Author’s Notes: This week, we’re continuing a series of lessons on heroines in the Bible. The Bible tells us of many great women who were full of faith, courage, and conviction. We’ve already studied several of them – Deborah, Esther, and Rahab; and discovered great examples of what God is looking for in His servants, even today. This week we’ll be looking at the courage and conviction of Abigail, who was willing to do the right thing when others around her were not.
Have you ever been in a situation where you knew what would be the right thing to do, but the person in charge chose to do the wrong thing? Let’s consider an example. There was a class at school that took a final exam, the last test of the year covering all of the material that had been learned throughout the year. The teacher was to report the grades her students received. Those test grades would affect not only the students’ grades for that year, but their grades for all of high school. It could even affect how high the students would rank in their class.
But when the teacher graded the tests, she found that very few of her students had done well. So the teacher changed the grades, and reported the wrong grades. It made both her students and herself look better to have the better grades.
The students found out what she had done. Most of them were happy to have had their grades changed to a higher grade. But a few of the students realized that the teacher had been dishonest, and knew that the right grades should be recorded.
What do you think you would have done? Would you have just stayed quiet, and been happy to have a better grade? Or would you have told someone what had been done, so the true grades would be recorded? If you decided to tell someone what had been done, how do you think your teacher would feel?
In our lesson today, we’re going to meet a woman named Abigail. She was married to a man named Nabal who chose to do the wrong thing. So Abigail had a choice: she could ignore the wrong that he had done (after all, it was his decision to make), or she could just do the right thing, herself, even though it could cost her life. We’ll see in just a moment what Abigail chose to do.
But first, let’s look at this week’s memory verse. It reminds us that when we are choosing whether or not to do the right thing, we must remember that we don’t need to be concerned with what those around us might think. The one we really need to please is God. And He always wants us to do the right thing.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;”
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You, and Your plans for us. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Abigail Does the Right Thing (1 Samuel 25 )
King David was, without doubt, the most beloved king in Jewish history. But before he was crowned king, he spent many years running from King Saul, who saw David as a threat to his position.
During those years of hiding, David was often fighting another enemy, as well. The Philistines were arch enemies of Israel. And as a young man, David killed their military champion, a giant named Goliath. So as David fled from one hiding place to the next, he also had to be wary of the Philistine army, and fought against them on several occasions, when he encountered them attacking the Israelites.
It is during this time in David’s life that we meet today’s heroine, Abigail. She and her husband lived in a region that had been plagued by enemy attacks. And from today’s scripture passage, it appears that David had been there to defend them several times.
But at this point in David’s life, he had just been in another close encounter with King Saul, after having been betrayed to him by the very people David had been protecting. So David and his men were weary of running. They desperately needed rest and food. And David knew of a man and his wife who would be able to provide those things. It was Abigail and her husband Nabal. They were very wealthy, and could easily provide the few things David and his men needed. Surely they would be willing to help, considering the kindness David and his men had shown them in defending their possessions, earlier.
But people don’t always choose to do the right thing. And those who have the most are sometimes reluctant to share what they have with others. Such was the case with this man named Nabal.
(1 Samuel 25)
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.
How is our heroine, Abigail, described in these verses? It says she was a beautiful and wise woman. But what about her husband, Nabal? He is described as evil and churlish. Churlish means bad tempered or rude. We’re going to learn that even Nabal’s name even described him well. “Nabal” means fool.
Let’s read on to find out why Nabal’s name suited him so well.
4 And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.
5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:
6 And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.
7 And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.
8 Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.
In these verses, we find that David sent some of his men to speak to Nabal. David instructed them to remind Nabal of the kindness they had shown to Nabal’s men in Carmel. Apparently, Nabal’s men had been there shearing sheep. And David and his men had protected them, making sure no one hurt them or took their possessions. David’s men were then to ask Nabal if he could spare any provisions for David and his men. Nothing big, but just perhaps what Nabal might have easily accessible, and able to share.
But David’s men were not greeted with the response David had hoped for.
9 And when David's young men came, they spake 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 unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
12 So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings.
These are the words of a very selfish man. Did you notice how he said, “my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed…?” Nabal was forgetting one very important detail. We can find it in Acts 17:28, which says, “For in him [God] we live, and move, and have our being…” Where did Nabal get his bread, his water, and his meat? Nabal had forgotten to be thankful to the Lord for all that he had. If he had remembered to be thankful for it, he might have been a little more willing to share. But Nabal was proud of all he felt he had gotten for himself. And was not willing to part with even a little.
It’s possible, too, that Nabal was afraid to help David and his men. David was, after all, the enemy of Israel’s crowned King Saul. If Nabal helped David, he might have put his own life at risk.
This was not what David had hoped to hear. He and his men were very tired and hungry. They were in desperate need of food. And this man who they’d put their own lives on the line for was unwilling to return their kindness. So David was angry!
13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye 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 abode by the stuff.
What do you think David planned to do in reaction to Nabal’s response? He didn’t strap on his sword to go shake Nabal’s hand. He planned to go and kill him! And that action might be something David would regret later, knowing he had done so in anger. So in stepped our heroine. Her husband had not been willing to do the right thing, in taking care of David and his men. But Abigail had a kinder and more courageous heart.
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 unto 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 unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
17 Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt 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.
