Abigail: A Courageous and Clever Commander

In 1 Samuel 25 we are told the account of Nabal, Abigail’s husband refusing to provide David and his army with food even though they had been protecting Nabal’s shepherds and flock while he was in Carmel shearing his sheep. David becomes angry and decides to retaliate. When Abigail finds out what has happened, she intervenes and saves the day.

Abigail is commanding. When Abigail is informed of Nabal’s foolishness in refusing to provide David and his army food, she immediately starts issuing commands and takes decisive action to try and rectify Nabal’s error. She has food and wine loaded onto donkeys and sent ahead of her to David and his men. Her men listen to her and never question her authority. Additionally, the text tells us that Abigail did not consult her husband, in fact, she did not even bother to tell him what she was doing (1 Sam. 25:18-19). We can see that Abigail is a woman who gives orders and makes decisions, not just for herself and other women, but she is a leader of men as well.

Abigail is courageous. Abigail sets out to confront David and she comes before him and 400 of his men all armed with swords! Yet, she does not back down, she bows before David and then takes the blame for the insult to David and his men. Her life is in David’s hands and she does not give excuses or tell lies, but she asks that the guilt of her husband’s refusal be placed solely upon her. Not only is Abigail extremely courageous, but she also demonstrates an admirable character. She does not wait until David arrives at her home, she goes to him, faces his anger, and asks for forgiveness (1 Sam. 25:23-25). Abigail is an example for all of us. How many of us, when confronted about a wrongdoing, that we did, will make excuses to justify ourselves? Abigail does not do this.

Abigail is clever. While her husband is portrayed for his foolishness, Abigail is anything but foolish. She knows that she needs to avert David before he acts out against her husband and those who live on their property. Furthermore, she demonstrates great strategic skill in her discourse with David. She affirms that he is God’s anointed and is to become king; she reminds David of how he has not killed Saul, but is leaving vengeance to God; and she affirms that leaving Nabal in God’s hands will keep the guilt of bloodshed from David. Her argument was so brilliantly woven that David “heeded” her advice. (1 Sam. 25:26-35).

This account of Abigail’s actions and words show that she is a leader to emulate. She demonstrates that women are capable and competent to lead. In fact, David is impressed with her, enough so that when he finds out that Nabal has died, he sends a request for Abigail to marry him (1 Sam. 25:39-42). Women are as courageous as men, as clever as men, and as capable to command as men.

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