Abigail, An Old Testament Woman Who Prophesied, Though She Was Not Known As A Prophet
Abigail was married to Nabal, one of the wealthiest men in the region, with enormous herds, and a great many acres of land in the region of Judah, west of the Dead Sea. Nabal’s ancestor was Caleb—do you recognize his name?
Caleb and Joshua were among the original twelve spies Moses had sent into Canaan to scope out the land, and its inhabitants. In the end, God permitted only two people out of all the original Israelites from the Exodus to enter Canaan. Not even Moses could go into the Promised Land. Only the faithful Caleb and Joshua.
Together, Caleb and Joshua had led all Israel to conquer Canaan. Caleb had single-handedly defeated the giants who had dominated these rich, rolling hills now in Nabal’s holdings. So Nabal’s prosperity was his faithful ancestor Caleb’s legacy.
Abigail’s story begins during a traditionally joyful time, the sheep shearing festival. Many guests had gathered, and there was much feasting. Abigail was well-known for her gracious hospitality, and she had provided abundantly for her guests.
As the celebration wore into the evening, ten plainly dressed men entered the pavilion and came to address Nabal. Would he be willing to share some of the festival food with a fellow Judahite, David, who along with his 600 warriors, had protected Nabal’s herds from marauders and wild animals all throughout the year?
Nabal was drunk as a skunk, rude, disrespectful, and miserly towards David’s men. He refused gratitude for their protection, refused to give them provisions, and hurled insults at them as they left, humiliated.
The servants were horrified and appalled as they overheard this exchange. Absolutely never, in that culture, did you ever refuse anyone food, and especially not fellow Jews, even more especially from one’s own tribe. And even MORE especially not during the sheep shearing festival. Nabal had chosen to transgress God’s commands, given through Moses, concerning fellow Israelites in need:
Deuteronomy 15:9 (MEV)
9 Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,” and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin in you.
Nabal chose to disregard the Lord’s warning that God would find guilty of sin those who refused to help their fellow Jews. Nabal also dismissed the fact that to refuse David would also invite David’s righteous anger…along with, by the way, 600 fighting men living in the hills surrounding his home, hungry, humiliated, and now looking for revenge.
The servants hurried to alert their mistress. Now, the Bible makes a point of highlighting Abigail’s intelligence as well as her beauty. She was trusted by the servants, who accepted her authority with respect; she was good at organizing, was quick acting, and able to provide. She was humble and honoring to others. When she spoke, she was bold, direct, wise, and spiritually mature.
She understood the grave danger they were in, and to the servants’ very great relief, she immediately set about the work of sending viands and provender to David.
With great spiritual depth, and emotional wisdom, Abigail quickly made amends with generous supply.
- She made the matter of personal importance, going herself.
- She was respectful, giving great honor to the Lord’s anointed.
- She deflected blame from her husband to herself and confessed her oversight.
- She asked David to accept her offering in exchange for ‘bloodshed.’
- She pleaded with David concerning God’s principles to keep him from evil.
Even more remarkable, Abigail spoke boldly and prophetically during this delicate diplomatic mission. She spoke of an everlasting dynasty for David, the covenant God would make with David decades in the future (and recorded in 2 Samuel 7). This prophecy would ultimately be fulfilled a thousand years in the future, in the Lord Jesus Christ:
1 Samuel 25:28-31 (MEV)
“For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days.29 Even if a man rises to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord will be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God. But the lives of your enemies He will sling out, as from the hollow of a sling.
30 It will be, when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you and has appointed you ruler over Israel, 31 that this will be no grief to you, nor an offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself.”
David showed his own humility and spiritual discernment when he recognized the Lord speaking to him through Abigail.
Abigail’s story doesn’t end in this chapter. She had asked David to remember her, and he did. Neither of them knew she was going to be a widow in a little over a week's time; but, when David heard of Nabal’s astonishing death, he sent immediately for Abigail. And, she came, bringing with her all the wealth and status of an honored lineage.