Both Nabal and David had let their emotions control them. Nabal had been dismissive and aggressive, David responds in frustration and anger. (1 Samuel 25:1-17)
I wonder if we ever ask ourselves why our emotions run away with us at times? When we only deal with our actions, we are left with moralism, not Christianity. Outward conformity in behaviour alone is meaningless when inside we are full of emotional angst.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. Matthew 23:27
Harsh, but true. I can murder and commit adultery in my heart.
Enter Abigail, who makes a decision to not react to the circumstances but to do what she can to calm the situation. This was a disaster waiting to happen but she is not drawn into the disagreement.
She calmly gets the provisions David requires (vs18) making amends for Nabal’s harsh refusal to help David.
She and David meet at the place where David was planning his destruction of Nabal (vs 20-22)
She treats David not with anger but respect (vs 23)
She takes the heat out of the situation by apologising (vs 24)
Only then does she put her request to David (vs 24-31)
Her manner diverts David from acts of terrible violence, she is a peacemaker not a stirrer of trouble. Jesus would later say this
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
I like this statement by Dallas Willard in his book “The Divine Conspiracy”:
“The Beatitudes, in particular, are not teachings on how to be blessed. They are not instructions to do anything. They do not indicate conditions that are especially pleasing to God or good for human beings. No one is actually being told that they are better off for being poor, for mourning, for being persecuted, and so on, or that the conditions listed are recommended ways to well-being before God or man. Nor are the Beatitudes indications of who will be on top ‘after the revolution.’ They are explanations and illustrations, drawn from the immediate setting, of the present availability of the kingdom through personal relationship to Jesus. They single out cases that provide proof that, in him, the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope”
Let’s go back to Abigail in the context of a peacemaker. So, what then, is a “peacemaker?” The peacemaker seeks to do two things as I see it:
Firstly he/she seeks to extinguish the flames of strife and disharmony.
Secondly he/she takes whatever steps necessary to see that no fire breaks out in the first place. The peacemaker isn’t satisfied with the status quo. They anticipate the circumstances in which strife may occur and avoid them. They anticipate those subjects which will divide them and refuse to let people dwell on or discuss them. They are wise enough to know not simply when to pour water on a fire but when to act in order to prevent a fire from breaking out in the first place. They make peace.
Note the promise: “For they shall be called the sons of God.” If this is true, then surely the opposite is also true: Cursed are the peace breakers, so we need to take care.
The use of the words ‘sons of God’ places the emphasis on character and behaviour and refers to doing the work of a son, meaning to carry out the work of the father in the father’s way. They show that they are sons of God by making peace.
God is described in the Bible as the God of peace. As such, he has made peace for us through Christ, he has reconciled us to himself (2 Cor 5:19-21). Making peace is part of God’s magnificent character. Those who have become members of his family will share in his family likeness. His sons will be peacemakers.
It is the devil who is a troublemaker, it is God who loves reconciliation and who now through his children, as formerly through his only begotten Son, is bent on making peace. (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount)
Be an Abigail, wherever you are.