The theme of today’s message is God’s Heroes Have Courage. One of the examples of that was Abigail in the Old Testament.
For this message, I Samuel 25, but first, just a bit of background information.
The first king of God’s people was Saul. He was a very powerful ruler. He had many successes within his nation and, as a military leader, many victories in battles.
However, as time went on, Saul began to change. Maybe he forgot it was God who put him in power and that it was God who gave him his victories. Maybe there was some mental illness that crept into his head. For whatever reason, Saul began to change.
Knowing that was going to happen, long before Saul would no longer be king, God selected the one who would replace him. The second king was going to be David.
At the time, David was the youngest son of his father. Youngest, not only in age, but also in respect. He was the son who was expected to be out in the fields, tending his father’s sheep, while his older brothers got to stay home much of the time.
David is the one God chose to be Saul’s replacement. It was going to be a long time before the transition of power, but during that time, God blessed David with some miraculous successes.
The first success came shortly after David was anointed to be the eventual king. The success was the defeat of Goliath, a giant of a man. A man nine feet nine inches tall. A man from the enemy Philistines. A man who taunted God’s forces, at one time doing so day after day after day.
One of those days, David heard the taunts. He did not like it that Goliath made fun of God, so he volunteered to do battle with the giant of a man.
David was still young and inexperienced at that time. He was too small to wear the armor offered him. At least it was so heavy for him it interfered with his moving.
With just a sling and five stones, David went after Goliath.
Think of the seriousness of the situation. This is not just a nice story. There was a lot at stake. You see, the agreement was that whoever won, the other side would be servants - slaves - of whoever won.
This was serious stuff. Much was at stake. But David was not concerned. In fact, he ran to the battle line to face both Goliath and Goliath’s shield-bearer.
As David approached Goliath, he took one of the stones he had with him. He put the stone in the sling. He slung the stone.
Guess what. The stone hit Goliath in the only major part of his body not covered with armor. It hit his forehead. It did not just hit the giant’s forehead. It sank into his forehead.
At once, Goliath fell. He fell facedown. After which David went to him, took Goliath’s sword, and finished him off before cutting off the giant’s head.
Remember the agreement about the losing side becoming the servants of the winning side? That did not happen. The Philistines turned around and fled.
But the people of God were victorious. The victory was led by David, who was a hero with heart. A confident heart of knowing wonderful victories can happen when God is relied upon.
After that, David had many more victories. Many more successes. That should have been a good thing. However, the more wins David achieved and the more praises he received, the more jealous Saul became.
Saul’s jealousy caused him to turn against David. He often threatened David. Sometimes he tried to attack him. The result was that David had to flee.
It was one time of fleeing that leads us to I Samuel 25. According to verse 1, as he fled Saul, David went down to the wilderness of Paran. There seems to be some disagreement where Paran was located. Some put it in the Sinai Peninsula, which is part of Egypt. Some put it a bit farther south on the east coast of the Red Sea. Either place, it was a desolate location.
That is where David and those loyal to him went to escape King Saul’s jealousy. There some of them met a man in Maon.
The man’s name was Nabal. He was very rich. His wealth was seen in the fact he owned three thousand sheep and one thousand goats. However, he was not a nice man. He is described as churlish. That is defined as rude, mean-spirited, surly. He was churlish and ill-behaved.
Proof of that happened when David, needing food for himself and his men, sent ten of his soldiers to Nabal with the following message. “Greetings from David. Peace be to you, your house, and all that you have. We have done you no harm. We are here on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to us and to David.”
The men sent by David waited. Apparently Nabal seemed to be considering his response. When Nabal answered, this is what he said. “Who is David? There are many servants nowadays who are breaking away from their masters. How do I know but what that is what David did? Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I know not where? No, I shall not.”
With that, David’s men were dismissed. It was that message they delivered to David. A message that angered David. “Every man put on your sword,” David ordered. He put on his sword, too. He and 400 of his men set out for a return visit to Nabal, their intent to do great harm to him.
As David and his men approached, one of the servants of Nabal told Nabal’s wife Abigail what had happened - that David had sent messengers to ask for help, that Nabal had denied the request, going so far as to rail against the messengers, which made no sense because David and his men had never done harm to Nabal. In fact, while David’s men had been in that area, they had actually protected Nabal’s possessions.
The one talking to Abigail added that David was likely to take revenge. He hinted it would serve Nabal right if David did attack since Nabal was so ill-natured no one could speak to him. However, the one talking to Abigail said, “Consider what you should do.”
Remember Nabal. By the way, that name means “fool,” which is how he acted. Remember Nabal was churlish and ill-behaved. His wife Abigail is described the exact opposite. It is written she was a beautiful woman of good understanding.
“Consider what you should do,” Abigail was told. Think of it. There was not much she could do. According to the customs of the time, wives did not have a lot of rights or authority or power. To do anything against their husband’s wishes was risky for women.
Such was the case for Abigail, but remember the theme for this message. God’s Heroes Have Courage. That is exactly what Abigail had as she quickly gathered two hundred loaves of bread, two containers of wine, five sheep ready for roasting, five measures of parched grain, a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and put all that on donkeys. She then said to the young men with her, “Take these on ahead, toward where David and his men are. Go on ahead. I will follow you.”
Notice Abigail did not tell Nabal, but as she rode on her donkey, David and his men approached.
