Today’s reading: I Samuel 25-27.
Blessed are the peacemakers. Jesus proclaimed it, but a woman named Abigail proved it one thousand years before Jesus walked the earth. When her foolish husband incurred David’s wrath, she knew exactly what to do to bring an end to a potentially deadly conflict.
David’s band of exiles had been helping protect the flocks of a wealthy man of Judah named Nabal. During the bounty of the shearing time David had his men ask Nabal for some provisions, but all they received were insults. David flew into a rage when he heard it. He had spared the life of the man who wanted to kill him, but now he wanted to kill a man who had only insulted him.
Fortunately for David, Abigail heard of the problem before David could act. She intercepted him on the way to kill her husband and calmed his anger through her diplomacy and gifts of bread, wine, and fruit.
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. Otherwise, as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.” I Samuel 25:32-34
Abigail might have been tempted to let her husband meet his fate at David’s hands. She called him wicked, the writer of Samuel called him surly and mean, and even his servants thought he lived up to his “foolish” name. But she wisely saw that violence should be avoided if possible. Once his anger softened, David agreed with her.
- He accepted that his intended vengeance would not have honored the LORD.
- He saw this bloodshed would have brought guilt upon him.
- He learned that he needed to leave this matter in God’s hands, not his.
As I wrote previously, we need to leave margin in our lives for God to act. Abigail made this possible. Within a short time Nabal’s heart failed him and the LORD took him away. David married Abigail, and very likely became the owner of all of Nabal’s wealth. All because a wise woman knew to avoid violence and let God control the outcome.
Image by Ian Britton on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0