A Good and Generous Choice

Summer 2010 017

“She does him good,

and not harm all the days of her life.”

(Proverbs 31:12)

Marriage is difficult and not always a bed of roses with a cherry on top.  We all know why marriage is difficult…life is difficult and when two selfish people come together in a world filled with challenges it makes marriage difficult.  Selfishness does not breed happiness and contentment.  Neither do preconceived notions about living the life of Cinderella and Prince Charming seem to work in most marriages.  In this world full of sin, I understand men abandon their families, abuse their families, and cause undue pain in their families.  The focus in Proverbs 31:12 is not how the man treats his wife, but rather how the wife treats her husband.  Despite overwhelming difficult circumstances, a wife of noble character can change the course of her home.

Let’s look at a story from the Old Testament that shows a woman of noble character and her foolish husband.  Abigail was married to Nabal, a wealthy landowner. (I Samuel 25).  He owned three thousand sheep and a thousand goats.  Abigail’s name means “the joy of her father.”  It is unknown whether this man’s given name was Nabal or if he earned the name because of his character.  Nabal means foolish or boorish.

The story goes that it was the time of the sheep shearing and David, not yet the crowned king of Israel, sent ten of his men to Nabal to ask for provisions for David and his men.  David felt he could ask for these provisions since he and his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and his sheep and goats while they were out in the field from predators, both animals and humans.  Nabal’s response was not one of kind appreciation, but instead gives another clue into why his name was Nabal.  “Who is David?  Who is the son of Jesse?  There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters.  Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”       (I Samuel 25:9-11).

When the report came back to David, he told all of his men to strap on their swords.  Four hundred men were going to go with David and two hundred men were going to stay behind with their possessions.  Abigail, Nabal’s wife, also received the same report along with a report of all that David and his men had done for the shepherds while they were out keeping the sheep.  At once Abigail gathered together two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already prepared, five seahs of parched grain, a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. (I Samuel 25:18).

As David and his men came toward Nabal’s home, Abigail went to David.  As David was headed towards Nabal he said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good.  God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of all who belong to him.” (I Samuel 25:21, 22).

When Abigail reached David, she got down from her donkey and fell face down on the ground before David and asked David to not regard “this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him.”  (I Samuel 25:25).  So Abigail gave David all the provisions she had brought for him and his men, and David blessed Abigail for her discretion in protecting him from shedding innocent blood.

When Abigail returned from her meeting with David, Nabal was holding a feast like a king and was very drunk.  In the morning, Abigail told Nabal all that she had done and “his heart died within him, and he became as a stone and ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.” (I Samuel 25:37, 38)

“She does him good, and not harm all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12).  Abigail not only protected her household, but also the reputation of David and his men.  Abigail was prepared to meet the needs of David and his men, and she did so humbly and respectfully.  Abigail did not have to go to such measures to do good to her husband, yet she had lived with this foolish man for years and her reputation was not one of sullen bitterness, but rather of discernment, humility, respect, and discretion.

As a woman, what characteristics do we want remembered about us?  Despite difficult circumstances, what will shine through other’s memories about us?  My Grandma passed away a recently, and I was talking with someone who knew Grandma but not that she had died.  After expressing her condolences she shared with me the things that shown through her memory of my Grandma.  “She was a godly lady with a good heart.”  That is who she was and it is a powerful legacy I have to live up to.

“She does him good, and not harm all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12)


  1. Read the story of Nabal and Abigail in I Samuel 25. What do you notice about Abigail’s character?  Conversely, what do you notice about Nabal’s character?
  1. Would it have done Abigail any good to be bitter and sullen over her foolish husband?
  1. Again, the analogy of a treasure vs. coal applies here. You have a choice between the coal and the treasure.  Abigail had a choice too.  Which did she choose?  Which will you choose?

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