Summary: God used Abigal to turn David away from a senseless sin.
What image comes to mind when you hear the word “hero”? Do you think of a grizzled firefighter who routinely risks his life to save others? Such a person is certainly a hero, but so is the child who has the presence of mind to dial 911 when the house is on fire! Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. In our Agents of Grace sermon today we’re going to learn about an unlikely hero named Abigail. She was a housewife who kept David from doing something he would have regretted the rest of his life. Let’s find out more.
How would you feel if out of the kindness of your heart you spent the afternoon raking and bagging leaves for your neighbor who watches you do this, but when you knock on his door to ask for a drink of water, he tells you to get lost. I don’t think you’d want to do anything kind for that guy again. Our sermon text describes David in a similar situation. He and his men protected the shepherds and flocks belonging to a tycoon called Nabal. They had done this simply because they were in the area and it was the neighborly thing to do. When it came time for Nabal to sheer his sheep, David thought he would ask that rich man for a few provisions. But Nabal responded: “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” (1 Samuel 25:10, 11)
Nabal showed no common decency. He had clearly benefited from David’s presence and protection, but he wasn’t about to give away any of his stuff. David was livid. He ordered his men to strap on their swords. David wanted to kill Nabal and every last male in his household. We can understand David’s reaction. In fact many would say it was normal. But was it? This was the same man who had showed such restraint in regard to King Saul. Why, David had felt guilty for even cutting off a piece of Saul’s robe. But now, David was so angry that he thought nothing of cutting off a whole household from the land of the living. If David would have followed through with his plan, he would have been guilty of mass murder.
God intervened by sending an unlikely hero, the agent of grace Abigail. Abigail was Nabal’s wife. She was described as beautiful and intelligent. Unfortunately she had not been present when David’s men came with their request. But when she found out what her husband had said, and learned from one of the servants that David was on his way to do something about it, she leapt into action. She quickly sent ahead enough food to feed David’s 600 men and then she followed to intercept David.
She met him just as he was about to come out of a narrow canyon. Abigail’s heart must have been pounding when she turned the corner and came face to face with David and 400 of his men dressed for combat. Perhaps she had even overheard David who had just finished saying how he was going to slaughter all the men in Nabal’s household before daybreak. Abigail wasted no time. She dismounted her donkey and bowed low before David. She addressed him as lord, as if he was already the king of Israel, and not some no-name ruffian as her husband had treated David. Abigail said with great tact and wisdom: “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him… The LORD your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the LORD’s battles... When the LORD has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself” (1 Samuel 25:25, 28, 30, 31).
What I love about Abigail is that she doesn’t tell David that he has no right to be angry. He does! Nabal had been arrogant and foolish. But what Abigail urges David to do is to control his anger. He could do that by remembering two things: he had been appointed to fight God’s battles, not his own against people like Nabal. And when he became king, David would not want this senseless slaughter on his record, nor on his conscience. Abigail was appealing to David: “Let yourself be known as a merciful king who trusts in the Lord, not as a hot head who must avenge every insult.”