LaTan Roland Murphy is a nationally-recognized writer and radio host whose newest book covers 11 women in the Bible, each uniquely positioned for success because of her courageous choices. It’s a joy to welcome LaTan to share about Abigail: how a wise response cools hot heads.
I wonder if Abigail turned her back away from the servant nervously clamoring on about how poorly her husband, Nabal, had treated David’s troops while camped in the Wilderness of Paran? Scripture doesn’t tell us if the messenger ran to tell Abigail, or slowly went; but we hear his disgust in his report:
“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 our master and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole house. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.” (1 Sam. 25:14-17, NIV)
Imagine Abigail graciously thanking the young messenger, waving good-bye with a half-hearted smile, then biting her lip in an attempt to hold back the seething anger as she replayed his embarrassing, detailed report. Nabal’s bad behavior must not have come as a surprise. He was known for foolishly belittling others with his quick, harsh and cutting gestures. “Who is this, David? Who is Jesse’s son?,” he’d remarked.
Nabal’s condescending response was unjustifiable! The men had greeted Nabal in David’s name. Their demeanor had been as kind as David’s message itself.
“Long life to you! Good health to you and your household!… Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing…Therefore, be favorable toward my young men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.” (1 Sam. 25:5-8, NIV)
Abigail’s goal in life might not have been to become a leader. But, when others see character, integrity and courage, they automatically see a leader, too! Abigail’s story fills us with renewed desire to become the best version of ourselves we can be, knowing others are depending on us to have big courage when life gets hard.
Some of us have been assigned to cantankerous parents, in-laws, children, friends, coworkers or bosses. Abigail had a cantankerous spouse in Nabal. It takes courage to keep it together when others have created upheaval all around us. Sometimes, it hard to do the right thing when stronger, overbearing personalities try to control or dominate our situations.
First Peter 5:8 tells us to “keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.”
Abigail acted courageously and moved swiftly. She “took 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 told her servants to go to David but didn’t tell her husband Nabal.
As she journeyed along, do you think she replayed Nabal’s rudeness? How dare Nabal respond so rudely to David’s request for food. I can’t believe he said: “Shall I take my bread, my water, and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”
And how dare he pretend not to know who, David, son of Jesse is! David’s success had won him the highest ranking in the army of King Saul.
Nabal’s lack of respect and carelessness had put their lives in danger and positioned Abigail as the one to make yesterday’s wrongs right. But God was her helper, and she acted with discernment.
“As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. David had just said, ‘it’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the desert so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!’”
Nabal’s unruly behavior caused David’s hot pursuit of him. And Nabal’s unruly behavior had caused his wife, Abigail, to take matters into her own hands. Abigail went courageously to meet David, knowing her life and the lives of others depended on her courage.
“Go up to Carmel and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. And thus, you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.’ (1 Sam. 25:5,6, ESV)
Beautiful Abigail represented ugly Nabal’s case before David to remove the sting of impending death coming for all of her people, and Jesus did the same when he became the curse for us, giving his life for ours on the cross, with all the abundance of heaven becoming ours.
Abigail used the wealth endowed to her—bringing the best provisions from yesterday’s storehouse, along with her beautiful humility, to the mountain ravine. And her timing was impeccable; David had just finished grumbling about how Nabal had repaid his good with evil, expressing his oath to annihilate everyone who belonged to him.
By this point, I’m guessing Abigail’s face was dust-covered from her travels, yet, beautiful nonetheless. Friend,
when the predicaments others cause place us on a dusty, dirty, fearful path, keep in mind—nothing can taint our godly beauty. Because God sees our heart when man sees our outward appearance.
Approaching David, Abigail quickly dismounted her donkey, then bowed before him with her face to the ground.
“My lord, let the blame be on me alone. 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.” (1 Sam. 25:25, NIV)
Can you hear how Abigail’s courageous heart humbly spoke to David for her? Placing blame, making excuses or trying to manipulate her situation wouldn’t have worked well in convincing David to retreat. Instead, Abigail courageously spoke truth to the one who could save her life, her redeemer, David.
I love that she didn’t tell a white lie, water down the truth or make excuses for Nabal’s arrogance. Instead, she referred to him by the character in which he lived: a fool. In ancient Israel names were often connected person’s character. We don’t know if Nabal was given this name or he earned it; but he certainly lived up to it.
But, Abigail was no fool!
“And David said to Abigail. “Blessed be the lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.”
David graciously received her offering and replied, “Go up in peace to your house.”
Most of us would have been tempted to run back to our husbands with an in-his-face: Na,na,na,na,na! But Abigail waited once again for God’s perfect timing before telling Nabal what she’d done, partly because he was drunk when she returned from her mercy-journey. After hearing the news, “Nabal’s heart failed him and he became like a stone. And, about ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.”
With godly humility, Abigail resourcefully worked to create better tomorrows for herself, her family and friends and in doing so won the respect of soldiers, servants and a soon-to-be King David.
There are four kinds of riches. There are riches in what you have, riches in what you do, riches in what you know and riches in what you are—richness of character. Nabal was an extraordinarily rich man, but only rich in what he had. There was no excuse for such rudeness or his selfish spirit.
Dear Abigail, how we need your beautiful restraint. How we long for an honest-to-goodness courageous countenance where our inner faith becomes external courage. How we want to be courageous women, with impeccable God-timing, so that we can act according to God’s best leading and trust Him with the good results.
No more blaming our husbands, friends, mothers or our daddies for our insecurities. God is about to do a new thing as we courageously discern who He is and submit to his higher authority. What better way is there to own our tomorrows?
Find the full chapter of Own Your Tomorrows in LaTan’s book Courageous Women of The Bible, Overcoming Fear and Insecurity for a Life of Confidence and Freedom. LaTan Roland Murphy is a sought-after speaker and award-winning writer who finds encouraging others her passion and purpose. LaTan teaches at The Billy Graham Training Center, helping others fulfill their God-given purposes. Many of her award-winning articles have been featured in Fox news, Inside Edition, 700 Club, and The Daily Mail in the UK. Her award-winning books have been featured in Southern Writers Magazine’s Must Reads. Connect with LaTan at latanmurphy.com.