Abigail: From the House of a Fool to the Heart of a King

Here's the second installment in my series, "Godly Women, Honorable Wives".

Are you living with a difficult, often downright mean man? Well, so did Abigail. But regardless of how bad he was, she wouldn't let him steal her beauty or sanity. What gave her hope?

There was a king in the land...and he knew her name!

Abigail was married to a fool. Even his name, Nabal, means "foolish, wicked, vile, impious"…and he was all of these! The Bible records that his household servants considered him to be a "son of Belial" (the devil) and no one could reason with him. (I Samuel 25:17)

More than likely this was an arranged marriage from childhood. He was a very wealthy shepherd who lived in Maon, a town in the hill country of Judea surrounded by desert. (1 Samuel 25:2)

No doubt, Abigail bore the brunt of his "churlish" ways (hard, difficult, unfeeling). I don't think her abuse was physical as much as it was verbal and emotional. Nabal cared only for himself. We know that what often comes out of a man's mouth can do deeper and more lasting damage than what comes from his hand.

By her culture's standards, she was trapped in a terrible marriage. Although today we have laws that offer protection for women in similar circumstances, many choose to remain in a "Maon" (Hebrew for retreat)--crippled and afraid.

Abigail was beautiful and wise (1 Samuel 25:3). One would think that after years of being the object of Nabal's misery, she would show signs of wear and tear, as women often do. They lose interest in taking care of themselves when they finally buy into the man's lie.

I'm not referring to make-up or fashion, but the graying of the face, the forgotten smile and twinkling eyes full of laughter and joy…women who no longer pursue their interests to stimulate and broaden their horizons.

But Abigail was known for both her beauty and her mind! In fact, her name means, "source of joy". Nabal was NOT her source for happiness; outward conditions did not determine it. An abiding joy came from within her. It was sacred ground where no man could enter.

The Bible says we are "saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8). Being saved from Original Sin is just the beginning of our salvation experience; we need to be saved daily from all sorts of things and in the same way--by grace through faith. It does not come through the strength of our own resolve to survive a tough situation. It is a gift from God.

This divine grace is called "sufficient" in 2 Corinthians 12:9. In the Greek arkeo means, "able to raise a barrier, ward off; avail". It also implies, "satisfactory, enough." In this definition we see that grace carries the enabling force of the Holy Spirit--bearing down, into, and around our lives.

Since she could not isolate herself from Nabal, perhaps she tapped into a supernatural grace that insulated her, and that became the barrier she needed against Nabal's cruelty. This same grace is now abounding much more to us through the new and living way of Jesus Christ, and is exceeding abundantly above anything we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

David, on the run from King Saul, hid out in the desert. Wherever he and his men camped, the local residents were well protected against marauding bands. In return, the men were freely compensated at harvest and shearing time.

After lodging outside of Moan for a season, David sent a delegation to Carmel to greet Nabal where he was shearing his sheep. David had asked his young men to remind the businessman that while his herd was in the field, none of the shepherds were hurt, nor was any sheep lost. "May we share in a portion of your good fortune?" they asked. (1 Samuel 25:4-8)

Nabal was insulted. Our Biblical account uses the phrase "railed against them", which in our modern vernacular means: "he flew all over them". Nabal asks, "Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse?" (1 Samuel 25:10) It was not a question of ignorance, but insult.

He sarcastically referred to men breaking away from their masters, which could have been directed towards David and King Saul. He also said he was not sure if the men who stood before him were truly of David's camp or just self-seeking rogues. But these were mere excuses. The greedy man gave himself away with his final statement: "Shall I then take MY bread, and MY water, and MY meat that I have killed for MY shearers…" (1 Samuel 25:11)

Living with a man who has no respect for the men and women of God is disheartening. Nabal was of Caleb's lineage, so perhaps he went through the motions of religious observances.

The Church is full of Nabals. They may regularly attend services, motivated simply to promote their reputation in the business world. Many are on committees because of their wealth, not their character.

Their Abigails get earfuls of criticism on the way home, as the sermon is picked apart and the pastor is the main entrée for lunch. They usually mock preachers on TV and their mannerisms. It is nothing for them to place a cynical judgment on someone moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit or a soul at the altar encountering God in a dramatic way.

The Bible warns us, however, to "…touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." (1 Chronicles 16:22;Psalm 105:15)

The Hebrew word for touch is NAGA. It has intensity behind the word, meaning "to strike violently, punish, defeat, destroy", which we easily do with our words. Interestingly, it also means to "lie with a woman".

