God is displeased when a person departs from following his schedule and he provides opportunities to redirect the person to return to him. He is pleased and there is great celebration in heaven when redirection is successful. An opportunity for redirection could be voluntary and provide a person freedom to re-evaluate and abandon a course of actions that would result in departing from God’s schedule, like in the parable of the lost son. Also, God may offer coercive redirection to compel a return to him, like in the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin. We discuss Christ teaching of God’s promise of redirection and examples from David, regarding his encounter with Abigail and his forced exit from a Philistine battlefield.
We begin this study with a recap of the basis for our study series on Following God’s Schedule. As we discuss in Prayer of Joseph from the Dungeon, God at times grants a prayer with a promise to be fulfilled to fit his overall plan for the recipient; sets a schedule for fulfilling the promise; requires and guides the recipient to follow the schedule; but may not reveal the promise, schedule, or plan. He is displeased when a person departs from following his schedule and he provides opportunities to redirect the person to return to him. He is pleased and there is great celebration in heaven when redirection is successful, that is, the departed returns to Following God’s Schedule: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” [Luke 15:10].
Through opportunities for redirection, God implements his promise to not abandon those committed to following his ways by doing what is right and just, even if they miss a step. He will intervene to provide them opportunities to return to him. An opportunity for redirection could be voluntary or coercive, as God chooses. An opportunity for voluntary redirection provides a person freedom to re-evaluate and voluntarily abandon a planned course of actions that would result in departing from God’s schedule. In contrast, God may choose to intervene by placing an insurmountable obstacle that compels the person to abandon planned wrongdoing. That is, in coercive redirection, a person planning to do something that would cause them to depart from God’s path encounters circumstances beyond their control that force them to abandon the plan.
We discuss Christ teaching of opportunities for redirection, through three parables: Parable of the Lost Sheep, Parable of the Lost Coin, and Parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son). Also, we discuss two examples from the life of David as king in waiting: his encounter with Abigail and his forced exit from Philistine battlefield. The first example illustrates voluntary redirection whereas the second illustrates coercive redirection.
Voluntary redirection refers to an intervention whereby God provides a person opportunity to re-evaluate and choose to abandon planned wrongdoing. We discuss an example from David, when he set out intending to attack Nabal for refusing with ignominy a request for food assistance. David expected Nabal to honor the request in gratitude for guarding Nabal’s shepherds and flock in the field. He reacted angrily by promising to attack Nabal. Alerted to the potential attack by a quick-thinking servant, Abigail judged David and his men deserved the food they requested and intercepted them with generous supply and an appeal to David’s reputation. David recognized Abigail as a manifestation of God’s intervention, showed appreciation, and confessed and repented from his initial plan.
The life of David as king in waiting includes two event sequences during which he appeared to proceed toward actions inconsistent with his God-fearing reputation and responsibility as God anointed king in waiting. However, both event sequences terminated with David withdrawing from the initial plan. We discuss each of the event sequences as representing God’s intervention to provide a person opportunity to abandon a path to wrongdoing. The intervention could present the person with freedom to choose to abandon the path or compel him/her to a different path.
In voluntary redirection, the person is free to respond to the opportunity as he/she chooses. The intervention presents him/her with the opportunity and freedom to re-evaluate and voluntarily abandon the planned course of actions. In coercive redirection, in contrast, developments beyond a person’s control compel him/her to abandon the planned course of actions. Both types of redirection represent God’s intervention to provide a person opportunity to pull back from planned wrongdoing and seek a path to Godliness.
We discuss examples from the life of David as king in waiting. The examples are in fact manifestations of God’s intervention in David’s life to guide him away from actions inconsistent with keeping “the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” [Genesis 18:19] so that God will fulfill his promise to David. God’s guidance may manifest the same way for any person, providing the person opportunities for voluntary or coercive redirection from a course of actions that would violate Godliness. The example on coercive redirection will be discussed in a future bible study. The current study focuses on the example of voluntary redirection.
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.
Authority to Represent Family:
in Abigail-Nabal Interactions
Authority to represent family requires access to family resources and capability to mobilize the resources as needed. Abigail used such authority to mediate a dispute and forestall potential attack against her family. They faced possible attack from David and his men as retribution for her husband denying their request for assistance. She recognized the men deserved what they requested and her husband was indisposed to help. She mobilized and delivered the supplies and persuaded them against attacking her family.
The biblical account of interactions between David and Abigail provide information about two marital relationships: Abigail was married to Nabal in the first part of the account, was introduced to David in the process of mediating a potential dispute between David and her family, and eventually married David when she became available to remarry after the death of Nabal. The account provides opportunity to learn from a specific event in Abigail-Nabal marriage and from the courtship of Abigail and David that led to their marriage after Nabal’s death. We focus on the lesson from Abigail-Nabal marriage in this study and reserve a follow-on study to examine Abigail-David courtship.
Nabal was a wealthy farmer in Carmel (the same city we encountered Elisha in Interactions Among Shunammite Couple). He had thousands of sheep and goats and several shepherds and servants in his service. The event from his marriage that is of interest in this study occurred during the period that David was a fugitive from Saul, leading an approximately 600 strong fugitive army through wilderness refuges (Please see David and Saul Close Encounters for more information). David requested food from Nabal during sheep shearing and expected Nabal to honor the request because his men assisted Nabal’s shepherds during encounters in the wilderness. However, Nabal rejected the request with contempt, hurling insults at David and his men. A quick-thinking servant sensed an impending retributive attack against Nabal from David and counseled Nabal’s wife Abigail to intervene.
She took the servant’s counsel to heart, mobilized resources, and set out to intercept David and his men that, in fact, were on their way to attack Nabal’s household. Abigail used her understanding and respect for David’s mission in Israel at the time to persuade him that an attack against Nabal would be inconsistent with, and demeaning to, David’s character and Godliness. She was successful. David accepted her gifts, appreciated her intervention, and turned around with his men.
In this study, we focus on Abigail mobilizing family resources in an emergency to protect her family from an impending disaster. Modern day couples live in societies several times more complex than did Abigail and Nabal. However, the principles that enabled her to save her family are applicable today even if the details are more complicated. She had unrestricted access to family resources and was sufficiently knowledgeable to mobilize the resources as needed to address a family emergency. Her husband was indisposed to help as we discuss presently. Therefore, her family’s fate depended on her authority to represent the family. As we discuss herein, the authority to represent family consists of two aspects: access to family resources and capability to mobilize and deploy the resources as needed.
David’s interactions with Abigail [1 Samuel 25:1–44] illustrate several principles applicable to present-day human relationships.
David Reacts to Nabal’s Contempt
David was angry with Nabal (Abigail’s husband) for rejecting with contempt his (David’s) request for food. David and his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and flock in the field. So, David sent a few people to request food from Nabal during a sheep-shearing festival. Nabal not only refused but insulted David in the process. David set out with his men, intending to destroy Nabal and his belongings in a quest for revenge.