Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Andy Goldsworthy, Balanced rocks, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, May 1978

Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses. / And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground
1 Samuel 25:18,23

For many months David and his men cared for and protected Nabal's shepherds against the Philistine raiders. On hearing he is giving a feast to celebrate the shearing season David requests that he and his men join the celebrations. Nabal rudely refuses, and in doing so incurs David's wrath, who then swears vengeance for the insult. Men behaving badly. It takes a woman, Abigail, to resolve the situation, and to restore balance to David, personally.

David showed immense patience with Saul, forgiving him time after time for the anger and insults. Perhaps he had run out of patience at this point, and having nothing by way of a personal relationship with Nabal, figures it will be fine to respond in self-righteous anger, and put this rude man and his whole household to death. But over what? An insult to his ego; Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.1 David is characterised as little more than a runaway slave, and that's more than his manhood is prepared to withstand.

Abigail, in her wisdom sees the selfishness and foolishness2 of her husband in his refusal and wants to make things right, to sooth the wrath of David. Her response is intuitive, to protect herself and her household, or course, but perhaps also in sensing David's status as God's chosen she desires to undermine his very un-Godly response, and thus protect him from himself. She succeeds on both counts. David is calmed by her beauty and generosity, and he and his men accept the gift. Had Abigail not intervened David may have done something he regretted, and his future may have been that of Saul's: to have incurred the disappointment of God, and the withdrawal of divine status. Once again, it is a woman who brings the story of Israel into balance, steers it back on course. It that sense Abigail is as much a prophet as Samuel, as great a judge as Gideon.

1 1 Samuel 25:10
2 The name Nabal translates as 'fool', probably a nickname given behind his back, for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him, 1 Samuel 25:25