what she did.
The Bible tells us that when Nabal heard what happened, his “heart died within him” and ten days later he died.
Abigail and David
When David learned of Nabal’s death, he sent word to Abigail asking her to be his wife. The Bible says that she went in haste and rode on a donkey, bringing with her five maidservants.
Abigail left her wealthy adobe in order to join David’s camp in the wilderness. She knew, though, that it was only a temporary situation and that eventually he would be king.
We have two more references to Abigail. While David and his men were at war, the Amalekites invaded and burned down Ziklag, the town where they were staying and took captive Abigail and the other women and children of the camp. Fortunately, David and his men were able to rescue the captives and bring them back to safety.
Abigail’s story ends with her bearing him a son.
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.
What Can We Learn From Abigail in the Bible?
It’s easy for us to look at beautiful, godly women and assume they have a life of ease. We surmise that it’s because they’ve never suffered that they’re able to be so good and kind. Initially, they might seem like saints, but as we go more in depth, we find weakness and flaws.
Interestingly enough, the Bible doesn’t share with us any flaws in Abigail. All we find is goodness. It does, let us know, though, that even though she was gentle and wise, her life was filled with trials and difficulties.
Perhaps, and this is hard for us to think about, but perhaps God allowed Abigail to experience those trials because He knew she was strong enough to withstand them and that she would be a light in her dark world. What a legacy she has left behind as a woman who acted calmly and bravely in the midst of overwhelming terror around her.
And what a blessing that God used her to speak truth to David, ultimately altering the course of his life in a positive direction. May we strive to be women who are calm in a hub of chaos, brave in the midst of fear, wise in a world of foolishness.
Finally, just as Abigail acted with haste in preventing an attack and in accepting David’s marriage proposal, may we, too, act swiftly when God calls us to action. May we not linger or delay but rather immediately act as soon as God tells us what to do.
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 providing the story of Abigail to encourage us when we might be tempted to wallow in self pity. Forgive us for our times of whining and complaining when things aren’t going our way. Show us how to behave in a manner more fitting a woman of God.
Give us guidance and wisdom in all of our dealings. Open our eyes to the beauty of the life that you’ve given us. May we forever be kind and gentle in our interactions with those around us. Provide words of wisdom to flow from our mouth. We love you. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Abigail Bible Study
1 Samuel 25
Bible Study Review
- What does the Bible tell us about Abigail?
- What does the Bible tell us about Nabal?
- Why did David come to Nabal asking for a gift?
- What impact did Abigail’s quick thinking have on David? On Nabal?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why would a woman like Abigail be married to a man like Nabal?
- What kind of wife was Abigail?
- Why did Nabal pretend like he didn’t know who David was?
- Why didn’t Abigail let David kill Nabal?
- How do you behave when you’re around hateful people?
- Would you have tried to save Nabal’s life?
- Do you act with haste to do what needs to be done or do you dally?
- Are you willing to speak up if you see someone about to do something they’ll later regret?
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