Because we are human and therefore sinners, conflict is inevitable. But, it’s also a necessary part of any healthy relationship.
Think of conflict as a stone: We can use it to defend ourselves and hurt the others or we can use it to sharpen ourselves and grow together in intimacy. It’s our choice.
Setting the Scene
Abigail is a stellar example of someone who took a potentially lethal conflict and turned it into an opportunity to build a connection (1 Samuel 25).
While eluding King Saul and about 5 years before becoming king himself, David and 600 of his loyal rebels were camped near Abigail’s homeland of Maon. Nabal, Abigail’s husband, was a wealthy but arrogant fool. David and his men spent a few weeks on the fringes of Nabal’s property voluntarily keeping his harvesters from being attacked by marauders.
It was customary to provide provisions for such protection. But when David sent messengers requesting food, Nabal spurned and insulted David and his men. The future king reacted angrily and rode off with two-thirds of his army to slaughter Nabal’s household.
This is a deadlier conflict than most of us will ever face, yet Abigail handled it with adeptness, humility, and wisdom.
Respond, not React
Any time we experience conflict, we often have a knee-jerk reaction. Usually it’s to strike out because we feel attacked or backed into a corner. But there’s a big different between reacting and responding.
If Abigail had reacted, she would have screamed at her husband, thrown up her hands in terror, and hid in a closet. Reaction relies on emotion and throws rational thought out the window.
Instead, Abigail responded and she did it with adeptness and poise. The Bible says, “She lost no time” (v. 18). Abagail knew Nabal’s weaknesses, so she knew confronting his prideful response to David’s request would not only be fruitless, it would be a waste of precious time. Therefore, she acted quickly and deliberately to save her household.
“It’s All My Fault”
I’m so prideful that sometimes I have a hard time accepting responsibility for my own sins, to say nothing about taking the blame for someone else’s.
But, Abagail did just that. When she reached David and the 400 fighting men in a mountain ravine with the provisions he requested, she fell at his feet and basically said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see the men you sent to my husband, so it’s really all my fault” (vs. 24-25).
Whoa. Not only was she humble, the girl had some chutzpah to face an army of hungry, angry warriors alone.
Consider Others Interests
In a conflict, our natural inclination is to think about ourselves. We either try to push our agenda or illicit sympathy so the other person will give in.
Abigail did neither. While her first concern must certainly have been saving her household, with astounding wisdom and an uncanny understanding of David, she presents an incredibly sound and persuasive argument for why the future king of Israel should willingly stand down:
- She empathized with his plight with Saul (v. 29)
- She used the metaphor of a sling, David’s renowned weapon of choice (v. 29)
- She offered the provisions for David’s men, implying that David—like the most noble and revered kings—cared for his men more than himself (vs. 27)
- She communicated that she knew about his devotion to God and his anointing as king by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16)
- She gave him a vision of a lasting dynasty that God would eventually promise him in 2 Samuel 7:16 (vs. 28, 30)
- She aligned herself with David (rather than Nabal) by stating she was an instrument God was using to keep David from sinning (vengeance) (v. 26, 28b)
- She reminded him how God despises the death of the innocent (Exodus 23:7) and warned him away from the burden of guilt (v. 31)
Healthy Choices Lead to Positive Change
Abigail probably had more genuine spiritual intimacy with David in that one encounter than she ever had with the husband to whom she was married. Her lack of intimacy with Nabal was definitely by no fault of her own.
Her husband was a fool in more than his hospitality. He never realized how blessed he was with such a wise wife. Unfortunately, his pride was so great and God in his omniscience must have seen that Nabal would never repent and took him out of the picture.
David knew a treasure when he saw one and, upon hearing of Nabal’s sudden demise, immediately asked Abagail to become his wife.
In most of our lives today, conflict in relationships is rarely so dire as what Abigail faced, but it is inevitable because of our sinful natures. We can use conflict to bash and batter one another or we can use it like a sharpening stone to hone our character on and build deep, intimate relationships with friends and family. The choice is all ours.