Abigail, The Woman Who Saved Her Husband’s Neck
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on September 15, 2019
I am going to be going to 1 Samuel 25 in a moment. Please turn there.
Ignitemedia video titled “Smart.”
The following warnings were found on consumer products:
On a Duraflame fireplace log: “Caution—Risk of Fire.”
On a Batman costume: “Warning: Cape does not enable user to fly.”
On a bottle of hair coloring: “Do not use as an ice cream topping.”
On a cardboard sun shield for a car: “Do not drive with sun shield in place.”
On a portable stroller: “Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage.”
Okay, so we need to think about things and seek wisdom. This means that we must not be rash, and we must listen. We are on a sermon series of people of the Old Testament. Today, we come to Abigail.
My theme today is taken from Chuck Swindoll’s book:
Abigail, The Woman Who Saved Her Husband’s Neck
Listen to wise council.
I will read the passage as we talk about it.
- Meet David and Nabaland the incident
- Let’s read verses 2–13:
Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel 3 (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite), 4 that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5 So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; 6 and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”
9 When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited. 10 But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” 12 So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you gird on his sword.” So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage.
- Notice the request in verses 2-9.
- Meet Nabal and Nabal was very rich.
- How rich? 3000 sheep, 1000 goats
- Verse 3 explains that Abigail was intelligent and beautiful, but he was harsh and evil…
- Notice right here how highly this talks of Abigail.
- Abigail means “Joy to the father.”
- Nabal means “fool.”
- He was a Calebite, a descendant of Caleb.
- In verse 4, David heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. David was in the wilderness.
- We find out later in verse 16 that David’s men were protecting Nabal’s men. This incident takes place in a wilderness where there could be a lot of danger.
- Verse 5 shows that David sent 10 young men.
- These young men go to Nabal and they are extremely respectful, yet they are rejected.
- These men are supposed to greet Nabal in his, David’s, name.
- The assumption is that Nabal will know who David is.
- One would think that news would travel of David victories.
- It is actually clear that Nabal knew of David, but Nabal is from Saul’s hometown.
- The Moody Bible Commentary shares: His [David’s] men had protected the shepherds and Nabal’s sheep from robbers and wild animals. At this festive moment, David asked for a token of appreciation for his labor. So he sent ten young men (v. 5) to ask Nabal to give them goods that Nabal had on hand. David was not operating a protection racket. Rather, when Nabal’s men accepted the protection that David had provided, they made him contractually obligated to provide for David and his men. In response, Nabal referred to David as the son of Jesse (v. 10), the pejorative term Saul used for David. He accused David indirectly of breaking away from Saul, his master.
- The retaliation(25:13): David becomes angry and plans to punish Nabal.
- David tells his men basically to prepare for battle.
- David will fight with them.
- 400 men to fight.
- 200 stay with the supplies.
- Nabal does not stand a chance versus these warriors.
- By the way, David is acting rash. Later on, he grows in wisdom. In the previous chapter David was calm and collected not killing Saul when he could have, but now he wants vengeance. Now, David is acting like Saul.
- There currently are similar traits in Nabal and David, though later David is wise in that he listens to wisdom and Nabal does not.
- The wise woman(25:14–35): Nabal’s servants tell his wife, Abigail, about the incident and warn her that David is coming.
- Let’s read verses 14-35:
14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep. 17 Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”
18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.19 She said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. 21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22 May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.”
23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. 25 Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.
26 “Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. 27 Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord. 28 Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days. 29 Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling.30 And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31 this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the Lord deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”
32 Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33 and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. 34 Nevertheless, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.” 35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”
- First, we see Abigail’s appeal to David (25:14–31): Abigail prepares a large supply of food and rides out to meet David, pleading with him not to kill her husband.
- Apparently one of the young men who worked with Nabal told Abigail.
- By the way, Abigail is the wisest person in this chapter.
- Also, take note that this is one of many incidents in which the Bible highlights the wisdom and knowledge of women.
- Abigail is in an arranged marriage. Most of the time these worked quite well. In this case it seems that her parents did not notice Nabal’s problems.
- Back to the narrative, the young man made it clear to Abigail that David’s men were “scorned” or insulted.
- Verse 15: David’s men were good to them. They were not insulted.
- Verse 16 is interesting: they were “a wall” to them. This means that David’s men were protecting them and keeping them safe.
- Yet, Nabal would not pay them. Swindoll compares this to not tipping your waiter or waitress.
- In verse 17: one of the servants seems to tell Abigail what she should do. The servant recognizes that David and his men will retaliate.
- The man, Nabal, is worthless and apparently not approachable.
- In verses 18- 35 Abigail intercedes.
- In verse 18: Abigail gets supplies together.
