David asks Nabal for some food for his men from Nabal's sheep-shearing feast. David had protected Nabal's sheep in the past, and he asks for some payment. Nabal calls David a rebel and refuses to give him anything. David sets off with all his men to kill Nabal and every male in his house. Nabal's wife Abigail intercepts David and intercedes for her house, giving David food. David commends her, and gives up the attack. Nabal is oblivious in his feasting and God strikes him dead. David then marries the lovely and wise widow Abigail.
Dealing with Nabals makes you like them.
Fools tend to provoke, and when we are hurt by someone else's sin, we tend to sin back at them. David plans to kill every male in Nabal's house, a violent overreaction to Nabal's thoughtless insult. When you are offended, be slow to take up an offense. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt or persecute you. Watch your thoughts. David is muttering in anger all the way, until Abigail breaks into his path, speaks a different mind, and changes his heart.
Wisdom cools hot heads with humility.
Abigail calls herself "your servant" to David. This was common speech then, but she repeats it often enough to make the point: someone in Nabal's house is humble and respectful toward David. When tempers flare and strife arises, there is usually plenty of pride and ego to go around. At this point in the story Abigail stands between two proud and angry men, ans she displays unflappable humility.
Wisdom is found in unexpected places.
God delights to humble us, by leading us through people we don't usually esteem highly. David had no formal obligation to listen to Abigail. Nabal had spoken for his house, and a wife cannot overrule her husband's policy in the public square. But she spoke wisdom, and David heeded it, regardless the source. God's Word emphasizes this, when David tells Abigail, "I have obeyed your voice." Many times husbands need to heed their wives. Parents need to heed their children. Pastors need to heed their elders and elders, pastors. Both need to heed the flock. Listen to wisdom, no matter in what instrument God sends it.
Fools have little sense of their impending doom.Nabal feasts like a king while Abigail forestalls his destruction. He thinks he is big stuff, snubbing the anointed king of Israel. Fools will be rendered helpless by God, in His time. Meanwhile, be aware of your social debts and render thanks accordingly.
Be loyal to the true king
Nabal and Abigail held opposite political views regarding the kingship of Israel. Nabal thought David a rebel who had disrespected Saul's authority. Abigail knew David was the true and future king. This text calls us to act with fidelity to our true king, regardless who we may wind up contradicting in the process.