Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. 3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—(1 Samuel 25:2-3, NIV)
Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words. (Proverbs 23:9, KJV)
Perhaps the greatest temptation for a believer just now in the fast-degrading socio-political world scene is the temptation to respond in kind to the forces of divide-and-conquer, to react to anger with anger.
If the anger is not the righteous kind (and most is arguably not), such all-too-human emotion leaves a bad taste in the mind and in the soul while it only seems to goad the foe to increased vitriol and invective.
Reason, let alone civility, seems to have been lost in the acrid dust of the meanness abroad in the world, just now–and inside the heart. And that, as we soon learn, to our frustration, is “the Devil’s playground,” his home (wrecking) court advantage, you might put it.
To the challenge: how to remain above the battle mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually.
If we resist wisdom in this regard, even what seems a smart strategy on this battlefield where in reality we wrestle with an ancient, and brilliant enemy, we wrestle on uneven ground. Results, at best, are tainted.
We sense there has to be a better way to retain not only sanity but also peace–while at the same time overcoming evil.
King David learned that lesson from an experienced “spiritual warrior,” a wise, Old Testament Matriach named Abigail.
Unfortunately, Abigail’s story is seldom told, although in my view it is both powerful and timely.
One reason for this, I believe, is that some think she went outside her “woman’s bounds”.
However, the ways of man are not always the ways of God (for more thoughts on this, see below*).
I invite you to consider a personal application of Abigail’s stratigies as well, if you, too, wonder how to regain–and retain–that “peace that passes all understanding.” For neither is easy to access in such a time as this; nevertheless, both are critical for mental, emotional–and spiritual–stamina.
The Real Battleground
I believe the lessons Abigail has for us today are important, critical, because pundits and politicians are clever at distracting us with this or that “existential crisis” and by so doing stir up even more strife, but there is a much larger battlefield on which believers engage–that real enemy and his turf, noted above. This battleground requires supernatural, if you will, strategies.
Abigail knew this in her era, and by her actions saved not only all of the male members of her household (including her husband whose name actually means “fool”) but also a young, impetuous, easily-angered king who was about to do somethng that would taint his future reign.
And David obviously knew she was sent from God, while Nabal, the (as far as we know) unrepentent fool, suffered his own fate.
I believe Abigail’s story is one to highlight particularly now as Christians face a real crisis on many fronts worldwide, that, many believe, is of prophetic import, powered by those brilliant, unseen forces that not only gin up destruction but who also know exactly how to pull us down off the section of “Nehemiah wall,” as it were, that we are each assigned to continue fortifying with “a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.”
Abigail’s story of obedience to God who enabled her to be a catalytst for His plan not only for her household, David’s future reign, but also for our benefit today, is also important because she could also have easily become frustrated and fatigued. She could easily have succumbed to discouragement, even defeat. But she didn’t.
She knew her real enemy–and she knew God.
And if this enemy–led by one, Satan, who pulls the levers behind the curtain of all evil–wins, it will mean far greater loss, to emphasize the real danger she faced then and we face today.
With God’s help, we can survive the skirmishes, but as Abigail’s story illustrates, God’s plan is for us to not only survive but also to thrive–and to aid others as well.
*ABIGAIL: A TYPE OF CHRIST, JOHN THE BAPTIST, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Note: What follows from 2017 is in response to yet another preacher who insisted Abigail was out of bounds due to her gender. I respectully disagree. Indeed, for the beneift of all–male, female, young, old–we need to look beyond “the flesh”.
In my view, so many teachers and preachers miss what is perhaps a much bigger point in the story of Abigail. As the believer in that household, Abigail had a position of spiritual authority. And had she not acted on it, several things would have occurred:
1. David would have committed a grievous sin, a “stain” on his then and future position in God’s plan, one that Satan would have exploited;
2. Her husband (the guilty) and all of the household male servants (the innocent) would have died leaving her and the wives and children of her household in great distress;
3. Her husband would not have had ten days after he was informed of her actions to do what he had to do to get right with God. We don’t know his ultimate spiritual position, as it is not covered in the text, but God allowed him those ten days. One is reminded here of the “ten days of awe” or “repentance” after Rosh Hashanah…
Instead of the usual haggling over Abigail because of her gender and cultural position, can you see her as a type of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit by alerting David of his sin condition, offering a way of salvation (in her context, illustrating it**), and revealing God’s heart on the matter–including the consequences of disobedience?
Back in the flesh, as it were, even though Abigail possessed female body parts, she rose above the flesh to accomplish in the spirit what God ordained through her, her culturally mandated obligations to her foolish husband Nabal notwithstanding.
If we keep focusing on the flesh aspect of this (imposing rigid gender roles as if still under the law), we miss the spiritual, and as Scripture both denotes and connotes time after time after time in both Old and New Testaments, “the spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”
Abigail knew her true position as a believer, and she knew Who she ultimately had to submit to: God.
I strongly suspect that even if she had a respectful and loving husband, Abigail would have kept her eyes and her heart on her true Provider. This is pure conjecture, but her name means “father’s joy,” so chances are she gleaned the nature of a loving Heavenly Father from her biological father who perhaps “rejoiced” over her, tending her with love as she grew.
Then again, there is nothing like a little refining in the furnace of an abusive relationship such as with a man like Nabal, whose name literally means “fool,” to clarify God’s Word and His ways…
ABIGAIL AS A TYPE OF US, TOO
Would that more women really comprehended the much greater, in my view, significance of Abigail’s story to their–and their family’s–benefit.
Would that more men and teachers and preachers really comprehended this, to their own benefit.
And certainly, in these days when it behooves every believer to recognize our authority as the (collective) Body of Christ in a world getting darker by the minute, we need to comprehend this–and each take our rightful stand in the battle which is really, as Scripture also reminds us, not one of “flesh and blood,” but of “principalities and powers” over which Jesus gave us authority, gender–and age, tribe, and tongue–notwithstanding…
(Thank you, once again, Abigail.)
Carry on, brethren.