Summary: In this lesson, we are going to study a lady of great character and intelligence – her name is Abigail. All we know about her is summed up in this one chapter, yet she comes through as one of the most notable women in the Old Testament!
The Bible is full of great stories! I’ve heard it said if you are looking for a mystery, or a thriller, or a love story, or one containing a great hero or heroine – whatever your desire, you can find it in the Bible. The text before us, in this study, is certainly one of the greats. Maybe you are already very familiar with this story, but if not, I think by the time we finish, not only will it be perhaps one of your favorites, you will appreciate the valuable lesson it contains.
In this lesson, we are going to study a lady of great character and intelligence – her name is Abigail. All we know about her is summed up in this one chapter, yet she comes through as one of the most notable women in the Old Testament. As we study Abigail, I think you will soon appreciate her wisdom, her decisiveness, and her sensitivity. She clearly had great interpersonal skills and an enduring patience. As it is with all the characters in the Bible, good or bad, their stories are recorded for us in Scripture for a purpose – primarily, our learning. I trust we will benefit greatly as we study the Biblical character of Abigail!
The setting for I Samuel 25 is the days of David. A man who has already been chosen to be the next King of Israel, but he’s not king yet. Instead he is being hounded by his predecessor, King Saul. King Saul is hunting him down because he’s insanely jealous over David’s popularity and all his conquest. It all began one day when David returned victoriously from a battle with the Philistines. Ironically, David was fighting them on behalf of Saul – "So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. And it happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. And the women sang as they played and said, ’Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, ’They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on" (1 Sam. 18:5-9).
As time goes on, Saul’s jealousy and contempt for David grows stronger and stronger. By now, the setting for our text, David and about 600 men are on the run and they are trying to escape the sword of Saul. David is one of the three central characters in our chapter. The other two are Abigail (of course) and her husband, Nabal.
Vs. 1: Samuel, the last Judge of Israel has died (around 1080 BC). After Samuel’s burial, David and his men go to the wilderness of Paran. Paran was a wilderness area located south of Judah, and north of Sinai. Israel camped there after leaving Sinai during the Exodus and sent spies to scout out the Promised Land from Kadesh, a location in Paran (Num. 10:11-12; 13:3,26). Ishmael made his home there after Abraham was forced to send Hagar and him away (Gen. 21:21).
Vs. 2 – 3: Nabal (Abigail’s husband) lived in Maon (May-ahn), a village in the hill country of Judah. However, his business was in Carmel (about 8 miles North of Maon). What was his business? It was obviously sheep and goats.
Nabal (up-close): Nabal was a rich man, a wealthy rancher, a Calebite (a descendant of Caleb). Incidentally, his name in Hebrew means fool. The text informs us that he is a harsh and evil man. The Hebrew word translated as harsh has a variety of meanings including: churlish, cruel, grievous, hard (hearted), heavy, obstinate, rough, stiff (necked), stubborn, and trouble. Are you starting to see the picture? This man was rotten to the core! In vs. 17, his own household says, “he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.” Believe it or not, he had a wife, and as she is the heroine in our story! Let’s see what the Bible has to say about her:
Vs. 3b: Abigail was not only intelligent, she was beautiful as well! I don’t care what generation you are from, that’s a winning combination! She had it all, brains and beauty. Now, I want to make sure you see the picture. We’ve got a princess married to a jerk. We’ve got a winner married to a loser. This relationship itself will provide one of our lessons in this study after we gain a deeper understanding of it.