Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

Abigail Nabal David 1 Samuel 25 submission Bible biblia

Watercolour and ink portrait of Abigail by Sarah Beth Baca.
Used with permission of the artist. All rights reserved.
Prints of this portrait can be purchased here.

Tradução em português aqui.
This article is available in Spanish here.

Abigail, Nabal, and David

Abigail is an interesting woman who we meet in 1 Samuel chapter 25. Like several women in the Old Testament, Abigail is described as beautiful. Unlike most other women in the Old Testament, Abigail is also described as “intelligent” (NAB, NIV, TEV), or “clever” (NRSV), or “of good understanding” (KJV, ASV), etc.[1] Beautiful and clever Abigail was married to a wealthy man, and she may have enjoyed the benefits of an affluent lifestyle, but her rich husband Nabal was foolish, intemperate, and mean.

Abigail’s namֲe is derived from two Hebrew words, “father” and “happiness”, and means “my father’s happiness”. She may have been the cause of happiness in her father’s house, but Abigail’s marriage cannot have been a happy one.[2] Nabal’s name is a Hebrew word that means “foolish” or “senseless”. As an adjective, nabal is sometimes used of people who have no perception of ethical or religious claims. It’s an apt name for Abigail’s husband who typifies such behaviour.[3]

Nabal had not taken due notice of David and his men who had been protecting his shepherds. When his camp started to run out of food, David sent ten messengers to Nabal. The messengers told Nabal about how they had been protecting his shepherds and they asked for provisions, but Nabal refused them.[4] He even screamed at them (1 Sam. 25:14 NLT). Nabal’s actions deeply insulted David, and David responded by preparing for a slaughter (1 Sam. 25:13, 22).

Abigail’s Actions

Abigail was the able mistress of an extensive household.[5] A servant told her how Nabal has insulted and dishonoured David, and he informed her of the danger they now faced. Her servants, both male and female, promptly helped Abigail in her decisive plan to placate David.

Abigail was not just intelligent and beautiful, she was also brave. It would have been no mean feat to confront David and four hundred of his men who had been dishonoured and were intent on revenge with their swords at the ready. Yet Abigail approached David and, with great diplomacy, humbly offered him a “peace offering”. She gave David and his men plenty of food. Her quick actions saved her household from disaster and kept David and his men from unnecessary bloodshed.

Abigail was also brave considering that her actions would be found out by her husband, and then she would have to face his violent temper. The next day, Abigail told Nabal everything that she had done. Thankfully, God spared her from Nabal’s wrath. Nabal immediately has some kind of heart attack and died ten days later from heart failure.

Because of his mean, stubborn and perverse character, Nabal had failed to have a true appreciation of who David was. But Abigail knew who David was. She knew that he was an outlaw on the run from King Saul, and she spoke eloquently and prophetically about David and his future reign as king of Israel.[6] Her speech is one of the longest speeches of a woman recorded in the Old Testament. Here is an excerpt:

“The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 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. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.” 1 Samuel 25:28-31 (NIV)

David did remember Abigail. After Nabal’s death, he seems to have lost no time in asking her to become his wife. It is not clear whether David sought this marriage because of his attraction to Abigail or if it was for political reasons, but he certainly admired her. Abigail became David’s third wife and she bore David’s second son Chileab (2 Sam. 3:3). (Her son is called Daniel in 1 Chronicles 3:1.)[7]

Abigail’s Submission

I remember being confused about the story of Abigail when I was younger. I had been taught that wives are to submit to their husbands in everything—after all, that’s what Paul says in Ephesians 5:24. Moreover, women were supposed to revere and respect their husbands as leaders, and certainly not say anything bad about them. But here was a Bible woman who went behind her husband’s back and did something she knew he wouldn’t approve of.  And she even announces her husband’s faults to David:

“My lord should not pay attention to this wicked man Nabal. He simply lives up to his name! His name means ‘fool,’ and he is indeed foolish!” 1 Samuel 25:25 (NIV)

Despite defying her husband and saying negative things about him, Abigail is commended for her actions. Furthermore, David recognises that Abigail was sent by God.

David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day . . .” 1 Samuel 25:32-33 (NIV)

In fact, Abigail is an ideal wife. She didn’t submit to her husband’s stupidity; rather she protected her husband and his interests. She took the initiative when he was unable or unwilling to act, and she even apologised for his rude behaviour.[8]

I think much of the church has a faulty idea of submission in marriage. Biblical submission is not about blind obedience or subservience. Healthy submission is characterised by loyalty, humility, and consideration, and it seeks the greater good. Ideally, it should be mutual and reciprocal, rather than one-sided, with both husband and wife helping and serving each other.

