Sunday, May 19, 2013

Portraits of Proverbs 31: Abigail {Part 2}

Last week, we discussed the story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25 and how she exemplifies the lesson of Romans 12:21. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Today, I'd like to talk about some of the more specific lessons we can learn from Abigail and her dealings with Nabal, with David, and with the rest of her household. We'll start with the core issue: love.
What is the love that God expects from us, and how is it evident in Abigail's story?

Love is an active choice (not merely a fuzzy emotion) that we owe to every person because we all have the same loving Father.

In 1 Samuel 25, Abigail shows love for David, for Nabal, for her household, and for God through her wise and generous actions. She would not have been killed in David's planned slaughter, because David only vowed to kill all Nabal's males. But Abigail could not stand by and let this happen, even if the course of action she took was action more dangerous to herself.

Picture yourself as a teenager going down to the basement to tell your older brother that dinner was ready, and he was going to have to stop playing [insert gory masculine video/computer game] right before he clobbered a whole bunch of bad guys. Now multiply that by 127 and you've got Abigail's encounter with a furious David. Her love for her husband and her household (I like to focus on her husband, because I think her respect for a man who, from a human perspective, deserved no respect whatsoever, is an incredible example) were obvious in the courageous stand she took to pacify David.

I used to wonder why on earth an intelligent, graceful woman like Abigail would be married to a fool like Nabal. Then I found in my research that according to the customs of the day, Abigail and Nabal's was almost certainly an arranged marriage. (Duh, Erica!) It's reasonable to assume Abigail's family benefited from her marriage to him, as he was a very wealthy man. God blessed her through it because of her character and faith, but her marriage to him (and even her marriage to David afterwards - see v. 43-44) was not ideal.

So, while Abigail did a commendable job of showing respect and love for her very undeserving husband, it's good to keep in mind that he was not the kind of husband God would have wanted her to choose. We today are blessed with the ability to choose our own mates, and we should take that task very seriously. How should we, as Christian women, use our ability to choose who we date and marry to ensure the most spiritually and physically nurturing lives possible for ourselves and for our children?

For example, carefully consider:
-Does he put God first, even above you?
-Does he make wise decisions, and seek God's guidance and sound advice in making those decisions?
-Does he love and respect you, and all other people?

Back to Abigail.

Abigail showed love for her husband by protecting him in the way she could and trusting his fate to God. In the same way that David, no matter how horrid Saul was to him, would never kill God's anointed, Abigail, as horrid as her husband was being, would never stand by idly when she could do something to prevent his death. She selflessly saved him and all the males in her household from death due to his foolish actions.

In both cases, David and Abigail knew that if Saul or Nabal were to die, it would need to be clearly by God's hand. Because she loved and respected God, Abigail, by extension, loved and respected her husband, regardless of his own personal merit.

She also showed love and respect for David in stopping him from taking foolish, bloody action that would have brought bad results for both her family and for him. Her love for God are also evident here, as she respected his will and his laws and did what she could to keep David from breaking them.

Thus, Abigail exemplified love for her mate, for all people (see John 3:16 and 15:12), and for God Himself (see Deuteronomy 11:1 and Mark 12:30).

She also demonstrates active love--her love was not just a feeling (and possibly not really a feeling at all, in the case of Nabal) but a choice demonstrated by action seeking the good of the other parties (see Romans 12:9-10, Romans 13:10, Matthew 7:12, and James 2:15-16).

Jesus told His disciples shortly before his crucifixion and death, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). Jesus's love was the ultimate active love, as He not only felt it and spoke of it, but acted on it through teaching, through healing, through forgiving, and through giving His priceless, perfect life as a payment to cleanse us from our death-deserving sins.

Abigail's self-sacrificing love is a beautiful example to apply to our lives today. In what areas of your life can you improve to make your love look a bit more like hers?

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