The Bold and The Brave: Abigail
The story of Abigail is a wonderful encouragement; unshakeable confidence in God's power and in her identity, she models the ability to reflect conflict and see situations with God's eyes. We love this! MP x
My Grandad always tells me to ‘reflect and not react’. It’s been his mantra for a number of years, and usually brings it up just as I’m about to launch into how so-and-so annoyed me by doing this-and-that. Though sometimes, frustratingly, such Grandfatherly counsel cuts off my rant before it has even begun, he has a point.
Situations of conflict and difficulty are rarely solved by our first impulses, but are best dealt with reflectively.
Whenever I read the story of Abigail, I’m reminded of my Grandad’s mantra. Her story is one of calm in the middle of chaos. She manages to avoid the slaughter of her household, risking everything to protect her (pretty horrible) husband. Though there is much to say about Abigail regarding her noble spirit, discernment, bravery and quick thinking, I’m most struck by her ability to reflect and to see beyond her present circumstances.
David, fleeing Saul, finds himself in a time of need (25:4). He asks his men to send supplications for provisions to Nabal, a wealthy property owner (25:8). David is courteous in his request, but Nabal retaliates, asking,
‘Who is this David? Who is the son of Jesse?’ (25:10)
Despite the fact that his shepherds had previously been with David and his men, Nabal renders David anonymous – calling him a runaway slave and refusing to grant him his request.
We all long for recognition. When our lives seem to amount to the sum of our actions, we often feel as if we deserve affirmation and acknowledgement.
Perhaps David felt the same. So, when Nabal wounds his pride - he reacts badly, grabbing his sword and setting off with 400 men to seek revenge.
In the midst of this chaos, we find Abigail. Directed to God’s purpose and promise.
David was to be God’s King. He was the Anointed One (1 Samuel 16) - appointed to serve for God's honour and Israel's interests. But at this point, David’s actions were far from kingly.
Without telling her husband (something unheard of in that day and age!), Abigail gathers gifts and sets off to meet the sword-bearing David, seeking peace. There, she diverts his attention - not simply to her lavish gifts (mentioned only once in her speech) - but to God and His promises. She reminds David of how it is God who will make him a 'sure house' (25:28), that his life is 'bound in...the care of...God' (25:29) and that he is to fight God's battles, not his own (25:31). David accepts her counsel, and forgoes his bloody battle.
Through thoughtful speech, Abigail not only saved her household, but gently pressed David to be all that God had called Him to be. Though his status as the Anointed One remained throughout, he only acted like a king when reminded of his purpose.
Wisdom, Sensitivity, Divinity
In contrast to David, Abigail's reflection shows that she was sure of her purpose and unperturbed by her circumstances. Though she was not royalty, she knew her identity as a daughter of the King. She found her foundation in the character and purposes of God. She knew what God has to say about His works for David and trusted His ways.
Not only this, but when David accepts her supplications and thanks her, he says,
'Blessed be the Lord...who sent you this day to meet me!' (1 Samuel 25:32)
David recognised that Abigail’s presence and counsel was divinely orchestrated. We begin to see that Abigail's discernment and courage was a careful sensitivity to God’s leading and a trust that He knew what was best.
Reflection, Not Reaction
Sometimes people are difficult, acting in ways that don’t quite reflect their God-given purpose. They can be rash, saying things they don’t mean and acting in ways that are fuelled by anger. In fact, I know I have often fallen into being much more like David or Nabal (though minus the swords!) - lashing out or wanting to kick back at the people that damage my pride. So often we react, rather than reflect.
But Abigail displays that so much more can be achieved through humble reflection than rash reaction. Human behaviour like David’s or Nabal’s can be both frustrating and disappointing, and, in Abigail’s case, dangerous. In response, our first instincts can be to react cruelly and selfishly.
Indeed, Abigail reflected - she saw David not as he was, but as he could be. She saw David the King, anointed by God, not David with drawn sword ready to kill. She even protected Nabal, despite his disrespectful actions. In doing so, she reflected the gracious and long-suffering character of God. She saw past her present circumstances and pursued God’s future purposes, not simply for herself and the safety of her household, but for others.
Almost in reverse, Abigail's ability to reflect confirmed her own identity. Her confidence and surety of purpose showed that she knew she was a daughter of the King – and circumstances could not shake her, since she was following His leading.
Alex Browne studied Classics at Durham University, and having worked in local government, has now made the shift from all things ancient to study a Public Policy MA at King’s College London. She loves dried mango, early morning sunrises, libraries and ‘Dad jokes’. Most of all, she loves Jesus, and wants to live daily for Him.