Abigail was a smart, strong, young woman who helped her husband by going against his wishes. She initiates a potentially dangerous meeting with David and speaks with great diplomacy and insight. God used Abigail to help David and encourage him with her prophetic words. Abigail was a remarkable woman with beauty and brains.

Footnotes

[1] Abigail is described as having “good (tov) understanding/intelligence (se.khel)” in 1 Samuel 25:3.  Solomon is described with the same Hebrew word (se.khel) in 2 Chronicles 2:12, as is Zechariah in 1 Chronicles 26:14, the Levites in 2 Chronicles 30:22, and Sherebiah in Ezra 8:18.

[2] I wonder why Abigail’s parents arranged such a marriage for their daughter.

[3] Footnote of 1 Samuel 25 from the NET Bible.

[4] “Whatever his reasons for initially helping Nabal’s shepherds, David’s assistance constituted an act of unsolicited generosity for which some reciprocal action of goodwill on Nabal’s part was only to be expected in a traditional culture.”
Joy Osgood “1 & 2 Samuel”, The IVP Women’s Commentary, Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary Beth Evans (eds) (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2002), 167.

[5] No children are mentioned in 1 Samuel chapter 25. Abigail may have been a young, new wife and had not yet conceived.

[6] According to the Megillah (one of the tractates of the Talmud), the rabbis regard Abigail as one of seven prophetesses who prophesied to Israel. The other six female prophets are: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Huldah, and Esther. (See Megillah 14a and 14b.) The rabbis do not include Noadiah (Neh. 6:14) and Isaiah’s wife (Isa. 8:3) among the seven prophetesses.

[7] Abigail is also mentioned in 1 Samuel 30:5. She was among many who were captured by the Amalekites when they raided Ziklag, but then retrieved by David and his men. Abigail did not have an easy life.

[8] Adele Berlin, “Abigail: Bible”, Encyclopedia, Jewish Women’s Archive 

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Further Reading

Abigail: An Old Testament Type of Christ here.

Related Articles

A Sympathetic Look at Bathsheba
The Witch of Endor, the Dead Prophet, the Doomed King (In this article, I compare Abigail with the witch (or medium).
A Suitable Helper
6 Women who Protected Moses
Submission and Respect in 1 Peter 3:1-6
Beauty, Marriage, Motherhood and Ministry
A List of the Beautiful People in the Hebrew Bible
Articles on Submission

artigos em portugues sobre igualdade entre homens e mulheres no lar e na igreja

65 thoughts on “Abigail: A Bible Woman with Beauty and Brains

  1. I’ve always had a problem with Abigail and her “disobedience” to her husband. This article has been helpful. Thanks.

  2. My favourite woman in the bible. Hence my email address xxxxx1sam25.3@l. It used to be Abigail1 sam25.3 but for a woman called Rosemary that was just a bit to cryptic.

    She was a beautiful and intelligent woman.

    I was like Abigail in an unfortunate marriage. God moved him out of my life, not on quite the same way he moved Nabel (which is probably a good thing) and gave me to a David. My own Prince David

    The first time I read about Abigail I had hope that God would deliver me in his own way and his own time. My responsibility was to be that beautiful and intelligent woman ie be a woman of strength and character. Keep my heart free from bitterness, being the wife that God called me to be.

    I’ve been married 20 years in December to my lovely Prince David.

    1. I am happy for you. 🙂
      An unhappy marriage is tremendous burden. A happy marriage is a tremendous blessing.

      1. I am indeed happy that God answered your prayer and sent you someone kind, generous and a gentle man. I am awaiting God to answer and I trust he will. Be blessed in continued bliss with David and God bless your ministry!

    2. Am so happy i have known you. My wife and i had been struggling financially and we just got blessed last week with a first born daughter. We named her Abigail. We trust she’s gonna be brave, strong, intelligent and she is so beautiful. Oh my..praise be to God for granting us this adorable child. Abigail is her name. To add on we been struggling to get a child for a while. A prayer answered.

      1. Wonderful news, John! I pray a blessing over your family, in Jesus’ name.

  3. Rosie, You must really love Abigail!

    I always love hearing about happy marriages. God wants us to be happy in marriage. I can’t imagine being married to a “Nabal”. 🙁

  4. My granddaughter will be born today, at 16weeks due to tragic circumstances. My daughter and her husband have named her Abigail because of Abigail in King David’s time, where she was not only beautiful, but showed great courage and strength during a most difficult time. Our Abigail’s ashes along with her name will be placed in a special rosé garden dedicated to infants who didn’t survive. Abigail will always live in our hearts.

