You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2007.

This is one of 4 different studies I’m doing right now (yikes!!), and it’s neat when truths discussed cross over.  One thing I remember from another church that we attended b4 MZ was the use of corporate confession prayers.  It was printed in the bulletin, and we all read it together and it said stuff like “we thought this way” or “we have lied….” or whatever.  I remember sitting there and not reading it, thinking, “Well, I haven’t done that!”  I totally didn’t get it until later when I read some of David’s confessions, that he confessed the sins of the people as though they were his own.  (Yes, I am going somewhere with this!)  I realized that if David did it, then so could/should I!

 This really struck home w/me last Thursday regarding Abigail.  For the purpose of saving her household, she said, “Let this iniquity be on me” so that she could confess the sin and seek forgiveness for it.  Wow.  So then what does that mean for us?  In certain gatherings of fellow believers, they have a time of Corporate Confession.  Now I think that’s good!  Should we be encouraging that with each other in our private prayer life?  At group?  At our worship services?  I think I’m wandering all around something here, but just trying to figure it out.  Hmmmm

Have a blessed weekend!

Our second meeting on Thursday, Feb 15th, although smaller than our first night, brought together lots of dialogue and revelations.

I Samuel 25: 19 – 44

We all agreed that Abigail didn’t tell her husband of her plan to intervene because he would probably stop her and be quite angry as well. This moment of NOT telling her husband was a specific choice to disobey (by omission) her husband’s desires. Her belief in the right thing to do (and undoubtedly her relationship with God) gave her the courage to step out and act on her own. Many conservative writers have tried to “talk away” this truth but I do not think that is wisdom. We, as women, need a full range biblical examples. This example shows that wives, even “Old Testament” women, are not obliged to sit back in the face of evil or foolish judgments or actions.

This is not to say that Abigail chose this way easily. We still see her as “human” and undoubtedly she journeyed to face an angry David with some fear and doubt. But, we also believe she was filling the role of the Prov. 31 woman in her household and was determined to do what she could do to save them.

When Abigail finally reached David’s entourage, she immediately prostrated herself before him. She showed him right away that she was coming to him in full surrender. We had quite a discussion over vs. 24 where she says, “… Upon me alone let this guilt be…” This feels very uncomfortable, if taken at face value. One possibility is that there is purpose and maybe even power in “accepting” guilt of a husband’s actions… after all, we are told in Genesis 2:24, that a husband and wife are “one flesh.” Is it possible that a mate can do this and as a result, come before the Lord and call on the power of the God to forgive this sin? This seems like an exciting possibility until we were confronted by some of the deeply painful sins like sexual abuse and pornography. How can a mate even begin to “tolerate” such a burden?

In the end, we all decided to travel a different understanding of this passage and assume that Abigail was being “clever” in her language to put off David’s anger. In fact, it could be called a “girl trick” because many of us have used it. She goes on then to actually insult Nabal, calling him a fool. Simons says, “A simple person does evil because he does not know wisdom; a fool does evil things because he hates wisdom.” In other words, a fool is one who “chooses” to sin. I believe Abigail was just confirming that Nabal showed, again, his true character. And as such, David shouldn’t “lower” himself to that level. She may even be implying, that she, who is wiser than Nabal “should” have seen the inevitability for what happened at the camp and she accepts guilt for not stepping in sooner…. perhaps. Something to consider.

With verses 26 – 31, we have a beautiful passage where Abigail appeals to David on several levels. First of all, she immediately declares, as though David as already decided, that now, David has been prevented from avenging with his own hand and taking on unnecessary “bloodguiltiness.” She also implies that Nabal deserves to die for his actions and she includes in her “blessing” that all of David’s enemies should have the same fate as Nabal should (Wesley). She continues to speak blessings on all that God has in store for David’s future.

This blessing touched us all on several levels. As one of us put it, she exemplified how a blessing of this kind is actually “speaking healing into wounded places.” We all agreed that there is great power in these blessings and in our own lives, we should be doing the same. Think about the possibilities of speaking over our children, our mates, our friends, and even our enemies, words of hope and expected manifestations of right choices. This is not to be mistaken with the “name it and claim it” mentality, but a verbal anointing. We also agreed that these words were God inspired. We cannot forget that Abigail was aware of God’s plan for David…. she was in tune with the times and she was in tune with the Lord.

And lastly, she says, “remember me.” This small request comes with an expectation …. first of all, that her words are true and when David goes on to become the King, that he remember this day when a woman made a difference in his life.

Richmond summarizes that Abigail appeals 1) to David’s conscience to live free of blood guilt, 2) to forgiveness, since we all have choices in how we live and act, and 3) to faith, since David must rely on God to move powerfully in his life. Interesting to me, that David, my “saving” himself with a wise choice, he saves many lives.

David is checked. He recognizes God in Abigail’s words and relents, for he even says in vs 34, “… God… Who has prevented me from hurting you…”

I also believe that Abigail came to David with a symbolic atonement for the actions of her husband. She offered the lambs and goats… and she offered herself. If David had not relented, he could have chosen to kill her and I believe she was offering herself in lieu of her household.

Once Abigail returns to the camp, she does not tell her husband until the next day, since he was too drunk to even hear her story. Nabal’s end is told briefly, he is first struck “as a stone” which we interpreted as a stroke and 10 days later, he died.

Does God strike Nabal for Abigail’s sake (for her actions) or for David’s sake? In the end, we decide it was for David, his anointed, knowing that by fulfilling Abigail’s prophetic words, she would benefit as well.

