Who Is Abigail?

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Abigail was an ancient domestic abuse survivor who was rescued and became the beautiful second queen of Israel’s King David, after his first wife was stolen away. Abigail’s dramatic rescue and their love story was recorded in I Samuel Chapter 25.

This story is 3,500 years old, but still fresh and applicable for today.

It all began this way:

Abigail was an affluent, very beautiful and powerful woman, married to a rich rancher named Nabal. Although she had servants and wealth, a comfortable home, and reputation for a very lovely face, she dealt with many challenges.

Her husband Nabal (which means “Fool”) was narcissistic, cruel, selfish and outrageously abusive verbally. He ruled his ranch with a heavy hand, giving grief to his workhands. They tried to give Nabal reliable counsel about the ranch business, but he was so self-centered, he would not deal fairly. He also did not pay his financial responsibilities, though he was wealthy. For Nabal, life was all about him. Every decision and dollar swirled like a black whirlpool toward him. No one else was important to Nabal, and he saw life as he wanted to view it. Apparently, he was so selfish, he never had any children, either.

Then, King David entered Nabal’s and Abigail’s life, changing the ranch, putting Nabal’s family in danger for their lives, and risking their futures. What happened?

During the reign of King David of Israel, he was anointed as king and led an army for years, fighting for his right to rule Israel (and fighting to stay alive as King Saul’s army pursued him.) During these years, David’s traveling army of 600 honorable soldiers would encamp in hills, pastures, or on mountains. In one of their camps, they co-existed peacefully with Nabal’s herdsmen, flocks, and herds of camels. David’s men did not steal any animals while they encamped for weeks, but they actually guarded Nabal’s animals and the ranchers. The soldiers were friendly to the ranchers and herdsmen, earning a good reputation with them.

Eventually, following the custom in that society, King David sent ten young warriors to Nabal to request a customary payment for their protective services. Normally, that would be paid in food and provisions as a reasonable tribute to the new, acknowledged king of Israel. Nabal was furious to be asked for anything by David’s soldiers, even though the request did graciously allow the landowner to choose how he would pay. Nabal replied with an insulting refusal, which infuriated King David.

The situation deteriorated quickly within hours, as danger often does, and needed quick, shrewd solutions. King David’s solution was to take 400 soldiers, leaving another 200 to guard their camp..He and the 400 planned to murder Nabal, his family and household-- maybe the ranchers, too!

Abigail was alerted to the dangers by the worried herders and ranch hands, who knew David was preparing to attack the homestead that night with avenging fury. Nabal left everyone in danger of their lives, but his wife prepared a peace offering. She gathered five large animals cooked prepared for a feast, fig cakes, side dishes- enough food to feed an army, literally, of 600 men. She ordered these and other provisions packed and a donkey saddled for her, and rode that very night with the supplies to David’s camp. She prayed her gift would keep them alive. She must have wondered, what in the world she could say to fix this mess…?

Not only did she present the tribute payment personally, but she used the shrewd verbal ability she developed after years of placating Nabal. She wisely agreed with David about everything Nabal had failed to do and Nabal’s lack of character. She was candid and negotiated an amazing rescue.

She expressed her faith that God had anointed David as rightful king of Israel, and that everyone should honor him. She even begged David to forgive HER, though she had done nothing wrong, taking the blame for her family’s neglect of David’s army. That was majestic humility. She spoke of being David’s servant, though she was a great, famous, and beautiful lady.

David’s heart was softened, he cancelled the raid on her home and ranch, accepted her provisions and respect, and praised her savvy wisdom that had saved her household from destruction. As she rode back home, David mused what an incredible woman she was.

Later that night back at home, Abigail frankly confronted Nabal, describing the murderous revenge they barely avoided that day. She had learned to pick her arguments with her husband, and this was one occasion where she let him have it in an argument. That night, Nabal had a heart attack! The Bible says his heart turned to stone. He never recovered and died just a week later!

When David learned of Nabal’s death, he sent messengers to Abigail with a flowery wedding proposal. David was a poet and musician, after all. His young warrior messengers did the best they could, but blurted it out more like, “David says for you to come right away and become his wife!”

There is no biblical mention of Abigail’s grieving at all in her new role as a widow. Instead, she promptly packed a trousseau.of her loveliest clothes and possessions. She packed up five servants to accompany her, and rode off into the sunset to marry the poetic, warrior King David. She had seen him maybe only once, but accepted his proposal. Abigail was realistic there would be more years of traveling with the army until David was crowned publicly and ruled from Jerusalem. She was decisive to throw in her destiny with his, and count on him to love, provide for, and protect her. He did.

Over the following years, Abigail’s story still had challenges to face. Very soon after David married Abigail, he married another woman, his third wife-- possibly days or weeks later. This was not a traditional story of monogamous marriage and happily ever after for Abigail. David eventually had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, who was then married to one of his officers, and Bathsheba eventually became the fourth queen.

Abigail continued to deal with safety issues as wife of a warrior king, continued to express faith in the God of David, and lived life with the attitude of being a gracious, truth-speaking servant. Her sons with David became princes, and life settled down to palace living as one of David’s wives.

Queen Abigail learned from terrific life challenges to draw strength from God; to act quickly, decisively, and wisely; to accept adventure and taking appropriate risks; to protect her life and the lives of others in her charge with courage; and to cooperate as one of four simultaneous queens in family peace despite the princes’ competition to be next in line to the throne.

Eventually Abigail’s son was not the heir to the throne, but Bathsheba’s son with David, Solomon succeeded him to the throne of Israel, instead. This must have been a disappointment for her.

Abigail remained a courageous, focused, capable woman who used her resources; protected others; gave generously and timely gifts; lived kindly serving the needs of others; and experienced a great second chance at family as a beautiful, faithful queen and mother.

This is the Abigail inspiration of Abigail’s Archangels Domestic Violence Prevention. (Please note: we do not promote polygamy! Abigail was his only wife when she married David.)

Copyright Margie Downey 2016

From the Abigail's Archangels Domestic Violence Prevention web site                 Please visit abigailsangels.org.