This story has always captured my imagination. In this story, David was angry. Very angry. He was going through a hard time. He had spent a long time on the run hiding from Saul and then his long-time trusted mentor, the Prophet Samuel, had just died. Low on supplies both internally and externally, he was in a vulnerable place.
David sent men to ask Nabal, a rich man in Maon, for much needed supplies. They greeted Nabal with blessings and reminders of the kindness and protection David and his small army had provided Nabal’s servants. Nabal’s response was not one of grace but instead, was laced with insults. Nabal called David a nobody, insulted his family lineage and treated him with contempt. David, the one who had killed Goliath and the one who had chosen to not kill Saul when he had the chance, took this insult to heart and decided on revenge. Nabal’s response to David hit a raw place in him and he made up his mind to defend his honor. It was one too many blows and David was faltering.
At this crucial moment, in stepped Nabal’s wife, Abigail. After finding David, Abigail bowed low and offered him the gift of perspective. She reminded him he was a future king made to fight the Lord’s battles; he was held securely by God and he did not want to be someone who would have to carry the guilt of needless bloodshed. David accepted what she offered with humility and gratefulness.
I love to imagine myself as Abigail in this story, but oftentimes I am actually David. I am the one acting in a way that is contrary to who I want to be and need to be reminded of who I am in Christ. I may not kill with a sword, but I am pretty skilled with words. When an ‘Abigail’ steps into my life to confront the harmful ways I sometimes relate to others, I can learn from David’s response. Listening to correction takes humility and is not easy in the moment, but it leads to a more godly life.
When reading this story, I am forced to ask myself if there are ways I protect myself at the expense of others and if I listen when others see in me what I cannot. Sometimes our Abigail comes in the form of a person and sometimes it is the still and small voice of the Holy Spirit, but it is always gentle mercy from God. The question for our lives is “Will we listen?”
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
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