One of the things I enjoy most about prison ministry is that there is not a lot of superficial prattle, rather we talk about hopes and plans, our relationship with God, steps forward and back—real-life issues. Occasionally, the chaplain will remind the residents, “Remember, your ‘best decision’ landed you here,” meaning what seems like “a good idea at the time,” often leads us to a lesser place. Can you remember scenarios, for instance, when “getting even” led to escalation, a harsh word created distance, or lust for something more left us regretting what we lost in exchange? “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death,”1 and it was in this dead-end direction that David was careening. “Put on your swords,”2 he commanded his warriors. Though they had protected Nabal, his servants and possessions from Philistine invasion, Nabal foolishly refused them needed provision, returning insult for valor, and now David was marching toward vengeance, well-equipped, but not with wisdom. Enter, Abigail, the wife of Nabal.
She was an “intelligent and beautiful woman,”3 and Nabal’s servants knew where to find good solutions. Apprising her of their predicament, one pleaded to her, “Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”4 Abigail acted quickly, offering sustenance for David’s hungry army, then feeding wisdom to his angry soul. Shifting the blame from her foolish husband to her humbler self, she diffused David’s wrath, enabling him to divert his attention from Nabal’s short-term offense to God’s long-term plan, saying, “The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord.”5 Reminded of God’s faithfulness to him, David was able to hear Abigail’s appeal not to sin against God. “When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel,” she said, “my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself.”6
Hers was wisdom from God, and David knew it. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me,” David replied, “May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.”7 David’s “best decision” had changed: his sword was sheathed, and his God glorified. A Biblical proverb reads, “Walk with the wise and become wise.”8 David walked with Abigail that day, and became wise. Let us learn from them. Let us speak wisdom, as Abigail did.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26 NIV)
Father, thank you for sending to me people who speak your wisdom. I hear your voice. May my life and my words speak your wisdom to others. Amen.
1 Proverbs 14:12 NIV
2 1 Samuel 25:13 NIV
3 1 Samuel 25:3 NIV
4 1 Samuel 25:17 NIV
5 1 Samuel 25:28 NIV
6 1 Samuel 25:30, 31 NIV
7 1 Samuel 25:32, 33 NIV
8 Proverbs 13:20 NIV