I heard once that the longer a couple lives together the more alike they become. They grow to look like one another and they grow to share similar beliefs and attitudes. Is that always the case?
Abigail lived with her wealthy husband, Nabal. While he let the elevated status that comes with prosperity take control, she strove to remain true to all things good. In reading the descriptions of the two found in 1 Samuel 25, one realizes quickly this was a mismatched pair.
The words surrounding Nabal are not kind in the least. Churlish, evil in his doings, rude, fool, insensitive, bad-tempered, surly. Does this sound like a man of God? A man you would like to marry?
On the other hand, Abigail’s descriptors are of a whole other sort.
Good understanding, beautiful countenance, intelligent, beautiful, good sense, wise. How do these words differ from those used for Nabal? What do they make you think about Abigail?
These words shape our perception of each. It makes me wonder what words would people use to describe me? How about those I choose to spend my time with? I want very much for my words to be like Abigail’s, but fear the negative ones might come up instead. What must we do to ensure that people describe us in positive ways?
In some translations we read that Abigail is beautiful while in others we see the phrase “beautiful countenance” used. The two hold slightly different meanings, and after reading her story I wonder if beautiful countenance is not the most accurate. This makes one think of the inner as well as the outer beauty. While I am sure her face was quite pleasing to the eye, we all know that does not necessarily mean someone is beautiful. Your attitude can change the way a person sees you, and a bad attitude will never be made up for by a charming face. Abigail, however, behaved so exceptionally that I wonder if her spirit was not just as beautiful as her face, giving her that “countenance”.
With two such vividly contrasting descriptions we are left with one question. How on earth did two such different people come together in a marriage? Today we see this happen when love blinds us to the faults in others and then time and success brings pride and corruption for one party. Something happens and the two individuals change in completely different ways. In Abigail’s time, however, marriages were arranged. The likely story is that her father thought Nabal would make a fantastic husband for beautiful Abigail. Abigail would never starve, enjoy servants to care for her, and lead a good life. Unfortunately when in a relationship of any sort with someone such as Nabal, happiness is fleeting at best and misery a constant companion.
So what of Abigail? How did she overcome this?
She taught us a great many things. First of all compassion in her example as the ultimate peace-maker. These two things go hand in hand for her.
The wife makes the home what it is. Through her teaching of the children, making of good food, tending to the needs of the home a mood gets set. Everyone knows that if Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Which is probably why the role of peacemaker often falls on the wife. She breaks up the squabbles between siblings, smooths the rifts between friends or coworkers at a dinner party, she does what it takes to keep things running smoothly.
Abigail went above and beyond the regular duty of peacemaker when she found out David’s plans on her household. Nabal, in a moment of sheer foolish actions, insulted David. Nabal refused to give David food, welcome David in. In fact, Nabal slurred David’s honor when David’s servants came on a mission of peace. Naturally, David did not take kindly to this and let his anger take root. He vowed to kill Nabal and all those in Nabal’s home.
The servants, wise to the truth that their master embodied the very being of fool, beat feet straight to Abigail and filled her in. Abigail wasted no time in arranging to fix matters. She, too, circumvented Nabal. Gathering up a plethora of good and tasty food she headed out to meet David. When he came around the corner she dropped in supplication before him and begged his forgiveness for Nabal’s actions.
All this was not enough. She then implored David, in one of the lengthiest passages given by a woman in the Bible, to show mercy. She reminded him of just how special he was to God and how his actions were not in accordance to God’s will.
Talk about making peace? She not only brought peace between her husband and David, she also made sure David could be at peace with his God.
How easy it might be for her to say that the likes of Nabal deserved to die at David’s hands. Nabal was so not a nice guy. Why not let him get his comeuppance? She did not have to do anything, yet she did.
When involved with disputes, which part do you take? How can be learn to make peace? When people do little to deserve our compassion and attempts to avoid animosity, how do we behave?
Once I knew someone that wanted very much to fit in with a group of people. Unfortunately she and another woman clashed in personality. Neither were bad people, but they just did things differently. This caused a rift amongst the circle of friends, and some felt they must take sides. One woman let the hurt colour her actions for months while the other prayed to find a way to not only work well with the first, but also to love that woman despite the hurt. Eventually their hearts both softened and they became very good friends. They learned how to agree to disagree as well as love those that are different from themselves.
If both women let bitterness eat at their hearts, they would never learn to work together. They would never let that spirit of love and peace be truly at home inside of them. Their animosity could drive away any and all good.
The one obviously followed in Abigail’s footsteps. She tried to become a peacemaker. She prayed for her own heart to soften as well as the other woman. Through that act of kindness, attitudes changed. Never be afraid to show the gentle attitude of the peacemaker.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children
Matthew 5:9 (KJV)
When you strive for peace, you learn humility. Through humility you learn how to look past people’s hearts and love unconditionally. You do not hold to hatred, hurt feelings, or bitterness.
