“Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.” (Proverbs 24:3, NKJV)
When I considered doing this series on women in the Bible, I asked a friend to name her favorite female Bible character. Without a moment’s hesitation, she said, “Abigail, because she was so wise.” Let’s look at her story to see what lessons we can learn from this wise woman’s life.
david and nabal
During the time when David and his men were on the run from King Saul, they found themselves in the same area as the herdsmen of a very wealthy man named Nabal. David and his men showed kindness by protecting the herdsmen and keeping everything secure. Yet, when supplies ran low and David sent messengers to request food from Nabal, the man’s response was cruel and insulting. His harsh attitude angered David, who ordered his men to “strap on your sword.” David set out with 400 of his troops to avenge Nabal’s evil treatment.
One of Nabal’s young men slipped away to tell Abigail, Nabal’s wife, what her husband had done and the danger they now faced. This wise woman hastily gathered food and set out to intercept David and his men. She had to do something quickly to save her household. But her actions also saved David from an act of revenge that he would later regret.
Abigail’s story is told in I Samuel 25. Verse 3 describes her as “a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance.” Other translations say intelligent, sensible, wise, or discerning. As we read her story, we find she was not only beautiful in appearance but also beautiful in spirit. Nabal, however, is described as “churlish and evil.” Abigail must have endured many difficult things as his wife.
As I read through the chapter, I noticed several things about Abigail’s character.
She was respected by and showed respect to the servants. The young man who brought her the report was not afraid to tell her of her husband’s evil actions. He trusted Abigail to find a way to stop the calamity about to befall them all.
She showed humility in approaching David. “When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say.” (verses 23-24, NLT). She was willing to accept the blame, even though she was not the guilty party. She placed herself at David’s mercy.
She gave wise counsel to David. Abigail’s words kept him from taking vengeance into his own hands and shedding innocent blood. She reminded him that he would one day be king and did not want this on his conscience (verses 30-31).
She did not hide her actions from her husband. “In the morning when Nabal was sober, his wife told him what had happened. As a result he had a stroke, and he lay paralyzed on his bed like a stone” (verse 37, NLT). Ten days later God smote him, and he died.
Abigail handled her household with dignity and wisdom. When faced with an extreme situation, she quickly responded with bravery, humility, and diplomacy. She saved the lives of those who trusted her, and she saved the future king from retaliating with unnecessary bloodshed. Her situation was far from perfect, but she chose to respond in a way that protected and preserved her household.
Abigail gives us a wonderful example of how to use wisdom to build a strong house and protect those within (Proverbs 24:3).
Perhaps you question your ability to respond as well as Abigail when facing a difficult situation. But James 1:5 assures us that God will generously provide the wisdom we need if only we ask. Make this verse your prayer today and trust Him for wisdom to protect and preserve your household.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (NKJV).