LifeWays - Birgit's Blog
I've been working on sort-of a dramatization of the story of Abigail (just because I find her one of the more fascinating women in the Bible) - anyways, here is Part the First:
"Oh come on, Abigail, surely it can't be as bad as that?" Miryam asked her friend as she drew the water bucket up from the well.
"That's what you think," she replied bitterly. "Nabal. Of all people. His reputation precedes him."
"Look at the bright side - he's one of the richest men around. You could have done a lot worse."
Abigail didn't answer. Mouth pinched in a tight line, she lifted the bucket on her head and with easy, swaying steps made her way back to her parents' house.
Nabal. So what if the man owned thousands of sheep and goats?
The evening before, her parents had informed her of her soon-to-be-arranged betrothal to the man. At seventeen, it was high time for her to start a family of her own, they said. They had praised him to the heavens. "It is a good match," they said. "He is wealthy - all those sheep and goats, just think! You will be well taken care of."
What they had forgotten to mention was that he was mean as a snake, callous, ugly, and a man of very little brain. Whether it was a matter of cause and effect or prophecy, she didn't know, but word had it that his name fit him perfectly - Nabal, the Fool.
Her heart sank the first time she saw her bridegroom. This? she thought. I will spend the rest of my life with this? Oh God. And it was a prayer and a plea. Oh God.
At first, she thought she could not bear it. That her soul could not survive, far away from her family and friends, tied for the rest of her life to this stupid, churlish brute. She wept, those first few days. And then she dried her tears and started working on the rest of her life. She had one thing in her favor - Nabal was proud of her. Abigail, his young, beautiful wife. Young, beautiful, and smart enough to realize that if she played her cards right, she could get around stupid Nabal every time. Make him think it had been his idea, make him want what she wanted, wheedling, flattering, doing whatever it took - slowly but surely getting her way.
Though Nabal never caught on, the rest of the household watched with amusement as Abigail became a force to be reckoned with. They soon figured out that if something needed done, they would be far better off going to Abigail than to Nabal. Everyone in the household knew.
But David's men didn't.
Samuel had just died, the problems with Saul had calmed down, and David had finally stopped running. He and his men were biding their time out in the back country of Maon - the same place, incidentally, where Nabal's servants were grazing his sheep. Now, no one would have blamed them much for taking a sheep here and there - even warriors have to eat, don't they? But David and his men hadn't done that. No, they had actually watched over the shepherds and their flock, protecting them against enemies, both man and beast. Nothing of Nabal's had been lost.
When the news came to David that Nabal had brought all his sheep to Carmel to be sheared, he decided it was payback time. Nabal should be flush with cash, and he already had to feed a lot of people - all the shepherds and all the servants in the same place; the yearly feast as they reaped the rewards for their labors. Time to remind the man of what David had done for his servants and his herd. Even warriors have to eat, don't they?
So David gathered ten young men and sent them off.
"Go and see Nabal," he said. "Go and tell him that we have been good to him. Tell him we could've taken by force what we wanted. Instead, we looked out for what was his. Ask him to be generous now."
As they left, he looked after them. "Or else..." he muttered quietly to himself.
When the ten men finally came to Carmel, the smell of meat roasting on spits filled the air; bread, olives, cakes, and wineskins filled to bursting were laid out before the revellers, who were already in varying states of inebriation.
It took them a while to even find the owner of the herd. When they finally stood in front of him and stated their request, Nabal was livid. "Who's this guy who sent you? Am I supposed to know who he is?" he shouted, eyes bulging out in an angry face. "And how do I know that you're not lying? The hills are full of liars and thieves like you. Ragtag bunch of misfits. Runaway slaves. Why on God's green earth should I waste what's mine on you? Go back to whoever sent you - whatever his name is - and tell him to leave me alone. I owe you nothing."
"B-but master," one of the servants spoke up timidly, "It was as he said. They truly behaved as men of honor out there. Would it not be fair now to share some of what we have with them? We can tell you what we have heard of David - that even Saul acknowledged that he would be king after him, that he is a mighty warrior. Everyone knows who David is. Can you afford to make such a man your enemy?"
Nabal's mouth pinched shut, and his small eyes narrowed in his florid face. "Shut your mouth - who asked you in the first place? I don't know this - son of Jesse, is it? I'm not just going to hand off my hard-earned belongings to some nobodies I have never laid eyes on before. Bad enough that we have to hand over a tenth to those useless priests. No, no, you go back and tell him 'forget it'!"
And with that he turned his back to them, lifted his cup, and loudly demanded some more of the wine.
The ten young men stood there for a minute, flabbergasted. Then, as one, they turned and left Nabal's encampment.
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