  5. Oh Anna, thank you for honoring this page with the story of your precious Abigail.

    Grace and Peace
    Marg

  6. This Bible story happened to be part of our Sunday school lifeway lessons this week. I’m married to a “Nabal”. I teach the 2nd grade Sunday school class at our church with a friend. I happened to be fixing the audiovisual screens and totally missed our lesson, so my friend came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “You are her.” U are amazing and smart and beautiful, you are a fierce protective mother, constantly playing peacemaker, married to an ogre that is mean and self serving. “You are her! You can do it. God will bless u and give u some one that will show love. Eventually. Read the story asap, I think God wants u to read this story on HIS time”.

    I was like, ok, you’re Looney toons. Haha. I forgot all about it, came home, later on mm no mmwas almost asleep, and suddenly sat up, grabbed the Bible, and started at 1 Samuel 25, then I prayed and cried. God is soooo good and blesses me daily. I am encouraged by Abigail’s story. I am also looking for a novel or book that is about Abigail and Nabal and David, so if you know of any, please reply to my post.

  7. HI Anna, I’m so sorry you are married to a “nabal”. But I’m glad you have found comfort and hope through Abigail’s story. I agree, God is soooo good in the way he blesses us.

    I don’t read Christian fiction, so I can’t recommend any books about Abigail. But maybe some other people reading this can offer suggestions.

    Maybe you can write your own story about Abigail.

  8. I am Abigail! I was married for 27 years to a man like Nabal. Even though he called himself a “Christian man” he was selfish and self centered. He went to my office to ask me to sign the divorce papers; he was involved with a woman from my church. He took everything from me. I have struggled financially and asked God why so many times. For 4 yrs. I worked 2 jobs, many, many days from 7:00am to 11:00pm. Every minute I asked God why, why me? Not knowing or remembering why my dad choose that name for me.

    Almost 7 years has past, I’m still struggling financially and still asking God many, many questions, but today I know why my dad choose that name for me. I’m still waiting for some answers, for miracles, for financial freedom. But at least I know that in my FATHER’s eyes I am smart, intelligent, beautiful, strong, brave.

  9. Dear Abigail, I said a prayer for a miracle and financial miracle. I’m so glad that you know that you are very precious to your – our – Father.

  10. I am Abigail too. I am married to a Nabel as well. Well, without the wealth. We’ve been married for 20 years and have three children. My wonderful husband hasn’t been working for the past 18 years. Every day is a hardship. Some days are a little better. Let me try to describe my husband. I would say 6 days of the week, he is angry and hates everyone. He blames everything on me. Repeats daily of records of wrong about me. Nags about negativity of everyone including me and our children. Calls me bad horrible names. Has never gone out as a family this includes camping, trips, visiting friends and family, shopping, etc. Just me and our three children. I can go on forever. Let’s just say, people thinks I’m not married because they had never seen my husband. The most painfully is that we are not in one unity/team. I feel like I am a single mom with four children. Therefore, this makes me feel alone. Worst yet, I am the only provider with one income. Therefore, everything I do I have to make right choices or there be no food on the table and no roof over your heads.

    Often times, If I would wished that.. just for one day.. my husband would work. I wondered how that feels. I wanted love, security, and protection. About 2 years ago, I discovered that only God can fulfill those. Then my eyes were open and I understood and experienced that God is my Father and my Husband.

    God is sooo wonderful to me. Through all this, God has been providing and blessing me and my family. The pain that I am in, God has made my strong, His grace is sufficient enough for me. I have learned to be content with what I have and what I was going through. I began to thank God that husband is my throne … I am soo thankful and honor because this makes me long, thirst, and desire more of my God. Through my struggles, my God is my husband and my father. I wait and rely on Him alone for my expectation comes from Him, not my husband.

    I know that all my pain and trials are opportunities for maturity in Christ. So I daily rejoice and allow God to execute His miracles through my difficulties. I know that God has chosen me to be his wife because He knew that I am the only perfect and capable women on this plant to be his wife. So I consider this as privilege and an honor that God has trusted me. I will not disappoint God. I will not give up. I will not retreat. The spirit who lives in me is much greater than the spirit of this world.

