Not enough gets said about Godly women. Women who work alongside their husbands in ministry, women who do things they never dreamed of on the ranch or in the home because it needs to get done. Or about the women who study God’s word and lead others in study, worship and lead others in worship. Whether they are wives, fiancees, girlfriends, friends, mothers, sisters, or other, their encounters with the men push them, serve them, and challenge them to be the men that God has created us to be. David found one such woman in Abigail. She is a great example of the women that A Man after God’s Heart should both look for and praise.
Her intellect was praiseworthy. It wasn’t her brain that David found so attractive. David wasn’t a numbers guys looking for the highest ACT/SAT score or a woman who could put his Trivia team over the top. When Abigail’s intellect is praised, 1 Samuel 25.3, the word that the NIV renders as “intelligent” is actually two hebrew words put together: “good” [hb. tob] and “discretion” or “understanding” [hb. shekel]. In looking at the words and how they are used in the Old Testament, it is clear that Abigail shows a specific type of understanding. Most of the time in Scripture (and every time in narrative accounts save 1 Chron. 24.14) it is used of a person’s understanding when it comes to serving God. In building the temple (1 Chron. 22.12; 2 Chron 2.12), in serving the Lord (2 Chron. 30.22; Ezra 8.18), or understanding and teaching God’s word (Neh. 8.18; Ps. 111.10), are ways of serving God. In each instance “understanding” is used and I believe, that it is to be applied here to Abigail. Her “intellect” that is being praised is her understanding of serving God. When is the last time that you praised your wife for her diligence in completing the homework of a Beth Moore Study? (not s small task and if you didn’t know that you should find out how much work that woman makes them do.) Have you thanked he for instilling Godly principles in your kids? Have you written her a note honoring her for making Church a priority in your life? Have you bragged on her devotion to prayer? Her attention to study? The way she puts Bible verses at the forefront of her mind and on everything she owns? The way she puts scripture on facebook? Have you, the married/engaged/dating man, praised her intelligence in service. Unmarried men, are you praying for God to send you a woman of understanding? Is that on your deal breaker list, because it probably should be.
Her initiative was life-saving. David and his band of fugitives had been camped out where Nabal was keeping his sheep. The warriors had watched over the flock and protected Nabal’s interests. When David and his men asked for provisions for their time in the Desert (very politely), Nabal refused to help them and insulted them (1 Samuel 25.4-11). A servant of his went and told his wife Abigail what had happened. He left her with this thought: “think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household…” (25.17) She “lost no time” [hb. mahar] in getting together food, preparing transportation, and sending men with provisions to David (1 Sam. 25.18). Later she would quickly dismount and bow to David (23), quickly go to David (34), and quickly go to David to become David’s wife (42). Each time, it is the same word, mahar, that communicates an initiative on Abigail’s part. She was not going to let wrongdoing stay around for long. Abigail said nothing to Nabal, she just took it upon herself to fix the situation. Have you thanked her for doing the right thing? When there was a problem in the house, when the kids were at their worst, have you shown her appreciation for making it right? Maybe you messed up, lost your temper or made yourself a fool, yet she took it upon herself and took initiative to make it right? She can’t apologize for you, or ask forgiveness, but she has made great strides to protect and serve you; did you acknowledge it? Abigail didn’t absolve Nabal, but she did take initiative.
She took ownership in the household. Her first words to David when she rode out to meet him were: “My lord let the blame be on me and me alone.” (25.24) The word the NIV translates as “blame” is the same word most commonly translated as “sin” [hb. ‘awon]. Abigail believed that the sin of the household was hers to bear. Not only that, she claimed it was hers and hers alone. She didn’t see the servants of David and she certainly wasn’t mean to them, but she took ownership of the household sin. She knew Nabal’s character. He was “wicked” [hb. beliyyya’al] (25.17,25), a word reserved for Eli’s treacherous sons (1 Samuel 2.12) and the vengeful “troublemakers” among David’s band of men who wanted the spoils for themselves (30.22). He was also “mean” [ra’] (25.3). More accurately, he was “evil”. That is how this word is used of the Kings of Israel and Judah who did evil [ra’] in the eyes of the Lord all throughout the divided kingdom. Finally, Nabal was “surly” [hb. qaseh] (25.3), the active word when people are called “stiff-necked”. So Nabal was a stubborn, evil, and wicked man. Abigail was undoubtedly aware of his…shortcomings. This probably isn’t the first time she has taken it upon herself to fix things (see above). She is a partner in this household and even though his name does mean “fool”, they are in this together and the sin rests with her. There is a hint of the purpose of Eve in this encounter. Eve was meant to be Adam’s “helper” [hb ‘ezer]. The word carries the idea of reinforcements in battle (Ps. 20.2; 121.11-12; Isiah 30.5). Abigail considered herself a partner and helper to Nabal; one that made up for his shortcomings in the partnership. Have you noticed the woman in your life taking the good with the bad? Have you seen your wife living through, suffering through, and owning the ups and downs that come with relationships? Have you thanked her for being with you through your worst, staying by your side during the hurt, and sticking there through your foolishness? We like Nabal will do foolish things, but it takes a great deal of honor and commitment to say, “That is my husband, despite his flaws, and I am with him through it all!” Have you thanked her? Ephesians makes it clear that man is the head of the household (Abigail knew this), but a woman who takes ownership of it as well, is to be greatly honored. As Proverbs 31 says: “She watches over the affairs of the household…”(31.27) Thank her.
She challenged the man to be the man. Abigail brought two men to the cusp of a decision:
- She challenged David not to take revenge on Nabal. She advised him: “When the Lord has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel, my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or having avenged himself.” (25.30-31) David praised her for her words and wisdom. (32)
- For Nabal she told him what she had done: “Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone.” (25.37) From there Nabal had the choice to be the man, seek repentance, and make things right. He didn’t.
Not only was Abigail intelligent, but she was praised for her beauty [to’ar+yapeh] as well. The other women who were described with these two words were:
- Rachel, whom Jacob “served seven years to get, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” (Gen 29.18)
- Esther, who would save her people from annihilation, was in contact with Mordecai through the process. She asked him to fast for her as she fought for her people. (Est 4.15) It is a woman who would challenge men to be men.
In other stories, Deborah challenge Barak to go and Ruth challenged Boaz to do what was right. These are women who used their “womanliness” to challenge their men to be men. There are times when we need to be reminded to be men. There are times of stupidity and foolishness, quick decisions and bad logic, where my manliness needed to be reminded. We need the women in our lives to do that sometimes. The hard part is to not take offense, to not get hurt by it, and simply do it. Have you thanked her for being the woman who brings out the best in you? It is not just sex, where a woman asks a man to rise to the occasion, but in ever aspect of his life. Have you written a note describing a time where she asked you to be the man and thanked her for the opportunity? Have you spoken to her thanks for challenging you to fight to grow as a man? Thank her.
David saw all these qualities in Abigail and that is why, upon Nabal’s death at the Lord’s hand (25.38), he asked Abigail to be his wife. Whether you are married or soon to be, dating or soon to be, or other, these are the quailities that we as men should look for in a wife, and praise in a wife.
Proverbs 31 ends like this:
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.