What We Can Learn from Abigail

Alicia Searl

Contributing Writer
Updated May 19, 2023
What We Can Learn from Abigail

Abigail basically prevented a whole massacre from happening because she came in at the right time (with food) and a gentle spirit to calm David down. Our reactions to others matter. 

Today, I introduce you to the biblical figure Abigail. Like several other awe-inspiring women, we find her beautiful story tucked within the pages of 1 Samuel. The thing I love about Abigail is that she sheds light on how to bring calmness to a heated situation. Her gentle spirit and peacemaker personality are on full display and bring a sweet lesson that is needed in today's restless world. 

So, let’s just jump right in and unlock the key to peace.

Setting the Tone

Now, before we meet Abigail, the tone and timing must be understood here. If we go back a few chapters to 1 Samuel 16, it starts with the anointing of a king–King David, to be precise. During this time, David, son of Jesse from Bethlehem, was roughly 15 and the youngest of eight brothers (1 Samuel 17:12-14). However, between this time of anointing and his official reign came with quite a few challenges, as he had to prove his worth (in man's eyes). As you may already know, David was forced to slay a giant, dealt with Saul’s bitterness and jealousy, and even fled for his life while befriending Saul’s son. Awkward. Not to mention, David had a chance to kill Saul but chose not to (1 Samuel 24:16-21).

David basically grew up overnight. From a lowly shepherd to a God-fearing king (2 Samuel 51-2), the journey getting there was quite brutal. Yet, during those 15 years of apprenticeship, and with each of his encounters, he learned to rely on God more and more. And this is where we meet sweet and beautiful Abigail. 

Abigail Enters the Storyline

After the death, honor, and memorial of King Samuel, David moved into the city of Maon. This is where Abigail resided with her rather ill-tempered and wealthy hubby, Nabal. While David was in the wilderness, living off this land, he sent ten young men to greet Nabal (1 Samuel 2:2-3). It was sheep-shearing time and a time of harvest and festivities, so people would celebrate by lavishing others with their extra supplies to show hospitality. 

However, Nabal was not in the mood to show hospitality to David and his men and, rather, decided to throw insults their way. When Abigail heard this, her precious heart acted quickly (and quietly) as she took hundreds of loaves of bread, jugs of wine, sheep, grain, cakes, and figs (basically a full-on, over-the-top, best-ever charcuterie tray) and loaded it up on donkeys to share with David and his men (1 Samuel 25:18-19).

Here’s where it gets good! It’s almost too good not to picture it as a movie scene: David, this handsome young man who has been rugging it out in the wild, donning the masculine look while most likely fuming and ready to destroy Nabal, looks up to notice this ravishing beauty riding on a donkey, followed by a parade of food. He pauses and stares. As she approaches, before he can utter a word, she bats her eyes, falls to his feet, and with all sincerity and compassion, speaks with such eloquence. She apologizes for her husband’s rude conduct and presents her gift of food (1 Samuel 25:34-27). That’s it – he’s smitten!

Right vs. Wrong

Okay, pause. We mustn’t forget that Abigail was a married woman, yet she went behind her husband to serve a bunch of men her husband told to go away. To top it all off, she spoke badly about her husband, ridiculing him in front of David. And if that wasn’t scandalous enough, she basically tells David that if Nabal does happen to die, for him to remember her (1 Samuel 25:19, 25, and 31). Whoa!

However, if we dig a little deeper here, Abigail saw David as a righteous man and servant of the Lord. Maybe this was one of her main reasons to serve him? And, while Scripture doesn’t lay it out explicitly, it is assumed that due to Nabal’s hot temper and foolish behavior (1 Samuel 25:25) that she might have been in an abusive or harmful marriage.

Now, David was also in the wrong. Generally seen as a peaceful man, he gave way to his anger against Nabal and sought revenge. But when Abigail sweetly speaks to him, it tames his temper and immediately calms him.

Abigail’s act of courage, covered with grace and peace, shows us that a gentle approach to how we react to others really matters. Even more, it matters to God! Matthew 5:9 tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

A Blessed Union

If things weren’t interesting enough, Nabal dies ten days after this incident (1 Samuel 25:38). This news gets back to David, and he wastes no time as he quickly heads off to ask Abigail to be his bride. She of course, accepts and becomes his wife (1 Samuel 25:41). Wow! That was fast. Both of them must have been waiting for this day. But, I can’t fail to mention that God actually struck Nabal down as if it were a way to bring Abigail and David together. 

So, Abigail becomes David’s first “official” wife. While it is said that Michal, the daughter of Saul, was also his wife, she was given to Paltiel, son of Laish (1 Samuel 25:44). Hmmm. Was this sinful or inappropriate? Unfortunately, engaging in polygamy and passing around wives was common, as were prearranged marriages. However, those who did partake in the use of women like this (including David) had many trials, hardships, and tragedies within their families, which brought about much emotional and mental torment. That is because God sees marriage as sacred and monogamous, and going against His design does come without consequences. 

Even still, we see God’s merciful hand in orchestrating their lives, bringing them together. Our gracious Father was behind the scenes of it all, working it out for good, as He always does! Abigail and David have a super sweet and ever-so-romantic love story—one of compassion, generosity, and passion. And there is so much we can learn from their story, especially as women, what we can learn from Abigail.

What We Can Learn from Abigail

Abigail is the image of wisdom, kindness, beauty, and peaceful purpose. She portrays the whole package of a noble women. Sure, she had her flaws, she is human, but she did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and her servant-heart was rewarded for that. Here are three things we can take away from Abigail:

1. Kindness counts!

We can diffuse heated situations with kindness and compassion. Abigail basically prevented a whole massacre from happening because she came in at the right time (with food) and a gentle spirit to calm David down. Our reactions to others matter. We may not know what others are facing or what situations they may be enduring, so when we approach others with sincerity, it oftentimes can tone down emotions.

2. Our words matter.

As Proverbs 12:18 says, our tongue is a double-edged sword. Our words can speak life or be a weapon of destruction. Words are powerful. We must think before we speak. We see Abigail chose her words wisely and was bold in throwing herself out there. She begged that David have mercy on her and her husband and then went on to praise him and predicted that David had a bright future. While she did bring disgrace upon her husband and his name, she whole-heartedly tried to make things right with David and his men.

3. Gain wisdom. 

As we come into new and uncertain situations, it is important to step outside of those situations and gain a healthy perspective. Abigail did this when she heard that David was ridiculed by her husband, Nabal. While Nabal did not know anything about David, as we see him question, “Who is this David?” in 2 Samuel 25:10-11, we see that Abigail had heard of David and knew of his anointment. She knew of David’s great courage and righteous heart. So, she took some time to think it over before she reacted (2 Samuel 25:17).

Closing Prayer

Faithful Father,

Thank you for giving us Your Word and the stories weaved throughout to learn and grow. Help us seek Your wisdom in our lives to make choices that line up with Your will and soften our hearts to react with kindness and patience in our actions and expressions. Give us the boldness to react in peace and bring forth gentleness and compassion to sensitive situations. We ask this in Your Holy Name. Amen.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/SIphotography

Alicia SearlAlicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy.  Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.