    Lastly, as other see my life and can’t comprehend how I can live, still love my husband, and rejoice in my pain… this is my opportunity to share the gospel to them. Now this is worth living for. I want and desire my life to be a living love letter so all can see and read my life. I am living in victory and I am running to finish my race so I will receive my crown in heaven. Thank you Jesus!

    1. I too am an Abigail. I have been married for 21 years to my Nabal. He is a Christian man whose faith is very weak except when it comes to making money. God has used me to endure attacks from him because I was helping him to stay out of jail. He was using the men in the ministry to try and start something illegal in our ministry, which we now longer have, but God gave me the courage to face the enemy and tell the men not to do it. This happened on several occasions.

      I love my husband and God told me if I left him it would destroy him. I was sceptical, wondering if I had really heard the Lord. But as I was sharing with a close friend of mine what I was going through, she told me the exact same thing. This happened within a few minutes, and I was blown away.

      I wait with that peace that surpasses all understanding for God to have his way in my marriage. My husband is in a bad way. Physically, his body is breaking down and he is doing horrible things that truly goes against God. I am afraid for him. I have talked to him about everything evil he has told me but he says he doesn’t remember. I am praying because he won’t listen to anyone.

      I am glad for the love God has put in my heart for him. It is amazing.

      Pray for me because God has been revealing some things to me that are making me a little nervous in a good way but totally different way. Enjoying life to the fullest. I am so glad he blessed me to find this website. God bless all you wonderful sisters of mine. Love you. Stay encouraged. Rosie

      1. Bless you, Rosie.

  11. My Abigail was born in 2013, 16, 11. Her father decided to call her this name because his joy was surely ‘fathers happiness’ after waiting for long time without conceiving her. For sure she brought happiness into our marriage.

  12. I love the story of Abigail even today my Pastor told me to study her story, because that’s who I am and married to..Even has the money and fame, but leaves me broke home alone with our boys etc…it goes on and on for 16 years now..Even found out his health is not good can have a massive heart attack or stroke if he dosent take care of himself..I do pray and would love to have other women pray in aggreement with me that God will remove this Nabel out of my life and give me my King David..I don’t submit to any of his foolish doings…thank you

  13. I said a prayer for you and your boys, Tammy.

  14. Love this. Wanting to do a bible study on women in the bible with my bookclub. Thanks so much!!

  15. I am Abigail. I constantly ask for wisdom and understanding about things. I ask God for his help and allowing me to see both sides. I pray for peace and healing for my family. And that God will allow me the courage to let go of someone that has pushed us all out.

  16. I have been married ten years to a wealthy Nabal. I have everything I could possibly ever want, beautiful children, a great and satisfying career, but no peace, because my husband is simply a boor. I am praying for my David to come, and I believe he will come.

  17. respected writer…..i love Abigail…..becoz of her beauty with brain ……God fearing woman……..thanks for helping us….

  18. What a great article – Abigail is one of my favourite women of the Bible and I have studied it many times but your article gave me new insight into her biblical submission, which I had never before considered, thank you

  19. Thank you for this excellent commentary on Abigail. You wrote “No children are mentioned in 1 Samuel chapter 25. Abigail may have been a young, new wife and had not yet conceived.” It could also be possible that she was NOT a young, new wife, but that God in His mercy did not let her bear children with such a foolish man. I am married to a Nabal and am thankful that despite repeated infertility treatments, I had “only” one wonderful daughter. I look back and realize that if I had had more children, I might have had a child who ended up being like its father. God always knows best.

  20. I am Abigail and was prompted to revisit this story by a stranger i met yesterday.

    My confirmation proverb is Isaiah 43:1 NIV … “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Nothing in this world surpasses the knowledge that you are His child and that nothing and no one can separate you from His love.

    To all the Abigails out there, God promises that Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4 NIV)

    Stay blessed…

  21. This sounds like a very difficult situation.

    When you say “We managed to do that for a year” it isn’t clear to me what you did. Are you in India now?

    I am unfamiliar with customs in India, and I doubt that I can give you advice, but I can pray.

    1. Thank you for your kind answer.
      Over the last year, I stayed in France but sent money and prayed much with her and the kids over the phone. Over this year she managed to be in a location not to be found with the family and husband. The situation was still challenging because a woman alone and on top of that extremely zealed for the Lord face all kinds of attacks in India but she and the kids always came out victorious.
      Until someone gave her cousins her location and everything went bad to worse.
      Electrocuted in police station, starved and with no water first 3 days and then 5 days, clinically dead twice, social authorities attacking her, police tapping her phone …

      1. Francois, Have you ever met this woman in real life? Have you been to India? What part of India does she live in? I have a few friends there. Perhaps they can offer help.

