Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Speaking Up and Shutting Up

This is an excerpt from "The Feast," the Bible Study that I'm organizing for the Sunday School class that I teach. I know that I don't write nearly as many posts as I used to, but it isn't because I'm not writing. I wanted to give you a look at what I've been up to. If you are looking for more information about "The Feast," click here.

I have a difficult time knowing when to speak and when to keep my mouth shut.  I remember being at the hair salon when I was thirteen. I don’t know how we got there, but I felt the need to tell everyone in the room that, “My dad is completely different guy when he isn’t behind the pulpit.” What I meant was that my dad is at his most interesting when he is preaching. It’s almost like there’s some dormant part of his personality that wakes up as he preaches. As my mother later informed me, it sounded like I was saying that my father is giant hypocrite who doesn’t live the way that he teaches others to live. Oops! Though I’ve learned many lessons in inter-personal communication since I was thirteen, I still spend large amounts of time debating when to speak and what to say, and I often get it wrong.

          Maybe that’s why the story of Abigail is one of my favorites. In 1 Samuel 25, we see a woman who speaks up with boldness and grace, and earns a position as queen. As I re-read her story this week, I suddenly realized that I had never understood the full impact that Abigail had on David.

          Just as a reminder, Abigail is a beautiful and intelligent woman who is married to a “harsh and evil” man named Nabal. David protected Nabal’s shepherds as they sheared Nabal’s flock, but the rich Nabal refuses to share his food and wine with David and his men on a feast day. David reacts violently when his servants return with word of Nabal’s stinginess. David takes 400 of his men to attack Nabal, with the intention of killing every man in his household. That’s when Abigail enters the scene. She takes food and wine and rides out to David, just as he is speaking of his violent intentions toward the house of Nabal. She gets off of her donkey, bows with her face to the ground, and says,

"The guilt is mine, my lord, but please let your servant speak to you directly. Listen to the words of your servant.  25 My lord should pay no attention to this worthless man Nabal, for he lives up to his name: His name is Nabal, and stupidity is all he knows. I, your servant, didn't see my lord's young men whom you sent. 26 Now my lord, as surely as the LORD lives and as you yourself live, it is the LORD who kept you from participating in bloodshed and avenging yourself by your own hand. May your enemies and those who want trouble for my lord be like Nabal. 27 Accept this gift your servant has brought to my lord, and let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28 Please forgive your servant's offense, for the LORD is certain to make a lasting dynasty for my lord because he fights the LORD's battles. Throughout your life, may evil not be found in you…” 1Samuel 25:24-28 CSB

           David blesses Abigail for her discernment and refrains from killing Nabal. When Abigail tells her husband what happened, he becomes paralyzed, and he dies ten days later. When David hears about Nabal, he blesses the LORD for restraining him from doing evil, and he sends for Abigail to take her as his wife.

          It’s a pretty cool story, but this week I saw something that I hadn’t noticed before. At the end of 1 Samuel 25, we see that David also took Ahinoam as a wife, but we don’t hear her story. Why is this story more significant that Ahinoam’s? I believe that we see the reason in the next chapter.

          David and his follower Abishai go into Saul’s camp, where they find the king asleep. Abishai asks David if may kill Saul with the spear that Saul has stuck in the ground next to his head. David’s response is very interesting to me.

David added, "As the LORD lives, the LORD will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 However, because of the LORD, I will never lift my hand against the LORD's anointed. Instead, take the spear and the water jug by his head, and let's go."

1 Samuel 26:10-11 CSB

           David seems completely confident that the LORD is going to handle Saul. Just last chapter, David intended on taking matters into his own hands with Nabal, but something has changed since then. It appears that the LORD used the incident with Nabal to prove to David that He is going to bring about justice. In many ways, Nabal is very similar to Saul. He is a wicked man who is very powerful and rich, and who doesn’t recognize the kindness that David has shown him. God used this episode of David’s life to intervene before David took matters into his own hands. God saw the temptation that David would face as he stood over King Saul, and God stepped in through a woman named Abigail.


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His Jules said...

Hannah - just wanted to thank you once again for "the Feast" I enjoy it so much. I fully expect to be sitting in an arena one day listening to you teach - Good Stuff!!

WingAbouts said...

Thank you for the refreshing lesson on David ad Abigail! My daughter and her husband has chosen Abigail for their daughter :-) I also am a Sunday School teacher and have a blog. Small world, huh? I found you by pressing the "next blog" button. I love that little tool, it leads me to so many wonderful folks. God bless you. - WingAbouts