Throughout the Bible, there are many stories of strong and heroic women. In this series, we will explore a story of a faithful, biblical woman each month. With their strong faith, the women of the Bible continue to teach us how to live authentic, faith-filled lives. No matter what our circumstances are, we can find ourselves in their stories.
The story of Abigail begins in 1 Samuel 25, during a time when David and his men are fugitives from King Saul. Repeatedly, Saul’s army hunts for David, but he continually evades them. Although not a well-known character in the Bible, scripture describes Abigail as a beautiful, intelligent woman who was in an arranged marriage to a wealthy, yet callous man named Nabal.
David is in the wilderness on the west end of the Dead Sea near a large area of Nabal’s land where he was raising sheep and goats. Knowing Nabal was in the area, David sends some of his men to greet him and request provisions. They approached Nabal with good wishes and peace. They also tell Nabal that they protected his unarmed shepherds in the fields from desert raiders
Nabal, who is described as “surly and mean,” insults David’s servants, saying, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? 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?” He denied their request for food.
When they returned and told David, he became angry and decided to kill Nabal and all his men. He gathered 400 of his men and started toward Nabal’s camp. When Abigail learned of this, she quickly gathered food supplies and loaded them on a donkey as a gift for David and his men. All this takes place without Nabal’s knowledge.
Abigail met David and offered David gifts of wine, grain, prepared meat and cakes of figs. Then she fell down in front of David, pleading with him to show mercy. In her appeal, Abigail shows that she understands Nabal’s character. “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means fool, and folly goes with him.”
Abigail’s kind words save the day. David thanks Abigail for stopping his own foolish and rash decision to slaughter Nabal’s men. In fact, David knows that Abigail’s intervention was a blessing from God and he sends her home in peace.
Meanwhile, Nabal, oblivious to his misconduct and the danger that he had been in, holds a feast and becomes drunk. Abigail waits until the next morning to tell Nabal about how David had been on his way to destroy his camp, and how she intervened. Upon hearing this news, Nabal has a heart attack and dies. When David learns of Nabal’s death, he sends a message to Abigail asking her to become his wife, and Abigail agrees.
Abigail’s wisdom and action saved Nabal’s people from disaster. However, being wise in itself may not be sufficient in some situations, and one must act upon their wisdom. At high risk to herself, Abigail contacts David and intercedes for her husband, despite his bad behavior. Her request is similar to the sacrifice of Jesus, who offered Himself to save foolish sinners from the consequences of their actions and who continues to intervene for us.