        1. Hello Marg, I have been twice in India, 3 weeks the first time to visit the orphanage as well as Grace and her “entourage” and then a second time to do a rescue mission to find a place to buy to move Grace and the kids.
          Unfortunately the most dangerous people are her husband and cousins who are supposed to be christians and have an extremely deep network in the christian areas so it is very dangerous ground to contact christian in that area. This is actually because of a christian we asked for help that her location got found. The Lord is powerful there but the spirit of antichrist within the church is also at the highest level I have ever encountered. She lives in the new state of Telangana in the south east of India at about 100 km from Hyderabad.
          She is not willing to meet any indian people anymore, she is too scared. If your contacts are indian locals, I am almost sure she will decline your offer. She has stopped to fight in a human way, she just gave her fate to God, I had her on the phone today, she has never been so sad.

  22. Marg, I sincerely love you together with Abigail for your intensive and prolonged study. You are very beautiful for you are inspired by beautiful ideas. Remain blessed in Yahshua Messiah’s name forever.

  23. Hi Marg,

    Thanks for sharing abigail’s life here.
    Im a young professional here. I was looking for a story about abigail. I am soon leading a small group and i would like to name it with ABIGAIL.this msge has helped me a lot to understand abigail’s life. thank you. pls pray for me as i lead a small group. thaks.

  24. Thanks for this post. We named our daughter Abigail Ruth, after two of my favorite Bible women. She is living up to her name.

  25. Dear Marg,

    Your exposition is one of the best that I have read. Wonder why so many well known Pastors never touch on this topic.

    Wives must submit to their husband in the Lord. If husbands do not make wise decisions we as wives should definitely advise them. It is also very important after seeking God’s leading not to put up with a Nabal. I am sure God wants us to be happily married.

    1. Thanks Reny, I have often wondered what precisely that phrase means “wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord”, and how it applies. But I do know that it doesn’t mean to (unnecessarily) put up with abusive, irresponsible or selfish behaviour.

      We are also told to submit to governing authorities, but that doesn’t mean we need to be silent and passive when they legislate and enact injustice.

      I agree: God does want us to be happy in marriage.

      1. “I feel like giving up too..”

        There’s so much to take in when I’m the only provider in the family. On top of that, gotta pay the mortgage, pay bills, put food on the table, and so on…. Every day I prayed that my children wouldn’t ask me for money. Every day I prayed for protection and security. There isn’t a single day, I leave the house without asking for my Father sovereignty and grace upon me. Prayer is my only survival and hope. My Father promised me that He will provide for me. So this is what I daily lived on. (Philippians 4:19) “And my God will supply every need for me according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
        One evening after I filed my taxes, bad news was what I got. My tax person replied saying I owe $X,000 back. I was in total shock! As soon as I got in my car, tears slowly drip down my checks. I tried so hard to hold it but tears continued to pour out. Then I burst out crying!
        I sobbed and sobbed pouring my soul to my Father. After a while I finally had a grip on myself, wiped my tears, and I asked, “Lord, how is that possible? I don’t even make much at all. How am I going to meet ends need? I have no one to help me? What am I gonna do?”
        My husband was the first person I thought of for comfort so I decided to call him for encouragement. What was a huge mistake! No comfort at all… More like a sword pierce my heart instead. After I hung up the phone with my husband, I cried even louder. Asking, ” Lord, how am I gonna get through this? …”
        “Father, all I needed was for my husband to say that everything will be ok. But instead His words killed me and left me feeling abandoned, alone and isolated. I didn’t know who to turn to. I didn’t know who to tell.”
        The more I thought and sinked into those thoughts, the more I wanted to quit and give up with my life. I wanted to run far away and never come back to this difficult and miserable life of mine. As I began to believe in those lies, I noticed negatived and bad thoughts began to escalate in my mind. I began to feel hurt, lonesome,anger, and other bad thoughts began to live in my heart.
        At this very moment I knew I was under attack! I knew if I bathe in those thoughts, destruction will be my destiny. So I forced my body into subjection to the Word of God (1 Corinthians 9:27). I began to fight against the deceiving lies with the TRUTH which is the Word of God and took my every thoughts capacitive in obedience to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
        Then I walked inside the house, my children were waiting for me, all I hear was, “mommy this mommy that, mother, mom, mom … mom….”
        Ahhh!!!!! … I yelled and said to my children, “I’m not in a good mood right now, please don’t talk to me. I’m really stressed out so don’t say one word to me or else I will turn into an ugly witch!”
        I quickly ran into bedroom pulled out my prayer mat and got on my knees. I poured my heavy and weary heart to God. I cried out and expressed my sorrowful soul to my God. I knew that only HE can restored my soul. “For I have satisfied the weary soul and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” (Jeremiah 31:25)
        An hour later passed, and I joyfully praise God and finally came out of my room. I was completely healed, restored and transformed.
        My oldest daughter saw me and astonishly asked, “Mom, what happened to you? How did you become so happy so quickly?”
        I smiled and replied, “Do you really want to know?”
        She responded , “Yes, I do!”
        I cheerfully explained to my daughter, “You know sweetheart, I have two choices. The 1st choice is to run AWAY FROM GOD and live in a warm place and leave everything behind so I can start over. Or the 2nd choice is to RUN TO GOD and by faith completely believe that He is in control and He has great things ahead for my life” (Jeremiah 29:11)
        I added, “I can’t live without God’s provision and blessing so I choose the #2, which is to have faith in God and let Him take control over my life.
        We all have these two choices when we’re in tribulations. I can’t do it without HIM so today and forever I choose to obey and live my life with God. I chose to live by faith.
        My daughter replied, “Mom, you are so such a strong Christian.”
        With relief, I quickly understood and answered, “No, I am not strong at all! I am very weak and weary but it’s by God’s grace that HE makes me strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
        I will praise and worship my God forever and ever! !

