The Wisdom of Abigail

*image originated here

1 Samuel 21 – 25

Fleeing from Saul, David goes to Ahimelech the priest at Nob. The priest is afraid when he meets him because of David’s reputation. But, he gives David bread and Goliath’s sword which had been kept there. When Saul finds out about it from one of his servants who was there when it happened, he has all the priests of Nob killed. One named Abiathar escapes to where David is hiding and tells him what has happened.

David hides first with the Philistines at Gath but has to pretend insanity to get away because the Philistines are still angry about Goliath. After asking God where he should go, David returns to the land of Judah.

“David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.”

-1 Samuel 22:1-2

David then sends his family to live with the king of Moab until his trouble has passed with King Saul.

Another city in Israel is under attack by the Philistines so David asks God what he should do. God tells him to go rescue the city that He has given the Philistines into David’s hands. Saul hears where David has gone and comes out to pursue him. David asks God if the people of the city he has rescued will hand him over to Saul. God says they will, so David flees again and hides in caves in the deserts of Ziph, Maon and En Gedi.

Saul happens to enter the front of the cave David and his men are hiding in. David’s men urge him to kill Saul, so he sneaks to the front of the cave and cuts off a corner of the King’s robe. However, David refuses to kill the king and feels guilty for even cutting off a piece of his robe.

“Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, ‘The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.’ With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.”

-1 Samuel 24:5-7

David comes out of the cave too and shows Saul how close he came to death. Saul is convicted about how wrong it has been for him to pursue David to kill him and he blesses him knowing that this man will take his place as king.

“‘You are more righteous than I,’ he said. ‘You have treated my well, but I have treated you badly. You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”‘

– 1 Samuel 24:17-21

David does promise Saul that it will be as he said just as he promised to Saul’s son Jonathan. Shortly after this Samuel dies and all Israel mourns for him.

David moves again to the desert of Maon where a certain man, Nabal, lives. He sends ahead to Nabal for supplies because David and his men had treated the men of Nabal well and guarded his livestock. But Nabal says, who is this David that I should give him anything? When David’s messenger reports this back to him David is filled with rage. He and his men strap on their sword to go take their vengeance on Nabal and his men. Abigail, the wife of Nabal, hears about all that is going on and does not hesitate in her action. She gathers plenty of supplies and good things as gifts for David and his men. She takes them to David herself and begs for the life of her husband even though he doesn’t deserve it. The Bible says that she is intelligent and beautiful, what she has done pleases David greatly. He thanks her for keeping him from doing wrong in the sight of God by taking his own revenge on Nabal and he blesses Abigail for her wisdom.

David goes his own way. Abigail returns home where Nabal is feasting like a king and has no idea how close he just came to death. In the morning when he has sobered up, Abigail tells him what happened with David. Nabal’s heart fails him and he becomes like a stone. 10 days later God strikes him and he dies.

When David hears that Nabal has died, he sends for Abigail to be his wife. She comes joyously to him. He now has 3 wives: Abigail, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Michal who is Saul’s daughter. But Saul had given Michal to be the wife of Paltiel in David’s absence.

When people wrong us it’s easy to want to do something to get back at them. That can be a mean comment, an action that causes them harm, or any number of other things. But it isn’t our job to hand out justice to the people who wrong us. It is one thing if someone breaks the law and is brought to justice through the law because of their wrongdoing. It is another for you to go out taking an eye for an eye. This can be hard to remember especially if we have someone trying to kill us like Saul was trying to kill David. It can even be hard when someone who should respect us instead insults us like Nabal did to David. Yet like Nabal and soon Saul, it is God who holds justice and eternity. Don’t doubt that He will bring down on your enemies’ heads exactly what they deserve and don’t fail to give them your forgiveness. Remember we were once enemies of God and He died for us to redeem us when we deserved nothing but the fires of hell!

“David said to Abigail, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hand.'”

-1 Samuel 25:32-33

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