Sapphira and Abigail: Part 1
One of our brave readers (Just Me!) suggested we write a post comparing Sapphira with Abigail. We thought it was a brilliant suggestion. Since I’m the newbie, I got the job (just kidding . . . I sort of volunteered). I have learned so much studying these two women. I will do my best to compare them and, hopefully, give a fresh perspective, counteracting some of the stigma they carry as wives. Here goes . . .
Abigail is married to a man whose name is “Nabal”. His name means “fool” and he certainly lived up to the definition. 1 Samuel 25 describes him as worthless, harsh and badly behaved. Even his servants have disdain for him. Abigail is described as “discerning and beautiful” (Hmm . . . a woman CAN be both lovely and wise . . .) In the narrative, Nabal plays an arrogant and moronic card, putting his entire VAST household in grave danger. Abigail rushes (“made haste” in the ESV) to save the household, including her husband. She did not waiver and did not take time to ponder. Abigail is a quick thinker, perhaps one who has had to cover for her husband before?
It seems that Abigail is largely ignored by many preachers because her actions surely do not fit into the paradigm of a submissive wife the church has built these days. She not only turned on her husband and called him foolish, but she kept it a secret from him until the deed was done AND she said this to the future King David:
And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant. (1 Samuel 25:31b)
What does this mean?!
Remember her how? Remember what she did? (“Remember that time that Abigail helped us?”) I highly doubt that. David came back later to rescue her from her widowhood. He married her immediately upon discovering that Nabal was dead. Abigail needed to be rescued from the suffering that was her life. It is safe to say that Nabal was an abusive man.
“King David, when Nabal receives what he very much deserves from the hand of God, come and get me.”
Abigail’s behavior would not fly in most local churches today. The Pharisees of our day would say that Abigail was disrespectful to her husband. To that, I would say that Nabal was the disrespectful one. His tirade against King David was meant to humiliate and demean him. Abigail had a spirit of respect about her. She certainly had no problem bowing to David upon meeting him. She quite humbled herself to the point of calling him “lord”. And when the servants came back to retrieve Abigail to be David’s wife, she bowed her head to the ground and said this:
“Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” (vs. 41b)
It seems that Abigail had a VERY good idea of who deserved respect and who didn’t. Even more, David respected Abigail as well. This is what he says to her:
“Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! . . . Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”
I do not see, anywhere, where David said, “How DARE you go against your husband’s wishes! Don’t you know how unsubmissive you are? It doesn’t matter what he does to you or others — you are NEVER to turn on him!” On the contrary, David is praising her. And (gasp) taking her advice. Dare I say it . . . . obeying her voice. The greatest man alive in her world during her lifetime looked at Abigail and blessed her for choosing the greater good — that of her survival and the countless others who worked for her husband and THEIR families. Abigail did nothing wrong by calling out her husband. Abigail is a picture of bravery and beauty.
I also do not see, anywhere in Scripture, where Abigail is anything but honored. No one is telling her to make sure she looks at HER sin and not her husband’s. No one is telling her that she needs to take the blows so as not to give marriage a bad name . . . or be a poor witness. No. They call her beautiful and discerning. And so do I. She must have been shaking in her shoes when she approached the future king. Surely, it was not easy. She was courageous.
If you are a victim-survivor of domestic abuse, I encourage you to let this story, in its purest form, wash over your hearts as a reminder that, not only have you done the right thing, or are about to do the right thing, or you are thinking about whether or not it is the right thing to leave your abusive spouse . . . but God will bless, will provide and will make a way for you.