1 Samuel 25
The story of Abigail is a picture of a person who demonstrated effective action in crisis. You can read the full story in the passage noted above, but the quick recap is that Abigail and her husband Nabal were a very wealthy couple living in a town called Maon. Scripture describes Nabal as a man who was "badly behaved," and on this particular occasion he committed a grave offense against David and his men during the festival of sheep shearing. (This was in David’s pre-kingship days, when he was leading a group of about 600 men, living in the wilderness and on the run from King Saul.) David’s anger was roused by Nabal’s snub, and he immediately prepared a campaign of attack against the man’s household. Abigail, who by contrast is described as "discerning and beautiful," suddenly found herself caught in the middle of a potentially explosive crisis that was not of her own making. Nevertheless, she turned out to be a woman who rose to the challenge when quick action was required, and she did it with both wisdom and grace. Let’s take a look at three things we can learn from her in this story.
“One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, ‘David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us…Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household.’” (v. 14-17)
First, Abigail was Responsive. We are called to be responsive to people who approach us with needs. Abigail’s servant had confidence that he could bring to her his plea for help, and the Scripture says that she “acted quickly” in responding to the need (v. 18). But in seeking to meet the needs of others, it is imperative that we first be responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. David later said that the Lord sent Abigail (v. 32). In other words, she was supernaturally prompted by the Spirit of God. It was divine Wisdom that directed her, and she was immediately responsive to that prompting. In order to be effective in a crisis, or in any situation in which we are being approached for help, we must be led by the Spirit of God rather than by our own faulty reasoning. James gives us these encouraging words: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
“Abigail acted quickly. 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. Then she told her servants, ‘Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.’” (v. 18-19)
Secondly, Abigail was a woman who was Ready. “Ready” is defined as “prepared and available for action or use”. Unlike her husband Nabal, Abigail generously gave out of the resources of her wealth when there was a need. We may not have great wealth, but we all have resources—abilities, families, ministries, possessions—that have been entrusted to us. Because God is the owner of these resources, we are responsible to be good stewards of them; and part of that means being prepared for Him to use them when and how He chooses. If the physical resources that God has given us are in disorder and chaos, that preparedness becomes more difficult. Abigail demonstrated organization and efficiency in pulling together such a large gift in so little time, which is a good reminder that a certain level of order and discipline brings about the ability to serve God with a greater degree of freedom. The readiness of the spirit is equally crucial. There was no sense of panic in Abigail, but rather she responded with calm precision despite the dire threat of disaster that was looming. We must keep the spiritual resources that God has given us in a state of readiness…before the crisis hits! We do this by carefully nourishing and tending to the needs of our spiritual life, just like we tend to the affairs of our household.
“When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before
David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you…Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal….And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you. Please forgive your servant’s presumption.’” (v. 23-25, 27-28)
Lastly, Abigail was a Reconciler. Abigail could have just sent her servants to deliver the gift to David. But she chose to meet him in person, placing herself right in the middle of a volatile situation with the intent of bringing reconciliation and peace. What courage that must have taken, riding directly into the face of an angry horde bent upon revenge! Even though she was not the one who had committed the offense, she took the blame upon herself. She became the bridge of peace, which resulted in relationship between the two sides. Her words of reconciliation brought David to his senses, causing him to respond, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgement and for keeping me from bloodshed this day…” (v. 32-33)
Isn’t that what Christ has done for us? In our natural human state, we have no hope of a relationship with the holy God, the righteous King. Jesus came to be that Bridge of Peace for us, the Reconciler between God and mankind. In turn, we who are in Christ are then called to be reconcilers just as Abigail was, willing to go and bring the message of hope and peace to others. As Paul says,
“…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:19).
We are called to be a people who are responsive, ready for action, and committed to reconciliation...
traits that are also our best hope whenever we find ourselves caught in a crisis.
“God will speak to the hearts of those who prepare themselves to hear…” –A.W. Tozer