        1. Thanks for sharing this Chamee. It’s wonderful that you know how to run to God and rely on Him for provision, comfort, and strength

  26. D family of Amoo saumel named the daughter abigeal today, what a wonderful name and wonderful character she emulated.

  27. A number of things strike me as I read this lovely post.

    One is that I’m surprised such an out and out heroine doesn’t get mentioned more often. Am I too cynical in wondering if it’s because she had the courage to stand up to an unjust man, especially as he was her husband. Not politically correct.

    A second thought is that someone sat down and properly listened to this woman. Maybe a man, or a woman who was sufficiently influential to make sure this was recorded for posterity. I’m a great fan of Dr Luke who recorded the eye witness accounts of women too.

    Thirdly, I’m moved by the stories told in the comments. This isn’t just theory, as we so well know. I’m glad you’re using your voice for them.

    1. Hi Liz,

      I’m surprised too. The thing about Abigail’s story that struck me the most is that she speaks prophetically. She seems to know more about David’s future than even he is aware of. She’s a brave, clever and prophetic woman. We should be hearing more about her! And, as you can tell by the stories, many women can relate to her difficult marriage. 🙁

  28. Dear Marg,

    Thanks for the exposition. I just stumbled upon this site in my search for a question on Abigail. A woman I will best describe as ‘beauty and brains’.

    Please, what do you think about none of her children partaking in David’s dynasty?

    After the death of Amnon, her son was supposed to be the heir but Absalom tried to usurp the throne. Why would he do that if Chileab (Daniel), Abigail’s son is alive?

    I will appreciate your response to this. Thanks a million times.

    1. Hi Ebube,

      It seems God simply chose Solomon to be the next king. He seemed especially fond of Solomon:

      “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba. He went to her and had sex with her. She gave birth to a son and named him Solomon. The Lord loved him and sent word by the prophet Nathan to name him Jedidiah because of the Lord’s grace” 2 Samuel 12:24-25 (CEB).

      Jedidiah means “Loved by the LORD”. (For some reason, the name didn’t stick, and Solomon was called Solomon.)

      God had promised David that one of his sons would become king, but he doesn’t specify that it would be his first-born son.

      “When the time comes for you to die and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your descendant—one of your very own children—to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a temple for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to me. . .” 2 Samuel 7:12-14 CEB.

      The cultural tradition of primogeniture (the right of the first-born son) was frequently ignored by God. In the book of Genesis, for example, “Cain was born first, but Abel received God’s favor. Esau was born first, but God chose Jacob. Reuben was born first, but the line of Christ came through Judah, and Joseph saved the family and assumed authority over them. Manasseh was Joseph’s firstborn, but Jacob placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head to say that he would become greater.” Cynthia Westfall, Paul and Gender, p.84.

      More on primogeniture in the Bible here.

