The biblical Abigail had a tense relationship with her husband, but she practiced grace and wisdom, and transformed her situation.
As a mentor, counselor and minister’s wife, I often hear desperately hurting women say: “You just don’t understand. Things are not like they were back in your day.” “You don’t know the things we have to go through—single parenting, abusive relationships, substance-abusing partners, men who won’t or can’t take financial, emotional or spiritual leadership and responsibility for their families.”
“Does the Bible even speak to our pain in any realistic terms?” They ask.
“What if I have made disastrous decisions?”
My sisters, keep reading. Although the Bible is an ancient book, it is as up to date as today’s headlines. Its principles apply today, and its storylines are as compelling as an episode from an afternoon soap opera.
God is a God of compassion. Each one of us is unique and especially important to Him. And He has provided everything we need in His Word.
It is always a joy to find portraits of biblical women who are so like the women of our modern age. So imagine my excitement, when I began uncovering yet another role model in Scripture—Abigail.
She is a woman with whom we can all relate, for she did not have a perfect life, but she still emerged a winner. We’ve often heard the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” In Abigail’s life story, we find a recipe for success that will show you how to squeeze the blessings out of the bitter circumstances of life.
You can learn how to take the negatives and transform them into a life-affirming, life-giving testimony that will refresh someone else along your journey. Our heroine did just that, and there are some key lessons from her life that you can apply in yours.
GUARD YOUR HEART In ancient Palestine, women were chattels—slaves—with no rights except those extended by their husbands, fathers or nearest male relatives. Even in this restrictive society, Abigail is given a glowing description in Scripture. The Bible says she was “a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance” (1 Sam. 25:3, KJV).
Abigail was not only beautiful in terms of her facial features and figure. The word, “countenance” has a broader meaning that refers to expression, demeanor, attitude, mannerism and personality.
Abigail was gifted with intelligence. She was well-informed and an astute manager and homemaker. Her husband’s great wealth and extensive holdings meant that she would have had to provide for and entertain hundreds of people at a time.
She would have had hiring and firing responsibilities for an army of workers and servants. Her responsibilities, managing the holdings of a wealthy man with extensive lands, herds, vineyards and fields, would qualify her to be an executive of a midsize corporation in today’s world.
Because of the times in which she lived, Abigail would most likely have been the product of an arranged marriage as a very young teenager. It is not important how she acquired her husband.
We will not attempt to judge her any more than we would judge our sisters in similar circumstances. Suffice it to say that beautiful, talented and wise Abigail landed in the same boat as so many women today: She was unequally yoked with her husband.
The Bible records her husband’s name as Nabal, which means “churl” or “brutish,” and says, “As his name was, so was he.” Abigail refers to him as a “man of Belial,” which means “worthless,” “wicked” and “ungodly” (see 1 Sam. 25:25). The Scripture says Nabal acted out his name. He was his name (see 1 Sam. 25:25). His name defined his behavior and attitude. He was verbally abusive.
Today, he likely would be considered an alcoholic—a substance abuser (see v. 36). We all know someone who deals with the pain of living with a name-calling, ill-tempered man who also abuses drugs or alcohol. We can imagine how difficult it must have been for Abigail to endure his criticism and negativity.
Women intuitively understand what a struggle it is to stay positive in an atmosphere that is virtually always poisoned with demeaning words. What a challenge it is to be proactive and not reactive in the face of such harshness.
But Abigail refused to become an enabler of Nabal’s addiction or his negativity. She did not take his criticism into her spirit. Nor did she allow him to define her. She knew her worth. Abigail held onto her self-esteem because she did not see herself through Nabal’s limited vision; she saw herself through the eyes of God! How did she accomplish this? How would you accomplish this?