Sunday, March 13, 2011

1 Samuel 25: Abigail, a Woman of Wisdom and Discernment

Blade Shearing demonstration at the New York S...Image via Wikipedia
The prophet of God, Samuel, who anointed David to be King of Israel has died.   Without Samuel's  corroborating witness regarding God's plan for him, David may have suddenly felt very alone and isolated.  Maybe he was  extremely discouraged.  David must have felt no closer to the throne than he was months earlier.

Instead of engaging in battle with the Philistines, David settled his troops in Carmel where a wealthy landowner, Nabal and his wife Abigail, were beginning the daunting task of shearing three thousand sheep.  Perhaps yearning for the familiarity of a lifestyle he knew in his youth and perhaps because his troops needed provisions, David assigned  some of his men to protect the vulnerable shepherds against theft and loss of sheep.  David knew that the shepherds could not be as vigilant over their flocks while they were also shearing them.

After the shearing was completed, David sent ten of his men to Nabal to ask for renumeration. Though Nabal was greeted kindly and presented with the report of David's men having successfully protected the shepherds and livestock, he scorned David as some sort of usurper of the throne; as an untrustworthy lowlife who dared to presume upon him; as a worthless, runaway servant.

Maybe Nabal was worried that King Saul would seek vengeance against him if he were reported to have assisted David in any way.  Even though King Saul wanted to kill David, David was nevertheless the King's son-in-law and a military hero of legendary proportion.  After all, everyone knew that David slew the Philistine giant with a sling-shot.  Though not yet fully recognized as King, David was recognized as an important man in Israel.

But, if Nabal's heart were in the right place, he could have spoken to David differently.

Nabal's arrogant attitude incited David to plan revenge against every male member of Nabal's household (1 Samuel 25:22).

Fortunately, one of Nabal's servants informed Abigail of  Nabal's response to  David's request for compensation for protecting the sheep and the shepherds during the shearing process.  Even though women were not supposed to countermand a husband's authority, Abigail fully comprehended who David was in God's scheme of things.  She immediately ordered provisions for a few hundred men and set out to meet David.

Before David had the chance to exact vengeance on an entire household,  Abigail fell before his feet and proceeded to remind him of his position in God's plan.  She reminded him of how God prevented him from avenging himself with regard to Saul and to other enemies.  Maybe inspired by the Spirit of God, Abigail reminded David that God intended to make him into a lasting dynasty.  Abigail said "when" God accomplished His promises to David, not "if" He did as He promised.

At a time when David really needed to have God's Word reaffirmed, God sent him Abigail who prevented him from sinning by avenging himself on a fool.  Though Samuel was now gone, God used Abigail to adjust David's perceptions so that he could continue to look at  God's plan rather than at his own disappointments.  By listening to God, Abigail was able to rise above her social constraints, thus preventing the slaughter numerous innocent men; thus preventing David from acting rashly and outside of God's will.

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