Abigail, King David’s third wife, is a challenging woman to write on.
First, there’s not a TON on her. She is mostly a background figure to the narative of David’s rise to power/God’s suppreme authority to accomplish that.
And yet, she is very facinating for the budding feminist within me. Not to say that I’m a flaming feminist by any means, but I do take an interest in women like her in scripture who feared God more than man.
The first we hear of her is almost the last we hear of her at the same time. She is mentioned in the lists of the children of David along with the son(s) she bore him. But, the best intimation we have of her and her charecter comes from 1 Samuel 25.
Let me set the scene…
David has been annointed the new king of Israel! Great! There is a king of Israel on the throne who doesn’t think this is all that great. Boo! So, for a long time David has been running and hiding out in the wilderness to keep from being killed.
That’s where we pick up here. David hears that Abigail’s husbands shepherds are in the area and have been hanging out with Davids guys. They are in need of supplies so he sends guys to ask Nabal for assistance. Plus, having an in with the soon to be king would be a good thing for Nabal in the future.
The man was harsh and badly behaved…
Nabal doesn’t think so.
He’s fairly convinced this whole annointed of God thing is bogus and basically tells David to shove his arrogance where the sun don’t shine.
“Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 11 Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” 25:10-11 (ESV)
Now the guys who were hanging out with David try to warn Nabal that this is a bad idea. There are a ton of armed men out in the wilderness with David, but…
…he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him. 25:17b (ESV)
So, they turn to Abigail.
The woman was discerning…
When she hears what was done for her people, and her husbands rekless response to David’s peaceful entreaty, she is shocked. She rushes to undo the bad that will surely kill them all!
She brings more than what David has asked for and rides out to meet him as he comes “under the cover of the mountain”. Perhaps suggesting by a route that her husband would not easily notice her going.
Her words are elloquent and persuasive. She puts herself at Davids feet and praises his worthiness. Perhaps the greatest statement she makes is:
For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 25:28 (ESV)
An expression of the faithfulness of God and her trust in Him to do what he has purposed. The language she usee is poetic, and struck the heart strings of this man after God’s heart.
God had made her with a mind that could do more than what her calling to this point had been. She had humbly fulfilled the role of wife to this man who was not worthy of her. Who was appearantly not worthy of anything!
The end of the story is perhaps the most entertaining to me.
His wife told him these things…
When she gets home from saving everyone’s life she doesn’t march in and tell the fool off. He’s merrily feasting, by the way. Completely unaware of the reaction he had incited in a great man. No, she comes in and goes to bed. Letting him sleep of his druken stuppor.
In the morning when she comes in to speak with him she finally tells him all that had happened. And he literally has a heart attack. Just like that!
and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died. 25:37-38 (ESV)
The irony is not lost on David, for when he hears of it he praises God. Here he was thinking that he needed to take revenge on Nabal for this slight. But really the revenge was God’s for the blatant lack of faith that God would do as he said he would. Abigail accepts Davids proposal and marries him as he wanders in the wilderness, knowing that God would follow through on His promises to this man who followed Him.
Where do we go from here?
What are we to think of this woman who blatantly disregarded her husbands leadership? Is this a good example of women needing to think for themselves? Was Abigail really the worlds first documented femenist?
There are so many things to concider when we are looking at these kinds of conclusions from a narrative text in the bible. God is not giving black and white statements about the good or bad conduct of these men and women in regard to each other, but more in regard to Himself.
Nabal’s sin was not just a foolish decision in regard to David. It was a lack of faith in God. He knew who David was as much as Abigail did and he chose noot to care because he didn’t care about God. The definition of foolishness.
David’s retrobution against Nabal shouldn’t have been just an angry outburst against a man who had slighted him. Abigail’s speach to him reveals his true heart in the issue.
Abigail’s response wasn’t just an act of defiance against and unjust ruler of a husband. She was acting in faith to a God who ordains all of life. Even her totally messed up one. She was saving her torturer and covering a multitude of sins in her love for God and the king He had appointed. She sincerely does not want David to commit this sin of selfish vengence.
What does this really say for feminism?
It says; the situations that we are in are right where God wants us to be for His glory.
It says; He will make a way where there seems to be no way as long as we are concerned about His will and ways, and not our own forms of justice.
It says; God is ultimately the worker of all good things, even social justice.
It says; we make our best stands for the things that we really care about by being faithful in all the things of life. Even the little stuff.
Finally, God is the best one to handle the things in our life. If we can’t trust him to bring us the oppourtunities to make a difference, we will never trust Him to actually make the changes.
We want answers now. And understandably! But what’s more important is faith.
It’s time for women to have faith that can move mountains and God will move them! We can make the difference in the world that needs to be made, by trusting unmovingly in the only one who can change the hearts of all mankind!