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Sermon : Sodom and Gomorrah

1 Samuel 25

But David's a reasonable and merciful man. I mean, he let Saul live though he easily could've killed the king, usurped the throne, and been done with his troubles.

The ten men reach their camp and break the news to David.

And David said, 'The fool will bring calamity upon himself. We have enough rations, let's call on favours elsewhere.'

Oh. No, wait.

David said, 'I will go down myself and speak plainly to this gentlemen, and maybe he will come to his senses.'

Uh. No, no. Hold on.

David the merciful, David our hero, burns red with anger and shouts, 'Get your swords! Bring me my own! Let's go kill this dog! After all that I've done for him he insults me and rejects me!'

So, David takes with him not the ten men he initially sent, but four hundred men to... renegotiate.

And as David and his army march piously up and down the hills a servant of Nabal's estate informs Abigail, the lady of the household, what's about to go down.

That is, the servant tells Abigail that David and his men – who have been very friendly and helpful to their household up until this point – is on his way to take back his kindness with the edge of a sword.

No, sorry — with the edge of four hundred swords.

And the dramatically understated disaster that is approaching is all her husband's fault. Her husband who is a nasty, wicked fellow.

So, Abigail gathers a load of fine food and wine and heads over to meet the coming storm head on.

Now just imagine this. You have four hundred men fueled by adrenaline and excitement and rage marching one way to exact a vengeful massacre.

And towards them comes a woman with some donkeys, and a few servants ahead of her. I mean, this isn't exactly the makings of an epic superhero showdown Hollywood loves.

But this is how it's going to happen, and while David is calling down a curse upon himself should he leave any male alive before the next morning, Abigail arrives, jumps off her donkey, and falls before David, bowing at his feet.

Now this would be a scene to behold. A sea of soldiers halted in their tracks by a prostrate woman. There would be murmuring amongst the ranks.

But the confused silence would be broken by the words of this woman, pleading.

'Put all the brunt of your vengeful anger upon me, but first listen to what I have to say.'

And the first thing she says is what we know from the beginning of the chapter. Nabal is a hard man and a wicked one, evil in all his doings. He's a straight up fool, just like his name means.

And in Hebrew 'fool' doesn't just mean a dunce or an ignorant nitwit. No, it means a 'vicious, materialistic, and egocentric' weirdo.7 And she tells David this nonchalantly, brushing off her husband's deep stupidity matter of factly.

Abigail's speech is full of wise and sincere words, and effectively stops David hard in his tracks. Her speech makes him rethink entirely his course of action.

One of the most intriguing features of Abigail's speech is how positive it is — and this serves as yet another contrast between her and her husband. Abigail's speech constantly uplifts David — it is filled with humility, subtle and not-so-subtle praise, and with prophetic insights. Unlike Nabal's response which unnecessarily cut David down, and was filled with self-centered rhetoric.

Despite the fact that this is all we know of Abigail, there's a lot packed into her one little story.

But her centrality of the story and the way she is spoken of is a testament to her importance. In this one little instant, she is able to prevent David from unnecessarily committing a grave sin. We know from later in David's story that God in fact disapproves of bloodshed, denying David at the end of his life the right to build the temple because he had taken too many lives.

Both Abigail and David agree at the end of the passage that Abigail's presence in the narrative is a divine intervention. At this point Abigail's gender wasn't an issue because she spoke with such divine force and wisdom that David had no choice but make a 180.

Abigail here is presented to us as a hero greater even then David himself.

Of the three characters in our story, she is the only one who has any sense about her and is level-headed. And she is the only one who seems to act with divine intention. Her humble boldness is in direct contrast to David's rash and animalistic decision — a decision that would've led to the deaths of many. But Abigail's words and actions were salvific. And they served to remind David of his true identity.

Abigail's submission is noteworthy, even if only to turn our understanding of submission on its head. She isn't submissive in the sense we would think – she doesn't sit back and do as she's told — she doesn't conduct herself under 'blind obedience or subservience.'8

  1. Mulzac, 'The Role of Abigail,' 46.
  2. Marg Mowczko, 'Abigail: A Bible Woman with Beauty and Brains,' New Life. http://newlife.id.au/christian-living/abigail-1-samuel-25/