David was still upset that while he and his men had treated Nabal and his possessions well, their kindness had not been returned. His intent was still to do harm to Nabal, killing every male who belonged to Nabal.
But when they met, Abigail dismounted her donkey and fell down before David. She then spoke to David. “Let me speak,” she asked. “Please do not regard this ill-natured fellow Nabal.” Remember Nabal was her husband, but it seems she did not like him or respect him very much, no doubt for good cause. “Do not regard him and his ill-nature. For as his name is [as mentioned, his name means ‘fool’], so is he.”
Abigail added, “I did not see the young men whom you sent. So let this happen. So far, the LORD has restrained you from taking vengeance with your own hand and shedding blood where it need not be shed. Let this present I have brought [the bread, wine, sheep, grain, raisins, and figs] be accepted by you and your men.”
Abigail also asked for God’s continued blessings on David. That he would have a sure house as he fought the LORD’s battles. That he would remain without evil. That if men rose up to pursue him and seek his life, he would remain in the care of the LORD. That his enemies would die. That he would indeed be king.
All this could and would happen, Abigail concluded, with a clear conscience if David would refrain from taking revenge on Nabal.
When David’s men had spoken to Nabal, remember they had to wait for his response. When Abigail spoke to David, there was no delay in his response. Right away he said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me. Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand. As surely as the LORD the God of Israel lives, unless you had made haste and come to meet me, truly by morning there would not have been left to Nabal so much as one male. But you have stopped the slaughter before it began.”
David was happy his plan of revenge had been thwarted. He then accepted what Abigail had brought him, and he said to her, “Go in peace to your house. I have heard your voice and I have granted your petition.”
Remember the Hero Code. God’s Heroes Have Courage. Abigail certainly displayed courage. She did so when she gathered gifts for David, doing so behind her husband’s back. She displayed courage when she met David, who she knew was angry.
Abigail displayed courage yet again when, after leaving David, she went to Nabal as he held a feast in his house. A feast fit for a king. Remember he did not want to provide even some basic food for David and his men, but Nabal had enough to hold a great feast.
During the feast, Nabal’s “heart was merry” during the feast, for he was, as it is worded, “very drunk.” His heart remained merry until the next morning, at which time the effects of the wine had gone out of Nabal. It was then he received some very disturbing the news. The news was from Abigail, who told him all she had done for David and his men.
Listen to the report of how shocked, dismayed, and angry Nabal became. The report of what happened after he heard the news. “His heart died within him. He became as a stone. About ten days later the LORD smote Nabal and he died.” Not just his heart, but his entire body, died.
When David heard Nabal was dead, he blessed God who, he said, had, in the death, “avenged the insult” he had received by the hand of Nabal.
David continued to be glad the LORD had kept him from evil. That had happened through Abigail’s intercession.
David then sent for Abigail to woo her, his hope to make her his wife. Abigail was interested in that. She made haste and went to David, along with the five maidens who attended her. She became one of David’s wives.
Abigail’s story is one of courage. The reason for sharing it is to persuade each of us to be courageous because, as the theme states, God’s Heroes Have Courage. With Abigail in mind, let’s consider three points about spiritual courage. May we take each one to heart.
First, since she was married to a rich man, Abigail was a rich woman. She at least lived in some luxury. But she did not use her wealth to set her apart from what was right to do. When a man of God needed help, she did what she could to help.
It may take courage for us to help those in need. The courage necessary to get away from what is comfortable. But we need to have such courage. That way we can be heroes for God.
Second, when Abigail heard what Nabal had done, she was aware that life as she knew it was was in danger because she knew what David would logically plan to do. How easy it would have been for Abigail to wring her hands in worry or maybe run away and try to hide from the coming disaster. But she did not worry or run away. Instead, she took action to help the situation.
Do we do that when we are in danger? And no, we might not be able to go to Kim Jung Un of North Korea or any of the leaders of ISIS and offer them food. But we can pray for God’s intervention. We can pray for our leaders who are and will be making decisions on our behalf. We can pray their decisions will be good and proper. We can be courageous enough to do that. That way we can be heroes for God.
Third, Abigail was capable of knowing God’s will. In her message to David, she indicated she knew David was God’s man. That one day David would be king of God’s people. She had to have been influenced at least a bit by Nabal, who wanted nothing to do with David. She had to have known it was dangerous to help someone her husband had denied. But Abigail knew what God’s will was. She had the wisdom to know and the courage to follow God’s will.
May we ask the Lord for that kind of wisdom and courage so we, too, can be heroes for God.
Abigail had courage. Courage to do the right thing for God’s people. Courage to overcome both wealth and a nasty husband. Courage to face a future king, knowing he was a man of God.. May we strive for courage.
The closing song is the hymn God of Grace and God of Glory. We will sing verses 1 and 4.
God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power;
Crown Thy ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.
Save us from weak resignation
To the evils we deplore;
Let the search for Thy salvation
Be our glory evermore’
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee whom we adore,
Serving Thee whom we adore.
God, Your heroes have courage. Help us to have that wonderful quality - to be like Abigail, who let nothing stand in her way of being courageous enough to do what was right.
We can know what is right. You give us that information in the Bible, including telling us about Abigail. You also offer us the help of the Holy Spirit. Help us to learn and do what You want. Again, give us the courage to do both those things, which will benefit us and be pleasing to You. Amen.