Summary: In a culture that said women had no power, Abigail successfully leads a peace delegation and stops a war between the two most powerful men in the region. We, too, must use our power to make peace.

Restorative Justice #5: Abigail, The Peacemaker

1 Samuel 25:2-44

Trinity United Methodist Church, Providence

October 21, 2001

Rev. Anne Grant

We displayed a transparency that said:


1. Beware of anger.

2. Act with holy boldness.

3. Humble yourself.

4. Be generous.

Today our Bible story is about a very troubled marriage.

Sometimes, even people in good marriages have disagreements

And they may spark at each other.

One couple was riding along in their car,

And they were having an argument.

They were so angry at each other!

So fed up with each other over everything!

They couldn’t do anything right--neither one of them.

Each one was being stubborn,

stewing in their own corner of the car

Hearts as hard as stone,

Shouting one moment,

Sullen and silent the next, glaring at each other,

Each one was trying to comprehend what it had been

that ever possessed them

to marry such an insufferable person as

The one sitting so close in that car.

And they rode along like that for miles from the city to the country,

They passed a mule--a stubborn, lonely mule--

Eating all by itself out in the meadow.

And the husband glared over at the wife and asked her:

"It that your relative?"

She looked out the window at the mule

And pondered the sight of it, and said to him:

"Yes. By marriage!"

Now, in a healthy marriage, they each might have giggled

And realized they were being foolish.

In a Christian marriage,

they might have realized they were being unfaithful to Christ,

and confessed to each other, and asked God to melt their hearts,

And agreed to learn how to listen and talk

with respect to each other,

to get counseling, to receive help.

Our message this morning is very simple:

Use your power to make peace!

I’m going to preach it to you,

and you’re going to preach it back to me:

Every time I point at you and say:

Use your power to make peace!

You’re going to point back at me and say it to me:

Use your power to make peace!

In whatever arena you have power, at home, at school, at work,

In the community association,

Use your power to make peace!

Use your power to make peace!

In our scripture this morning,

We meet a very wise and generous woman named Abigail.

She is married to a very foolish and mean-spirited man named Nabal.

They lived about 3,000 years ago in Judah

in a culture where men liked to believe

they had all the power, and that women were inferior.

One man might be married to many women

Who bore his children.

His wives were no better than his servants or his slaves.

That’s how he treated them.

There were two very powerful men in her story.

One of them had just brought down a giant and won a war.

And he was about to become king of all Israel,

He would eventually bring together a divided nation,

He would write over a hundred worship songs

That would be sung for thousands of years.

Anybody know his name? [David.]

But David was not the hero of this story.

Because he had gotten tangled in a snare of his own anger,

Why? Because he and his men had been insulted.

They had protected Nabal’s shepherds and flocks

Through the lambing season when they grazed from place to place.

They had protected them from Philistine raiders

Swooping down from the mountains.

None of the shepherds were harmed.

None of the lambs were stolen.

And now the wool was being gathered.

It was time for David and his men to be repaid

With a banquet of appreciation.

But instead of an invitation, they were insulted by Nabal.

When we see David in this story, he’s very angry.

He is determined to take revenge.

When the Jewish law said an eye for an eye

And a tooth for a tooth, what it meant was

don’t take any more than what was taken from you.

If somebody took your eye,

You have no right to take their life.

The most you can take is an eye.

If they broke your tooth, you can’t break their back.

Don’t escalate your assaults against each other.

You may take no more than what they took from you.

That was the justice of the Jews.

All that changed when Jesus taught us about God’s mercy,

But David knew better than to fight to the death over an insult.

David was certainly not the hero of this story.

The other powerful man was Abigail’s husband, Nabal,

A fabulously wealthy man, feared throughout the region,

Hundreds of people there worked for Nabal.

But he was not the hero of the story.

He was foolish, stingy and mean-spirited.

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