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  • Hannah Williamson

Abigail – inspirations from a woman who led….

There are many passages outlining the incredible leadership of men in the bible, but those about women who led are a little more difficult to find. In those days, women did not have particularly prominent roles. Although history has moved on considerably there are still women not able to lead, not given as many opportunities or stereotyped for being women. As I began to read this story of Abigail today, I wanted to encourage the many women who are bravely choosing to lead. You have what it takes. You are called by God. You can lead. You can make a dent into the Kingdom of God. Although both men and women can learn from this story, I particularly today want to encourage my fellow female leaders to stand up and lead! Here’s the story and here are a few things we can pick up from this passage.


Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran.

A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite. While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!

“‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’” When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited.

Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”

David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.

One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”

Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahsof roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”

When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

“Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone.  About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”

Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”

She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.  David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were his wives. But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

1 Samuel 25 (NIV)


There was something in this woman that knew what to do and how to do it quickly. She didn’t sit back and just let the bad things happen, but she got up and DID SOMETHING! Throughout this crisis we have been facing as a world, there is definitely a need for us to get up and DO SOMETHING!!! It can be easy to sink back and feel pretty down about the circumstances surrounding us, but this woman didn’t fall into that trap. She rose up and acted quickly to bring safety to her people. One woman I have always been inspired by is a friend I have called Sue. God placed on her heart some years ago a burden for the country of Haiti. She had heard some stories that moved her. She didn’t just let them move her and stay living in her comfortable home in Canada, but she sold her house and moved to Haiti to serve those in need. This kind of activism isn’t reserved for a few, but for us all, ‘should we choose to accept it!’


I noticed as I read that the servants came to Abigail and told her of the trouble David had had with her husband. They did not hold back in expressing what was going on. This stood out to me because why would a servant feel comfortable enough to be this honest and open with who effectively in those times was their master or in this case mistress. They obviously trusted Abigail enough to be able to share this and I presume were also concerned for her safety. I can only conclude that Abigail had a longstanding relationship with these servants in order for them to speak to her the way they did. She was by nature of her positon as wife of nabal a leader over these servants, yet they had her ear. I think we can learn so much from this about the importance of building great relationships with those we lead. We are not there just to order them around or get them to do the work we don’t want to do. We are there to lovingly lead and encourage just as Jesus did with his disciples. Leading this way, I believe, always pays off in the long run. It certainly did with Abigail as she may have lost her life if not.

What relationships do you need to work on? Who do you need to encourage? Who do you need to lead?

3. She ‘did hard things’ – Verse 20

In verse 20 we see Abigail riding towards David and his men. We know that David was angry and reading to annihilate Nabal’s family. What Abigail did was dangerous. She could have come to harm. Yet, she realised in order to save her family she had to do the difficult thing. There are times as leaders where we have to walk into ‘the difficult’. It would be so much easier to not do this, but our calling requires it of us. We must face difficult conversations or confront the difficult people. We may have to lead through pain. We may have to speak up and say the difficult things that others won’t. Jesus talks about ‘taking up our cross and following him.’ This doesn’t give a good image. Carrying a cross means that you’re heading towards pain but sometimes this is what is required of us. Some good things only happen if we are prepared to walk through the pain. This is what Abigail did. We can of course be assured that when we walk head on into difficulty God is with us.

What hard thing do you need to do today, this week, this month? What comfort zone do you need to step out of?

4. She spoke up! Verse 24

In bible times, women didn’t make great speeches. They didn’t speak out against injustice. They didn’t really have that much of a voice but here we see Abigail doing that very thing. Even in today’s society I have found that often for women, finding their voice can be quite a challenge. We often think differently to the men around us. I have certainly often found myself in room’s full of men conscious that what I say may be different to what they are saying! Abigail here, walks right up to this group of men and says what needs to be said fearlessly. As a child I used to like participating in a sponsored silence because it was easy. My sister on the other hand, who loves to talk hated these things! I have realised that this love of silence has sometimes caused me to keep quiet when really, I should have spoken up. It’s a lot easy to sit back and say nothing than it is to bravely speak into situations not knowing what the response you will get back will be.

What situations do you need to speak into? How can you exercise using your voice in different situations? What unique things do you need to speak out about?

5. She prophesied. Verse 29-31

Not only does Abigail bravely speak up, but she begins to prophecy over David. She could have just said her piece and moved on. Hadn’t she spoken enough?! But no, she goes on to be led by the Spirit and begins to speak into David’s future. I believe there are many women who are out there whom God has given a voice to, to be able to speak prophetically into life. The problem is, half the time, we’re too scared/nervous/intimidated/insecure (you pick!) to use this voice. But we have to use these voices because they are given by God and anointed by God to speak into our churches, our community and into society. Please, allow God to lead you but begin to prophecy. Didn’t God promise that our sons and daughters would prophecy? (Acts 2:17) I met a woman recently who had planted a church in our town with her husband. She had moved only a few years prior to the area yet she spoke with a passion and authority that would have given you the impression she had lived here as long as me!!! She spoke goodness into the town, and it was so refreshing to hear. I want to encourage you, especially women today, to speak up, speak out and speak into life prophetically.

What areas of life do you need to speak prophetically over today?

6. SHE BROUGHT PEACE – Verse 32-35

Abigail, by taking these brave steps completely diffused a tense situation. I love that. She brought peace into what was an aggressive and volatile situation. I think Jesus calls us to be peacemakers and we can definitely learn from Abigail in this. We can do this in so many ways, but to reiterate what has already said, Abigail did this by stepping forward and using her voice. She spoke calmly, confidently and with a prophetic edge. I want to be like that. To women out there living or working in volatile situations, use your voice. Ask God to empower your voice to speak hope into situations so that peace can reign.

In what environments do you need to use your voice wisely to bring peace?


This can always be a tricky balance. I know I have often got myself in trouble for speaking out when I really needed to keep quiet! The other day I was in B&Q when I overheard a conversation between two men of different races. The language used was rude and derogatory and this is something that certainly gets my back up! Without much thought I added in my thoughts. Now, don’t think I’m always wise and brave in these situations, thinking carefully about what to say and how to word what I said. Oh no, in this situation my mouth blabbed very quickly in anger! The man being rude did back down quite quickly although I went away wondering if I should have spoken or not. This is something I believe we as women often have to master. When to speak and when not to. When we do speak, we want to ensure what we are saying is really going to bring change to a situation.

How do you do with judging when to speak and when to stay quiet? What do you need to get better at – speaking out or shutting your mouth?!


So, in conclusion to all my fellow women out there, you can lead. You have a voice. God has His hand on you. Step up and be all you are called to be. Now is your time.

I'll leave this quote with you from the wonderful Jo Saxton (check out her book 'Ready to Rise' for more inspiration!!)

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