Monday, July 16, 2012

Abigail's Husband

I know I’ve met him before, I just don’t remember when. You know how it goes. I should have remembered meeting him, but I don’t. Well, I met Abigail’s husband—her first husband, that is—again and now I know I’ll never forget him and the reason is because he’s a boor. Now, I am merely echoing this description that comes from someone else and frankly, this description is “spot-on.”

You know what a “boor” is, don’t you? First, the word is not pronounced “bore” or “boar.” Think Dutch: “boer” or German “bur.” Second, we might simply say the person is “rude.” That’s about the shape of it. The man is rude, without manners. One might even call him a “jerk.” Why she married him, only God knows because we all know her second husband quite well and her second husband was quite the rock-star of his day. He was a king. What a contrast in men: Nabal (the boor) and David (a man after God’s own heart). Actually, Nabal (in Hebrew) literally means, “fool” and “senseless.”

The curtain rises in 1 Samuel 25 describing Nabal as a wealthy man with three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. The scene: sheep-shearing in the region of Carmel. The tone is set as the writer tells us the man was harsh and evil in his dealings. His wife, on the other hand (and this is Abigail) is described as intelligent (“of good understanding”) and beautiful. We are given no details pertaining to their marriage.

Now, David (as he is running from Saul) knows that Nabal is shearing his sheep, so David sends ten young men with words of blessing and peace with a request to “give whatever you find at hand” to David. In other words, “hey buddy: spare some change?” (1 Samuel 25:8). Given the description of Nabal, need we guess what sort of response he will give?
  1. “Who is David?” He’s just God’s choice for king, running for his life all over the countryside and killing those pesky Philistines with his army and protecting your stuff. You’re welcome.
  2.   “There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master.”  What are you, runaways? Is that what David is, an escapee?
  3.   “Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” What do I look like: a mess hall?

Interestingly, one of David’s men catches the ear of Abigail, Nabal’s wife and gives her a synopsis of what is taking place: “David sends blessings and he kicked us to the curb. Your servants treated us well, but ‘he is a worthless man that no one can speak to him.’” (1 Samuel 25:17).  Literally, he is the son of worthlessness.

David receives the report and tells his men to take up their swords and begins to make his way to Nabal with four hundred men. Abigail loads up the donkeys with two hundred loaves of bread, two jugs of wine, five butchered sheep, five measures of grain, a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred fig cakes and personally delivers them to David and his men. She knows who David is and what he has been doing, even guarding her husband’s property! (What’s the matter with this guy?)

1 Samuel 25:28-31 is most telling about Abigail: 
  1. She asks forgiveness for any transgression she may have committed (intentionally or unintentionally). A foolish person will not do this. She recognizes the authority her husband did not.
  2. She acknowledges that God is establishing in David an enduring house and God’s victory in carrying out that plan. She recognizes the plan of God in the midst of David’s own difficulties.
  3. She wants to participate in God’s cause with David.

David responds by blessing God, by blessing her discernment and by blessing Abigail herself with life and peace. When Abigail returns home, Nabal was holding a feast, “like the feast of a king.” One gets the feeling that there are no guests despite the elaborateness of the occasion. The man holds a party for himself, gets drunk. Next day, Abigail tells Nabal what she did and his heart “became as a stone.” I don’t know what it was before, but now, it is like stone. Ten days later, the foolish man dies.David hears the news of Nabal’s death and acknowledges that the man received what he had coming: the wages for his foolishness.

Here is a challenge for husbands:
  1. Don’t be foolish in your dealings with God. The Bible defines the fool as the one who says there is no God. Make certain you are not a practical atheist.
  2. Don’t be foolish in your response to God’s plan. Waste time and energy reacting in the world or efficiently respond to His Sovereign will. He will be glorified in whichever manner He deals with you.
  3. Don’t be foolish in your relationships with others: wife first, then others. Bless your wife in all she does, starting with her personal growth and relationship with God. Nurture and wash her with the Word. Then acknowledge what she accomplishes—she may not do it your way—but she is bringing blessing to you and your house as she obeys God by glorifying Him in everything she does. 

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