WIVES and HUSBANDS
“Asking for Trouble,” So Abigail Says
David said to Abigail, “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.”
1 Samuel 25:32-33a
Here’s an ancient proverb rarely heard any more these days, amid strident calls for gender equality:
“Behind every great man there stands a great woman.”
Yet that old saying has been proven true more than a few times. Case in point: Abigail.
Abigail first got herself linked with a less-than-great man. Nabal was great in possessions but small in soul. He contemptuously refused to acknowledge that David’s roving band of outlaws had protected him, his flocks, and his herdsmen from harm. When David heard about that, he was furious and went on the warpath.
Fortunately Abigail also heard about it when David’s messengers were churlishly turned away. Quickly she loaded a donkey caravan with goodies, met David on a narrow mountain path, and turned aside his murderous wrath.
Was there a bit of malicious intent in Abigail’s timing when she later told her husband what had happened? After his drunken feasting, Nabal was having a hangover. When he then heard how narrowly Abigail had averted disaster, he apparently suffered a heart attack or a stroke.
After the foolish Nabal was dead, Abigail became the wife of David. According to Hebrew law and custom, David also thus became the lord and master of all that Nabal had owned. From being a wandering landless bandit, David suddenly became a man of substance, an owner of property, a chieftain among the tribes of Judah.
Abigail bore David a son, but that’s the last we ever hear about either him or his mother. Did the son die young? Did he suffer from some sort of disease or disability, so that he was not considered eligible among the many princely candidates to succeed David on the throne?
The Bible doesn’t tell us. Yet the Bible does make plain what a tremendous influence Abigail had on David’s early life. Without her good sense and quick action, he would have exacted a bloody revenge. Without her willingness to become David’s wife, he would not have been recognized as the legitimate heir to Nabal’s estate.
The seeming disappearance (or neglect?) that Abigail experienced during the later life of David makes all the more poignant the cry that imagination has placed upon her lips in the last line of this Bible-based poetic meditation:
David was asking for trouble:
I’d tell him so now to his face.
But when we first met,
I didn’t forget
to greet him with honor and grace.
David (back then) was a bandit;
he hadn’t yet taken the throne.
He captained a band
that roamed through the land
and took what they liked as their own.
David showed kindness to Nabal:
His men took not even a kid.
We should have at least
asked them to our feast –
but no, that’s not what Nabal did.
Nabal was asking for trouble:
he flouted and jeered David’s men.
That surely meant war,
but I went before
and met them this side of the glen.
“Nabal” means “Fool” in our language,
and Nabal lived up to his name.
To David I said,
“Your men shall be fed,
and I will assume all the blame.
“Nabal said nothing about it
when messengers came to our door.
Thank God, someone heard
and then brought me word.
Enjoy the feast! Soon there’ll be more.”
Nabal and David – both foolish,
both asking for trouble, you see.
My wit as a wife
saved many a life.
O husband, appreciate me!
O Lord, help each husband in the family of faith to honor and appreciate the wife You have given him. Amen.
Copyright © 2015 by Perry Thomas