Abigail found herself in a bad partnership with husband Nabal, one that was not of her own making.
She returned home after a successful mission to turn away the wrath of David that was incited by her husband’s insults. She accomplished this with a gift of hospitality for David’s men and a gentle reminder to David that he had bigger concerns than the insults of a nasty fool. David was calmed down by Abigail’s thoughtfulness and saw the hand of God working through her. He recognized that her actions kept him from over-reacting and killing Nabal and his men.
Abigail returned home to find her rude and foolish husband very drunk. The Bible does not tell us, but his ugly personality suggests that Nabal was an alcoholic and that drunkenness was probably not an uncommon state for him.
36 Now Abigail went to Nabal, and there he was, holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light. 37 So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. 1 Samuel 25:36-37 (NKJV)
Abigail had saved the household from David’s retaliation over her husband’s folly, using quick action to appease David’s hurt pride and anger. When she returned home, she saw that her husband Nabal was drunk, and knew that there was no point in discussing the matter with him in that condition. She would wait until the next morning, when his head would be clearer, although possibly aching from a hangover.
When he woke up and heard the report, Nabal, whose name means “Fool”, was wise enough to recognize the impact of Abigail’s words. The news hit him so hard that he froze up like a stone.
We do not know the exact physical state of Nabal’s condition nor the precise emotions that had brought them about, but the fact remains that he lay senseless for ten days, on the verge of death.
Prior to Nabal’s debilitation, Abigail had been in the same position as many spouses, both men and women, who live with mean and abusive partners. These partners are often under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and are not contributing to the maintenance of a healthy and a happy family life.
In modern times, we have an organization called Al-Anon that provides support and assistance to spouses or loved ones in this situation. One of their supportive phrases is the following:
I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it – The “Three C’s” of Al-Anon
Abigail was a woman of faith who did her best to live a life of wisdom despite the folly of her spouse. She recognized that she did not create Nabal’s problems, she could not control his words or actions, and she could not cure him of his cruelty or addictions. What she could do was avert the crisis Nabal had started with David. She did this using an inspired confidence, humility, and maturity that David could not but help admire.
The problems between Abigail and Nabal were much deeper than just a difference of opinion about David’s status. Although Abigail did see David as God saw him, Nabal saw him from Saul’s viewpoint, someone to be looked down upon. This was not a capital offense, though, as David’s 600 men were outnumbered by Saul’s 3000 men, many of whom undoubtedly held a similar viewpoint about David.
Nabal’s problems were much deeper. His insults to David were but a symptom of his depraved mental and spiritual condition. His attitudes and actions were a serious threat to Abigail and their marriage.
Abigail had lived faithfully, doing everything in her power to cope with Nabal and to serve as a godly example to him. Many a wayward spouse, both men and women, have responded positively to such wise but firm living. By not enabling or supporting their partner’s bad behavior in any way, the partner is often forced to wake up and admit the error of their ways. Some do clean up their behavior and seek treatment for their addictions, turning their actions and behaviors around to live a sober, kind, and generous life. Many a family has been saved by a spouse who is willing and able to turn their life around this way.
But Nabal would not be one of them. Like so many others, Nabal was not on the path of recovery and repentance. In the end, God made the hard decision for Abigail:
38 Then it happened, after about ten days, that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died. 1 Samuel 25:38 (NKJV)
Abigail was now a free woman, free from the scourge of Nabal and free to enjoy the fruits of being the godly and wise woman that God had created her to be.
As we reflect today, perhaps you or a loved one may be in a situation like Abigail was in with Nabal.
There are resources available to help you to deal with painful and difficult family situations caused or worsened by substance abuse. One is the no-cost Al-Anon program, which is global in nature and may be found in your area. Other faith-based counseling groups are often affiliated with churches. These may offer free or low-cost counseling and emotional support for anyone suffering in a bad partnership situation. And may God bless you if that is the situation.
May the Lord lead us to an attitude of gratitude for all the good things that we have, and lead us towards healing and resolution for any painful situations that grieve us. We ask this in Jesus’s Name, Amen.