The Power of a Woman in a Powerless State – Abigail

Why would a beautiful, young, and intelligent woman marry a foolish, selfish, and possibly older man? Maybe she lived in 1000 b.c. and she had no choice. She was a real person who lived about 1000 B.C., her name was Abigail, and she was married to a wicked and foolish man named Nabal. If you look in the Hebrew dictionary under Nabal, you will find “foolish” or “wicked.” Abigail deserved so much more than Nabal. However, women of those times didn’t have a choice in who they married. A rich man like Nabal can get a woman like her because her family may have been poor, and they made the marital decisions for a woman. Women couldn’t own land, have a voice in the vote, or own a business. With few exceptions, no one cared to hear their opinion or put them in charge of anything important. A catch like Abigail could end up with the worst older man, like mean, nasty, and foolish Nabal. A woman had to find the power within her powerless positions to make her way and keep her sanity. Abigail accomplished this beautifully within her outside limitations.

In the house of the righteous, there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.

Proverbs 15:6

He Messed With The Wrong Guy

Trouble was apparently Nabel’s middle name. Nabal would likely have been poor and/or dead already if not for his wife’s secret interventions. David sent 10 messengers to remind Nabal of how David’s soldiers protected his flocks and cared for his men and asked in return for some refreshments for his men. David didn’t ask for anything special, only what Nabal had available. David also paid Nabal deference (apparently due to his older age) by referring to himself as “your son, David.” Prideful people foolishly see meekness, kindness, and humility as a weakness. Nabal was emboldened and returned an insult to David first by acting like he didn’t know who David was. Nabal knew David was Jesse’s son, but he wanted to insult him further by comparing David to a random servant rising against his master, not the future king fighting for his life. Nabal not only repaid David’s kindness, but he also insulted him, even attacking David as if he was nothing. When he got the report, David’s first order to 400 of his 600 soldiers was, “Every man strap on his sword!” 

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Nabal the Fool

David was ready to annihilate Nabal, his entire family, servants, and business. Nabal’s servant knew just who to call for help, our beautiful Abigail. Abigail knew that her life and the lives of many depended on how she responded. She prayed and cried to the Lord and arose with a plan. She prepared an offering she appealed to his kingship David. It was more than enough to feed the soldiers as David had asked, an offering worthy of a king’s soldiers. Then she rode on a donkey to meet David. In the ancient world, leaders who rode donkeys came in peace. From afar off, David could see her approaching him in humility. As she neared, David could see her beauty. She wasn’t a threat; she was a woman. David’s first words to her must have been terrifying. Abigail had been accustomed to bailing out Nabal, but she had to use all of her wisdom and charm at this moment because David was bent on destruction.

Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. 22 God do so to the enemies of David[b] and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”

1 Samuel 25:21-22

The Woman Saved Her Husband

Abigail understood that her life was at the complete mercy of David, and she respected him accordingly. Unlike Nabal, she stepped into that humility to co er her husband’s pride. She was used to having to do that with her foolish, prideful husband, Nabal. She spent her entire marriage trying to make things right to Nabal, to no avail, but King David, who had just lost his wife Michal, maybe was ready to receive kindness from a woman. All of those times she had to be humble, wily, and wise to survive, to change the mind of a fool, were a training ground for this day. David was no fool, but he was fighting mad and his judgment was clouded with anger. She was brave, if he was just any soldier she could have been captured, robbed, and raped, and even killed. In this vulnerable state, she came to David, he had all the power to overthrow her husband and her, she was no threat and she was pretty, maybe that helped distract him. In essence, this is what she did.

  1. She got down off her high donkey (high horse ) and humbled herself. v:23
  2. She gave her very power to speak to David. She asked David to pardon her. He was ready to hear what she said next. She asked David permission to speak and also asked that he would hear her. v:24 She and David knew these were two different things.
  3. She told David not to listen to Nabal because he was “Worthless and foolish.” She called it like it was; she protected him and her but wouldn’t lie or defend his foolishness. She also let David know that she wasn’t there when his 10 servants came. v:25
  4. She reframed their meeting as an escape from going against God’s commands, with David taking out his own vengeance on Nabal. She also implied that God would punish Nabal while blessing David. May your enemies be as Nabal. v:26
  5. She restored what was deserved is troops got their nourishment. v:27
  6. She again recharacterized the situation. She said he would be a lasting dynasty because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no evil is found in you. v:28 This was God’s vengeance; he’s not fighting God’s battles but his own. She was used to talking the fool into being wise by characterizing.
  7. She referenced king Saul chasing him but referred to the sling where David won his first impossible battle, the battle David said was the Lord’s. v:29
  8. She appealed to his conscience. She told him when this is over and you have your throne, you won’t have any regrets from taking vengeance yourself. v:30-31

Not the Best Marriage

Abigail must have felt powerless in her marriage, but something happened. She prayed that her situation didn’t get earlier, but she became more skilled and powerful. She was accustomed to dealing with a mean, drunken fool who had power over her, so dealing with an angered king or warrior requires the same kinds of skills. Anger can be blinding. We don’t make good decisions when anger is clouding our judgment. Abigail was discerning, and she became skilled at knowing where people were and how to reframe the situation so people could make reasonable decisions. She found the power within her powerlessness of the confines of her time and situation.

And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

1 Samuel 25:32-35

The King’s New Wife

She was a woman. In the ancient world, they were helplessly at the whim of the men in their lives. Nabal was the worst but dealing with him gave Abigail the skills to deal with David in a vengeful fit. Abigail was able to turn the sword of God’s warrior and his army of 600 men away from her husband. God honored her actions and her faith. She saved David from the sin of avenging himself, and God did the work. The second that David heard that Nabal was dead, he rejoiced, was thankful again for Abigail, and sent for her to now be David’s wife. David knew she’d be a good wife because she had the ability to see beyond the current circumstances to the future and God’s will to make David King. She was tough enough to camp with him and his other wife in the desert with 600 soldiers. Not a lot of women could handle this. Abigail was accustomed to living on her wits and faith, this time, and it paid off when she was able to aid God’s future king (as a wife) through his wilderness and refugee time up to his throne.

Are you facing a tough situation that pushes you to the end, where you have to use all of your faith, your wits, wisdom, and will you have to survive? Please know that God knows every complexity and uses every weakness and strength. If we, like Abigail, ask for his wisdom, God will get us through it. He can and will also use every bit of pain, difficulty, and sadness for your future gain and glory and bring about his purpose. God is there 100% to help.

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