Bible Ladies (Part 8): Abigail


David Meeting Abigail by Rubens (Getty Museum)


It has been some time now since I made a posting in the Bible Ladies Series.  I will try to rectify that here.

Proverbs 31 reads in part,

“A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life (verses 10 -12).”

There are few biblical examples which illustrate this than the story of Abigail in the 1 Samuel 25.  She is introduced as the wife of Nabal a wealthy man in the region of Carmel. Nabal is not just wealthy, but “very wealthy” according to verse 2.  Despite this wealth he is depicted as greedy, and disrespectful.  This is shown when David sends men to Nabal and asks for what he might spare for the up keep of David and his men. Nabal responds, “Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where? (verse 11).”  This was in spite of the fact that David and his men had previously protected Nabal’s servants.

The snub towards the future king does not go unnoticed.  David mobilises 400 men to address the insult.  Here we see Abigail’s character revealed.  Verse 3 had already reveled that “She was an intelligent and beautiful woman.” But she is loyal and virtuous as well.  She,  the account continues,  of her own accord,  . . .  “took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seah of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys (verse 18),” and went out to meet David and his advancing men.

She bows herself before David and offers the food to him.  She then essentially entreats David to spare her husband and household.  She notes that “needless bloodshed,” need not be on the future king’s conscience.  She goes on to make reference that David’s line will be a lasting one.

David said to Abigail, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands (verse 32)’  . . . . “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request’ (verse 35).”

Later Naban dies (possibly from his own excesses). And, When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.” Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.” She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants (verse 39 -41).”

Abigail, therefore became David’s third wife, and would go on to bear his second son.

She is in brilliant contrast to David’s other wife Bathsheba.  In her case the king is drawn to a woman willing to cheat on her noble husband, which in time leads to her husband’s  death; while Abigail shows virtue and gains a reprieve for her corrupt and disrespectful spouse.  Yes, both become wives of a great man, but it is Abigail who exemplifies Proverbs 31, even for a husband unworthy of her grace.





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