Abigail The Carmelitess

INTRODUCTION: David roamed in the wilderness of Judah for several years to elude the pursuit of King Saul and his men. For a time David's company was in the same territory south of Hebron with flocks and shepherds of a rich man named Nabal, and they provided protection for his men and animals. Subsequent events there led to David obtaining a wife who traveled with him while he was a fugitive, and her name was Abigail. When David had fled for his life from his own house many months earlier, his first wife Michal, Saul's daughter, helped him escape through a window by night, but she remained behind.

NOTE: All Bible passages are taken from the American King James Version.


A - THE ENCOUNTER WITH NABAL

1 Samuel 25 "1 And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran. 2 And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb. 4 And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep. 5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said to the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name: 6 And thus shall you say to him that lives in prosperity, Peace be both to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 And now I have heard that you have shearers: now your shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing to them, all the while they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will show you. Why let the young men find favor in your eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray you, whatever comes to your hand to your servants, and to your son David. 9 And when David's young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. 10 And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men, whom I know not from where they be?"

COMMENTS: Samuel had anointed David years earlier while he was still with his father Jesse, to be king after Saul, but now Samuel was dead and King Saul continually sought to kill David. Over a period of years David was joined by men from various tribes of Israel until their number had grown to about six hundred. They moved about in the wilderness of Judah, and sometimes stayed in various cities until word would reach King Saul and they would need to relocate. On this occasion David's company had been in a territory south of Hebron and had provided protection from marauders and thieves for the men and animals of a wealthy man named Nabal. When it was the season for sheep shearing Nabal would have been able to share profits to reward the protection his men and property had received.

Maon and Carmel were located south of Hebron, and Nabal was a descendent of Caleb, who had taken Hebron in battle, and it became territory for his family in the time of Joshua. Nabal was harsh and mean, and he was rude when David's messengers spoke to him. He ignored what David's men respectfully explained to him with a request for reward, even though they told him that his own men could verify their words. Nabal's manner was that he acted as though he knew nothing about David, but he increased the measure of his affront when he referred to David as the son of Jesse, indicating he did know about him. At the beginning of this passage the text stated that Nabal's wife was named Abigail, and she was an intelligent woman with a beautiful face.


B - DAVID WAS ANGERED BY NABAL'S RESPONSE

1 Samuel 25 "12 So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings. 13 And David said to his men, Gird you on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred stayed by the stuff. 14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them. 15 But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields: 16 They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17 Now therefore know and consider what you will do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him."

COMMENTS: David responded by arming himself and 400 of his 600 men to deal with the matter when he heard how his messengers were rudely and totally rejected by Nabal. Meanwhile, one of Nabal's young men went to Abigail to tell her how her husband had insulted David's messengers when they had come to greet him. He explained to her that David's men had been very friendly all the time they were in the fields, and they had protected Nabal's property and servants so there was nothing at all lost. It was as though they were a wall of protection both night and day. The man told Abigail that by knowing these facts she should consider what she could do because there would be terrible retribution against their master and all of his household. he said that Nabal was such a wicked man that no one would be able to even talk to him about this matter. Apparently Abigail knew that was true as she did not talk to Nabal before she took action as described in the next section.


C - ABIGAIL LISTENED TO NABAL'S SERVANT AND MADE PREPARATIONS

1 Samuel 25 "18 Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses. 19 And she said to her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal. 20 And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert on the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them. 21 Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained to him: and he has requited me evil for good. 22 So and more also do God to the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that urinates against the wall."

COMMENTS: Abigail wasted no time as she immediately began to gather many items together to take to David as payment before he would arrive to engage the conflict. When all was prepared and placed on donkeys, she had her servants set out in front and she rode upon a donkey with them, but she had not told Nabal what she was doing. As they entered a mountain ravine David and his men were descending into the same ravine, and they met there. David had spoken as by an oath before he set out that there would be no males left alive from Nabal's house by the next sunrise. He had provided a valuable service to Nabal over the past months, and he had received only insult in return.


D - ABIGAIL INTERCEDED TO PREVENT VIOLENCE

1 Samuel 25 "23 And when Abigail saw David, she hurried, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, 24 And fell at his feet, and said, On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be: and let your handmaid, I pray you, speak in your audience, and hear the words of your handmaid. 25 Let not my lord, I pray you, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I your handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom you did send. 26 Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, seeing the LORD has withheld you from coming to shed blood, and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now let your enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal. 27 And now this blessing which your handmaid has brought to my lord, let it even be given to the young men that follow my lord. 28 I pray you, forgive the trespass of your handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fights the battles of the LORD, and evil has not been found in you all your days. 29 Yet a man is risen to pursue you, and to seek your soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD your God; and the souls of your enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling. 30 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and shall have appointed you ruler over Israel; 31 That this shall be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood causeless, or that my lord has avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember your handmaid."

COMMENTS: As soon as Abigail saw David, she quickly dismounted from her donkey and fell at his feet as she bowed with her face toward the ground. She asked him to lay all of the guilt upon her, and to please listen to what she had to say as his handmaid. She was presenting herself to David in the most humble manner possible. She addressed David as her lord as she implored him not to have any regard for the worthless and ungodly man named Nabal. She said his name meant fool and certainly folly was his character. Again referring to herself as David's handmaid and him as her lord, Abigail told David she had not seen the messengers that he had sent. As she continued to address David as her lord, she indicated her knowledge of God when she said, "as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, seeing the LORD has withheld you from coming to shed blood, and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now let your enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal." She wanted David to realize that the LORD God would deal with those who are foolishly godless. Then she asked David to accept the blessing which she had brought as his handmaid, and to let it be given to the men who follow him.

