The following Bible study is on Abigail and her wisdom in diverting a sure disaster with David after her husband Nabal insults David’s men. This is a great study well written in which we get an in depth look at a great Old Testament story I enjoyed.
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Abigail definitely belongs in this study of great women of the Bible. Of the seven women being reviewed, she is the one most people are less likely to know. Scripture presents her as a beautiful, intelligent woman whose lot in life is one of being married to a rich fool. Abigail reveals how wisdom and determined action need to partner in order to save good people from disaster. Being wise in itself may not be sufficient in some situations. Without taking immediate action, it is possible to simply stand by and watch destruction that could be avoided.
Abigail’s example points to the importance of the words chosen when speaking in tense situations. Harsh, loud words may become the catalyst to an unnecessary explosion. They may drive individuals to actions which will be regretted later. In contrast we see how calm, carefully calculated words can lead to a peaceful parting or solution. This lesson’s golden text deserves careful attention: “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
Today’s lesson revolves around the attitudes and actions of three persons. One doesn’t hesitate to spout inflammatory words without any regard for the potential consequences. Another of the characters hears the words and, in haste, decides to retaliate in a manner with far-reaching implications. Fortunately, standing between them is a woman who immediately grasps the entire setting. Then she races to bring a peaceful end which, in the long run, will bring special benefit to her.
This lesson also provides us with another area for consideration. What should be our attitude when crisis thrusts itself upon us? It’s true we have differing personalities and emotional levels. However, every one of us should strive to be “calm, cool, and collected.” This can be accomplished as we keep a tight rein on ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. “Think twice before speaking once” is wise advice.
I. DETERMINED ACTION (1 Samuel 25:2-6, 9-19)
A. David’s Request (vv. 2-6, 9)
(1 Samuel 25:4-6, 1 Samuel 25:9 is not included in the printed text.)
2. And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3. Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.
The story of Abigail is set in the years when David and his men are fugitives from King Saul. Repeatedly Saul’s forces pursue David, but he successfully eludes them in spite of the spies located in various parts of the country. On one occasion David is in the wilderness of Paran, which was located west of the southern end of the Dead Sea. This vast area proves to be a good area for raising sheep and goats. A wealthy man named Nabal uses it for his very large flocks.
Though Nabal lives in the town of Maon, he owns property at Carmel, a small nearby town. Verse 2 indicates by numbers how wealthy he is. Having this many sheep and goats will necessitate a number of shepherds to provide them with proper care. One can only imagine the effort to shear the sheep and then care for the wool. Besides the work, the shearing time also becomes a time for festivity. Nabal, more than likely, doesn’t spend his time there during most of the year. Since shearing would be similar in importance to harvest for a farmer, he is there for this significant shearing event.
The difference in personality between Nabal and his wife, Abigail, are pronounced. She is both beautiful and intelligent. Her name means “whose father is joy.” Then there is her husband. He is “surly and mean” (v. 3, NIV). You wonder if his parents gave him the name Nabal (“fool”) or if it was conferred on him later in life. How did these two ever get together in marriage? More than likely it came about as the result of an arranged marriage.
Knowing Nabal is personally in the area, David sends 10 men to greet him and request provisions at this time of festivity. This representative group approaches him with wishes of health and long life for both himself and his household. They point to their treatment of his shepherds and that no animals are missing. This means David and his men did not simply take animals for their personal use like some fugitives would have. It also could indicate their protecting the unarmed shepherds from desert raiders. This will be verified later. It is suggested that Nabal should check the accuracy of their statements with his shepherds. Of course, that would be out of the question with such a personality as his.
Notice, David makes no specific request other than what Nabal could spare at this celebration time. This isn’t a “shakedown” or a blackmail attempt.