In the final verses (vs 41), after David has called her to him to be his wife, she says, “let your handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” We had several interpretations, but the one I liked best was that Abigail was confirming that she would serve his household faithfully just as she served Nabal’s household (and as noted earlier, she was clearly beloved by that household).

Now, there is only one final question… How do we respond to this story? How do we apply all these ideas and truths to our own lives? What is God saying to us? I have asked the group to comment on real life applications… for in my mind, if we don’t take the stories to heart, they remain only that, stories.

We are all “walking stories.” We are an expression of God in this world. And there is a reason that Abigail’s story is captured in scripture.

Just a quick update that we’ll still be meeting tonight at our regular time, 7-9 pm. Bring a friend… 🙂

I Samuel 25:1-18
Before we could really start to dig into Abigail’s story, we did a quick review of the immediate circumstance, time period, and history. David had already been anointed to be king and Saul had been chasing him, but they came to a truce over the matter of the cut robe and David passed up the opportunity to kill Saul. (I Samuel 24). We talked about the Wilderness of Paran and circumstances that might have brought Abigail to marry Nabal, a cruel and evil man. We wondered why being a “calebite” had become a negatively charged term … something to pursue another day. From Brian Morgan (Peninsula Bible Church, 1994), we learned that Nabal is a “composite’ of the grouping of 5 kinds of fools recognized by ancient Hebrews. Above all, “He is the fool who believes there is no God.” Nabal is the selfish, self-centered one, married to Abigail, known for her beauty and intelligence. What WAS it like to live under his roof?

Caught in the culture of arranged marriages and dowries exchanged by “deputies,” Abigail probably had no choice in the matter. We theorized that Abigail may very well have come from further afield, a different community, where the “true” nature of Nabal was not known. In any case, she was married to a man that no one could abide… not even his own servants. He was a wealthy man, but perhaps his wealth was but a show… within, he was miserly and poor of spirit.

And so, this marriage we understand, but what of modern times when women of today can “choose” and yet they enter marriages with extremely difficult partners. Through our discussion, we captured a few of those reasons such as youthful foolishness, wanting to be needed, believing that the man would change after marriage, believing his home situation is causing his bad behavior and once out of that situation, all will be well; or just choosing the familiar because of the woman’s own past or family unit being dysfunctional.

The time of sheep shearing is a festive time. I was surprised to discover that meat is primarily eaten during “festive” times such as a sheep shearing or holiday. As a result, it made more sense why David would choose this time to ask for provisions from Nabal’s household. And he was expecting plenty, since he (David) sent 10 men to make the request. The request was generlaly humble, although there are several writers who have speculated that his request was almost a “mafia-esque” racket of provisions for protection. I think it was common back then nonetheless.

Nabal’s response was unexpected. First of all, the mean were asked to “wait” even before an answer was made. This waiting was an immediate slap on the face. I was reminded of another group that were forced to wait, Joseph’s brothers (Gen 42) which caused them much consternation. Culturally, it was known what it means to make them wait. Once Nabal does come on the scene, his answer is totally insulting. Does he know that David has been anointed? None of us were sure, but it certainly seems implied that Nabal does not “recognize” David’s claim to the throne calling him a “runaway.”

How does David react when he hears this response? Daivd “reacts” in his typical “hotheaded” way. Interesting, that once Samuel has died and David and his 600 men begain their sojourn in the Wilderness (the same wilderness where the Israelites wandered for 40 years), that David did not receive prophecy or Godly direction. This was a time for David’s character to be tried. This is often the way that God seems to operate. We are given a gift, a blessing and then, I believe God gives us opportunity to operate within that gift or blessing and discover its impact on our lives. I would not say that David is responding well here. He is “over-reacting.” Despite the fact that Nabal is a jerk and refuses aid, this cannot warrant the plan to destroy Nabal’s entire household. David is taking 400 men with him… this is to be a complete slaughter.

We discussed all this because it’s important to put Abigail’s response in perspective.

When Nabal’s servants come to Abigail, clearly they are afraid and even more amazing, they EXPECTED that Abigail could do something about this situation. But what? We discussed that, more than likely, they expected Abigail to intervene with Nabal himself. Perhaps she has calmed him in the past…

Instead, Abigail takes action.. and this is where we will take up the story next week. My parting thoughts to the group were that this story has many lessons, but certainly, among them is that Abigail was ready and “knew what to do.” She was able to act quickly, because she was, undoubtedly, in relationship with God… she knew the law, she was intelligent and could read the signs… she knew what would happen if she did NOT act. Can we say the same? No matter WHAT our situations are at home, we need to be ready. We live in precarious times. We live in a time of terror and evil. If tragedy threatens, if our families are threatened… will we know what to do?

Here are some questions to think about for next week:

  • Why did Abigail withhold her plan from her husband?
  • How would you describe David’s mood? How would you feel about confronting someone in this state of mind?
  • What about doubts?
  • Why does Abigail take the blame for Nabal’s behavior?
  • Is Abigail’s story a tale of submission, obeisance, or something else?
  • What does the Bible say about Revenge?
  • Did Abigail calculate her chances? What in David’s character was on her side?
  • What does David recognize about Abigail?
  • Why didn’t Abigail tell her husband once she was successful?
  • Was it God who acted “for” Abigail?
  • What does this story tell you about YOUR situation, whatever it may be?