On May 16th Shawn and I will celebrate our thirty-sixth anniversary. In that time God has reminded me repeatedly to appreciate her wisdom, talents, strengths and abilities. Her influence is positive and purposeful. My approach to our marriage must reflect a spiritual awareness that I view her presence and the blessings she brings to the relationship as originating with God. Proverbs says it best.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD.
Proverbs 18:22 NASB
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.
What does this look like in practice? Join me for a journey back in time to a Judean wilderness.
The morning began exactly as countless others. David, the newly anointed king of Israel, prepared for another day on the run. He had settled into a discouraging routine—hole up in an out of the way place, survive by wits, live off the land, sleep rough as the British say, and high-tail to a new location once he was discovered.
The reigning king, Saul, continued his hot pursuit by tracking down every lead on David’s possible location. Saul’s determination to squash the upstart and keep the throne led to the promise of generous rewards for anyone who delivered the innocent fugitive. The potential wealth offered great temptation to those who thought riches outweighed integrity.
David remained a loyal subject though, even restraining his hand and those of his men when Saul stumbled into a cave where they hid. One thrust with the sword David captured from the vanquished Philistine giant, Goliath, and Saul would be history. The unstable king, shaken by the close call, returned home for a season granting David a temporary reprieve.
A churlish and obstinate man, Nabal, pushed David’s button. Nabal, whose name means fool, enjoyed the protection of David and his men as they kept the flocks and farms safe from bandits. Protocol, decency, and kindness dictated that Nabal share his provisions with David. David sent an entourage to collect along with his personal wishes for Nabal’s continue success and long life.
Nabal gorged greedily on a heaping portion of wealth but lacked the character to steward that wealth. He arrogantly spurned David’s gesture, and sent David’s men home with stinging insults. No food. No water. No relief from the depravation a wilderness offers in abundance.
David’s frustration erupted in an uncharacteristic desire to return Nabal’s insults with overwhelming force. The moral code which guided David’s life collapsed under the load of emotions. David had murder in his heart, and he commanded the necessary forces to erase Nabal and all he owned. The battle would be brief, one-sided, and decisive.
Enter Abigail, Nabal’s wife. Scripture shares that she was intelligent and beautiful. With a lavish gift of food she intersected David’s troops and bowed before him in the manner of a loyal subject respecting her king. David, curious about the lady’s intent, signaled his men to halt.
Abigail apologized for the shabby treatment of David’s ambassadors and took the blame on herself. She had David’s attention, but would she be able to broker a resolution?
Abigail’s words cooled David’s angry heart and turned his thoughts toward the Lord. She reminded him of who he was and what he was about. She shared her confidence that God in His time would give the throne to David. She used the respectful title “my lord” over and over.
David acknowledged that Abigail was a messenger from God and wisely chose to leave Nabal in God’s hands.
Scripture gives many examples of godly women who exerted influence to bring about good. Consider Abigail’s actions in this narrative (1 Samuel 25).
- Abigail risked all.
- Rather than fret, she acted to prevent the disaster.
- She prepared food for David and his men. Hungry men have little interest in intense discussions.
- Abigail respected David and acknowledged his future role as king.
- She spoke David’s language as she implored that God would fling David’s enemies as a stone out of a sling. David certainly grasped the imagery.
- Abigail urged David to do right. The record does not include a fountain of tears or unpleasant nagging. With God empowering her speech she pointed out the plusses and minuses in a way that kept David listening.
Abigail’s influencing words passed through David’s anger and touched his heart.
So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”
1 Samuel 25:35
Within ten days Nabal died, possibly from a stroke.
David sent a marriage proposal to Abigail, the godly woman who influenced his actions at a critical moment. No doubt captivated by her beauty he also recognized her intelligence and abilities. Would she agree to become his wife?
Then Abigail quickly arose, and rode on a donkey, with her five maidens who attended her; and she followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
I Samuel 25:42
Abigail whispered two words into that donkey’s ear, “Giddy up!”
Now, pause and contrast the two men in Abigail’s life. One, Nabal, ignored the intelligence Abigail possessed, spurned the idea of involving her in his decisions, lived a self-centered life and took her for granted. The second, David, listened to Abigail’s counsel as though she represented God. He recognized that her worth included much more than external beauty.
As I step into the next thirty-six years of marriage God’s expectation for the degree of love I demonstrate toward Shawn has not changed. His plan is clear.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
Love her. Cherish her. Treasure her. Respect her. And for goodness sakes, don’t be a Nabal. Be a David and listen to her.