- The ESV Study Bible compares the supplies to a list of the food supplied to an Egyptian expeditionary force to Palestine during the reign of Ramses II.
- In verse 19: she sends her men ahead but she follows.
- Notice how she takes action. She is truly a wise woman.
- Nabal does not know what she is doing.
- She met David and his men.
- In verse 23: Abigail talks with David.
- She is humble and bows down before him.
- The Moody Bible Commentary shares: Her words in vv. 24-31 are the longest recorded speech by a woman in the OT (though see the song of Deborah and Barak in Jdg 5). She explained to David that her husband’s name summed up who he was. Nabal (“fool”) was his name, and folly was in him (v. 25).
- In verse 24: she asks him to listen.
- She even takes the blame, though the blame did not belong with her.
- Abigail asks him to disregard Nabal.
- In verse 26: she wants them to kill their enemies and not Nabal.
- In verses 28-31: she requests forgiveness and gives a blessing to David.
- The Moody Bible Commentary sheds light:
- Abigail spoke prophetically of David life; years would pass before God would promise a dynasty to David (cf. 2Sm 7:8-17). (2) David was fighting the Lord’s battles. (3) No evil would be found in David all his days. This statement could have been a subtle warning to David not to commit an evil against Nabal, rather than a prophecy (Youngblood, “1, 2 Samuel,” 248), since David did commit evil later in the case of Bathsheba. (4) The Lord will protect David. (5) The Lord will destroy David’s enemies (v. 29). She explained that this destruction of the Lord would be like His using a sling against them. This imagery would have resonated with David, who slew Goliath with a stone and a sling. (6) Taking vengeance against Nabal and his innocent household would be a guilty load on David’s conscience after he became king. Abigail ended her reasoned request for forgiveness with a request: When the LORD shall deal well with my lord, [i.e., “when you become king,”] then remember your maidservant (v. 31). “To remember” means “to act in a special way on a person’s behalf.”
- In verse 32: David responds favorably. ESV Study Bible: David, having calmed down, agrees with Abigail completely and thanks the Lord and her. In his restraint about shedding the blood of fellow Israelites, David shows himself more qualified than Saul to be king. Giving up vengeance meant breaking the vow made in 22. If one vows to sin, however, it is better in the eyes of the Lord to break the vow than to commit the sin vowed, a principle that Jephthah (Judg. 11:29–40) and Herod the tetrarch (Matt. 14:7–9) should have heeded. (Of course, making a rash oath in the first place was a sin that needed to be compensated for, asLev. 5:4–6 requires.)
- In verse 33: David blesses her and is grateful that she has kept him from avenging himself.
- The widowed woman(25:36–38):
- Let’s read verses 36-38:
Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light. 37 But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.
- After a night of heavy drinking, Nabal is told by Abigail about the terrible danger he had been in; he suffers a stroke, or a heart attack of some sort. Ten days later the Lord strikes him and he dies.
- The wedded woman(25:39–44):
- Let’s read verses 39-44
39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The Lord has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, “David has sent us to you to take you as his wife.” 41 She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 42 Then Abigail quickly arose, and rode on a donkey, with her five maidens who attended her; and she followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
43 David had also taken Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both became his wives.
44 Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim.
- Following Nabal’s death, David asks Abigail to become his wife, and she accepts.
- David proclaims a praise to the Lord. It is like David is happy that he did not shed the blood, but the Lord vindicated him.
- Verses 40-44: she marries David and there is an update on his other wives.
- Apologetics study Bible: 25:43Throughout his lifetime David acquired at least eight wives (2 Sm 3:2–5, 14–16; 1 Ch 3:1–5) and 10 concubines (2 Sm 15:16), in addition to Saul’s harem (2 Sm 12:8). The Lord did not approve of David’s departure from His plan for marriage. It would have destructive consequences later, when deadly rivalries developed between the women (see 1 Kg 1:1–4; 2:17–25) and families (2 Sm 13:1–32; 1 Kg 2:24–25) within David’s harem. God’s ideal plan for people from the beginning was for one man to marry one woman, and for the couple to remain in an exclusive sexual relationship for as long as both partners were alive.).
Let’s make Some applications:
- We must be willing to listen to the wisdom of others.
- We must NOT be rash as David was (1 Samuel 25:13).
- We must listen as David did to Abigail (1 Samuel 25:32).
- We must be willing to act to help others as Abigail did (1 Samuel 25:18ff).
- We must have the humility of Abigail (1 Samuel 25:23ff).
Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.
Submitted by Amy Simpson, Wheaton, Illinois; preaching today
The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 17051-17052). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 17051-17052). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 17061-17066). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible(Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), 1 Sa 25:1–44.
Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith(Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 446–447.
Again a good explanatory sermon