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Abigail ­ A Woman Marked by Beauty and Wisdom Leader's Guide

Ladies' Bible Study July 7 & 8: Monday 7-8:15PM & Tuesday 10-11:15AM Sometimes life deals us a set of circumstances that are truly difficult. We learn from Abigail that when we are in over our heads, God is there for those who love him, with his enabling power to see us through. 1. God led Samuel to anoint David to be the king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) though at the time of our lesson today, he had not yet become king. Read 1 Samuel 25:2-9. What do we learn about Nabal and his wife Abigail? Abigail was intelligent and beautiful. Nabal was exceptionally wealthy but also surly and mean. The word "Nabal" means foolish. The Hebrew word for "mean" also means malicious. He was a fool marked by a malicious and dangerous attitude. Was David's request forceful or uncalled for? David and his men sought to support themselves and win the favor of their neighbors by protecting large flocks and their shepherds from attack by roaming bands of thieves. It was a common practice to share some of the profits from the shearing with those who had provided this protection. Since this was a festive time (vs 8) much food would have been prepared to celebrate the abundance of wool. David's request would have been well within what would be expected. Read vs 10-11. What do we learn about Nabal from his response? Nabal, and his shepherds, knew David as the king-in-waiting but yet he compared him to a vagrant who had run away from his master ­ an exceptionally insulting and foolish comment. He also showed himself to be very selfish ­ vs 11 is full of "I" and "my". Read vs 12-13. Why is David's reaction about as foolish as Nabal's response? He has been anointed by God as king of Israel and therefore a special servant of God. He responds with an inappropriate outburst of passion. From the number of men he was taking, there was no way Nabal could withstand the assault. Anger often causes just such an overblown response to a smaller though foolish action. Anger so easily takes over and leads us to places we later regret. Read 1 Samuel 25:14-17. So here is Abigail, between a husband who is a fool and a king who is acting like a fool. But the servant had confidence in his mistress. Read verses 18-25. What do we learn about anger from David in vs 21-22? David wanted to take justice into his own hands. He was focused on the insults and the attitude of Nabal and this was leading him into huge sins of his own without his even realizing it. Isn't it amazing when we feel offended we think we have the right to react and even ask God to help us! Nabal was a fool but David's emotions were making him act like a fool. Imagine how Abigail must have felt, knowing behind her was a husband who would disapprove of her actions and standing in front of her was an angry man (with 400 armed men) who had just sworn to kill every man in her husband's household before morning. How did her actions disarm this volatile situation? She approached David gently and took his eyes off his quest by giving him the respect he deserved by bowing and addressing him as lord while calling herself his servant, by taking the blame upon her self, by admitting her husband had been wrong. She didn't hesitate to humbly apologize for not being there to handle his request personally while defending her husband even though he did not deserve it. She did not succumb to her fear, which must have been great, but focused on doing the right thing. She gives us a significant lesson in tact and diplomacy. When someone wrongs you, why is it hard not to act like David? Does it matter if the insult was purposeful or accidental?

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Read 1 Samuel 25: 26-35. Beyond saving her household from bloodshed, what phenomenal insight does Abigail have concerning this whole situation? She tells David that he should refrain from going forward with his plan because it would interfere with God's plan for him. This murder would tarnish his kingship and give him a guilty conscience. He was a man of faith who depended upon God for his security. His enemies may act like fools, but he should be above his emotions. She was giving him the same message we hear in James 1:19-20. What do you see in Abigail's words to David that shows us God was using her for his purpose? These are words that could only come from someone who trusted God implicitly to help her through this desperate situation. Without God how could she ever have dared to deliver such a message to a man such as David? God was using her to save her household and to keep David from sinning, and she gave God the credit for it. How does David's response show that he is a man after God's own heart? He was open to correction and instruction even when it came through a woman he had never met. When he praised God in vs 32, he recognized that it was God who had given him the message he needed to hear. Read 1 Samuel 24: 36-42 for the rest of the story. What does the story of Abigail say to those women who are in less than "happy" marriages? Abigail was faithful to her husband even though he most likely made her life miserable. His despicable behavior did not sway her from living the way God wanted her to. Society may say "Divorce the old drunk" but she was faithful. Her joy came from God, not from her marriage. God knew her pain and gave her exceptional gifts to be able to handle the difficult situations she had to face. God ended the marriage in his way, in his time, and cared for Abigail by giving her a king for a husband. Another thing to notice in this story: Abigail gave God an opportunity to bless Nabal through her. Though Nabal resisted God's grace, it wasn't because Abigail stood in the way. She did her best to allow the fool in her life to be the object of God's love, through her, rather than the target of her anger and critical remarks. What does this story tell us about God's justice? We must wait on God, no matter how difficult it is or how long it takes. If David had gone forward with his plan of revenge he would have sinned greatly. If Abigail had harbored a bitter and resentful attitude, she would not have been available for God to use her as he did. Her willingness to honor and trust God allowed Abigail to experience God's inner workings in her life. Not only was God's way best, it also brought added rewards that David and Abigail couldn't have gotten on their own. What do we learn of Abigail's character from her response to David's proposal? Even though she was intelligent, beautiful, quick-thinking and tactful she was also humble, considered herself lower than the servants, whose feet she would wash. How did God provide for David with this marriage? Abigail would have brought with her Nabal's wealth. At this time David would have had very little. He was a fugitive and lived in caves. When God looked at David the shepherd boy he saw a king; when he looked at Abigail, the wife of a drunk, he saw a queen. Have you ever wondered what he sees when he looks at you? What have you learned from this story about the pre-eminence that God must have in your life? When we orchestrate our own way instead of waiting on God, we may miss out on the wonderful blessings God has in mind for us. Abigail may not have been in the right place at the right time had she not trusted God completely even though her body and mind must surely have told her she was being foolish. Asking God to help us do what he wants for us is much different than asking God to help us do what we want to do. Abigail gave God the chance to let Romans 8:28 work in her life (..all things work together for good to those who love God..)

