Ministry Resources

Abigail – The Woman Who Lived With a Surly Man

Author: Sylvia Stewart

Abigail, a beautiful and intelligent woman (1 Samuel 25), nullifies the myth that beauty and brains cannot coexist in an individual.

She was gorgeous and smart–what a combination! Wouldn’t you think that Nabal would have appreciated such a wife? Apparently, he was churlish, irritable and foolish.

Perhaps Nabal hadn’t always been “surly and mean” (v. 3). What intelligent woman would marry such a man? “Wealth” (v. 2) sometimes changes agreeable men into cranks. At the shearing festival, Nabal began drinking, and that made him only more of what he had been for some time–just plain grouchy!

Now the chips were down; the fat was in the fire! David, who had protected Nabal’s herders and animals from thieves, was scorned by Nabal. David vowed to kill every male who belonged to Nabal. Death hovered in the wind!

When a trusted servant came to Abigail and told her about Nabal’s rudeness to David’s messengers, she quickly assessed the outcome.

Abigail’s Solution

Here is what she did: She took charge. Nabal, partying, no longer had the capabilities of good judgment. She had been wise all along, but had submitted to Nabal’s leadership. Now she began to give wise orders, but she didn’t tell Nabal. She intended to tell him later when he was not befuddled with drink.

She shared generously. Loading donkeys with bread, wine, roasted grain and meat ready to be cooked, she remembered that David and his men might enjoy sweets, so she also sent raisins and dried figs. “Take these gifts and go ahead of me!” she told her servants.

Visualize the scene: David and his men, breathing war threats, brandishing swords and shields, poured over the crest on one side of a valley. Breaking the crest on the other side, came donkeys (farm animals, not war horses!) loaded with food–and a gorgeous lady, the final vision.

How their wrath must have fizzled!

Abigail bowed before David and took complete responsibility. “It is my fault alone,” she said. “I didn’t see the men you sent” (vv. 24, 25). How can a godly man fight with a woman who says, “It’s all my fault”?

With eloquent language, Abigail cautioned David, reminding him of God’s promises to him. She even began to prophesy concerning David’s future, and her prophecy accorded with what God had told him. Not only beautiful, intelligent and humble, she also was filled with the Holy Spirit. She begged David’s forgiveness. He gave it, and returned to his camp.

When Abigail arrived home she wanted to tell Nabal what she had done, but “he was in high spirits and very drunk” (v. 36). She had already learned that it is never wise to try reasoning with a drunk man! In the morning, when Nabal was sober, Abigail frankly talked with him of the jeopardy he had brought upon all those under his protection.

Abigail remained faithful to “love, honor and cherish” Nabal even when the realization of his own foolishness brought on his paralysis. She cared for him until he died.

Abigail’s life’s story teaches us many lessons: self-confident capability, wisdom, humility, responsibility and fidelity. Even though she lived with a surly man, she showed it is possible to be a joyous and capable woman of God.

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