When you touch the anointing in one of God's kids, you touch Him. Your attack is even akin to a sexual violation against the covenant relationship between the Bridegroom and His Bride.

Deuteronomy 28 explains that obedience releases blessings to pursue and overtake us; conversely, so do curses. God doesn't do anything but step out of the way and allow what we have laughingly, unrepentantly sown over many years to finally come to harvest.

David was ready to pursue and overtake Nabal. However, a servant in Abigail's household told her what he overheard. The entire family was in danger, as this coming attack was not going to leave any man alive and the women would most likely be taken as spoils of war.

We pick up the dramatic intervention in 1 Samuel 25:18. Abigail wasted no time. She orchestrated the preparation of an enormous amount of food and the donkeys to carry them. She sent her servants on ahead of her, all the while keeping her plans from Nabal.

She rode fast, taking a short cut in order to run directly into David. His men quickly surrounded her; but undaunted, she dismounted, bowed her face to the ground and fell at David's feet.

What she said astounded the seasoned warrior and all of his men! Abigail pled for the punishment of what Nabal had done to fall upon her and her alone, not upon him or his household!

Amazing! Abigail should have grabbed her goods and servants and headed for the high hills, leaving Nabal to eat the fruit of his own ways!.Why do we find this woman putting her own life at risk for that abusive scoundrel? Was she out of her mind?

What Abigail did was true intercession, one of the highest and most sacrificial forms of prayer. It's when you're not only willing to represent someone before God for a blessing, but you're also willing to unflinchingly stand in the gap against someone else's self-induced curse.

That's what Jesus did at the Cross. He represented us before the Father and against the devil. As a result, the Father blessed us with unearned justification, which is taking Christ's righteousness and crediting it to our account.

Also our sin nature, inherited from Adam, was used by the devil as legal ground to send curses (consequences for long-standing sins). The blood of Jesus not only canceled the eternal judgment against our corrupt humanity, but also continues to cleanse us now and in the future when we sin. This blessing of forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with God is simply activated by our repentance.

However, the persistently unrepentant activate something, too. Those who give legal ground to the devil are granting permission for resulting curses--not blessings--to manifest.

Often, these people have no clue to the spiritual forces that are about to bear down on them and why. We are reminded that the "natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Their understanding is darkened by sin. Iniquity has them twisted and under its control. But God loves them, and desires that none should perish.

"Wherefore He is also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)

That verse is better translated from the Greek as, "makes intercession available for them".

In other words, Jesus readily makes available to us His finished work on the Cross as we come before Heaven on someone's behalf. Think of the word "intersect", and you'll get the idea. A person is traveling one way, but then they cross paths with you. It also means "meeting".

You are their connection or conduit for Heaven (God's will) to come to earth. Conversely, you can also be the warrior in the gap against the oncoming curse.

You've probably heard the phrase "standing in the gap" for someone. It was an ancient military term. Most fortified towns had two walls with a small gap in between. When threatened with attack, the best warriors would go down into that imposing area and stand ready to face the enemy head on if the outer wall was breached.

Just praying for someone is not intercession. True intercession takes on a sacrificial nature of one willing to stand FOR the blessing and AGAINST the attack! Maybe you've sat by the bedside of a very sick child and in your distress, asked God to place the disease on you and let the child go free. This is exactly what Abigail was asking. She wanted to be punished on behalf of Nabal's offense.

Today, however, these desperate prayers are no longer necessary, seeing that Christ already willingly took the place of every sick and sinful man, woman, and child. He bore all of our pains, sicknesses and sorrows; Jesus was thoroughly bruised for the iniquities of the whole world.

Therefore, when we stand in the gap today, we literally stand clothed in Christ and upon His finished work of intercession. We first stand before God's Throne in Heaven and then to face the enemy on earth, clothed in Jesus, our living Armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).

One of my favorite examples of intercession involves Aaron and his censer, which the Bible records in Numbers 16:41-50. It ties right in with Abigail's story and…perhaps yours!

The children of Israel were running their mouths again against Moses and Aaron, accusing them of killing people. Their words activated a curse in the form of a plague that began to spread among the camp. God has warned Moses and Aaron to get out, but instead they stayed in the thick of things to help the very people that had spoken against them!

Moses instructed Aaron to take a censer, fill it with fire from the altar and with holy incense, then go quickly among the congregation and make Atonement (intercession) available for them. Verse 47 says he RAN into the congregation (that's the heart of a true intercessor).

