Bible Character Study on Abigail

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

Abigail became one of the wives of King David. The story of how she met the king is a fascinating study on an interesting lady. She was sympathetic and understanding even when the situation around her was difficult. We can learn much from this Old Testament lady of faith.

The main story of Abigail is found in 1 Samuel 25. She is mentioned a few other times in scripture, but not with as much detail as is found in this main chapter. We do know from one other reference in 1 Chronicles 3 that Abigail was the mother of David’s son named Daniel.

1 Samuel 25:40-41 “And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife. And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.”

David’s Request

Nabal, Abigail’s husband, was a wealthy man who owned 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats (1 Samuel 25:2). The Bible says that this man was mean-spirited and evil in the way he conducted business. David sent a few of his men to see if Nabal would grant an offering of food for his men. This was not an unreasonable request given the situation. Nabal’s herdsmen lived and worked among David and his men. David provided protection to the men and cattle of Nabal. This area had been raided regularly by the Philistines in the land (1 Samuel 23). David gave much needed protection which benefited Nabal and added to his prosperity.

On top of the protection that was given, we learn in verse 3 that Nabal was from the family of Caleb. This is the family that founded the city of Bethlehem—David’s birthplace. Nabal was a near kinsman to David. Nabal would have known very well who David was even though he claimed to not know about David and his band of men (1 Samuel 25:10).

Nabal’s response to David’s request was outright refusal and then he accused David of being a runaway slave. In response, David prepared 400 of his men to go and plunder and destroy Nabal. This was not all of his men. David had 200 of his army stay back and guard their camp. David did not deem it necessary to take all of his men for such an easy task.

Often I have heard people address the question of whether David was right in his response to Nabal. I don’t know that we can answer that definitively, but we do know that Abigail’s response was the proper one.

Abigail’s Response

Abigail wisely saw that David was capable of destroying Nabal and the people she loved. She knew the power of David and his mighty men. She also knew David was the anointed king of Israel (1 Samuel 25:30). God would protect David. She wanted to be a part of the work of God.

Nabal’s shepherds knew it was pointless to try and talk with their master (1 Samuel 25: 17) so they informed Abigail of David’s plans to slaughter the people of Nabal. The shepherds told Abigail of the kindness and protection that David had provided. After she heard about David’s plans, she secretly prepared to meet him with a gift.

Oh that I could be like Abigail and have the wisdom to follow the desires of God even when the outcome is not certain.

Oh that I could be like Abigail and have the wisdom to follow the desires of God even when the outcome is not certain.

She acknowledged that David was protected by God. She said that she knew there was no point in trying to fight with him. I believe that she was thinking of more than just herself when she made her appeal to David. She desired to protect the innocent people that worked for Nabal. Interestingly, in her appeal to David she talked about God using a sling to thwart His enemies (1 Samuel 25:29). She knew that David had killed a previous enemy of God using this same weapon. She made an appeal to David in a very personal manner.

She gave David an offering of 200 loaves of bread, 2 bottles of wine, 5 sheep, 5 measures of corn, 100 clusters of raisins and 200 fig cakes. This was certainly a generous offering. She did not let Nabal know that she was going to give this away to a man Nabal had previously said was not worthy of such a gift.

David accepted the gift and returned to his camp appeased because of the kindness of Abigail on behalf of Nabal.

Nabal’s Reaction

Abigail returned to the house to find Nabal drunk. She wisely did not even try to talk with him at that time. She waited until he was sober the next day. Abigail told Nabal all that had taken place between her and David. How that David was on his way with his renowned mighty men to destroy Nabal and his household. She probably also told him about the lavish gift she bestowed on David.

At hearing all this news the Bible says that Nabal’s heart died within him. This could mean that he had a heart attack, or more likely, it means he had a stroke.

Nabal’s reaction is from a couple of different things that he realized. One is that his wife had betrayed him by giving away the food that Nabal himself refused to give. Also, he realized that David, with his 400 men was much more powerful than Nabal and his band of herdsmen. Nabal would have been wiped out by the forces of David. Even though Nabal claimed he did not know who David was, he most certainly feared the anointed king and his army.

The result of this realization and the physical reaction Nabal experienced was that he died 10 days later.

David’s Wives

David sent for Abigail to be his wife. I am sure she was a beautiful lady, but David probably recognized some great wisdom in her. She knew how to defuse a volatile situation. I am sure she did not set out to see her wicked husband be killed by God, but she did allow God to use her to bring judgment on Nabal and to protect the anointed king of Israel.

The chapter ends by saying that David also took Ahinoam to be his wife and Michal is mentioned. In the story of David and Goliath, David had been given Michal, Saul’s daughter, to be his wife. But later Saul took his daughter away from David and gave her to another man. There is a listing of the descendants of David in 1 Chronicles 3. There are seven wives listed in that passage. These are only the wives that bore children to him since we know he had at least one other wife (Michal) who did not give children to David and is not listed in that passage.

Abigail was wise and prudent. She knew God’s plan for the nation and that David was unbeatable. By following God’s known will, God used her actions to accomplish His purposes. Oh that I could be like Abigail and have the wisdom to follow the desires of God even when the outcome is not certain.

Check out this related article: Inspiring Bible Stories about David

Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version

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