By Roy Ciampa, Ph.D.
Armstrong Chair of Religion, Samford University
Abigail: A Woman of Wisdom
1 Samuel 25:14–17, 23–28, 32–35
In Abigail we find a woman of wisdom who models how godly wisdom, marked by humility and grace, can enable a person to serve as an intermediary in a time of crisis.
Be the kind of person others trust to do what is right. (14–17)
Nabal and Abigail were an odd couple. She was as bright and beautiful as he was mean and miserly, “harsh and evil in his dealings” (v. 3). He was generally foolish as well. David and his men were on the run and somewhat dependent upon the goodwill of others.
Being an extraordinarily wealthy man, Nabal had huge flocks of sheep and goats and thus a major sheep-shearing operation that could be expected to turn a huge profit.
David’s men had protected Nabal’s flocks and shepherds with the expectation of being rewarded once Nabal recognized how valuable it had been for his profit margin.
Nabal didn’t merely rebuff David’s request for compensation but went further and sought to shame David publicly as someone’s worthless, runaway servant.
One of Nabal’s servants decided that Abigail needed to be informed. Abigail was known as an intelligent and reasonable person who could be counted on to do what is right, especially in times of crisis. Heads would literally roll if Abigail couldn’t undo the damage caused by her foolish husband.
Take the initiative to exercise and share godly wisdom. (23–28)
Given Nabal’s offense of treating David shamefully in an honor culture, Abigail’s approach was to humble herself and make it absolutely clear that she considered David to be a man of great honor and her own husband to be the one who lacked honor.
She brought David a king’s ransom and bowed low before him in an act of complete humility and submission, referring to him repeatedly as her lord and to herself as his servant. She asked for forgiveness and poured shame on her foolish husband who had sought to shame David.
Most importantly, knowing David to be a man of God, she invoked the Lord and His providence as a sign that God did not want David to shed blood. She urged a course of action marked by grace and mercy rather than revenge.
Praise God when others follow godly wisdom. (32–25)
Abigail’s extraordinarily wise response brings David back to his spiritual senses and de-escalates the situation. David recognizes that Abigail’s intervention was not merely a cleverly calculated attempt to spare her husband but an act of God Himself.
God was at work through Abigail to keep David from acting on his sinful desire to murder a man and his servants out of rage. Abigail’s approach to resolving this conflict anticipated Christ’s own approach. Christ “emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant” and “humbled himself” before God that we might be spared (Phil. 2:7, 8).
By going out to intervene, Abigail put her life on the line in order to save the lives of numerous others, including that of her foolish husband. We need more Abigails in our world today, and we should praise God whenever we see godly wisdom, approachability, humility and spiritual discernment put into practice.