Abigail: Distress Turned to Joy

Posted on April 7, 2019

6


By David Ettinger

Note: This is a fictional story based on the biblical account of 1 Samuel Chapter 25.

Miserable Marriage
Abigail was the finest and most gracious of women. Nabal was the most foolish and obscene of men. And yet, they were wed to each other.

For Abigail, her 12-year marriage was a torturous endeavor, one filled with verbal abuse, hostility and endless distress. Nabal, because he was a drunken and wicked disgrace of a husband, made life miserable for his devoted wife, and yet Abigail endured it with grace.

However, what challenged her most was the loneliness and lovelessness of her predicament. Despite her husband’s numerous faults, Abigail could tolerate it all if only he loved her. If she could but feel his warm embrace or be the grateful recipient of a tender kiss on the cheek every so often, that would be wonderful.

But for Abigail, there would be no love because Nabal was incapable of it. This is the way it always was, and the way it would always be.

Disastrous Dilemma
For now, however, Abigail’s marital sorrows were secondary in light of recent developments.

“Now slow down, Malchus,” Abigail gently appealed to Nabal’s chief servant, “and start again.”

“Yes, madam, of course.” Malchus took a deep breath. “As I was saying, all the time our shepherds were in the fields in Carmel, David’s men, about six-hundred of them, protected us. In fact, night and day they were a wall around us all the time we were herding our sheep.”

“I am sure,” Abigail concluded, “they were seeking a reward from your master.”

“They were. Early this morning, David sent ten men to Master Nabal – I accompanied them myself and heard everything that transpired.”

“Tell me what was said, Malchus.”

“Speaking for David, one of the messengers said, ‘I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Therefore be favorable toward my young men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’ ”[1]

“A proper request, but I fear one not received well by my husband,” Abigail surmised.

“Your are correct. Master Nabal told them, ‘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?”[2]

Abigail turned away. “Oh Lord, help us.” She turned back to Malchus. “What happened next?”

“Within an hour, David had formed a contingent of four-hundred hundred men armed with swords and spears at their sides. They are heading our way. I believe they intend to destroy our entire household.”

Abigail turned ashen and began to pace. “Please give me wisdom, Lord,” she prayed. “Please give me wisdom.”

She regained her composure. “This is what you are to do, Malchus. Gather all the donkeys and collect two-hundred loaves of bread, two-hundred cakes of pressed figs, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, a bushel of roasted grain and one-hundred cakes of raisins and load them on the donkeys. Go to David and pray that we are no too late. I will be riding behind you.”

Time of Reflection
Abigail summoned another servant and had him saddle her donkey to take her to David. As she rode through the hill country of Carmel, she was oblivious to its striking pastoral beauty. Her mind was riled by thoughts of impending doom and utter abhorrence for her reckless husband whose fatal foolishness had brought every male living in his home to the brink of slaughter.

“Oh Lord, how can I endure such a man?”

She had asked this question on the day her parents informed her they had arranged her marriage to him for a sizable dowry. Abigail, then a beautiful 17 year old with wisdom and discernment far beyond her years, was mortified. She had known much about this man Nabal, the wealthiest man for miles around, but also the most wicked and foolish. When in the marketplace, she would notice this man who was twice her age staring at her, and cringed. She stayed as far away from him as possible.

And then she received the unfathomable news from her parents that they had agreed to Nabal’s terms of marriage to their daughter. When informed of her parents’ decision, Abigail reacted with dignity while in their presence, but once alone in her room, she broke down in tears.

“Oh Lord, how can I endure such a man?”

She would repeat this cry many times over the next 12 years, and every time the Lord’s answer would come back to her, By My grace.

The Lord’s gentle comfort was enough. It would help carry her through the long years of loneliness and lovelessness. It would carry her through the unbearable curses Nabal would spew at her during drunken rages. It would fortify her through the vindictive threats of divorce whenever she displeased him – with the solemn promise that he would make her a destitute woman. The Lord’s grace would bolster her through the vile, bitter hatred and disdain with which Nabal treated everyone in his path. This was life with Nabal, and without the Lord to carry her, Abigail would have crumbled.

Merciful Plea
Abigail’s musings occupied her until she came to a deep, narrow gorge where David was leading his men. Nabal’s servants stopped and trembled as David drew his sword. Abigail quickly dismounted her donkey, ran to David and fell at his feet. “Please my Lord,” she said, her eyes never leaving the ground, “do not do what you have in mind. Instead, let your wrath fall on me. My husband is a fool, as his name indicates.”

She awaited a reaction. “Continue,” David said patiently.

“You are the great general of Israel and will one day be our king, but if you take revenge and kill innocent men, you will always carry the guilt of it. Oh my lord, may no guilt ever beset your reign.” She drew a breath and continued. “And now, my lord, please accept these humble gifts that my servants have brought to you. They are richly deserved for all your kindness.”

Abigail held her breath.

“Please stand, good woman,” David said softly.

At once, Abigail felt a surge of relief. She rose, but kept her eyes down.

“Look at me,” David implored.

When she did, Abigail was struck by the warmth of his countenance.

“Praise be to the Lord, who has sent you to me this day,” David said warmly. “May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. You are indeed an angel sent from God.”

Abigail felt her heart breaking with every word David spoke. She had never been so gently addressed, and it was wonderful.

David’s men gratefully accepted Abigail’s gifts.

“Return home in peace,” David told Abigail, his hand on her shoulder, “you have saved your husband’s household.”

Oh Lord, Abigail prayed as she rode back to her loveless existence, what kind of man is this? Strength yet tenderness. Power yet compassion. Forcefulness yet respect. Oh Lord …

Nabal’s Demise; Abigail’s Salvation
She dreaded walking through the door of her house. When she did, she intended to tell Nabal about all that had happened, but he was hopelessly drunk. She waited until the next day, when he would be sober.

“What is it you want, wife?” Nabal barked when he saw her approaching.

“I must inform you of an incident which occurred yesterday.”

“Be quick about it, wife.”

It took Abigail but three minutes to tell her story, and when she had finished, Nabal inexplicably collapsed, his heart barely beating. Abigail summoned two servants, who carried her comatose spouse to his bed. Ten days later, Nabal died.

“Surely this is your doing, Lord,” Abigail surmised.

Following her week of customary mourning, Abigail awoke on the eighth day and wondered what would become of her. She and Nabal had no children, and the property would transfer to Nabal’s relatives. She would be cast off. And just as that terrifying reality besieged her, Malchus came to see her.

“Madam, two messengers from David are here to see you.”

At the mere mention of David’s name, Abigail felt her spirit soar.

The messenger spoke briefly. “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”[3]

Abigail humbly accepted the offer, sent the messengers on their way, and found herself a solitary place. She fell prone to the ground. “Oh Lord, am I truly to become the wife of a man who will love me? I know nothing of such goodness. Oh Lord, make me a worthy wife to this man. I have lived in heartache for so long, I know little else.”

As she rose, Abigail wiped her tears and summoned her five attendants. By that evening, she would be in David’s camp, ready to begin a new life. It would be a life filled with love and affection, tenderness, and compassion.

The long, insufferable years of her bitter distress were to become but a mere memory.


[1] 1 Samuel 25:7-8

[2] 1 Samuel 18:10-11

[3] 1 Samuel 25:40

Advertisements