Abigail referred to herself again as David's handmaid as she asked him to forgive her as she took full responsibility upon herself for the wrongful treatment he and his men had been given. She went on to say that the LORD God would certainly make David to have a sure family line because he fought for the honor of God, and evil had not been found in David. As Abigail continued to speak she gave evidence of the common knowledge that King Saul has sought to kill David. She said though a man had risen to pursue him and seek his soul, the soul of David (she again calls him her lord) "shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD your God; and the souls of your enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling."

Abigail gave even more evidence of her knowledge of the predictions for David's future, and the great level of faith and trust she had in the LORD to fulfill his word. She said the LORD would do according to all the good that he has spoken concerning David and would appoint him ruler over Israel. By avoiding his planned action against Nabal, David would have no grief, nor guilty conscience, either that he had shed blood without cause or that he had avenged himself. then Abigail made a request as a handmaid before David her lord, that when the LORD God had acted favorably toward David, that he would remember her. It is interesting to note that the name Abigail means "my father is joy." For this particular woman named Abigail, it certainly could be thought that she considered her heavenly father to be a joy to her heart!


E - DAVID BLESSED THE LORD FOR SENDING ABIGAIL

1 Samuel 25 "32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent you this day to meet me: 33 And blessed be your advice, and blessed be you, which have kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with my own hand. 34 For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, which has kept me back from hurting you, except you had hurried and come to meet me, surely there had not been left to Nabal by the morning light any that urinates against the wall. 35 So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said to her, Go up in peace to your house; see, I have listened to your voice, and have accepted your person."

COMMENTS: David used a significant order as he first blessed the LORD God of Israel for sending Abigail to intercept him and his men. Abigail apparently was a follower of the God of Israel and David blessed the advice she brought as it was certainly used of the LORD. Then he blessed Abigail because she had come out to meet him and to prevent him from shedding blood and avenging himself by his own resources. David said that just as it is unquestionable that the LORD God of Israel lives, David surely would have killed every male in the household of Nabal before the next morning if Abigail had not hurried out to meet him. Then David accepted what she had brought out to him and he told her to return to her house in peace. He said he had listened to her words and he had accepted her personally.


F - NABAL DIED AND ABIGAIL BECAME DAVID'S WIFE

1 Samuel 25 "36 And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: why she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light. 37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died. 39 And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept his servant from evil: for the LORD has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife. 40 And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, David sent us to you, to take you to him to wife. 41 And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let your handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord. 42 And Abigail hurried, and arose and rode on an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. 43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives. 44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim."

COMMENTS: When Abigail returned home, Nabal was very drunk as he was enjoying a feast like a king, so she told him nothing until the next morning. When Nabal was sober the next morning, Abigail told him all that had transpired with David and Nabal was so shocked that his heart failed. About ten days later the LORD took Nabal's life and word of his death reached David. David praised the LORD again for keeping David from avenging the wrong done to him, and for judging Nabal for his evil ways. David did indeed remember Abigail and he sent messengers to ask her to join him as his wife. Abigail accepted his proposal in her manner of humility as she bowed and said she would even wash the feet of David's servants, and she went to David. The scripture also records that Abigail had five servant girls who went with her. David also had a wife named Ahinoam from Jezreel, another town in Judah near Carmel. But King Saul had given his daughter Michal, David's first wife, to be the wife of another man while David was roaming as a fugitive.


G - SOME CONCLUDING NOTES ABOUT ABIGAIL

1 Samuel 27 "3 And David dwelled with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife."
1 Samuel 30 "1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; 2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. 3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. 4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5 And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."
2 Samuel 2 "1 And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said to him, Go up. And David said, Where shall I go up? And he said, To Hebron. 2 So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite. 3 And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelled in the cities of Hebron. 4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul."
2 Samuel 3 "1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker. 2 And to David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron."

COMMENTS: By reading all of the scripture from 1 Samuel chapter 25 through 2 Samuel chapter 3, there is much detail to be found about the years David spent moving about in the wilderness of Judah and even in Philistine territory to avoid engagement with King Saul's soldiers. David's two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, were with the other family members of David's men as they traveled about for much of that time. While David and his men were away from Ziklag, the Amalekites carried off all the women and children, but did not harm any of them. All were recovered alive, and after Saul's death, David moved all of his men and their families to Hebron. The men of Judah came to David and made him king over them at Hebron, and David had a son born to him from each of his six wives while he was there for some seven years. We have no other scriptural information about Abigail or her son after David's reign in Hebron as king. But from the record of Abigail's confidently expressed words about the LORD, and her prompt actions as she interceded to prevent David from avenging himself against Nabal, there is no other wife of David who surpassed her faith and trust in the LORD God of Israel.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

I thank you, LORD, for the record of the events that brought Abigail to David to be his wife. She was an intelligent and attractive woman, but more importantly she lived by the strong faith she had in the God of Israel. When her husband Nabal acted foolishly and would have brought disaster upon the entire household she took the course of action she believed would head off the danger, and prevent David from avenging himself rather than to trust wholly in the LORD God of Israel. She had knowledge of the affairs in Israel concerning David and King Saul, and she believed that the Lord would make David king at the right time. She approached David in complete humility, but she spoke openly to him about you, LORD, and the need for David to wait upon your plans to be carried out for him. She trusted you completely for her own situation as she asked David to remember her, but then returned to her husband and simply told him of the transaction with David, not knowing how he might react. When Nabal died without violence, David sent for Abigail, and she went to become his wife. Whenever I think of Abigail the Carmelitess I will remember how she acted upon her trust in the LORD her God for the pathway of her life. May I display a faith in my God similar to that of Abigail, for you are worthy of all worship LORD. Amen.

Published 28 June 2015