“Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.” Proverbs 18:12 (NLT)Marriages were often arranged in Abigail’s era, and I wonder if this was true of hers. On paper her husband Nabal seemed like a “catch.” He was wealthy, a good provider, and he liked to have fun and throw parties. But behind the scenes his self-control and integrity was seriously lacking, causing those closest to him to suffer.
Here is what we know about Abigail’s husband Nabal from the Bible in 1 Samuel chapter 25:1-41.
He is wealthy — that’s partly due to David’s protection of his land and flocks. (vv. 2, 7-8)
He’s crude, and mean in all his dealings. (vs. 3)
He sneers at guests who come in peace, and questions their character. (vv. 10-11)
He shouts insults. (vs.14)
He’s stingy, not returning favors or repaying kindnesses showed him. (vv. 16, 21)
He is so temperamental that people dread talking to him. (vs. 17)
He thinks more highly of himself than he ought. (vs. 36)
He drinks too much. (vv. 36-37)
Basically, Nabal was a self-centered, ill-mannered guy who didn’t recognize God’s provision or blessings in his life. And if you read his story, you’ll see he was foolish enough to insult the most powerful man around (King David) but more importantly, he was foolish enough to insult the one true God.
God let Nabal face the ultimate consequence of his character — death (vv. 38-39).
Imagine yourself paired up in marriage to such a foolish, arrogant, sharp-tongued man as this. (I hope you have to imagine, and have not lived this.)How would you react towards him? What do you think living with him might do to your personality, or your character?
Might you grow depressed? Would you become withdrawn or timid? Would you nag him to do better? Would you grow bitter, angry and become argumentative back? Or, would you perhaps just “let yourself go” and decide not to care about anything?
Let’s look at Nabal’s wife Abigail, from that same passage in the Bible:
She is smart and sensible. (vs. 3)
People look to her for wisdom and leadership in times of trouble. (vv. 14, 17)
She is decisive and wastes no time worrying, pitying her situation, or fussing at those who cause her trouble — instead she takes action to improve the situation. (vv. 18, 23)
She is generous, (vv. 18, 27) even willing to lay down her life for others. (vv. 22, 24)
She is humble (vv. 24, 41) and quick to ask forgiveness. (vs. 28)
She speaks eloquently and tactfully — with a knowledge of God — as she gives one of the longest speeches by a woman recorded in the Bible. (vv. 24-31)
She looks out for the well-being and reputation of others — even Nabal’s. (vv. 25, 31)
She trusts God, holds her tongue, and waits patiently for the right timing. (vv. 36-38)
Abigail has always been one of my favorite women in the Bible. She has it all — wisdom, character, courage, faith, eloquence, graciousness. She possesses both inner and outer beauty. But her life with this man Nabal was no picnic, and that’s really why I admire her.
How many times did Nabal get drunk and say or do something demeaning to her? Yet she chose not to let her spirit die. How many times did she wish for revenge, though not seek it? How many times did he berate her, yet she wasn’t paralyzed by his insults?
How many times did his foolishness cost her greatly, or those she cared about? Yet she chose not to count the costs to herself when she put her life on the line to spare his life and the other men’s.
Abigail’s praiseworthy character ran deep, which tells me her reverence of God did as well.
After Nabal’s death, she married King David and they had a son. David would have seven other wives in his lifetime, but only Abigail earned his complete respect. Only she had a positive influence on him.
Abigail challenges me to choose differently — to be humble, wise and courageous. Her example teaches me that I can choose how I will allow my circumstances to shape my character. While Nabal’s life clearly shows that haughtiness goes before destruction, Abigail’s shows that choosing humility and wisdom allows God to shape my character and my circumstances. And it makes room for God to be glorified in both.
Dear Lord, today I humble myself before You. I confess my sins and ask You to help me develop and display the same wisdom and character as Abigail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.