My husband in no way falls into the realm of Nabal, but sometimes I feel bitter towards him. Generally it is the things he forgets to do and leaves to me. Why must I always be the one to do this or that? Why can’t he notice the house is clean today? Why doesn’t he kiss me when he walks in the door or tell me that he misses me?
Now think about other things, other problems women face. Many women face questions such as: Why does my
husband view pornography? Why doesn’t my husband attend church with us? Why does he drink? Why does he hit me? Why has he left our family without a father?
Are there reasons we can justify as cause for bitterness and hatred? Sure there are! We must remember that we are taught that is not in God’s plan. We must free ourselves of these negative emotions. If we do not, they will bring us down and that only leads us off the path of righteousness.
When we spend our time lost in negativity, the Spirit of God leaves our presence. Another spirit altogether keeps us company.
Abigail never let herself fall into that trap. How did she do it? When I struggle with far less, it makes me think Abigail is definitely out of my league.
Never give up faith, she tells me. Pray vigilantly and learn the ways of God. I hope that one day I can have her wisdom and her faith. She teaches me the prayers she offered for her husband, which I think we should all hold dear each day. They might also serve well for those around us, especially those that might wrong us.
She prayed diligently for her husband to have good health, especially when he heard she went out to make peace with King David. He suffered a stroke and died after ten days.
She prayed for his work. The Lord blessed him with great prosperity.
She prayed for him to be a good father, though we do not know of any children. She later married David and had children with him. I am sure she offered the same prayer on David’s behalf.
She prayed for her relationship with her husband. How often do we forget this one little thing? We tend to only pray for our relationship when things are not going well. How about praying to thank the Lord for when things go well? Or praying to ask how you can make things go better? Just because things seem good does not mean you have no room for improvement.
She prayed for his relationship towards her. Just as important as how you feel towards someone, you need to remember all relationships are two way streets. So pray for your relationship as well as theirs.
The final thing we learn from Abigail is wisdom. She realized her husband’s actions were foolish and immediately acted to make things right. She also knew just how to speak with David. She prepared a meal fit for a king. She realized her husband would stop her so she went without his knowledge. Upon returning home and finding him drunk, she realized that was not the time to tell either.
She knew when to act and she knew when to bite her tongue. She knew just what to say. This combined with her beauty impressed David so much that he changed his entire plans and later asked to marry Abigail. While we have no knowledge of her life as David’s wife, other than the fact she gave him children, we can only speculate to her future post-Nabal. Strong men often marry strong women. It is entirely possible that he turned to Abigail for advice or as a confidant, as many men today do with their wives.
Abigail may not have had a choice in her first husband, but she did with her second and she chose quite well. Your spouse determines a lot in your life and so we must chose that person with great care.
We don’t know when, but we do know Abigail must study the word of God. When first she faced David she likened him unto God’s most precious possessions. She reminded David that God would protect him, even when chased by his enemies, as long as he remained faithful. This knowledge of God surely helped her gain some of the wisdom she showed in this one short chapter.
Can you say that you act in faith, wisdom, courage, and as a peacemaker like Abigail? I look back on my life and know I do not come close to her example.
I feel strong in my faith, but I do not know that I always act on it as quickly as I could. I doubt my own self far too much. In doing that, I doubt the Lord and show how I actually lack faith. So I delve further into my study and try to do the things the Lord prompts me to do, such as this journey. Maybe one day my faith will truly be as strong as I like to imagine it.
I long for the wisdom to make the right choices. Sometimes I think I am doing the right things, but I know I falter just as much as everyone else. I pray for the right words to say to people, and rejoice when they come. When they do come, I know that is thanks to only one person and he is not me.
I pray for courage because secretly I fear far too much. I want to make life changes that frighten me to no end. My lack of courage weakens me, but thankfully this is where God comes in to build me up.
I fail miserably at being a peacemaker. I try so hard and sometimes I think my efforts are in vain. No matter how hard I try, arguments still spring up. I do not want to be confrontational and so I try harder the next day. It seems the harder I try, the more I fail, especially in my marriage. After fourteen years it is far too easy to remember things that happened and let that continue to hurt me and drive away the peace.
So for this week and forward I plan to strive to follow in Abigail’s footprints. One more woman walking along this path of life beside me. One more woman for me to emulate. Will you join us? We can start with our prayers, like those she gave for her husband. Our prayers will lead to attitude which will progress on towards actions.
And one day maybe we can be known as wise with a beautiful countenance, just like Abigail.
*Author Note* I learned a lot about Abigail under a horribly stressful week. I hope that i can one day deal with stress as she can. Sorry this is so late and so rough. I filled my scriptures with notes galore on Abigail. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for sticking by me! You guys are great readers and the thought of you encouraged me this week when life was just insane.*
Originally posted on ladyozma.vox.com
Wow, thank you. This is a very inspiring essay, and has given me a lot to think about.
Lady Ozma said:
I’m glad you liked it!
I definitely had a lot to think about with this one!!!!