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Friday, 7 October 2016

How a clever woman became the king's wife

A long, long time ago, in the time of ancient prophets, there lived a foolish man called Nabal.

Nabal's name, as it happened, meant "fool". And he was indeed a fool. He was brutish, and mean. He had a bad temper that could match any woman on her period. 

Nabal was a farmer.

Nabal's wife was a clever and beautiful woman, called Abigail. She was quick witted and intelligent, and probably helped her husband become a rich man.

"I am farmer, hear me roar!"

How in the world did Abigail fall for Nabal, I have no idea. Nabal must have been good looking when he was younger. That, or he was already rich to begin with. In that case, Abigail must have cleverly led Nabal on to marry her. The Bible says that Abigail was beautiful.

Anyway. Nabal was a rich farmer. And he had three thousand sheep and one thousand goats!

The sheep and the goats roamed the hills and the country side, having grass for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nabal, despite being a fool, was able to employ shepherds to help look after the sheep and the goats.

Enter David...

David was then out of favour with Saul. He had a garrison of men with him. To survive, they relied on the kindness of strangers.

Of late, he had been watching over the shepherds of Nabal's flock. He didn't disturb them, nor did he let any harm come to them.

And then sheep-shearing time came. It was time for Nabal to harvest the wool from his sheep!

David, being an honourable man, wanted Nabal to give him something. He sent ten of his best men with a simple request: "We've been taking care of your sheep and your shepherds, so could you take care of us?"

"Who the heck is David? You?" "No, not me, but my boss...."

Nabal ridiculed them. "Who is David?" he shouted. "Who are you? How do I even know that you are not trying to cheat me?"

The ten men felt humiliated. They were the best of the best and they could have killed Nabal then and there. But they left Nabal's house and went back to David with the message.

David became angry. He swore to kill Nabal.

Enter Abigail...

One of the young shepherds ran to Abigail's residence. Breathless, he arrived panting at her door. She gave him a glass of water and asked what was wrong.

The young shepherd explained quickly what was wrong. David had taken care of the shepherds and the sheep, he said. David's men formed a circle around them to protect them. Nothing bad happened to them.

"And then what?" asked Abigail. 

"And then David came and Nabal chased away his men!" said the young shepherd. "And now something bad will happen! Unless you do something..."

Abigail gulped. There was no time to waste. She sprung into action.

Abigail gathered two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep dressed out and ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes. She loaded up the donkeys and told her servants to quickly go ahead.

Being a clever woman, she also "forgot" to mention anything to Nabal. Instead, she rode behind the men. And her men were riding the donkeys as quickly as they could down the road.

That was the same road that a very angry David was travelling upon. David was furious and he let his men know it. He swore to take Nabal's life. He rode down the road with his men, on their horses, hooves thundering, kicking up a cloud of dust.

And it was the same road that Abigail was riding on. 

"You're really a wonderful soldier of God... my husband was such a bum. By the way, can I interest you in some cookies?"

And then David met Abigail.

Since it was the only road that led to Nabal's house, they would have certainly met.

Abigail saw David first. She quickly leapt off her horse.

"My master! Let me talk, please!" she shouted. "Don't get angry over what my husband did! His name means fool, and that was why he was such a pain in the arse. And I wasn't around when he decided to turn your men away."

"May God keep you safe, the way you've kept us safe!" she said. "And may all your enemies end up like my husband, that good for nothing!"

David must have been suitably impressed. And then perhaps a flash of doubt crossed his face.

Abigail went on: "I've brought gifts for you, and your men! It isn't much, but it'll have to do. You are a great guy and you fight battles for God! And God will certainly reward you one day."

David was relieved to hear it. God had heard his cry. God had saved him from having to kill. David praised Abigail. "You have such good sense! Bless you for saving me from committing murder. If you hadn't come, there wouldn't have been anything left here tomorrow except dead meat."

Abigail smiled and shuddered slightly at the same time. She thanked him too.

And then Abigail went home.

She saw her husband having another mega-party at home. Music. Women. Dancing, and wine. Her husband was drunk and trying to walk around. Abigail went up to her room.

The next day, once her husband Nabal had sobered up, Abigail told him what she did. "See what I did! I've saved us from being slaughtered!"

But it was too much for Nabal and he immediately had a heart attack. He fell into a coma. Ten days later he was dead.

David heard about Nabal's death.

"Praise God!" said David. "That I didn't need to kill someone today. Praise God!"

And shortly after that, David sent some servants to see Abigail. They had a secret message to deliver: David wanted to marry Abigail!

Abigail, smart-witted woman, immediately got on her knees and said to the messengers, "I am David's servant, and I will do anything he wants. I'll even wash his servants' feet!"

And then she got on a donkey, and brought her five maids along. She followed the messengers and became David's wife.

"David wants to marry me? Let me pack my things first..."
She didn't know what life would hold for her, but she knew how to make a bet. And David was a very good bet.

Many years after that, David become king. 

And so it seems, Abigail made a smart investment. She  freely gave up her material possessions to preserve her life, and her husband (Nabal). She was quick thinking and she averted bloodsheed. 

Abigail was the bride that David deserved. And David was the king that she deserved.

Years later, David would hide from Saul among the Philistines. David served the king of the Philistines without fault. The day came when the Philistines attacked Israel, and David was discharged from the Philistines army. Abigail, and many other Hebrew women, were taken away by the enemy force.

David would go all out to rescue her. He would get back every woman and child who had been taken away, including Abigail.

Not bad, a real life rescue of a damsel in distress!