Abigail; Hero or Rat? – April 1, 2019

On Sunday March 31, I preached on 1 Samuel 25; the story of David vs Nabal; wherein Abigail, Nabal’s wife, does an end run around her husband to save him, their household, and David.  I called an audible Sunday morning and elected to answer the four questions here, in writing, rather than off the cuff – largely because one of them was new to me and needed a little research.

Q&A 1: Like Paul in Acts says that we are to honor God over man- Acts 5:29- is that what a wife needs to do to honor God over her husband in order to protect her husband if he is unwilling to protect himself and his family?

First, and I may be a little naïve, but it seems to me that if we live a quiet life, mind our own business and work with our own hands (1 Thess 4:11); there will be few times in our lives where our spouse will have to protect one of us from death by armed, angry men.  Second, narrative is not normative.  Meaning, we can glean principles not precepts from these narrative passages.  With those caveats. The simple answer is “yes.”  New Testament submission = “arranging oneself under” and there may come a time when like Nabal a husband is so caught up in foolishness, or, more commonly, a time nearing the end when he’s no longer thinking right, that his wife, in order to protect him and honor God, must step around him.  But, like with all justifications, be very careful of motive.  God wants our obedience more than He wants our sacrifice!

Q&A 2: What happened to Nabel’s kingdom and servants after he died and Abigail left? Did they all join David?

This is the one that stymied me.  My first reaction was to say, the Bible is silent on this note; but given that David’s story extends into 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, I couldn’t say definitively.  I can now; the Chroniclers of Samuel apparently did not deem property rights important in this case.  That said.  We do know, in fact, the only one of David’s first 4 sons who did not cause great trouble for him was Abigail’s son. He is called by two different names: Kileab in 2 Samuel 3:3, and Daniel in 1 Chronicles 3:1. He was born in Hebron and he was David’s second son. After the death of his oldest brother, Amnon, people would normally expect Kileab to become king after David. However, God chose Solomon to rule after David. Unlike Kileab’s younger brothers, Absalom and Adonijah, Kileab did not fight to try to become king. Perhaps Nabal’s lands were Kileab’s inheritance?

Q&A 3: Because Nabal’s character seems to indicate he was a fool (the literal meaning of his name), and he was a Calebite (with the word meaning dog), was what Abigail did wrong or out of compassion for Nabal by not telling him?

Clearly, Abigail’s motives were pure.  She did what she did to save her husband’s life, despite the fact that he was a fool.  I didn’t mean to suggest that what she did was wrong, but rather to say in a marriage all of our actions need to complement the union, rather than just the individual.  In cases where information is withheld like that, or “end-runs” are made NOT to protect the family, but rather to get away with something, the marriage union can only suffer.

Q&A 4/Comment: Talking about Abigail telling a lie for God’s timing. Similar to when Abraham lied about not being married (to Sarah) for God to further Abraham’s richness and stature. Other times in the old testament that happens too.

This is true.  And hard to swallow.  And doesn’t erase the fact that lying underlies two of the seven abominations God hates in Proverbs 6 and violates a key principle of the New Testament Community.

These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.  (Proverbs 6:16-19 – Emphasis mine)

“Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.”  (Ephesians 4:25)

I think the “heroic” lies in the OT narratives tend to always be protective and rightly motivated.  I mentioned Corrie ten Boom recently as a modern example of this.  Nevertheless, we should always keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking lies (unless Pharaoh kidnaps our spouse or 600 armed men are marching toward our estate because our spouse won’t share breakfast).

Pastor Scott


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