In light of the shootings in Dallas and the inflamed attitudes that have and will be appearing on all sides of this issue, we offer the story of David and Abigail and pray for the spirit of Abigail to prevail among all who are close to these events and the events that caused them, which would be all of us.
This story, as recorded in 1 Samuel 25, is about David and 300 of his bravest fighting men who were hiding out in the fields of a certain wealthy man named Nabal. It so happened that at sheep shearing time, a time accompanied by much celebration and sharing, David sent some of his men to inquire of Nabal if they could join in the festivities, as his men were tired and hungry and had been looking out for Nabal’s workers while they were in their fields. It was a reasonable request, and any reasonable man would have generously granted it, especially as Nabal’s workers were confirming to him that David’s men had indeed protected them while they were shearing the sheep.
Instead, Nabal (whose name means “fool,” by the way) responded, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 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” (10-11)?
When David heard about this response, he immediately told 100 of his men to suit up for battle because they were going to go to Nabal’s camp and make sure there was no man in his household left standing by the end of the day.
When word of this reached Nabal’s wife, a beautiful and intelligent woman named Abigail, she acted quickly. “She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys,” and went out to intercept an angry man and his small army. Brave woman, indeed.
Upon encountering him, she bowed low, told him who she was, apologized for her foolish husband — even took responsibility for his foolish attitude (“on me alone place the blame”) — asked him to accept her gifts, and then prophesied concerning his future leadership over Israel, that “my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself” (25:31).
Upon hearing this, David relented, stating, “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” (32-33). About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died (38). Upon hearing this, David sent for Abigail and she became his wife.
We need to all pray for people to respond to the recent events in Dallas, and in cities all over this country, in the spirit of Abigail — to call out the best in each other, to remind each other of a higher calling, to ask us not to do or say that which we might regret later when we come into our own in God’s kingdom. People, like David, are suiting up for battle and heading out to get even, or set the other guy straight. If not in a physical way, we are doing it in our attitude and in our language. There is a combative spirit loose. We need cooler heads. We need to listen to Abigail; indeed, we need to be Abigail when we can, calling each other to something higher.
“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’” (39).