  29. Marg, as always I really appreciate your article and how you illuminate women in Scripture. I have always admired Abigail for her courage, intelligence, quick thinking, and resourcefulness. I particularly love the image of her riding on a donkey, by herself (as the servants went ahead), to meet David and 400 men, wearing their swords, all angry and bent on revenge. “As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them.” What an image! What courage!

    You mention that Nabal did not know who David was. I have wondered about that. I have often thought that it more likely that Nabal and the whole area knew exactly who David was because he was hiding out in the area with 600 armed men. Hard to miss a group of that size. And it is clear that their presence in the area helped people like Nabal prosper because they actually protected the area from mauraders that would have otherwise stolen their sheep etc (! Samuel 25:7) . So I tend to see Nabel’s comments more as a reflection of the fact that he was aware of who David and the comment just exhibited or highlighted his arrogance, foolishness and lacking sense. Abigail herself does not state that Nabal wasn’t aware of who David was but instead states, “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” ( 1 Samuel 25:25). So I wonder if it is more a reflection of his contemptuous, disrespectful, foolish behaviour than a lack of awareness about who David was. . This view contrasts so beautifully with Abigail’s skillful and intelligent response where she exhibits a savvy political knowledge and a prophetic awareness.

    1. Hi Anne,

      I agree that David and his men would have been hard to miss. It’s been a while since I wrote this piece, but I think what I might have meant is that Nabal did not realise David was going to be king, something that Abigail acknowledges. But you’re right, Nabal’s seeming ignorance probably just highlights his arrogance and perversity more than anything. I’ll have a go at rewording that section when I have some free time. Thanks for that!

  30. Marg, I really enjoy reading your articles and how thought-provoking they are. So thanks for encouraging me to think about the passages and the women you write about. Significant learning comes out of our reading, discussion, sharing, and challenging one another to think in new and different ways about the various texts. So appreciate you and you dedication to illuminating the women in Scripture.

  31. I really love this post. Am feeling like naming my future daughter Abigail already. Anyway, God will decide
    .
    God bless you writer

  32. This soaring, prophetic speech envisions David at his greatest, not only as a successful soldier but as a compassionate sovereign and founder of a great dynasty.

    It is to this bright future that Abigail appeals, and it is this that elevates Abigail above just another wise woman. She lays out before David a vision of what, through God’s grace, he might become, and appeals to him not to mar that bright future through an act of violence provoked by a fool. These inspiring words lift David’s mood and his thoughts.

    Dickerson, Ed . For Such a Time (p. 77). PPPA. Kindle Edition.

  33. Great post, liked the way it is explained!

  34. Powerfully penned. Thank u

  35. Found this article while searching for information on Abigail as we move through 1 Samuel in our church sermon series. It’s familiar, so I must have read it before, but I wanted to say thank you for the article and for sharing your insights. I’m going to pass it on to our home group this week (with full credit and listing your web page) as we discuss last Sunday’s sermon on this passage. Hope that’s OK?

    1. That’s very okay, E.L.
      It’s nice to see you here and not just on Twitter.

  36. This is a great read!

    Also, this story is an echo of Genesis 31:45-55
    Nabal is a pun for Laban
    Aven (stone) + gal (heap) is a pun for Avigyl/Abigail

    Both stories related to the Messianic promise of Ramah.

    1. Hi Jeremiah, Are you referring to the promise given to David in 2 Samuel 7:11b-16? I can’t see how that applies to Genesis 31:45-55.

      And while the Hebrew word for “stone” אֶבֶן and the Hebrew word for “father” אָב have two of the same letters aleph and bet [as do many other Hebrew words], and while the Hebrew word for “heap/wave” גַּל and for “joy” גִיל have two of the same letters gimmel and lamed [as do several other Hebrew words], I find it too much of a stretch to think that Genesis 31:46 somehow alludes to Abigail and Nabal. And what are we to do with the nun in אֶבֶן and the yod in גִיל?

      I understand that Hebrew employs puns, but I can’t see that Abigail, which literally read “my father’s joy,” and Nabal, which literally means “fool” somehow alludes to the heap of stones that served as a memorial between Laban and Jacob (Genesis 31:46)

  37. I so love Abigail for her strength and courage. She’s a role model for every wife. Not just those married to a Nabal but for all woman whose husbands are occasionally “nabalish!”
    I noticed today something I hadn’t before in Abigail’s prophesy to David. She assures him with her godly foresight that he will succeed in his endeavors, but it appears to me she also perceives in him the potential to use death as a convenient resolution. She minces no words informing David that an attack on her household would have been unnecessary bloodshed and that her wish was to relieve him of that burden on his conscience. Her insight to this aspect of David’s character was spot on as we learn later of his manipulation and murder of Uriah, along with David’s anguish and God’s judgement and chastisement toward him.

