Series: Abigail: How to Live with the Fools in Your Life
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In the crisis situations of life, you and I need to be women of discernment. And how do you get discernment? You ask God for it. Ask God for it before you get in the crisis.
Leslie Basham: It’s Tuesday, August 30th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Imagine that a group of soldiers is on their way to your house. Your husband has insulted them and treated them rudely. Would you go out to meet them while they’re on the war path? One wife did just that. Here’s Nancy.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re in the middle of a series that we’ve entitled How to Live with the Fools in Your Life, and that title comes from one of the key characters in this story. The passage is 1 Samuel 25 and it is the story of Abigail, the beautiful and wise woman and her husband, Nabal, whose name means fool. We’re seeing that Nabal really was a foolish man. He was a harsh man. He was an ill-behaved man. He’s now in a conflict with David who’s the next king of Israel, but who at the moment is a fugitive in the wilderness, fleeing from King Saul.
David has made a request of Nabal to make a provision for him and his men. Nabal has said, “No way do you get any of my goods.” Nabal is rich. He could have afforded to help out David, but he refused to. Now we are going to see the entrance of a woman who has the wisdom and the courage to defuse what could have been a deadly situation. Her name is Abigail.
Before we look at Abigail over these next several sessions, let me just say that I realize as we get into a story like this that this story does not address every possible situation that you may find yourself in. It’s not going to answer all your questions. There’s no one story in the Bible that does that. There is no one passage. You need the whole counsel of God. You need the whole of the Scripture.
But I think this story will give some insights into how to deal not just with a husband who may be a foolish person, but with someone else in your life. Maybe it’s an in-law, maybe it’s a son or daughter who is acting in very foolish ways. How do you deal with those people? We saw that David’s initial reaction to Nabal was to become a “Nabal” himself–retaliate, get even. David pulls out his sword and says, “We’re going to war.”
Now we see the entrance of a woman who says, “That’s not the right way to deal with this situation.” She’s going to demonstrate a very different way to respond. We see in verse 14 that one of the young men, one of Nabal’s servants, comes to Abigail, Nabal’s wife, and tells her the situation.
Now apparently this young man knew that Abigail would respond differently than her husband. You could reason with her. She would listen. So verse 14, “One of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife.” By the way, in tension or conflict do people know that you’re a woman who can be reasoned with? Or do they stay away from you and say, “No, she’s just going to fly off the handle, just get emotional.” Or do they know that you’re a woman that they can go to, they can talk to and explain their story, and you will know what to do because you’re following the Spirit of God in that situation?
“One of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, ‘Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them.'” Now, that word railedliterally means he flew at them. One translation says, “He hurled insults.” He reviled them. “You want what? No way!” Nabal was abusive, verbally abusive to David and his men. We can only assume that if he was this way with strangers that he was not an easy man to live with at home. He railed at them.
So here again, we see more about Nabal’s character. He’s an arrogant man. He’s easily angered. He flies off the handle. Those are characteristics of a fool. If you find yourself responding that way in the midst of life’s circumstances, you need to stop and say, “I’m acting like a fool.” Proverbs 14:17 “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.” Proverbs 29:22, “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.”
So here’s a man, Nabal; he’s out of control. He railed at them. He flew at them. His tongue is uncontrolled. Now, this is a totally unfair and unwarranted reaction on Nabal’s part. Nobody has done anything to deserve this kind of treatment. This is not a response that was provoked. There’s no good reason.
In fact, the servant telling Abigail what happened says in verse 15, “The men were very good to us (David’s men–they treated us well), and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them.” Nabal and his men had been protected by David and his men. David did not do anything to incite this response from Nabal.
Verse 16, the servant says, “They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.” So Nabal has returned evil for good. Now, verse 17, the servant says to Abigail, “Therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house.”
Remember, David had put on his sword and said, “We’re going to war.” He took four hundred men with him. “We’re going after Nabal and his men.” Harm is determined against our master. That’s Abigail’s husband. “Harm is determined against him . . . and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him” (verse 17). That phrase, “worthless man,” is a phrase that literally is “the son of Belial” (2 Corinthians 6:15).
Does that ring a bell with you? Belial is one of the names in Scripture for Satan. What the servant is saying is, “Our master, your husband, Abigail, is acting like the devil.” It means hellion. He’s a scoundrel. It’s translated sometimes corrupt man or perverted man or a rebel. It is someone who is absolutely, utterly wicked.
