Heroes and Villains: Abigail
Discerning is defined as having or showing good judgment. We experience discernment when we choose right from wrong and when we gauge the room and know that things may not be what they appear to be. Discernment is what Abigail possessed and her husband did not.
Read 1 Samuel 25
We read this story and I see three ways in which Abigail was discerning. First, she discerned danger. Her husband behaved badly and insulted their ally, she discerned grave consequences as a result and sought to make things right. Second, she discerned timing. She understood that time was of the essence and rushed to provide and right her husband's wrong. Third, she discerned attitude. She spoke with the right attitude that instead of inflaming the situation, brought about peace instead. She spoke with humility and David responded in kindness.
Let's dive in a bit deeper, zoom in on this story, and take a closer look at specific ways that Abigail was discerning.
Abigail worked quickly. Verse 18 said, "Then Abigail made haste..." She worked quickly to set things right. Had she procrastinated or saved the problem for another day, David's vengeance would have extinguished them all. In working quickly, she saved the innocent people in her household from David's wrath.
She humbled herself, even though it was her husband who had offended David. Verse 23 says that she "fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground." In our own culture, we wouldn't necessarily respond in the same way. We wouldn't take on the punishment for someone else's crime or offense, we'd likely let them be punished as we go on our merry way. Abigail shared in her husband's punishment and if she hadn't humbled herself, she would have shared in his same fate (vs 21-22). She had a stake in this situation. She sought to preserve the household and humility played a huge role!
She understood her role in this conflict. Verse 26 says, "Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, because the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal." She understood that her role was to help diffuse the situation rather than inflame it. She understood that she was being used by God to save David from needless bloodshed from Nabal's offense. She spoke Truth, persuading David to relent.
She revealed Nabal's wrong when he was sober and in the right mind. Verse 37 says, "In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone." She could have told him the issue right away, but he was drunk and unlikely to receive and truly understand the gravity of the situation. Instead, she chose to wait, even further diffusing the situation. Had she approached him while he was drunk, he had a great possibility of responding to her in the same way as he responded to David. But she waited.
She left it all up to God. The end of verse 31 says, "And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant." She knew that God would right this whole situation. She knew that God would take care of David and Nabal. She left any and all vengeance up to God and placed the whole situation in His hands. She chose to speak the truth to both David and Nabal and she allowed God to take care of the rest and to do as He pleased. In other words, she didn't take the situation in her hands. She understood that she had a role to play, but she didn't take one step further than her role allowed.
Abigail "read the room" and acted with good judgment. She saw the potential destruction of what Nabal's foolishness could create and chose to take steps to prevent it. She spoke with truth and humility and put her trust in God to preserve her.