Nabal and Abigail

Bible Reference: 1 Samuel chapter 25

Heart of the Story: Abigail’s quick actions prevent David from killing Nabal and his servants.

Back Story: Abigail’s husband Nabal was a wealthy farmer. Nabal owned 3000 sheep and 1000 goats which he pastured near Carmel. Although assertive, Nabal was the Bible prototype of a resource-rich person who lacked interpersonal skills. The Bible recorded that Nabal was harsh and behaved badly. Nabal had a wife, Abigail, who was the direct opposite of Nabal. She was discerning, able to think quickly, and generous.

Before David was crowned king, he and about 600 men were hiding from King Saul in the Carmel area. David needed food and supplies to sustain his followers. Yet, at no time did David or his men steal even one of Nabal’s livestock. Just the opposite, David protected both flocks and herders.

Story Line: When Nabal was shearing his sheep, normally a time of joy and generosity, David sent men to Nabal and asked for food. David had every expectation that Nabal would share his resources with men who protected his flocks. Shockingly, Nabal refused to give food to David’s men. Nabal even insulted David’s men who made the request to him. When David heard about Nabal’s actions, he was furious! David ordered his men to get ready for battle, i.e., to strap on their swords. David and 400 men started for Nabal’s home. David was determined to kill every male in Nabal’s household.

Because of her position as Nabal’s wife, Abigail controlled resources, particularly food supplies. When a servant told Abigail about Nabal’s treatment of David’s men, she was appalled. She understood how angry David would be because of Nabal’s rude refusal of resources. Immediately, Abigail gathered food—bread, wine, prepared sheep, parched grain, raisins, and fig cakes. Without telling Nabal, Abigail put the food on donkeys and went out to meet David and his men. When Abigail encountered David, she abased herself and begged him to accept her gifts of food for himself and his followers. Abigail pleaded with David not to kill the members of Nabal’s homestead. David accepted the supplies. He thanked Abigail for the food and drink for his men. David even thanked Abigail for preventing him from attacking Nabal’s home.

Pondering Relationships:

Although some married couples are similar, Abigail and Nabal were diametrical opposites. Nabal was surly, stingy, and not able to see the advantage of working with others. Abigail was beautiful, discerning, intelligent, and articulate.

Nabal, Abigail, and David controlled different types of resources. Both Nabal and Abigail had food which David needed to retain his followers. David had followers willing to protect Nabal’s herders and flocks, but also willing to kill the men of Nabal’s household. Nabal and David should have been able to exchange resources to the benefit of both; however, that didn’t happen. Seemingly, Nabal didn’t see the wisdom of, or know how, to build mutually beneficial relationships. Thank God for Abigail or every person in Nabal’s household would have been killed!

Research has shown that individuals with many resources (high resource power) tend to rate low on attraction power. For some reason individuals who control substantial resources don’t make an effort to be friendly or nice. Others find them unattractive and unlikable. Nabal’s behavior exemplified this research finding; however, Abigail was an exception. She was attractive and knew how to manage resources. In fact, Abigail was so attractive and intelligent that David married her after Nabal died.

Reflection: Turn to you Bible and determine how Nabal died.

Copyright: August 5, 2017: Carolyn A. Roth

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