So again you see these characteristics of fools. They refuse to listen. No one can speak to them. They are unapproachable. They won’t listen to reason. They’re stubborn. Their minds are made up.
Now, as I describe Nabal does it remind you of anyone you know? Maybe you’re thinking of someone you go to school with or you work with, maybe someone in your own household. We’re going to see from Abigail some tips, some insights into responding to a person who is a hellion, somebody who is a worthless man, somebody who is a son of Belial, somebody who’s acting like the devil.
But there is another question we need to ask and that is: Does this ever remind you of you, this kind of behavior? Now, your behavior may not be this extreme. You may not fly off the handle and throw things and scream at people and rail on them.
But what about when your child comes and asks you a question that they have already asked seventeen times that morning, and you’ve been interrupted and you’re irritated. You’re impatient. You go, “No way! Go to your room.” And you speak harshly. The child didn’t do anything to deserve that. You didn’t provoke the child. You speak without thinking. You’re easily provoked, irritated, angered. You ever find yourself reacting that way?
You may not be screaming at top decibels, but your eyes are screaming. Your tone is screaming. Your kids say, “Stop yelling, Mom.” And you go, “I’m not yelling.” But your spirit is yelling. You ever find yourself being a Nabal? We need to learn from Abigail how to respond in a way that is unlike Nabal, to defuse the anger, to protect the family in this situation.
Now, if you’re thinking about someone that you know was like this Nabal, you may be asking, “What can I do? How do I respond to this kind of person?” I think of the woman who wrote us and said, “Can you help me know how to deal with an angry husband? I get so depressed, and I want to know how God wants me to handle this. My husband,” she said, “would never abuse me physically, but he gets angry about so many things, and I am growing weary of being the peacemaker.” I know that woman speaks for a lot of our listeners, not just in regard to husbands, but in regard to other fools in our lives.
So here is Abigail caught between two proud, angry men–Nabal, her husband, and David who is going to be the next king of Israel. And Abigail is a contrast. Verse three already told us that she was discerning and beautiful. Beautiful speaks of her appearance, but discerning speaks of her heart. That word discerning means intelligent. It’s a woman of good understanding, a woman who has common sense in a crisis. You compare her with Nabal who was harsh and these are polar opposites.
Abigail’s name, by the way, means the joy of my father. She was a daddy’s girl. She was a girl whose father delighted in her, but she ended up married to a Nabal, a fool. I think this must have been an incredibly difficult marriage, though the Scripture doesn’t tell us what it was like inside the four walls of their home, you can just imagine.
Rather than getting a man like her father who delighted in her, probably through no fault of her own in an arranged marriage, she’d ended up married to a man who was impossible to live with–proud, angry, unreasonable, stingy, controlling. I think of a book title that I’ve heard called Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them. That’s what this situation was like.
So what does Abigail do? Well, we’re going to see in the next session that she responds differently to Nabal than David did. She doesn’t become a Nabal in responding to the fool, the Nabal in her life. She acts in a way that is consistent with her wise and discerning character. Her behavior, the way she handles this crisis, reveals that this woman has a wise heart.
And I want to say even before we see how Abigail responded, that in the crisis situations of life, you and I need to be women of discernment. And how do you get discernment? You ask God for it. Ask God for it before you get in the crisis. Single women, before you get married ask God for discernment to show you who you should marry.
We don’t, most of us today, live in arranged marriages. You have some choice in the matter. Ask God for wisdom. Don’t just marry the next guy who comes along because he showed an interest in you or he bought things for you. Ask God for discernment and godly counsel and wisdom.
Once you’re in a situation, pray for discernment. Then remember that you can respond differently than Nabal. You don’t have to become a Nabal. And remember that how you respond is what makes all the difference. Now, you may never change your Nabal. We’ll see that Nabal never changed. But you can be a secure, confident, godly, courageous, winsome woman even in the midst of a crisis.
I’m reminded of what my dad often told us and that is, “You’re not responsible for how others act or what they do to you. All you’re responsible for is how you respond to others.” By God’s grace we can respond in a way that is full of faith, that is appropriate, that is discerning and wise. That may make all the difference in the outcome of the situation.
This series continues at the above link.