Friday, October 12, 2012

When Husbands Go Wrong: Abigail

When I was in junior high, I had some friends who were not very nice.  They made fun of other people, even people who really couldn't defend themselves.  Sometimes I just stood by quietly and let the teasing go on. Sometimes I joined in.  There came a point when I realized that if I claimed to be a Christian, I could not behave that way.  I didn't want to lose my friends, so I tried to talk them out of being so mean.  I had a very lonely year.  Instead of stopping the sin, they stopped being my friends.  I could not influence them for good.  I'm sure my efforts were very immature, but sometimes a person can't be convinced to do the right thing.  What if that person is your husband? 

Abigail had that problem.  She was married to Nabal, who was described as "harsh and evil in his dealings" (1 Samuel 25:3).  David asked Nabal to share of his shepherds' food and wine during shearing time, a time of feasting. David's soldiers had been protecting Nabal's flocks, rather than pilfering from them as was common in those days. David felt like they owed him the food.  Nabal not only refused, but was very insulting in his answer.  In his typical hot-headed style, David sets out to destroy Nabal.  He vowed that he would kill every male in Nabal's house.

Thankfully, some of Nabal's men went to Abigail.  I've always loved the description of Abigail.  She was described as intelligent and beautiful (1 Samuel 25:3), and she did not waste any time.  She did not share in Nabal's sin, and she did not ignore it, but she was also aware that she would not be able to turn  him from his destructive path.  So she went behind his back. Abigail quickly prepared provisions and sent them on ahead to David; then she went out to meet him.  She fell at his feet and took the blame for the insult David had received, then she begged for his mercy.  David praised her, saying "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand" (1 Samuel 25: 32-33).  In circumventing her husband's bad behavior, she actually saved his life. She also saved David, the future king, from sinning against God by taking his own vengeance.

Abigail didn't tell Nabal what she was doing before she did it because she knew she would have been stopped.  However, she was a good wife, even to a man as foolish as her husband.  After Abigail saved them all, she went back and gave her husband a full report.  He was so shocked that he "became as a stone" (1 Samuel 25:37) and later died.  David, still being impressed by Abigail's discernment, asked her to marry him, thus ending her status as widow before it really began.

What can we learn from Abigail?  The moral of the story is not "do right and your conniving husband will die."  What I think we can learn is that we need to do right regardless of what the others around us are doing, even if those others are our husbands.  Abigail took a stand to do what was right, and saved her husband and the future king in the process.  Abigail did not kill Nabal, God did. (1 Samuel 25:38).  But if Abigail had not intervened, she would have been indirectly responsible for Nabal's death and David's sin.  Nabal died because he did wrong.  Abigail chose not to follow his path and was rewarded for it.

Remember last week when I mentioned the couple who viewed pornographic material together?  Helene said she had heard third hand of couple who started doing the same thing.  But in this case, one person decided to pull back from the sin.  Their marriage fell apart.  Sometimes the answers aren't easy.  Sometimes when we give up sin, we give up relationships too.  When the relationship is a marriage, the choice can be very hard.  I hope you never have to make choice between following Christ and following your husband.

Only God can change the people around us.  He may use us to effect that change, but it will only work if they are willing.  If we can't change the people around us, we still have the obligation to do right.  By doing so, we can often save ourselves and our loved ones from great harm.  And, as we'll see next week, sometimes we can win them over.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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