Abigail: Living with a Difficult Husband - 1 Samuel 25 - May 17, 2009
Sunday School Lesson – Abigail: Living with a Difficult Husband – May 17, 2009
This is lesson three (3) in the series entitled “Profiles in Character.”
Our scripture is 1 Samuel 25:1-44.
Living with a difficult spouse is an awful situation to be in. There are some spouses that have mental problems and create problems for their spouses, others are just plain mean. Today, we are studying an intelligent, beautiful lady named Abigail (Her name means father of joy or cause of joy) who is married to Nabal (His name means fool).
So we have this situation. A sweet, intelligent, wise, beautiful lady married to a crass, loudmouth, brute. Nabal likely came from a wealthy family who was obstinate and impossible to deal with but he had wealth. We do not know why Abigail married him. It was likely prearranged by her family since that was the custom of that period.
David was fleeing King Saul, who wanted to kill him and was with his men in the Wilderness of Paran (PAY ruhn). David had about 600 men with him in this northeast area of the Sinai Peninsula.
We studied Hannah, Samuel’s mother, last week. Samuel was the last judge to rule Israel. The Israelites wanted a king and Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. Later GOD rejected Saul as king because he got impatient and took on the duties of the priest. GOD directed Samuel to anoint David as king to succeed Saul. At this point in our scripture, Saul was still king and he was trying to kill David. Samuel died before David became king. Our scripture picks up when Samuel died.
Let’s read 1 Samuel 25:1-17:
1 Samuel died, and all Israel assembled to mourn for him, and they buried him by his home in Ramah. David then went down to the Wilderness of Paran. LXX mss read to Maon 2 A man in Maon (MAY ahn) had a business in Carmel; he was a very rich man with 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats and was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 The man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name, Abigail. The woman was intelligent and beautiful, but the man, a Calebite, was harsh and evil in [his]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. dealings. 4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep, 5 so David sent 10 young men instructing them, “Go up to Carmel, and when you come to Nabal, greet him in my name. Or Nabal, and ask him for peace 6 Then say this: ‘Long life to you, Lit To life and peace to you, to your family, and to all that is yours. 7 I hear that you are shearing. Lit you have shearers When your shepherds were with us, we did not harass them, and nothing of theirs was missing the whole time they were in Carmel. 1 Sm 23:24–25; 25:15–16 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. So let [my]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. young men find favor with you, for we have come on a feast Lit good day. Please give whatever you can afford to your servants and to your son David.’ ” 9 David’s young men went and said all these things to Nabal on David’s behalf, Lit name and they waited. LXX reads and he became arrogant 10 Nabal asked them, “Who is David? Who is Jesse’s son? Many slaves these days are running away from their masters. 11 Am I supposed to take my bread, my water, and my meat that I butchered for my shearers and give them to men who are from I don’t know where?” 12 David’s men retraced their steps. When they returned to him, they reported all these words. 13 He said to his men, “All of you, put on your swords!” So David and all his men put on their swords. About 400 men followed David while 200 stayed with the supplies. 1 Sm 23:13; 30:9–10 14 One of Nabal’s young men informed Abigail, Nabal’s wife: “Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he yelled at them. 15 The men treated us well. When we were in the field, we weren’t harassed and nothing of ours was missing the whole time we were living among them. 16 They were a wall around us, both day and night, the entire time we were herding the sheep. 17 Now consider carefully what you must do, because there is certain to be trouble for our master and his entire family. He is such a worthless fool nobody can talk to him!”
Nabal’s shepherds had been in the wilderness grazing his sheep before the shearing season. David had about 600 men with him and they guarded Nabal’s shepherds and sheep until the sheep were ready for shearing. As a result of David’s men guarding the sheep, Nabal did not lose a single sheep. This meant he had more sheep to shear.
Sheep shearing was a festive occasion. It was a time that the owner of the sheep would invite his neighbors, friends and even his enemies to participate in the shearing of his sheep, which was celebrated with food and drink. It was party time. David, being a shepherd boy, was very much aware of this practice.
