Series: Abigail: How to Live with the Fools in Your Life
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you’ve been listening to ReviveOur Hearts for any length of time, you may remember a year or so ago when we did a lengthy series on the Proverbs 31 woman called The Countercultural Woman. That series actually lasted about nine weeks, although we split it up into three different segments. If you have not heard it, it is available in our resource collection.
But you know when you think about Proverbs 31 and that virtuous woman, it’s easy perhaps for some women to think, “That’s easy for that woman to be virtuous. Look at the guy she’s married to. I mean, he loves her. He is an honorable man. He is a virtuous man. Anybody could be a great woman, if she was married to a man like that.”
Then I think of some of our listeners who write us, call us and send letters and emails–and I am so thankful for those letters and emails. I read as many of them as possible. So many of those women pour out their heart about some difficult or impossible situation that they feel trapped in. For some it’s their marriage, or maybe it’s a situation at work–a boss who’s impossible, somebody they just can’t please. It may be a situation in their church, someone they can’t get along with, someone who is cantankerous.
Maybe you have one of those impossible people in your life. How do you live with those kinds of people? How do you respond as a virtuous woman when you are living with someone who is an ungodly, foolish person?
Well, there’s an amazing story in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel, chapter 25. I want to ask you to turn in your Bibles to 1 Samuel, chapter 25. We’re going to be introduced to a woman in the Old Testament. She’s not as well-known as some of the other women that we’ve studied, but Abigail has become one of my favorite Old Testament characters. She is an extraordinary woman.
There’s a lot we can learn from her life. But not only from her life, but also from the two men who are the other main characters in this story. Now, let’s start with verse 1 which is the setting for this story. We are going to take our time walking through this story, probably the next couple of weeks.
In verse 1 of chapter 25, we read, “Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.” Now, you remember that Samuel was a man of God. He was a prophet. He lived a long, long time. He was the last of the judges. He was the one who anointed Saul to be the first King of Israel. He is also the one who anointed David to be Saul’s replacement.
Now when I think of Samuel dying, the picture that comes to my mind is a little bit like what happened when President Ronald Reagan died. He had been a great leader. He had led this nation. He was esteemed. He was respected. When President Reagan died, you remember how the flags were flown at half-mast and how thousands and thousands of people lined up to just stand and watch as the procession carrying his body drove through those streets. The nation mourned when President Reagan died. They grieved.
I think that’s a little bit what it was like when Samuel died. There was a national sense of grieving, mourning. But of all the people who were grieving when this great man of God, Samuel, died, I think that David was probably the one who mourned this loss as much as anyone else in the whole land of Israel. Remember that David had been anointed to be the next king of Israel, but King Saul was still on the throne.
King Saul was an ego-manic. He was full of himself. He was insecure. He was trying to kill David. He was jealous of David and knew that David was coming to the throne. There was this war going on between Saul and David, and Samuel the prophet had kind of been a buffer between David and Saul. And now, Samuel’s gone.
Now in the midst of that lonely, vulnerable, scared time in David’s life, we come to the next phrase in verse 1 that says, “Then David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.” Now David, in the context of 1 Samuel here, has been fleeing for his life from this mad man, King Saul. He’s a fugitive.
In the previous chapter, he had been in the wilderness of Engedi. He’d had an encounter with King Saul. Now Samuel dies, and David moves further south, down to the wilderness of Paran to get further away from King Saul.
As he’s headed south toward the wilderness of Paran, this story takes place. In this place David encounters a couple, a husband and a wife. A couple like many I have heard of and met today, where one of the mates is a godly person who loves and fears the Lord, and the other mate is a totally ungodly, selfish, wicked person.
Now as we’ve said, there are three main characters in this story. When you study the Bible, as you do character studies, it helps to ask yourself, whether it is the good characters or bad, “Is there an example here for me? Is there an example to follow? Is there an example to be avoided? What is this passage and what do these people teach me about the heart and the ways and the character of God?” That’s what we are going to be looking for in this story.
Now, the first character we are introduced to, and I want to just give you a quick overview today and then tomorrow we’ll jump into the story, but the first character is a man named Nabal. His name means fool–a Hebrew word for fool. In verse 25 we read about Nabal, “As his name is, so is he.” He was a wicked, foolish man.
As we study the life of Nabal, we see a lot of the characteristics of a fool. I want to encourage you between now and our next time together to read the entire chapter for the whole story in 1 Samuel 25 and see how many of those characteristics of a fool you can identify. One of the things we want to do as we go through this series is say, “How can we avoid becoming like a Nabal? How can we avoid having those characteristics in our lives?”
Now, Nabal’s foolish behavior evoked two very different kinds of responses from the other two main characters in the story. First, there was David. David’s response when he came face-to-face with this foolish man, Nabal, was to get provoked. He lost control. He was tempted to respond just the same way that Nabal had treated him.
The danger is that when you get around a fool, you may respond like a fool. In fact, as we get into the story we will see that David’s response was even worse than what Nabal had done to provoke him. We’ll see in this story that even the most godly people sometimes act in ungodly, foolish ways.
You may be married to a godly man, a man who really does love the Lord, but sometimes your husband will do foolish and ungodly things. You may be a woman who loves the Lord. But godly people can do foolish and ungodly things. That’s why we all need wise counsel. We need godly people around us who will help us see when we are being foolish and, when necessary, will confront us, will love us enough to get into our face and speak the truth to us as Abigail did to David.
We need to learn to listen to that counsel. We’re going to see in David a man who initially responded foolishly to this fool, he was willing to listen to wise counsel and to change his course, change his direction when he realized that he’d been wrong.
Now the third character, as we have already referenced, is this woman named Abigail. She models an incredible response to foolish people. There’s so much we can learn from her, whether the fool in your life is your husband, or it’s a boss, or it’s a son or daughter, or it’s an in-law. Whoever the fool is in your life, Abigail teaches how to live with and deal with the fools in your life.
She’s a woman of discretion. She’s a woman of wisdom. She’s a peacemaker. Her life changes the whole outlook of the story. Her demeanor, her spirit, her words, her behavior show us the incredible impact and power of a wise, godly woman’s life.
Now, as in every story including yours, there’s a fourth, mostly silent, character in this story, and that is God Himself. God who is always behind the scenes ruling, overruling, intervening in the affairs of men. God who is always sovereign. He is always on His throne. He is always working to achieve His purposes and fulfill His promises. We see a God in this story who is never absent, a God who is never asleep on the job.
It’s the same God who is in your story. A God who is involved in your life, who cares about the fools that you live with or work with or go to school with, there is a God who is involved. As we go through this story, we will gain a lot of practical wisdom about human relationships. I found as I studied this passage that there were a lot of passages in Proverbs that came to mind. Throughout this story I’m going to quote some of those verses for you because we’ll see the wisdom of how to deal with human relationships.
We’ll learn several other lessons in this story. Let me just summarize a few here. One is that God will judge evil, and God will judge evil-doers. You may have some people around you who are just plain evil, evil-doers. There are a lot of those in our country. But we need to remember that in the long-run God will judge all evil and all evil-doers.
God will avenge those who have been wronged. God will settle the score in the long-run. We’ll see in this story what Proverbs 29:23 says and that is that, “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” We’ll see the difference between pride and humility. If you have a proud spirit, you can count on it, God will bring you low. If you have a humble spirit, you can count on it, that God will give you honor.
I just think one huge lesson from this story is don’t try to do God’s job for Him. Wait on the Lord. Wait on the Lord, and He will act.