    1. Her prophetic words are quite amazing. 🙂

  38. Hmmm … nice post.
    I think it is safe to say that Women should obey their Husbands in the Lord, and not dogmatically. The authority of a husband is of the Lord and should not then result in failure to walk the way of life. May the Lord guide us in specific cases.

    1. Nowhere in the Bible are husbands told that they are to be, or that they must be, the authorities or leaders of their wives. Nowhere.

      And nowhere are wives directly told to “obey” their husbands in the Hebrew or Greek texts of the Bible. (The King James Bible uses the word “obey” in Titus 2:5, but the apostle Paul did not use the Greek word for “obey” here.)

      The rule of husbands over wives is a consequence of the fall. Patriarchy is a consequence of the fall. God announces this to the woman in Genesis 3:16 when sin entered the world: “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

      However, Jesus came to deal with sin and its consequences, and he inaugurated a new covenent where male and female followers of Jesus are equal. Jesus taught that new covenant people humbly serve and submit to one another; they don’t exercise authority over their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

      Make a choice Inioluwa: continue the worldly pattern of patriarchy (the fruit of sin) or practise mutuality in Christ (the fruit of redemption and the Spirit).

      I’ve written about Christian mutuality and service in a few articles. Here are two of them.
      Jesus’ Teaching on Leadership and Community in Matthew’s Gospel
      Galatians 3:28: Our Identity in Christ and in the Church

      And I’ve written about Paul’s household codes here: https://margmowczko.com/tag/the-household-codes/

      I’ve also written about Peter’s instructions to husbands and wives: https://margmowczko.com/category/equality-and-gender-issues/1-peter-31-7/

  39. Good article. But what struck me, is why do the NIV and so many translations word vs.28 to create a contradiction with David’s future wickedness? There are other ways to understand and translate what she said, so why create a problem?

    1. Thanks, Angela.

      The CSB’s translation of the last phrase of 1 Samuel 25:28 (“Throughout your life, may evil not be found in you”) makes better sense of what we know about David. Though, Abigail may have been speaking diplomatically, “evil shall not be found in you so long as you live” (ESV).

  40. I am challenged as to why there is focus on Abigail’s beauty. It’s further enforcing the idea that women must be physically pleasing to a man to have value and worth. This story of a strong, intelligent woman is ruined by the focus on her physical beauty as adding value. We don’t hear about the physical attractiveness of men in the Bible. If the Bible is a perfect, divinely inspired book, why would misogyny be so ingrained? This story is ruined by the focus on her physical characteristics and not her strength as a person with powerful Godly characteristics. I am trying so hard to read the word, but the misogyny that runs through this book just stops me over and over again.

    1. The narrative in 1 Samuel 25 has much to say about Abigail. One word (“beautiful”) in one verse is hardly a focus, especially as “intelligent” is used in the same sentence.

      David is described as “beautiful/ handsome” in preceding chapters. Does this detract from his story?

      David, Saul, Absalom, and six other men are described beautiful in the OT. I have a list of these nine men, as well as the “beautiful” women, here: https://margmowczko.com/beautiful-people-bible/

      I’ve written about women being primarily described as beautiful here: https://margmowczko.com/beauty-marriage-motherhood-and-ministry/

    2. This is a record of history. The emphasis on beauty struck me this time too. But I feel it’s probably just included to explain why David instantly marries her. People are like that, men and women. Scientists theorize it’s partially because beauty is a sign of health. I would prefer to marry a handsome man, even though I do care more about spiritual maturity and compatibility because I’m not an idiot. The amazing thing is that the story is included at all since it makes David look bad. Abigail’s wisdom and decisiveness and boldness with 2 very dangerous men is emphasized, she leads David to repent. Seems pretty fabulous except the part where she becomes 5th wife or whatever. But she may have needed or wanted to marry him anyway.

      1. In the Hebrew Bible, beauty was a desirable quality in men and in women. I sometimes wonder if the references to beauty weren’t as superficial as it sounds to us today, especially as, in the ancient world, looks were thought to be indicative of character.

  41. My name is Abigail, my birthday is in two days so I decided to know more about the woman in the Bible in which I bear her name. I just don’t want to live with the name but walk according to how she lived. Intelligent, wise, full of understanding amen.

    1. Happy Birthday, Abigail. May God bless you in the coming year, in Jesus’ name!

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