Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Abigail and the Quest for What's Right

Photo Courtesy of: Thomas Kelley

“Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground. So she fell at his feet and said: ‘On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. Please, let not my lord [g]regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent. Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging[i] yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal. And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord.’” ~1 Samuel 25:23-27

One of the biggest issues which leads to our sense of overwhelm, distractedness, and stress in our everyday lives is thinking that we have to do what everyone else is doing or meet the expectations placed upon us by others. Moms especially feel the weight of this every single day as we read study after differing study as to what is supposedly “best” for our kids. Add on to that the pain some wives feel who are in marriages with unbelieving husbands who expect them to do things which are contrary to what God’s Word says. It can be so hard to know how to navigate the murky waters of life when we are being faced by demands, expectations, and requests on every side, many of which may in some way contradict God’s own desires for us.

Interestingly, in 1 Samuel 25, Abigail directly goes against her husband Nabal’s sinful wishes and actually brings about much good from having done so.  We read in verse 11 that Nabal absolutely did not want David to be fed from his provisions, saying, "Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” And yet in verses 18-19 we read, “Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. And she said to her servants, ‘Go on before me; see, I am coming after you.’ But she did not tell her husband Nabal.” 

Abigail knew her husband didn’t want David and his men to be fed from his own provisions, and yet she did that very thing, anyway. Verses 32-34 then show us that it was actually the Lord Who led her to do this: “Then David said to Abigail: 'Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. For indeed, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!' So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, 'Go up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person.'” There is no sign whatsoever that God was displeased with Abigail for going against her husband's sinful wishes. Rather, we see that it was God's will for her to do so, and He blessed her obedience to Him.

Similarly, Ezekiel 18 is an entire chapter dedicated to this topic of personal responsibility for doing what is right, and in verses 19-20 we read, “But you ask, ‘Why isn’t the son punished for his father’s sin?’ It is because the son has done what is fair and right. He obeyed my rules and followed them. He will certainly live. The person who sins will die. A son will not be punished for his father’s sins, and a father will not be punished for his son’s sins. The righteousness of the righteous person will be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be his own.”

Likewise, in the New Testament we read, in Galatians 6:4-5, “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” Romans 14:10, 12 says, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” 

The bottom line is this: we will each give a personal account of both our own sin and our own right doing to God. Our account will not be based on what our husband said or did or "made" us do, but on what we said and did and chose to do. We will not get brownie points from God for following after the expectations of mommy culture if we know for a fact that they go against our conscience before God. No, if we choose to submit ourselves to a sinful command or something that is less than God’s best for our family, that is on us, just as it was on Adam for willfully choosing to sin in the Garden. Our responsibility will not be cleared because we were simply submitting to our husband or blindly following what a friend said we should do. We will be responsible for our willingness to go along with what we knew was not best for our families. 

Though this may seem scary and even more stress-inducing than just following what others think we should do, it’s actually really good news and quite freeing. We see, in Acts 5:29, that “we ought to obey God rather than men.” This means then that we are freed to simply walk by the Spirit and heed and follow the guidance and direction of God. This means that we don’t have to attempt to sort through all the varying voices out there or work ourselves to the bone trying to please everyone and fulfill all their expectations. We are freed to instead just follow One - the Lord God Himself Whose design and plan for us is far better than anyone else’s ever could be.

In the new year ahead, let the expectations and commands of others go (this of course doesn’t mean that you should not submit to your husband in areas not involving sin or that you should turn a deaf ear to the true wisdom and good counsel of trusted advisers in your life - that should go without saying!). Ignore Pinterest if it serves to be your downfall. Instead, relieve yourself of much of the overwhelm, distraction, and information and opinion overload this season by instead inclining your ear to God’s voice. It is the only one that will never lead you astray and never be a burden to you.

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