Monday, February 18, 2013

Leading Ladies: Abigail

One of my favorite women from the Old Testament is Abigail. She is the picture of grace, virtue, and beauty. Her story is intriguing, gripping, and shocking. Mostly, though, I love Abigail because she makes me question everything about myself. Could I be the person she was? Do I have the character to react the way she did? Let's examine her life a little closer today and see just how much we can learn from this Old Testament woman.

The text in which we find Abigail is 1 Samuel 25. In verse 3 we find out that she is married to a man named Nabal, and he's not exactly a great person. Short-tempered, rude, and disrespectful are just a few of his less-than-desirable traits, and yet it is to such a person that the altogether lovely Abigail is married. In verse 13 we see that Abigail's entire family is about to be wiped off the face of the planet because of her husband's blatant disrespect and pride. Alas, by verse 33, Abigail's quick thinking, poise, and smooth-talking have won over the heart of David and have saved her entire family! Well, except Nabal, who would die sooner rather than later. Still! Abigail saves the day! Hooray!

So what, exactly, can we learn from this super woman?

1: Abigail is the definition of prepared. As a pretty new player in the game of housewifery, I can attest that being ready at any given moment to feed more people than just me and my husband is a difficult things. Some days, just being able to find the time to feed us seems like a huge undertaking. And yet, in verse 18, the text tells us Abigail 'made haste' and 'took' 200 loaves of bread, 200 cakes of figs, and five sheep 'already dressed'. What's the significance? Oh, she had all of that on hand!

We know from 1 Peter 3:15 that we are to be ready always to give an answer and defend the Word of God and the hope that is in us. It is vital that we, as children of God, have knowledge of His word 'on hand' already. We shouldn't wait until someone asks us a Bible question or until we run into a certain temptation that we find the time to see what the Bible has to say about it. Instead, we should give ourselves over to study constantly, so that whenever a trial or question comes our way, we are ready to 'make haste' as Abigail did! Who knows but what our preparation may save us from some scheme the Devil has ready for us.

2: Abigail is the definition of a peacemaker. What is the reason that David is coming after her family? Is it not because her husband flew off at the mouth and disrespected the future king? But in verse 24 Abigail says, "On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be!". You read that right! She took the blame for something that most certainly was not her fault.

Romans 12:18 tells us to live peaceably, as much as depends on us, with all men. Sometimes, that means taking the blame for something that isn't your fault. Sometimes, that means placing your pride aside and seeking forgiveness when someone else is to blame. While Abigail could have sat back and waited for something to happen, because after all it wasn't her fault, she was instead proactive. She made peace, even for something that wasn't her fault. I know that I can learn from this woman of God. How easy it is to sit back and wait for things to "play out" because we have been wronged and thus don't want to make the first move toward peace. Yet, Abigail reminds us that sometimes, being a peacemaker (and we are all commanded to be) means apologizing for something that isn't your fault.

3: Abigail is the definition of persuasive. As soon as Abigail dismounts from her donkey, she falls on her face and begins an epic speech. Throughout her spill, David says nothing. Instead, this lowly woman has a commanding presence, with words (and beauty) that halt a warrior in his tracks.

Perhaps verse 35 says it all, when David says, "See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person." Truly Abigail was a woman with a great sense of persuasiveness. As children of God, we ought not try to persuade people to follow Christ with false pretenses. We must not ever try to conform the Gospel message to fit the needs and relevancy of the culture. Instead, we must show our world, with powerful and persuasive words, the relevancy of the Gospel! Peter is a great example, declaring on the day of Pentecost, "This Jesus, whom you crucified (Acts 2:36)." How could you not be moved by such passion and zeal? How could you not be persuaded to follow after this One who died for you?

No doubt Abigail was as persuasive as she was because her and her family's lives depended on it. We must persuade those around us to follow the Gospel as if our life depends on it. Because in all reality, their eternal life does!

There are so many great lessons we can learn from this powerful woman of God. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that Abigail, because of her faithfulness, was chosen to be David's wife after Nabal died.  Likewise, if we are faithful, and will die to our old self and our covenant with sin, we will be called the bride of Christ (as members of His church - Eph. 5).

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