Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!” When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 1 Samuel 25:18-23
Though it is not my primary love language, I am a gift-giver at heart. It is not uncommon for me to spend hours poring over a personalized, hand-made gift, or meticulously planning a purchase. Gifts matter. They are a way to communicate love, joy, significance and honor.
In our passage today, Abigail wisely gathers choice breads, cheeses, meats, and fruit to appease the wrath of David. Talk about a picnic fit for the coming king and his men! They say the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but this gift reached much further—all the way to his sensibilities. This gift was extravagant, yet also timely.
I wish I could have been here to see this scene unfold, don’t you? Artist Sir Peter Paul Reuben beautifully depicts this scene for us, in his work The Meeting of David and Abigail. Though the painting has a more Renaissance flare, don’t miss the emotion, the postures, and the humility depicted.
As you read this narrative, surely, you can pick up the tension. David has just been insulted by Abigail’s foolish husband, Nabal. Emotions and tempers are high. David, angry and irrational, is bent on bloodshed for this infraction. Yet, here is Abigail, in the true vein of a hero, emptying her cupboards in haste, and running to meet the need. She sends the food ahead of her, then quickly follows to meet the injured party. Note that it would have been easy and even acceptable to just give a small gift, but Abigail goes further—she sends a lavish gift, and she sends herself, bowing in honor before the soon-to-be king. This is a true mark of honor.
How like God! Does God, in His goodness and lavish love, not also send His good gifts ahead of Himself, and then run in haste to meet us right where we are at, in our irrational anger, pain and sin? Romans 2:4 reminds us that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. So too, it was Abigail’s quick thinking, kindness and honor that turned the head of David and caused him to relent.
This week, I challenge you to find someone in your circle of influence—a boss, co-worker, spouse, relative or friend and give them a gift of honor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical gift. It could just simply be a note of appreciation, or even a gift of your time.
By Sheila Rennau