There are at least 3 or 4 sermons wrapped up in 1Samuel 25. There’s the sermon of the stupid man. Then, there’s the sermon of the cranky king-to-be who goes over the top ’cause he’s hungry. And, there’s the love story sermon where cranky king-to-be determines to wipe-out stupid man, girl intervenes for stupid man, king-to-be meets girl, girl calms down king-to-be, stupid man dies, king-to-be proposes to girl, girls say yes, king-to-be marries girl — you know, one of those everyday, happy ending, Hallmark love stories. There are lessons to be learned in each of these story lines. But there’s a at least one other story here, that for some reason, absolutely grabs me this morning . . . the sermon of the beautiful lady.
If I were to ask a group of Bible students who the great women of the Bible were, I’m guessing the initial responses might be Mary or Ruth or Esther or the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. Maybe some would recall Deborah the “judgette.” But would anyone blurt out “Abigail?” I don’t think I would have . . . she’s not one that would come to top of mind. But there is something about the quality of character of this woman that just jumps off the page this morning . . . something that looks beyond her.
Abigail, the wife of Nabal (aka the “stupid man”), is a woman who was “discerning and beautiful” (1Sam. 25:3 ESV). So, she’s a looker . . . but in the Holy Spirit’s summary of Abigail, that she is described as beautiful is listed second . . . her preeminent quality is that she was discerning or, of “good understanding” as the NKJV says. Both the NASB and NIV say she was “intelligent,” but to read that and conclude that she was just really smart would be coming up short. The idea in the original language seems to be that of insight, or good sense, or wisdom. Abigail was a woman of good understanding, of discernment. She knew what her husband was like . . . she knew how to take action to avert disaster by David’s hand (aka the “cranky king-to-be”). And take action she did.
Not only was she insightful . . . she was compassionate, and bold, and resourceful. Technically, she had nothing to worry about . . . David’s “over the top” determination was to kill Nabal and all his male servants (1Sam. 25:22) . . . see how being really hungry can make a guy really cranky . . . and a bit crazy? So Abigail, being a woman in Nabal’s house, didn’t have to worry about her own skin. But you sense that this woman of God wasn’t wired to think just about herself. When one of Nabal’s young men gets wind of what David’s plotting he runs to who? He runs to Abigail. She hears . . . she fears . . . she springs into action. She loads up the donkeys with food and heads out to persuade David to change course of action. And check out, how she does that!
With humility she falls on her face and bows before David (25:23) . . . and then she says, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt” (25:24). What bravery . . . what humility . . . what true beauty! With face to the ground she pleads with David to see her as the failing point and to allow her to attempt to atone for it. It was her fault, she says, that she was not there when David’s men arrived looking for lunch and thus had to deal with Nabal. So she says, “Please forgive the trespass of your servant” (25:28). And though she humbles herself before the one she knows is the “king-to-be,” she also boldly reasons with him . . . suggesting that, should he fulfill his desire to avenge himself on Nabal by killing him and his male servants, he would eventually regret it — it would bring grief and inflict on his conscience “the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” (25:31 NIV).
What a woman! Really almost incidental that she had outward beauty. It’s the beauty of her character that bursts forth like glorious rays of the sun peeking over the hills at dawn! She is wise . . . she is insightful . . . she is compassionate . . . she is resourceful . . . she is articulate . . . and above all, she is humble. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) Isn’t that the essence of true beauty . . . for a male or female . . . authentic humility?
She humbles herself . . . and she is exalted. God is David’s avenger . . . God is the judge of Nabal’s selfish and arrogant behavior. When Nabal realizes how close to disaster he came, he has a heart attack and eventually dies (25:37-38). David recognizes God’s protecting hand on him . . . that it was God who used this woman of God to prevent David from doing something really dumb. And the beauty of Abigail attracts David . . . the inner beauty of this classy lady connects with this “man after God’s own heart” . . . and he proposes to her . . . and, in true Abigail fashion, she bows her face to the earth and says, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” (25:41)
And there it is!!! That’s the something in Abigial that looks beyond her. Who else do I know who was willing to be a servant and wash the feet of others? Who else was willing to assume the guilt for another? Who else brought an offering to avert wrath? Who else possesses wisdom and exuding beauty? That’s why this lady stands out! That’s what attracts my attention to her this morning. In Abigail I see glimpses of the Savior.
I read about Abigail . . . I think about Jesus. O’ Lord, Your’e beautiful!