The story of David and Bathsheba is very famous – King David saw a beautiful, naked, (married) woman, wanted her, slept with her, got her pregnant and then tried to get her husband to sleep with her so that the husband would think he was the baby-daddy. When that failed, David had her husband killed so he could marry Bathsheba.
But did you know that David had other wives? He has at least eight wives. His first wife was a trophy wife, given to David by her father, King Saul, for David’s success on the battlefield.
Another wife was Abigail. In today’s reading (I Samuel 25) it told her story prior to marrying David. Abigail was a very intelligent woman and a very beautiful woman. But she was married to a jerk named Nabal. Nabal was rich and crude and mean.
Nabal had a bunch of people who worked for him and David and his men had always treated them very well. One day David went to Nabal and asked him for some food and supplies, but Nabal refused. David was furious. So furious he decided to go kill Nabal and his entire household.
When Abigail heard that David and his men were coming to kill her family she acted quickly. She loaded up food and supplies and went to meet David, to apologize, offer the goods, and ask David to spare them. David listened and thanked her for stopping him from making a horrible mistake by killing a bunch of innocent people. And eventually, after Nabal died, David went back and married Abigail.
So what are some lessons we can learn from Abigail?
- Her Married Life was Tough, but Abigail Stayed Strong: 1 Samuel tells us her husband Nabal was crude, mean, selfish, screamed insults at people, was ill-tempered. I would assume Abigail probably didn’t choose Nabal as a husband. In those days brides were given to whatever man her family chose. But even in the bad marriage and tough life situation, Abigail stayed wise. She observed the situation and she knew what she could change and what she couldn’t, and she used her intelligence to make choices to protect her family.
- She Used Her Words Wisely: When Abigail went to plead her case to David she was approaching an angry man with a group of 400 fighters with him, armed with swords. David had just told his men “May God strike me and kill me if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning”. David was intent on killing Abigail, her family and all their servants. Abigail didn’t have an army or a weapon, but she had experience dealing with an angry man. She knew she was the only thing standing between her family and an army, and she chose her words carefully. She was honest. She was rational. She was humble. She appealed to what was important to David.
- Abigail Stayed Calm Under Pressure: I can’t imagine how scared I would be if one angry man, with a sword, approached my house. Abigail had 401 men approaching her household, intent on killing everyone. She knew her husband wasn’t going to be any help; he was the one who had gotten them into the situation. Instead of panicking or running away, Abigail rationally thought through the best way to handle the situation. She acted quickly, but didn’t freak out. She prepared food and wine for the men who were approaching to kill her – a peace-offering. And she didn’t tell her husband what she was doing, as I am sure that would just make matters worse. And then she headed out to take on an army. One woman, armed with food, intelligence, experience, beauty and wisdom. One woman, riding a donkey, intent on saving her household.
And save it she did. David relented and thanked her for saving him from killing everyone.
When Abigail got home her husband was drunk and partying, so she didn’t tell him anything. In the morning, when he was sober, she told Nabal. He was so shocked he had a stroke and died 10 days later. When David heard about Nabal’s death he came back and asked Abigail to marry him; and she said yes.
While I don’t know a whole lot about Abigail, she is someone I admire. She wasn’t a raging Mama-Bear (which I tend to be), but more of a thoughtful, stealth Leopard. She was adaptable, opportunistic, and intelligent. She didn’t tolerate intrusion on her household and was ready to fight, but not with weapons. She used her words, intelligence and experience to calmly take on 401 soldiers. And she won.