How did Nabal’s own men feel about him? They called him a “son of Belial.” Other translations say, “ill-tempered” and “worthless fool.” It was so bad, Nabal’s own men felt like they couldn’t even talk to him without his reacting in a mean way. But there was one person who understood the possible consequences of Nabal’s actions. And she did not let Nabal’s meanness stop her from choosing to risk his wrath, in order to do the right thing.
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 unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
What did Abigail decide to do? She ignored her husband’s response of “no;” and gathered some food to take to David and his men. Abigail seemed to understand that David was a man of God. And she was willing to use what she had to do the right thing, and provide for David’s needs.
That was no small decision for Abigail. It required a great deal of faith and courage. In that culture, a husband could probably have his wife put to death for going behind his back to disobey him, the way she did. And if King Saul found out what she had done, he probably would have her entire household destroyed. But God gave Abigail the wisdom to sense that David might also act against her family in anger over her husband’s response. And God also gave her the courage to do what He needed her to do…provide for His servant.
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 hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.
22 So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
Before David saw Abigail, what had he decided to do about Nabal’s rude response? David was planning to kill all the male members of Nabal’s household. But then Abigail intervened.
23And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, 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, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.
25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, 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 thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.
26 Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.
Abigail tried to smooth things over with David, agreeing that her husband was a foolish man, and acknowledging that David had every right to be angry with Nabal. But she also used the opportunity to share some wise thoughts with David, regarding his plans for Nabal’s family. Keep in mind, of course, that Nabal’s household was Abigail’s too. If David followed through with his plan, he would be killing Abigail’s family and servants, too.
So she shared these additional thoughts with David:
27 And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.
28 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.
29 Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God; and the souls of thine 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 hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;
31 That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.
What did Abigail know about David’s future? She knew God was taking care of him, and that he would one day be King of Israel. She also knew that if David took Nabal’s life just out of spite for the way he’d been treated, that he might come to regret it, once he was king. David quickly recognized the wisdom of Abigail’s words, and appreciated the courage it took for her to come to him.
Do you think he took her advice and rethought his plan for Nabal? Let’s find out.
32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:
33 And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
34 For indeed, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal! (NKJV)
35 So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.
Had Abigail’s courage and her conviction to do the right thing done any good? Yes! David accepted her gifts of provisions for his men. He accepted the apology she offered for her husband’s harsh words. And he agreed that avenging himself would have been the wrong action to take.
Abigail’s actions saved the lives of her own household, and saved the conscience of the future king of Israel. She was a true heroine!
So what happened when she returned home? Do you think Nabal was waiting for her, wondering where she had been? She probably thought so. But the Lord was protecting His servant, Abigail. And she arrived home to find her husband in such a state of drunkenness that he didn’t know what she had done; at least not until she told him.
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: wherefore 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.
We’ll never know that Nabal would have done to Abigail, once he discovered that she went behind his back to help David. He could have had her put to death. But the Lord stepped in and took care of the situation before Nabal could even respond to his wife’s confession. What did God do? He punished Nabal by striking him dead. God was once again protecting Abigail. And He had even bigger plans for her future.
39 And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon 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 spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife.
41 And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.
42 And Abigail hasted, and arose and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife.
Once David learned that Nabal was dead, he thanked the Lord for using Abigail to keep him from senselessly killing a man. He also praised God for avenging him for the wickedness done by Nabal. David was given first-hand experience with the truth that if we leave vengeance to the Lord, He will be sure to take care of it in His own best way and time. Paul says it this way in Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
So David was avenged by the Lord. And he was also blessed in another way. Who did he decide to take as a wife? David his servants back and asked Abigail to be David’s wife. And how did Abigail respond to such an invitation? She quickly left the home that she and Nabal had, and went to live as David’s wife. What a truly great reward for the courage she had shown in doing the right thing.
Do you think you would have had the courage to do what Abigail did; to put your own life in danger just to make sure the right thing was done? Abigail knew that David was the man God had chosen to be king. And she wanted to do what she could to honor and provide for him, even though it could have cost her life.
Where do you suppose she got that kind of courage? Do you remember the verse that Nabal forgot? God gives us everything we need to live, and move, and have our being. Since God always wants us to do what’s right, He will always provide whatever we need to make that happen. It may be courage that we need, to step up and say or do the right thing, even when nobody else does. Or it may be the resources that we need to help someone else when no one else will. Whatever the need, God can supply it! He just needs for us to be the willing vessels that He can use to make His will happen.
Are you willing to do that? Will you ask God, even this week, to give you the courage and conviction to do the right thing, no matter what it might cost you? Remember, God can take care of what might happen, as a result of your actions. Trust Him to do just that, and do the right thing this week, just like Abigail did!
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Abigail, and her courage to do the right thing, even when it wasn’t easy. Help us, too, to be like Abigail – willing to risk our own comfort to help others, and willing to take a stand for You. For we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Nabal was happy to send food back for David and his men. (false – Nabal refused to help)
2. David completely understood Nabal’s refusal to help. (false – David was angry, since his men had helped protect Nabal’s men in Carmel)
3. Everyone, including Nabal’s wife, found him to be wicked and foolish. (true)
4. David intended to kill all the male members of Nabal’s household. (true)
5. After Nabal’s death, Abigail never heard from David again. (false – she became David’s wife)