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What might we say to someone who says they just can't figure out what God has in mind for them? Keep praying, keep trusting, keep studying God's Word. Certainly Abigail must have been in this less-than-ideal marriage for some time before our story. Yet she continued to trust God's promises that he would care for her. She humbled herself to God's commands and in so doing, bravely followed her instincts when David's men threatened her household. She couldn't have known that dreadful situation was the beginning of big changes in her life. Her love of God allowed her to follow God's leading without resistance. And he blessed her for her faithfulness. He will do the same for each of us who love him. When it comes to trusting God, is it ever too late to start being more like Abigail? Never! We should never beat ourselves up for not allowing God to lead us. We confess our weaknesses and sins and ask God to open our eyes to see things the way he wants us to, to let him direct our lives in the way he wants. And we can do this over and over again. God uses our "failures" to teach us and to draw us closer to him. How can be become more like Abigail? If we choose not to be in the Word, there is no way that we can become more like Abigail. Faith comes from the Gospel in Word and sacrament. Unless God renews our minds our ways will always be our ways, not his ways. Closing Prayer

Next week: Bathsheba ­ Finding Faith After Failure References: Barber, Wayne, Eddie Rasnake, Richard Shepherd. Life Principles from the Women of the Bible, Book 2. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002. 85-98 Lockyer, Herbert. All the Women of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2005. 23-27 Mittelsteadt, John R. People's Bible Commentary ­ Samuel. Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1993. 138-147

Abigail ­ A Woman Marked by Beauty and Wisdom Leader's Guide

Ladies' Bible Study July 7 & 8: Monday 7-8:15PM & Tuesday 10-11:15AM Sometimes life deals us a set of circumstances that are truly difficult. We learn from Abigail that when we are in over our heads, God is there for those who love him, with his enabling power to see us through. 1. God led Samuel to anoint David to be the king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) though at the time of our lesson today, he had not yet become king. Read 1 Samuel 25:2-9. What do we learn about Nabal and his wife Abigail? Was David's request forceful or uncalled for? Read vs 10-11. What do we learn about Nabal from his response? Read vs 12-13. Why is David's reaction about as foolish as Nabal's response?

2.

Read 1 Samuel 25:14-17. So here is Abigail, between a husband who is a fool and a king who is acting like a fool. But the servant had confidence in his mistress. Read verses 18-25. What do we learn about anger from David in vs 21-22? Imagine how Abigail must have felt, knowing behind her was a husband who would disapprove of her actions and standing in front of her was an angry man (with 400 armed men) who had just sworn to kill every man in her husband's household before morning. How did her actions disarm this volatile situation? When someone wrongs you, why is it hard not to act like David? Does it matter if the insult was purposeful or accidental?

3.

Read 1 Samuel 25: 26-35. Beyond saving her household from bloodshed, what phenomenal insight does Abigail have concerning this whole situation? What do you see in Abigail's words to David that shows us God was using her for his purpose? How does David's response show that he is a man after God's own heart?

4.

Read 1 Samuel 24: 36-42 for the rest of the story. What does the story of Abigail say to those women who are in less than "happy" marriages? What does this story tell us about God's justice?

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What do we learn of Abigail's character from her response to David's proposal? How did God provide for David with this marriage? When God looked at David the shepherd boy he saw a king; when he looked at Abigail, the wife of a drunk, he saw a queen. Have you ever wondered what he sees when he looks at you?

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What have you learned from this story about the pre-eminence that God must have in your life? What might we say to someone who says they just can't figure out what God has in mind for them? When it comes to trusting God, is it ever too late to start being more like Abigail? How can be become more like Abigail?

Closing Prayer

Next week: Bathsheba ­ Finding Faith After Failure References: Barber, Wayne, Eddie Rasnake, Richard Shepherd. Life Principles from the Women of the Bible, Book 2. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002. 85-98 Lockyer, Herbert. All the Women of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2005. 23-27 Mittelsteadt, John R. People's Bible Commentary ­ Samuel. Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1993. 138-147

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