David and Abigail: Lessons Learned

The book of First Samuel details King David’s rise to power. There are many incidents and actions which demonstrate his character, and fitness to be the king. There are many ups and downs, notably his confrontation with Goliath, and of course, his continual flight from the ever-pursuing, insanely jealous, King Saul.

Just as interesting as the stories themselves is the sequence in which they are told. Remember that the author / editor of this book did not report even ten percent of the action, so he selectively gives us hints and insider information on the new royal family.

For example, David’s encounter with Abigail (1 Samuel 25) comes sandwiched between the two incidents in which he spares Saul’s life, once in a cave (chapter 23), and the other in Saul’s camp (chapter 26).

In both of the incidents, David’s tender conscience comes into play. He warns his warrior companions not to harm “the Lord’s anointed,” and he even feels guilty for cutting off the hem of Saul’s garment.

The episode with Abigail, however, surfaces a different side of David, a rather frightening, dark side. Were it not for Abby’s intervention, by David’s own admission, all of the males in Nabal’s family and all of his male servants would have been executed (1 Samuel 25:32-34). Over an insult, no less! In fact, he confesses that she kept him “from working salvation by my own hand,” and who knows, maybe she even facilitated David’s next encounter of extending mercy to Saul.

What are we to gain from this? In addition to the rather obvious moral lessons, I suggest at least three things. First, David was far from perfect, and even “a man after God’s own heart” can have lapses. Second, that the human heart is a veritable laboratory of contradictions and inconsistencies. Third, that David was eminently teachable, allowing his wildest, darkest side to be tamed and enlightened by a woman as beautiful on the inside as outside, and as holy as she was bold.

“And David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
who sent you this day to meet me!'”
1 Samuel 25:32

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