Abigail is a Hebrew name meaning “father’s joy”.
In 1 Samuel 25, we read the story of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, whose name translated means “fool”.
She was a very beautiful, intelligent and wise woman. Unfortunately, her husband, Nabal, was a hostile and stingy man, despite his immense wealth.
During the festive season, David, who was in the desert, heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. He sent some of his men to Nabal with greetings, and a request, saying in verse 8 “Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them”.
When Nabal heard David’s message, he said “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”
David’s men went back and reported Nabal’s comments. David got very angry and ordered his men to proceed to attack Nabal.
Fortunately for Abigail, and indeed for Nabal, one of her servants went and told her “David sent messengers from the desert to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day they were a wall around us all the time we were herding our sheep near them. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.“
Immediately, Abigail took some gifts, including “two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs”, and loaded them on donkeys. She instructed her servants to go ahead of her, while she followed behind.
Being a smart woman, she did not tell her husband Nabal, as he might have prevented her from going.
As David and his men journeyed towards Nabal’s home in Carmel, David continued to rave about how good he had been to Nabal’s men and how instead, Nabal was paying his good deed back with evil. He swore to wipe out all the men in Nabal’s household in revenge.
As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and bowed down before him with her face to the ground, saying “My lord, let the blame be on me alone”. Despite her husband’s folly, Abigail stood in the gap for him, taking all responsibility for the blunder he had commited…
“Please let your servant speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is Fool, and folly goes with him. But as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my master sent”. By saying this, Abigail shifted David’s focus from Nabal to herself…
“Now since the LORD has kept you, my master, from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, may your enemies and all who intend to harm my master be like Nabal.
“And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my master, be given to the men who follow you”. Abigail understood the power of venison (as in the case of Isaac and Jacob, when Isaac said “Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son’s venison, that my soul may bless thee”). So at this stage, she presents the gifts to David, thus warming her way into his heart…
Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the LORD will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the LORD’s battles. Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling”. She then proceeds to pray for David, admonishing him to continue to do good, and cursing his enemies…
When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel, 31 my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD has brought my master success, remember your servant.” Abigail here speaks great things about David’s future, and positions herself for favor, by asking David to remember her when that time came…
Abigail’s wise words calmed David’s angry heart, and he accepted the gifts that she had brought for him and his men, saying “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”
When Abigail got back home, she found Nabal hosting a banquet fit for a king. He was drunk, and in high spirits. So she held her peace until the next day (wise woman).
In the morning, when Nabal was sober, Abigail told him all that had transpired the previous day. Nabal was shocked, and suffered a heart failure. He died ten days later.
Although Abigail’s wisdom saved her, her husband, and their entire household, from David’s wrath, unfortunately, she wasn’t able to save him from God’s judgement.
When David heard that Nabal was dead, he sent a message to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. (Remember that Abigail had rightly positioned herself when she asked David to remember her? Besides, what man wouldn’t want such a wise woman for a wife?)
On receiving David’s message, Abigail got on a donkey immediately, and went with David’s men, and she became Mrs David.
What have you learnt from the life of Abigail? Please feel free to share it in the comments section…