"And he (Aaron) stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed (stopped)." Verse 48

Since they can't represent themselves before God, will you? Jesus did it first, making redemption available to them. Now you can be the open channel of prayer and power as the Holy Spirit makes the redemption a reality in their lives.

Abigail's appeal is recorded in 1 Samuel 25: 24-31. Notice that the substance of her appeal was not about Nabal's wickedness, but David's honor. She affirmed his goodness and coming kingdom. What do you focus on in intercession? How bad the person is you're praying for or God's unconditional love, unfailing mercy, and power to transform?

Abraham's focus in his bold intercession For Sodom and Gomorrah was how many righteous souls could be found, not how many sinners were there (Gen. 18:16-33).

David was profoundly moved by Abigail's brave, unselfish appeal for her household. The attack was canceled. "So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, 'Go in peace to thine house: see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person (or your intercession)" 1 Samuel 25:35.

How many times has disaster or even death been averted for you and me because of the prayers of an intercessor who hung in there…losing sleep and fasting until the burden lifted?

When Abigail arrived home, Nabal was throwing a great feast and he was already very drunk. She held her peace until the next morning. When she told him what she had done, Nabal had a heart attack and died ten days later.

Oh, let's not forget. Abigail's last words to David were, "…but when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid" (1 Samuel 25:31). In other words, "I don't know how the Lord is going to work this out with Nabal, but when He does…remember me, please."

God dealt with the fool, for sure. And the future king remembered his promise.  As soon as David got word of Nabal's death, he sent messengers to Carmel to fetch the beautiful and wise woman as his bride. The Bible says she rose immediately, packed a few things, and she and five damsels headed towards a joyous wedding feast.

I don't know what God is going to do in your situation. No woman should stay in a marriage where she is cruelly battered physically or verbally; no woman should be victimized or forced to participate in her husband's illegal or immoral behaviors.

It is perfectly acceptable for a Christian woman to temporarily separate for safety and sanity issues while strong intervention and counseling is taking place to try to rescue the marriage. Because of the Cross, the old, cantankerous man inside of every Nabal can die and be "born again" as a new man in Christ.

But each of us is given the gift of free will. Paul's excellent advice in 1 Corinthians 7 is comforting in that "…but if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace." (Verse 15).

"Depart" in the Greek means much more than just a geographical move; it is a covenant term meaning, "to place room between". Men who sadly place room between themselves and their wives, filling the space with all kinds of ill will, idolatry and perversions, need not leave home to "depart". But remember that although there's a Nabal in the land, there's a King, too. And He knows your name.

In the meantime, let God preserve you, beautiful lady. The Hebrew children were thrown bound and fully clothed into a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-30). Maybe you feel that way about your marriage…you're bound and in a fire that's getting hotter with the passing of time.

But before you will look outside the fire for help, look in it! You will see that your Lord got there ahead of you, ready to loose you NOW! King Nebuchadnezzar peered into the furnace, expecting to see devastation. Instead, he saw the Son of Man (Jesus) and the three men freely walking around in the fire without being consumed!

When they were called out from the furnace, not a hair on their heads were singed, "neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them" (Daniel 3:27). The king acknowledged before all that the fire had NO POWER over these men!

You are fully clothed in Christ. He is with you and if you so allow, He will loose you IN the fire before you get OUT of the fire! The one who put you there will be amazed because you are walking freely about and not consumed.

The day you finally step out, you will be a living, public testimony that the fire of man had no power over you. You will not live the rest of your life scarred. You will come forth without a singe, a burn, or a smell of where you've been!

After all, you're going to your wedding feast! In the arms of your Beloved you will be fruitful like our original lady Abigail, who bore the King a son named Daniel, "Judge of God".

Man cannot hold you hopelessly captive if Christ has first captured your heart! You can birth out of your spirit into the earth "Daniel-like" works and deeds that stand as undeniable testimonies to our Lord's faithfulness, power, and redeeming love.

1 comment:

LisaMe! said...

Weeping for the Joy of the Lord
By LisaMe!

As we cry out to the Lord
He hears our every prayer
No matter how deep
We may be in despair ..
And rising up from underneath ..
Before we know it..
His Joy has spread to our Feet ..
And it rises oh so high
And soon we feel it in our eyes ..
Spilling out with tears of Joy ..

Psalms 30:5 And though tears may endure for the night Joy comes in the Morning..

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength and shield.. It is in Him.. that I put my trust .. I will stay planted in Him .. As He flows rivers of living waters.. from me ..

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

For everyone woman who reads this and connects ... Be Blessed.. Trust in the Lord ..
He is your Hope
He is your strength ..
Love LisaMe!