He sent ten (10) of his men to Nabal with a request for Nabal to share his food and drink with them since they had guarded his sheep. David instructed his men to tell Nabal to check with his men and verify the fact that they had not only guarded the sheep but they did not lose a single sheep. In essence, David was reminding Nabal that they could have taken some of his sheep when they were guarding them for food but they had not. Now, that it was shearing season and he was reaping the benefits of not losing any of his sheep, could he make food and drink available them? It was not like they were freeloading because they had guarded his men and his sheep. They requested whatever Nabal could share with them.
Nabal yelled and insulted David and his men. It is not clear whether or not Nabal knew about David but Nabal asked the question, “Who is David?” and “Who is Jesse’s son (Jesse was David’s father)?” I personally think Nabal had heard of David slaying Goliath. Nabal’s refusal to aid David might have been his way of trying to be the big man in the neighborhood and show he did not have to accommodate the man who killed Goliath.
David’s men returned to David with Nabal’s message. David became furious and told about 400 of his 600 men to grab their swords and saddle up, because they were off to fight Nabal and his family.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, one of Nabal’s men was wise enough to know what was about to happen. He may have tried to reason with Nabal but he knew that his master was a fool and no one could reason with him. He went to the brains of the family, Abigail and explained the role that David and his men played in guarding Nabal’s sheep. If Nabal needed to share food and drink with anyone it was David and his men.
Let’s read 1 Samuel 18-31:
18 Abigail hurried, taking 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five butchered sheep, a bushel Lit sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she said to her male servants, “Go ahead of me. I will be right behind you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 As she rode the donkey down a mountain pass hidden from view, she saw David and his men coming toward her and met them. 21 David had just said, “I guarded everything that belonged to this man in the wilderness for nothing. He was not missing anything, yet he paid me back evil for good. 22 May God punish me, LXX; MT reads my enemies and even more if I let any of his men Lit of those of his who are urinating against the wall [survive]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. until morning.” 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off the donkey and fell with her face to the ground in front of David. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “The guilt is mine, my lord, but please let your servant speak to you directly. Listen to the words of your servant. 25 My lord should pay no attention to this worthless man Nabal, for he lives up to his name: Lit for as is his name is, so he is His name is Nabal, = Fool and stupidity is all he knows. Lit and foolishness is with him I, your servant, didn’t see my lord’s young men whom you sent. 26 Now my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, it is the Lord who kept you from participating in bloodshed and avenging yourself by your own hand. May your enemies and those who want trouble for my lord be like Nabal. 27 Accept this gift your servant has brought to my lord, and let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28 Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the Lord is certain to make a lasting dynasty for my lord 1 Sm 2:35 because he fights the Lord’s battles. Throughout your life, may evil Or trouble not be found in you. 29 “When someone pursues you and attempts to take your life, my lord’s life will be tucked safely in the place Lit bundle where the Lord your God protects the living. However, He will fling away your enemies’ lives like [stones]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. from a sling. 30 When the Lord does for my lord all the good He promised and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31 there will not be remorse or a troubled conscience for my lord because of needless bloodshed or my lord’s revenge. And when the Lord does good things for my lord, may you remember [me]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. your servant.”
Abigail was a quick study. She knew men and what reaction David would likely have. David’s retaliation could impact her, as well as, Nabal. She put it in high gear and began gathering food and drink sufficient to feed David and his men. She sent the provisions ahead of her. This was a good tactic. She knew David would be steaming mad and she wanted to show good will and cool him down before she encountered him. After all she knew how to deal with difficult men because she was married to one.
Abigail climbed on her donkey and off she goes to head David off at the pass. She spotted David and they come face to face. She immediately dismounts and knelt down at David’s feet. She asked David to consider what happened between Nabal and his men to be her fault.
Abigail goes into the longest speech of any woman in the Bible. She laid it out that her husband, Nabal, lived up to his name a “fool” and “stupid.” She stated to David that she was not aware that David had sent his men to Nabal but once she got the word about the situation, she took matters into her own hands.
She acknowledged the hand of GOD in this situation and in David’s life. She seemed
to be aware of David’s past when in verse 29 she says, “He (GOD) will fling away your enemies’ lives like [stones]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. from a sling.” Was this her way of letting him know she knew who he was and that GOD was directing his life? And she knew his future when she asked him to remember her when the LORD appoints him ruler over Israel. This is why I think Nabal knew who David was.
