Offbeat #12 - Abigail

In the days before David took to the throne as Israel’s king, he lived with a band of followers as a nomad and an outlaw and constantly on the run from a murderous King Saul. In 1 Samuel 25, David asks for provisions from a man named Nabal on the basis that David’s men had treated Nabal’s shepherds favorably in the past. Nabal refuses, insults David, and makes it clear his allegiance lies with King Saul.
Nabal’s response enrages David. While David has at times shown restraint toward his enemies, not so in the case of Nabal. David issues orders to his men to strap on their swords and get ready to slaughter Nabal and all the males of his household. This could have been a disastrous move for David. Nabal was a prominent Israelite from an influential tribe, the tribe of Caleb. David’s pathway to the throne could have been severely complicated by making an enemy of Nabal’s tribe.
Enter Abigail, Nabal’s wife. Unlike Nabal, whose name literally means fool and who is described as “surly and mean,” Abigail is described as intelligent and beautiful. She proves that she is these things and more by springing into action to intervene in the situation. Without her husband’s knowledge, Abigail loads up the requested supplies and sets out with her servants to head David off. Meeting him on the road, Abigail pleads on behalf of her foolish husband, offers the supplies, and essentially declares her allegiance to David as God’s chosen king for Israel.
In a way, Abigail stood in the gap between two foolish men and averted disaster for David, for her husband’s tribe, and for Israel on the whole. Her bold action shook David from his foolhardy and prideful response to Nabal’s pettiness, leading him to call off his attack. He then declared to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands” (1 Sam. 25:32-33).
At the end of the story, God struck Nabal dead, and David, whose admiration for Abigail is made clear, married her, a move that likely to garnered support for David from the Calebites. A situation that could have ended in political disaster for David and division within the kingdom, ended in a greater degree of peace and unity (although at the expense of foolish Nabal), smoothing David’s eventual pathway to kingship.
Abigail’s boldness reminds me of Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount, “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called Sons of God.” Another way of saying this is that you can identify God’s people by how they boldly intervene in broken situations in an effort to bring peace. This is one way that we, as Christ followers, can be part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. 

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  • Our Missions School students are halfway through their 3-month outreach to support the work on our base in Màgoé in northwest Mozambique. They are able to hold social distancing services and do house visits, and they are busy with the physical building of the church. We are so proud of how they have pressed through during this strange season and are on track to complete their training year in November as scheduled.
  • Attacks in northeast Mozambique continue. The terrorist group, which goes by the name “Al-Shabaab” (“the youth”) continues to murder civilians and cause the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans in their ongoing attempt to create an Islamic State in Cabo Delgado. Please pray with us for those who are suffering and for the various missionaries and organizations that are ministering to them.
  • South Africa has now opened its borders to international travel, with restrictions against certain “high-risk” countries, which includes the US. I still don’t know when I will be able to return to Africa, but I am grateful that we are able to continue supporting our local missionaries in Mozambique and that the work of God is thriving there! 
  • Thank you for your continuing prayers and support. I rest in the peace of God in this time, knowing that He is in control and is Sovereign in all things! May you be blessed and strengthened in His Presence, knowing that He walks with you and upholds you in and through all things! “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” - Zephaniah 3:17
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