Learning from Abigail-David Courtship
David and Abigail discovered love through mutual admiration of shared core values. They met as Abigail sought to mediate an escalating dispute between David and her husband. She recognized David as a leader and future king of Israel with God-fearing reputation and mediated the dispute by appealing to his Godliness. She prayed he would avoid any blemish that could constitute a guilt on his conscience. Thus, she sought to preserve his reputation that she and others admired. David appreciated and admired her for understanding and respecting his virtues and principles. Their mutual admiration of shared values became foundation for love and marriage.
The biblical account of interactions among Abigail, Nabal, and David begins with a quarrel between Nabal and David that threatened to escalate into David attacking and destroying Nabal’s household. However, Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened and mediated the dispute successfully. She used her understanding and respect for David’s Godliness and his mission in Israel to redirect him from seeking vengeance against Nabal. David appreciated Abigail: “…for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands” [1 Samuel 25:33]. Further, he thanked God for placing her in position to redirect him from anger: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me” [1 Samuel 25:32].
This encounter between Abigail and David formed the foundation for them to fall in love. They later got married when Abigail became available to remarry after Nabal died. Therefore, we study their encounter as a biblical example of successful courtship.
Abigail’s entreaty to David was motivated by needing to save her household from potential attack by David and his men. She sought to dissuade him from the attack by appealing to his reputation as a God-fearing man and future king of Israel. Her appeal struck a chord of appreciation and admiration in David: he appreciated her as an “angel” that God placed in his path to redirect him from anger and admired her for recognizing, understanding, and respecting his core virtues and principles. He had taken leave of his values to seek retribution against Nabal, but she called him back by reminding him that his reputation as a child of God and future king of Israel is inconsistent with “the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” or self vengeance [1 Samuel 25:31].
Let’s recall that Abigail went to David to mediate an escalating dispute between him and her husband. The mediation was successful [1 Samuel 25:35]: “Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.’” Thereafter, Abigail returned to her home and husband while David and his men returned to their base. However, the mediation process established mutual admiration and respect between Abigail and David. After Nabal died, David proposed marriage to Abigail and she accepted. In this bible study, we examine what happened in the mediation that became the foundation for love and marriage of Abigail and David.
Abigail-David Mediation Meeting
As we discuss in a previous study on Abigail-Nabal Interactions, David had requested food assistance from Nabal during sheep-shearing festivities. He had high expectation that Nabal would grant the request because of previous encounters when he and his men assisted Nabal’s shepherds. Instead, Nabal refused with ignominy. Abigail became aware of the encounter and sensed a high likelihood of David and his men attacking her household. Therefore, to forestall the attack, she put together a generous supply for David and his men and set out to meet them on the way. She did meet them as they already were on the way to launching an attack against Nabal and his household.
As soon as she met David, she bowed and requested permission to speak to him [1 Samuel 25: 24]: “She fell at his feet and said: ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say.” Her presentation to David thereafter revealed she understood and respected him, his mission, and his Godliness.
- First, she recognized him as a leader and related to him accordingly: bowed before speaking to him and referred to him as “my lord,” often in the third person, e.g.: “And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you” [1 Samuel 25:27].
- Second, she recognized David as future king of Israel, though he was at the time a fugitive from the current king Saul that was seeking his life. Therefore, she prayed for David to triumph over his enemies and prophesied he will become king of Israel with a lasting dynasty [1 Samuel 25:28]: “The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live.”
- Third, she appealed to his Godliness and counseled that the action he contemplated would be inconsistent with his reputation as a God-fearing man: “…the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands…” [1 Samuel 25:26]. Therefore, she prayed he would not allow any blemish that could constitute a guilt in his conscience when he becomes king [1 Samuel 25:30–31]: “When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself.”
Through this interaction, Abigail professed admiration for David’s reputation, relationship with God, and prospects of becoming king of Israel. Further, she tried to dissuade him from any action that could blemish his reputation. She showed interest in David preserving his virtues and principles to retain his reputation that she and others admired. David, on his part, appreciated and admired Abigail for understanding, respecting, and seeking to preserve his core values. Their mutual respect and admiration formed the foundation for love.
Abigail’s husband Nabal died about ten days later. Thereafter, David proposed marriage to her and she accepted.
Summary of What We Learned
David and Abigail discovered love through mutual admiration of shared core values.
Abigail met David to mediate an escalating dispute between him and her husband. She recognized David as a leader and future king of Israel with God-fearing reputation and mediated the dispute by appealing to his Godliness. She prayed he would avoid any blemish that could constitute a guilt on his conscience. Thus, she sought to preserve his reputation that she and others admired. David appreciated and admired her for understanding and respecting his core values. Their mutual admiration of shared values became foundation for love and marriage.