Let’s read 1 Samuel 25: 32-44:
32 Then David said to Abigail, “Praise to the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33 Blessed is your discernment, and blessed are you. Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord God of Israel lives, who prevented me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, Nabal wouldn’t have had any men Lit had anyone urinating against a wall left by morning light.” 35 Then David accepted what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. See, I have heard what you said and have granted your request.” 36 Then Abigail went to Nabal, and there he was in his house, feasting like a king. Nabal was in a good mood Lit Nabal‘s heart was good on him and very drunk, so she didn’t say anything Lit anything small or great to him until morning light. 37 In the morning when Nabal sobered up, Lit when the wine had gone out of Nabal his wife told him about these events. Then he had a seizure Lit Then his heart died within him and became paralyzed. Lit became a stone 38 About 10 days later, the Lord struck Nabal dead. 39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the Lord who championed my cause against Nabal’s insults and restrained His servant from doing evil. The Lord brought Nabal’s evil deeds back on his own head.” Then David sent messengers to speak to Abigail about marrying him. 40 When David’s servants came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David sent us to bring you to him as a wife.” 41 She bowed her face to the ground and said, “Here I am, your servant, to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 42 Then Abigail got up quickly, and with her five female servants accompanying her, rode on the donkey following David’s messengers. And so she became his wife. 43 David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and the two of them became his wives. 44 But Saul gave his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Palti 1 Sm 18:27; 2 Sm 3:14–15 son of Laish, who was from Gallim.
Abigail’s reference to the LORD immediately changed David’s heart from a heart seeking revenge, to a heart seeing the hand of the LORD at work in his life through Abigail. Often, when we encounter a volatile situation the mention of the LORD’S name changes a bad situation into one where reason has a better chance of prevailing. The mere reference to GOD not only changed David’s mind but it also revealed the heart of Abigail toward GOD. Mission accomplished.
I admire Abigail. When she returned home, she saw that Nabal was in a good mood and very drunk. This might have been a good time to tell him what she had done. It would have gotten it off her mind but he would not likely remember what she had told him the next day. But this gutsy lady waited until early the next morning, when he was sober. Had she been praying for the right time to tell this vile man what she had done? Did GOD lead her to wait? We do not know. When he was sober, she told Nabal what she had done and Nabal lost it. We know from our study that he yelled. He was a very volatile man. When he heard what Abigail said he likely went into a rage, so violent, that he had a stroke. He died ten (10) days later.
Now this intelligent, beautiful widow lady is free to marry and David does not let any grass grow under his feet. He sent his servants to Abigail with a message that He wanted to marry her! Talk about love at first sight. It must have been love at first sight for both David and Abigail. She agreed and traveled with five (5) of her servants to meet David. Later in the scripture (2 Samuel 3:3) we learn that Abigail and David have a son and named him Chileab.
From our study we can see the character of a Godly woman who was married to an ungodly, evil man. She was unequally yoked to her spouse. Her desire was to do the right thing in her marriage and for others in spite of a brute of a husband. She was committed to a bad marriage until death do us part. GOD took care of “until death do us part” and freed Abigail.
We need to consider Nabal for a moment. Abigail was the opposite of Nabal. Was GOD using Abigail to get Nabal’s attention? She was a daily witness to him for his short comings but he was too stubborn or proud to change his ways. His violent character led to his death via a stroke.
GOD does not always remove us from bad situations but HE can help us through bad situations. GOD has blessed most of us with faithful, intelligent, trustworthy, hard working, caring spouses. My prayer is that each of us will thank our LORD for our mate and we will honor and appreciate them.
I am not suggesting that a spouse stay with an abusive spouse. To me a man that abuses his wife is about a low as he can get. Either get help or leave when it is safe to leave. The same goes for people who abuse children. We hear of this often and it comes from Satan. It is often the result of pornography.
What is your character? What character comes out when you are tested?
The character of believers is being shaped each day as they are either obedient or disobedient to the LORD. Allow GOD to shape your character by yielding your will to HIM and ask HIM to help you build a dynamic relationship with HIM.