Abigail: Peacemaker

Most marriages were arranged in Abigail's time. Romantic love did not enter into the choice of a mate. Often the couple met for the first time at their wedding. A marriage was a covenant, a contract, between a man and a woman, the terms of which each was expected to honor.

Abigail is described as intelligent and beautiful while her husband, Nabal, although wealthy, was bad tempered and impossible to reason with. Nabal raised sheep and goats. During the year, David and his army protected Nabal's flocks and shepherds from Philistine raiders while never taking any of the animals even for badly needed food. When David heard that it was sheep shearing time, he requested a share in the food that was prepared to serve the laborers after the work was done. It was traditional to have a large party and extend hospitality to guests. David had every right to expect to be received with gratitude and generosity. Instead Nabal (means "Fool") insulted them and refused their request.

One of the servants informed Abigail of the situation. It is likely that Abigail often took the initiative to smooth over the problems created by her husband. She immediately set her servants the task of gathering the gifts of food that Nabal should have offered David and his men.

David was furious. He fully intended to kill Nabal, all his male relatives, and servants and take his property as the spoils of war. He and his men had never before attacked their countrymen or tried to depose Saul by force. He had used his power and influence to protect Israel and fight Israel's enemies even though he had to stay on guard against Saul's attempts to kill him. Now he had set out to murder an entire family and their servants for personal revenge.

Abigail followed her servants toward David's fortified camp. Striding down the hill towards her, was this angry man and a band of soldiers intent on killing and looting.  She slid off her donkey, and bowed down with her face in the dirt. She began to plead appealing to David's sense of honor. She hoped to persuade him to spare the lives of all the men and their families who served Nabal. It's easy to imagine that Abigail had a lot of experience in appeasing her own husband and others that he had offended.

Abigail showed by her posture and her words that she realized that David had the power to take her life. She acknowledged that he and his men had been wronged. Then she gently reminded David that what he was about to do was a sin against God. David recognized the wisdom of her words and realized that God had sent her to him to keep him from carrying out this crime. He admired her so much that he offered to marry her when Nabal died of an apparent stroke brought on by his own rage.

Abigail had learned the art of peacemaking by experience. She knew that quiet strength expressed in self- control, humility, and words appropriate to the situation could achieve more than an army at full strength. She "humbled herself under the mighty hand of God" who gave her grace (favor) with David. Her quick intelligent action, her humility, and her trust in God saved the lives of her household.

Scarlett Stough

For the scripture reference list and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Abigail: Peacemaker