The Two-for-One Deliverance Part One
More than 20 years ago I had a friend whom I’ll call Jill. I telephoned her one afternoon, and her husband answered. “She can’t come to the phone,” he said. “She’s up on the roof.”
“What in the world is she doing up there?” I asked.
“She’s leaning over the side of the house, painting the window frames.”
“And what are you doing?” I asked. “Watching television.”
That was the story of their lives. Jill had married him before she knew the Lord and, much to her credit, was determined to stay with him. If all he had been were lazy, perhaps things wouldn’t have been so bad. But some years into the marriage, Jill discovered her husband was a liar, gambler, adulterer, and the father of two illegitimate children. He squandered money, mocked Christianity, ridiculed anyone who had faith in Christ, practiced voodoo, regularly paid a fortuneteller for advice on how to run his life, and eventually walked out on her.
Much as we hate to admit it, some people are fools. The Bible says their own evil disposition dooms them, and it’s a waste of time to talk sense to them because they refuse to listen: “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Prov. 23:9). That’s how Jill’s husband was; and that’s how Abigail’s husband was, which makes her story all the more remarkable.
Abigail was married to Nabol, a man extremely rich in material goods and utterly bankrupt in character. He was, as his name means, a harsh, evil fool (1 Sam. 25:3). She, on the other hand, was a “woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance” (v. 3). They lived in Maon, 15 to 20 miles southwest of En Gedi, but pastured Nabol’s immense flock of 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats in Carmel, about five miles north.
Meanwhile David, in his 20s, was living nearby in the wilderness of Judea with his band of 600 men, camping in strongholds in En Gedi and trying to elude King Saul who was resolved to kill him. When David happened on Nabol’s shepherds, his men protected them as well as the flock. Consequently, when David heard Nabol was finally shearing his sheep, he sent 10 men to him, expecting a little gratitude. And well he should have. Wrote Bible scholar Alfred Edersheim:
It was the most joyous time for such a proprietor—that of sheep-shearing, when every heart would be open. A time of festivity this….And Nabal had cause for gladness. Thanks to the ever watchful care of David and his men, he had not suffered the slightest loss….It was quite in the spirit of an Eastern chieftain in such circumstances, that David sent what would be a specially respectful embassy of ten of his men, with a cordial message of congratulation, in the expectation that at such a time some acknowledgment would be made to those who not only deserved, but must have sorely needed the assistance of a rich Judaean proprietor.1
But David was in for a surprise. As Scripture says, “The foolishness of fools is folly” (Prov. 14:24). Nabol’s folly almost destroyed his entire family. And, as with my friend Jill, it became Abigail’s job to get things done.
Continued next issue
- Alfred Edersheim, Bible History, Old Testament, bk. 4, Israel Under Samuel, Saul, and David, to the Birth of Solomon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), 496–497.