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Abigail Spoke Wisdom

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

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Jonathan Spoke Strength

My friend Greg invited me to join him for a four-mile run after work one afternoon. Now, Greg was a marathoner, but as for me, let’s just say I ran for health. So as the two of us set out, Greg ran a shoulder ahead of me. I felt bad for slowing him down, so I picked up the pace, now running a shoulder ahead of him. He, in turn, notched it up a step, and so it went, each of us silently accelerating the both of us for four miles. As we finished, Greg said, “You set a strong pace; I was trying to keep up with you.” “I set the pace?” I gasped amid chest-heaves, “I thought you were setting the pace! I was trying not to hold you back!” It was a metaphor for life—people inspire others to reach deeper than any would do alone, for we grow stronger and excel more when we expend ourselves for others and receive the same from them in support of us.

The son of Israel’s king, Jonathan showed greater bravery, humility and wisdom than his father, Saul. Yet his greatest attribute, and the one for which he is best remembered, was his love for a friend, which exceeded self-interest. “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”1 Then for a season in life, these two men ran life’s demanding race together. Once when pursued by Saul, who in jealously had sworn to kill him, David went to Jonathan and asked, “How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die!” he said, adding, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”3 It was the assurance David needed while fleeing the volatile sovereign. The last time David and Jonathan saw each other was an occasion like so many others—Saul seeking to take David’s life and Jonathan seeking to preserve it. “Jonathan went to David … and helped him find strength in God.”4

Friends in Christ help friends in Christ grow strong. Exhorted Paul, “Encourage one another and build each other up.”5 He said we ought not focus on pleasing ourselves, but “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”6 Whether we run “a shoulder ahead” of our friends for a time, selflessly urging them upward and onward, or it be they who outdo themselves for us, let us “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today.”7 Let us speak strength, as Jonathan did.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17 NIV)

Father, thank you for those you send to strengthen me. Please bless them, and grace me likewise to encourage others, that they may grow strong in Christ. Amen.

1 1 Samuel 18:1 NIV
2 1 Samuel 20:1-4 NIV
3 1 Samuel 20:1-4 NIV
4 1 Samuel 23:16 NIV
5 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
6 Romans 15:2 NIV
7 Hebrews 3:13 NIV