Who was Abigail? | CBE International

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Who was Abigail?

A surprising look at a righteous and brave Old Testament woman

Abigail, whom we read about in 1 Samuel 25, is one of my favorite women honored in the Old Testament. Often, the church peddles a romanticized and chivalrous ideal (which has no foundation in Scripture) to encourage women to be submissive, quiet, dependent, and careful not to make waves. Particularly within a marriage, many churches teach that women should submit to the decisions of their husbands, even if the husband is making very wrong decisions. Women are encouraged that if they will submit and pray, God will honor this and intervene on their behalf. God may intervene, of course, but often this type of response leads to more problems, including domestic violence and abuse.

In contrast to what the world’s cultures may say—and in the world of the Old Testament where women had far less equality than they do today—Scripture honors women who were anything but quiet, fearful, submissive, or weak when it comes to discerning and obeying the will of God. God consistently honors their boldness, not in being aggressive toward men or others, but in their wisdom and obedience to God.

In this particular story, Abigail is a wife of a man named Nabal who is foolish (his name actually means fool) and whose rash behavior has caused David to come with 400 men to destroy his household. When a servant tells Abigail what is happening, she immediately goes into action without consulting or telling Nabal, who we learn is most likely too drunk to think clearly. Her efforts save the household from destruction because she understands the ways of God more than Nabal does. God seems to honor her boldness with deliverance and promotion because her evil husband dies of illness, and David takes her as his wife.

In fact, David praises her for her good judgment. Her actions not only honor God and save her own household, but David recognizes that her wisdom saved him from spilling blood in revenge. He realizes this would have led to negative consequences for him, as well.

I encourage you to read this story, because it is a great message to women who may be suffering domestic violence or other abuse. Women need to understand that God can and does honor them for their courage in doing what is right for their households.

But, what has really struck me lately is that Abigail is a type and shadow of Christ in the Old Testament story. As I read the passage recently, images that I had never noticed before jumped out at me:

  • Abigail comes riding a donkey.
  • She presents an offering for Nabal’s trespass (sin sacrifice).
  • She asks David to let the blame for the offense fall on her alone (substitutionary guilt).
  • She prophecies about David’s reign (declaring the kingdom).
  • She is a peacemaker.
  • She washes the feet of David’s servants.

I had never noticed this before and thought it was really interesting to see that God included a woman in Scripture as a type of Christ. I will be looking in other stories of women to see if there are more images like this. I was encouraged that, once again, God includes and honors women in his redemptive plans.

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