God’s Word Is Alive
Abigail—An Outstandingly Discreet Woman
IN THE person of Abigail, physical beauty and discernment were nicely balanced. This discreet woman of Carmel became the wife of a wealthy man from neighboring Maon. Her husband was a harsh, unreasonable person who lived up to the name “Nabal,” meaning “fool,” or “senseless one.”—1 Sam. 25:2, 3.
The wisdom of Abigail is revealed in her decisive action in a situation involving David. The circumstance was so serious that it could have made David bloodguilty before God and could have brought death to every male in Nabal’s household.
During the period of his being declared an outlaw by King Saul, David continued looking out for the interests of his fellow Israelites. For example, he and his men protected Nabal’s shepherds and flocks from marauder bands. In view of this, David felt that it was only right for Nabal to be given an opportunity to express appreciation for the services that contributed toward his prosperity. Sheep-shearing time would have been the ideal occasion for Nabal to show such gratitude. That event was treated much like a harvest, being accompanied by feasting.—1 Sam. 25:4-8.
So, from the wilderness of Judah, David sent a delegation of 10 men to Carmel, on the edge of the wilderness. It was there that Nabal engaged in shearing his sheep. Instead of receiving the men kindly, he screamed rebukes at them. On learning about the hostile reception, David, with about 400 of his sword-bearing men, determined to kill Nabal and all the males of his household.—1 Sam. 25:9-13.
The shepherds of Nabal recognized that their master’s hateful response to David’s men could bring only trouble on them. That is why one of the servants disclosed to Abigail just what had happened. Immediately she discerned the peril in which Nabal’s course had placed the household. Knowing that it was hopeless to get her husband to reason, Abigail took the initiative to handle matters properly. To her, adherence to right principle was more important than the pleasing of a man who had disregarded divine law by repaying good with evil. From the abundant provisions for her husband’s feast, she took 200 loaves of bread, two large jars of wine, five prepared sheep, about a bushel of roasted grain, 100 cakes of raisins and 200 cakes of pressed figs. Loaded on donkeys, these provisions were brought to David by the hand of servants. Abigail herself followed.—1 Sam. 25:14-19.
On meeting David, she bowed before him and pleaded with him not to take vengeance. Her plea included the following basic points: Nabal was a fool, a “good-for-nothing man.” This implied that he was under divine condemnation and that Jehovah would act against him. In having the facts set before him, David was being held back by Jehovah “from entering into bloodguilt.” Then there was the appeal to accept the provisions for his men.—1 Sam. 25:23-27.
Next, with full faith in Jehovah’s use of David, Abigail continued: “Jehovah will without fail make for my lord a lasting house, because the wars of Jehovah are what my lord is fighting; and as for badness, it will not be found in you throughout your days. When man rises up to pursue you and look for your soul, the soul of my lord will certainly prove to be wrapped up in the bag of life with Jehovah your God; but, as for the soul of your enemies, he will sling it forth as from inside the hollow of the sling. And it must occur that, because Jehovah will do to my lord the good toward you according to all that he has spoken, he certainly will commission you as leader over Israel. And let this not become to you a cause for staggering or a stumbling block to the heart of my lord, both by the shedding of blood without cause and by having the hand of my lord itself come to his salvation. And Jehovah will certainly do good to my lord, and you must remember your slave girl.”—1 Sam. 25:28-31.
Thus, based on the record that David had made as a valiant warrior, Abigail recognized that he was the anointed of Jehovah. Her words took on a prophetic tone, pointing to the time when there would be a royal house in the line of David. Abigail was confident that Jehovah would protect him, safeguarding his life, or soul, as in a “bag” in which a person might wrap up something valuable. However, this would only be the case if David did not seek to bring salvation or deliverance by his own hand, apart from divine help. He responded favorably.—1 Sam. 25:32-35.
When Abigail returned home, she found Nabal drunk. The next morning, after he was sober, Abigail told her husband everything that had happened. “His heart came to be dead inside him,” the import of the whole situation evidently resulting in a stroke. About 10 days later, Nabal appears to have experienced a second stroke, which proved fatal.—1 Sam. 25:36-38.
After this, David proposed marriage to Abigail. In accepting the proposal, Abigail said in all humility: “Here is your slave girl as a maidservant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” Thus she declared her willingness to perform the most menial service. With five maids, she began sharing in the unsettled life of a man who had to continue living as an outlaw because of King Saul. For a time she lived in the Philistine city of Gath and later in Ziklag. Among the hardships that she endured was being taken captive by Amalekite raiders. Happily, however, she was rescued unharmed.—1 Sam. 25:39-42; 30:1-19.
The life of Abigail demonstrates clearly what makes a person discreet from God’s viewpoint. She was humble and put loyalty to God above loyalty to a man. It was her recognition of divine direction that made her wise.
[Pictures on page 28]