When a woman takes control (1 Samuel 25)

I was pretty young when I decided I wanted to have children one day.

It was a split second decision. In fact, it came on the heels of the exact opposite decision.

I had just absent-mindedly pronounced that I didn’t ever want to have children. “You have to have kids,” was the quick rejoinder from a family member.

Oh, I shrugged internally. That’s that. It was simple, bluntly put statements like that that formed my idea of my future. I would marry. I would give birth. These would be the two most important things to happen to me.

This gender role was Biblical, I was told, and tested and proved by time. So I accepted it gladly.

Imagine my surprise, then, when not only the world but the Bible promised me there could be more to look forward to.

She acted

Abigail probably wouldn’t have agreed—at first.

She was married. She was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing, and although she almost definitely was not happy (her husband was “mean” and stingy and “churlish” – verse 3), surely she would be once she had a baby.

But then one day, her entire life plan is threatened when a servant tells her that her husband has just pissed off David ben Jesse, the man who killed Goliath, the man on the run from King Saul. Now he was coming to her home, probably to kill every last one of them.

I don’t know what I would have done in that situation—imagine being a woman in ancient Israel trying to figure out what to do.

One option was to obey her husband. She could have stuck to her role as wife and let her husband the provider handle his own mess.

But Abigail barely even considered this. Verse 18 says “Abigail acted quickly”, so she probably didn’t spend much time agonizing or doubting herself. She got up. She gathered a bunch of food and supplies.

And she went out to meet the angry fugitive soldier by herself.

When she meets him, she bows. She shows him respect. She flatters him.

But shockingly, hidden beneath her deferential words is a quiet rebuke:

“When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he has 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 avenging himself.”

verses 30-31

So, to recap, Abigail, when faced with a threat on her life, took matters into her own hands and stood up to not one, but two men.

How did her husband respond? He died before he could take in the full impact of what she’d done (verse 37).

How did David respond? With humility and praise and respect: “May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day” (verse 33).

How did God respond?

“I created women equal to men.”

One of the things that comforts me about the Bible is that stories centering women never include a sense of shock or indignation at their power or ability. The Bible authors never note how strange it is for a woman to be doing this.

That alone shows us how God saw women like Abigail: not as the weaker sex or as less important characters or as surprising exceptions—as His children.

But then He took it further by blessing Abigail. He freed her from her wicked husband. He blessed her with safety, marriage to the future king of Israel, and children.

God cosigned her actions. He showed us that He had worked through Abigail to save lives and to guide Israel’s future king.

And He reminded us that women are not wives and mothers and nothing else.

Sometimes they are neither of those things. Sometimes they are these things and more. Sometimes they are these things and that’s enough.

But always they are fully formed people with autonomy and strength and purpose and worth.

And in His eyes that will never change.

What do you think? What was the significance of what God did through Abigail?

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