Leading Question: If your spouse does something really foolish, what is your obligation to protect him or her?
- 1 Samuel 25
- Protecting your spouse. From a modern perspective, we might wonder how a beautiful and sensible woman like Abigail ended up in marriage with a foolish and stubborn man like Nabal. But what is more crucial for our lesson this time is the question of obligation to a spouse who does something very foolish. Did Abigail do the right thing in going around Nabal? Did she break her marriage vow in doing so? Or was her choice to protect him from the results of his foolish choices a much greater good? What parallels can we draw in today’s world?
- Three characters. On the basis of what we can learn from 1 Samuel 25, give a brief, thumbnail sketch of the major characters in this week’s lesson: Nabal, Abigail, and David. In each character, what do you find admirable? What do you find blameworthy?
- Abigail’s gentle rebuke of David. When Abigail met David under the highly-charged backdrop of David’s intention to seek revenge, how would we judge Abigail’s comment to him in 25:31 (NRSV): “My lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself.” How would you evaluate the ethical standards implied in such a statement? From a diplomatic perspective, was Abigail being bold or gentle? Or was she skillfully blending boldness with gentleness?
- David’s honesty. In 1 and 2 Samuel David’s life is full of detours. But the author gives him good marks for honesty and fairness. His passion often gets him into trouble, but here he boldly admits that Abigail saved him from evil. Is such an admission laudable in a leader? Should that be a model for leaders today? In an authoritarian culture, admission of error puts a leader’s reputation at risk. Is that true here? Does this story put David in a positive or negative light?
For comparison: When David pursued the Amalekite marauders to recover the people and spoils they had taken (1 Samual 30), 200 of his men were too exhausted to continue. The 400 when who went with David didn’t want to share the spoils with those who stayed behind. David decreed: “For the share of the one who goes down into the battle shall be the same as the share of the one who stays by the baggage; they shall share and share alike” (30:24). Is that right? Is that fair?
- David’s polygamy. According to 1 Samuel 25:43, Abigail and Ahinoam both became David’s wives. Later, David reclaimed Michal, his first wife, tearing her away from a devoted husband (2 Samual 3:15-16). Yet Scripture utters no critique of his polygamy. Why?