When the story starts in 1 Samuel 25, David is on the run from Saul, who handsome and strong though he be, doesn’t appreciate being shown up by a little punk who plays the harp. David has started gaining followers and has amassed quite a number of men who are willing to fight. But David can’t take the throne until Saul dies. So, for the time being he’s practically an outlaw, in the wilderness.
In desperate need of food and supplies, David hears that Nabal (a very wealthy and grumpy old man) is harvesting. David sends some of his men to request some food, they tell Nabal that they have been watching his sheep in the wilderness and he kinda owes them. Nabal, stingy and foolish, tells David to buzz off. When David hears this he tells his men to “gird their swords” (get your guns boys…)
This is where Abigail enters the stage… her servant informs her of David’s request and Nabal’s rejection. Now, Abigail wasn’t the poor, enslaved wife of a patriarch, we have every reason to believe that the women in these large family units carried a good deal of decision making, after all Abigail had her husbands servants under her command.
As Carol Meyers writes in her book Discovering Eve:
“When a household occupies the preeminent place in society, women have a strong role in decision making and consequently exercise considerable power in the household. This is especially true for complex households such as the extended or multiple-family units that made up a significant number of domestic compounds in Israelite villages.”
So we watch as Abigail does what women everywhere would do well to learn. She approaches David, (who is furious and loudly cursing Nabal and his entire house) with gentle words and food. She tells him that it is her fault, he should be angry with her, because she didn’t hear the request of David’s men. She proceeds to use good sense, diplomacy and basic negotiating with David, who for all she knows is just an outlaw.
Abigail comes home after placating Davids wrath to find her boorish husband drunk and feasting like a king, completely oblivious to the fact that he had put the entire household in grave danger. She, being the sensible woman she is, waits for him to sober up before telling him what she did. When Nabal learns of his wife’s actions scripture says “…his courage failed him, and he became like a stone. About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died.”
David catches wind of this and “shouts praises to the Lord”. He immediately sends a marriage proposal to Abigail. In her he finds someone who can manage a large household with keen discernment, protect her husband’s interests and could recognize dangers in time to avert disaster.
Abigail marries David and becomes as scripture refers to her “a model wife”. Abigail is known throughout history as a beautiful, sensible and generous woman.
You want a man like David? You want a man after God’s own heart? You want a king?
Are you beautiful, generous and sensible? When a man hears of your works, or interacts with you, does he see diplomacy and discernment? Does he see you fiercely protecting your father? Does your reputation include generous and sensible?
Oh girls, being a good wife doesn’t start when you get married. It starts far earlier when you start making the conscious decision to do him (your husband) good all the days of your life. Including those days before you know he exist.