Women of the Word | Abigail

Abigail is one of the women of the Word that, due to the shortness of her story, is often overlooked. Yet, the impact of her life and the lessons they teach can be felt to this day!

Join us as we discover not only who Abigail was, but how her life was, and still is, impactful!

Who Was Abigail in the Bible?

Outside of 1st Samuel 25, where we are first introduced to Abigail, only a few brief mentions of her can be found in the Word, and these provide only broad strokes of her life.

This general lack of information about Abigail might cause us to believe that her importance is equally limited. However, as we discover in her short story, Abigail’s willingness to humble herself and honor God’s anointed was remarkably impactful!

So, who was Abigail in the Bible?

Abigail, we are told, was a woman of understanding and beauty. At the time of our introduction to her, she is married to a man named Nabal, who is described as cruel and evil. And while Abigail’s story confirms the accuracy of these descriptions, they also provide us with deeper insight into their character…

The Story of Abigail in the Bible

Abigail’s story takes place at an interesting juncture…

The prophet Samuel, who was directed by God to anoint David as king, has died. David is not yet serving as king, but is hiding from Saul who is trying to kill David without cause. And David, though having the opportunity to kill Saul, chose to honor God’s anointed—knowing better than to touch Saul. It is directly following these events that our story begins…

Now, David sent ten of his men to speak to Nabal—a man who was very rich and whose servants and sheep had been protected by David in the recent past. David gave his men words of honor to speak to Nabal; words to remind Nabal of all the good David and his men had done, and to kindly request that Nabal would, in whatever way he saw fit, repay David and his men. Unfortunately, Nabal decided not honor David’s request, speaking unkindly of David and his men before sending the ten away with nothing…

Soon David’s ten men returned and, upon hearing their report, David grew angry, gathering close to 400 of his approximately 600 men to go and kill all the males connected to Nabal! 

Thankfully, one of Nabal’s men went to Abigail…

“…one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife… ‘Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them. But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.’”

—1 Samuel 25:14-17

Abigail understood the magnitude of the issue and quickly gathered an impressive amount of food. Then, without telling her husband and with her servants going before her, Abigail went to seek the mercy of David…

David and Abigail by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld showing Abigail in front of David as he gestures and speaks with her.

“…when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David… ‘On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! …Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men… whom you sent. Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand… let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal. And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days. Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out… And it shall come to pass, when the Lord has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.’”

—1 Samuel 25:23-31

Abigail’s actions and words caused David to allow Nabal and his men to live—trusting God’s justice to take care of Nabal.

No time could have been spared by Abigail without risking many lives, for David even said in 1 Samuel 25:34 that, “as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!”

So, David had Abigail return home in peace, but when she arrived, she found her husband feasting and quite drunk. Knowing Nabal was in no state to hear her, she delayed telling him what had transpired until he was sober enough to listen… 

That next morning, with Nabal now able to listen, Abigail told him all that had happened, and he realized the foolishness of his actions… for, as 1 Samuel 25:37 says, “his heart died within him, and he became like a stone.” Within a matter of days—approximately ten—God struck Nabal and he died…

Abigail had expected the Lord’s judgment to befall Nabal; for she understood that to dishonor the Lord’s anointed, to not repay what was owed, and to choose harsh and evil ways instead of the Lord’s, all lead to ruin. None of it was a surprise to her. 

Yet, when Abigail asked David to remember her, we cannot know exactly what she had expected… Kind treatment to those who took care of her late husband’s herds? Generosity when David ultimately became king? Or perhaps what had actually happened… 

“…David sent and proposed to Abigail, to take her as his wife. When the servants of David had come to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her saying, ‘David sent us to you, to ask you to become his wife.’”

—1 Samuel 25:39-40

No matter if Abigail expected David’s remembrance to be a proposal of marriage or not, Abigail accepted with humility and honor

“Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, ‘Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.’ So Abigail rose in haste and rode on a donkey, attended by five of her maidens; and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife.”

—1 Samuel 25:41-42
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After going to become the wife of David, little is known of what happened to Abigail in the Bible. Yes, she turned from widow to wife of a future king, but we know nothing of what happened to her until the next mention of her, when she dwelt with David at Gath. 

After this we can easily suppose that she, along with all the children and women of David and his men, moved to Ziklag; for she was among those taken captive from Ziklag when David and his men were gone. Thankfully, for Abigail and all those held captive, David sought the Lord, who in turn, gave him and his men the strength to recover all; thus the captivity of Abigail was short.

After this, the next mention is when Abigail went up with David to Hebron, where David was to be anointed as king of Judah—prior to David’s kingship over all of Judah and Israel. And it is at Hebron that we are given the last mention of Abigail, as mother to one of the sons born to David during his time living at Hebron…

“Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah…”

—2 Samuel 3:2-5 (emphasis added)

It is possible that Abigail one day journeyed to Jerusalem after that city was conquered, or that other children were born to her—especially since the Word does not record the mother’s name for some of David’s children. However, we can only assume, since Abigail is never again mentioned. Yet this should not be taken as a sign that Abigail failed to do good or that her story does not matter, for few of David’s wives are given completion of their tales—with many even being only mentioned once by name.

All that we know of Abigail can easily lead us to assume that she led a happy and prosperous life, blessed with at least one son by the Lord and living during a time of many amazing events; such as the crowning of David king, the return of the Ark of the Covenant, and the taking of Jerusalem! 

Abigail’s story may be short, but the lives she saved and the choices she made live on as teaching tools; as reminders of the importance of honor, humility, and generosity; of walking in wisdom, of being willing to listen, but also, willing to take action. 

What Can We Take Away from Abigail’s Story?

Abigail in the Bible provides us with more than just an interesting story or character. Abigail served as a woman of wisdom, beauty, and change. She was not perfect, but she did understand many of God’s ways.

Of these, there are many that each of us can benefit from by coming to understand and implement. Such as:

  • Godly Honor
  • Humility
  • Generosity
  • Godly Wisdom
  • Knowing when to Listen and when to Speak
  • Moving at God’s Perfect Time
  • Knowing the Character of God

Like Abigail, maybe Godly wisdom comes naturally to us, or maybe humility does, or generosity. All of us have gifts and callings; yet even if something does not always come easily, that does not mean that we cannot initiate it within us. God is the key to all aspects of character that are needed to walk in our call and in perfect alignment with Him…

So, let us honor the Lord. Let us walk in humility, generosity, and Godly wisdom as we trust God to tell us when to speak, and when to listen. It is time to walk in God’s perfect timing, to truly know WHO GOD IS! It may be difficult in ourselves alone, but when we allow God to lead us, all things become possible!