I Samuel 25
Like my sisters and friends, Abba arranged my marriage. Nabal was known for lavish wealth and quick-tempered arrogance. I suppose Abba felt that wealth would outweigh character. Or perhaps that Nabal’s personality would mature over time. Either way, Abba, as much I love him, wasn’t right.
Marriage is an interesting thing. I always imagined it to look as it had in my growing up years; full of love and gentleness and respect. Of course, Abba and Mama disagreed sometimes, but oh how they loved Yahweh! In the end, they knew it wasn’t about themselves, but their relationship with the Lord God. It was Him they honored, when they couldn’t seem to honor their partner.
This was exactly the lesson the Almighty formed in me as I walked through the fire of my marriage to Nabal. Early on, all I could see was my own anger, hurt, frustration, and loneliness. I felt such animosity towards my husband. His arrogance ruled him…in business, in the community, and with me. And I despised him for it. This surely wasn’t what Yahweh intended!
Yahweh….for a while I wasn’t sure I loved Him, either. I felt abandoned. How could I end up with Nabal? Why wouldn’t God change him? Why was I trapped until death? Eventually, despite the incessant failings of my husband, I began to realize that marriage wasn’t about my happiness. Rather, the Lord God intended to draw me to Himself through it.
So, I had a choice to make. Yield to Yahweh, set my sights only His sufficiency, or wrap myself in bitterness and anger and end up exactly like Nabal. The choice was clear; I was not going to become like that man!
And so began the mystery of my love for the unseen Almighty. I took all I knew about myself and surrendered it to all I knew about Him and never looked back. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to read the Torah, but my Abba taught me and I surrounded myself with other women who feared the Lord. The more I knew about Yahweh, the more I saw the depths of His love. Over time, the importance of Nabal’s love for me simply faded. Nothing could compare to the richness of the Almighty; Nabal had nothing on Him.
Yahweh gave me more than love; He gave me confidence. I realized I didn’t have to cover for Nabal or stand up for him. Like Abba and Mama, I could choose to honor Yahweh, even when my husband had nothing left to honor about himself.
All of this took years, of course, this shepherding of my heart. Until the day I saw the Lord’s redemption in a way I had never dreamed possible.
It was just like any other day when one of our servants came running headlong after me. He tripped over his words, out of breath from sheer panic. David, whom everyone knew had already been anointed successor to King Saul, had requested food and supplies from Nabal and true to himself, Nabal had mocked him, railed at him, and turned him away. With an assault on David like that, he was sure to bring retribution in the form of slaughter for Nabal and his men. Likely, he was already on his way!
With anger and hatred long gone, I reached for wisdom and humility instead. I quickly gathered food and drink for David and his men and set out to meet him, praying all the way. I wanted to honor David, which would be difficult as a woman. I had no idea what to say to the soon-to-be-king, but all I could do was beg the Almighty for more than I had.
As soon as I saw David, the words flowed from me like a spring as the wisdom I had learned from Yahweh overtook me.
Yahweh would fight for me now.
“On me alone, my lord, be the guilt”, I pleaded facedown before David. I would take Nabal’s place as his wife, but I would not save his pride. He had made his choices and so I continued, “Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal.”
Surprising myself, I knew my words didn’t come from arrogance or vain conceit, but rather discretion. I would not cover for my husband’s sin, that wasn’t my role as his wife or how the Almighty was honored, but I could ask forgiveness on his behalf. “Please forgive the trespass of your servant.”
Only Yahweh knows the hearts of humanity and it was Him who used my words to stir David’s conviction as he cried out with deep humility, “Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!”
He was thanking me?! Because the Lord made me confident in Him alone, my discretion turned away David’s anger and had kept him from sin! Imagine what would have happened if I had stood up for Nabal just because he was my husband. What if I had doubted my own worth? Thousands of lives would have been lost, and David would have acted sinfully in anger. Only Yahweh is so mighty!
And armed with His courage alone, I knew I must tell Nabal what I had done; now wasn’t the time to hide in fear of his arrogance.
The next morning, after he had come around from his long night of drunken revelry, I unfolded my actions, expecting his fury.
Rather, the Lord fought for me!
Nabal went into a shock-induced coma and died 10 days later.
Stunned at the quick turn of life circumstances and awestruck at the protection of the Almighty, I’m humbled even more to accept King David’s offer of marriage. But king or not, worthless man or honorable, it is only Yahweh to whom my heart will bow. He alone is my sufficiency!
Abigail’s story of beauty and discretion is powerful! What might happen if we took up such courage? If we threw ourselves so completely onto the truth and grace of the Lord? Choose today to wear humility AND bravery, standing up for others with genuine respect while cloaking yourself in the Father’s confidence. The same God who defended Abigail, will fight for us as well!
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