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Lesson 5: Abigail: No Victim of Circumstances *

Introduction: Think about the people who seem to get along with everyone. What allows them to get along? Is that something you could possess? What they have is called "emotional intelligence," and you can learn to have it. Our lesson this week is about a smart, beautiful, practical and emotionally intelligent woman named Abigail. Her story introduces us to the Bible-based rules of emotional intelligence. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to learn more!

  1. The Main Characters

    1. Read 1 Samuel 25:1-3. What do we know about David, Nabal and Abigail? (Samuel is David's primary witness that he has been anointed to be King of Israel. Now Samuel has died. After Samuel's death, David immigrates to Maon where Nabal lives. Nabal is rich. He is also mean and surly in his business affairs. Abigail, Nabal's wife, also lives in Maon. She is smart and beautiful.)

    2. Do you know beautiful and intelligent women who are married to rich and surly men?

      1. How does that work out?

  2. The Business Dispute

    1. Read 1 Samuel 25:4-6. Assume that some young men come to your door and say, "Long life to you! Good day and good health to you and your family!" What would be your reaction? (I would think, "What are you selling?")

    2. Read 1 Samuel 25:7-9. Let's consider this message. Assume that some immigrants come to your home and say "We did not mistreat your employees or steal your stuff. How would you like to give us some money for that because we see that you are cashing in on your business profits and no doubt you are in a good and generous mood?"

      1. Would you think you were being visited by the Mafia?

      2. Does David have a legal claim on Nabal's profits? (No.)

      3. Does David have a moral claim on Nabal's profits?

      4. Does David have a "feel good" claim on Nabal's profits?

    3. Let's jump ahead to gather a little more information about whether David and him men have a moral claim. Read 1 Samuel 25:14-16. What do you think "a wall around us all the time" means? (Nabal's shepherds were in the wilderness where they would naturally suffer some loss from the hostile surroundings. David's men protected them. That gives David the moral argument that if his men had not protected Nabal's animals, Nabal would have lower profits.)

      1. If David's men can make the trip to collect their claim, why didn't David show up months before to enter into an agreement with Nabal to protect his animals in exchange for some of the profit?

    4. Read 1 Samuel 25:10-11. What is Nabal's answer to David's request for part of the profits? (No.)

      1. Let's explore this a bit more. Re-read 1 Samuel 25:8. David asks Nabal to talk to his shepherds to get accurate information about his request. Has Nabal done that? (No. Notice that when we skipped ahead, we found that Abigail does that later.)

        1. Read Proverbs 13:16. What counsel do we find about decision-making?

      2. Not having any first-hand information, on what basis does Nabal make his decision? (It is a very odd bit of thinking in today's business world. Nabal decides to give David nothing because David is a nobody. He does not discuss the main issue - has David performed services that deserve payment?)

        1. Why do you think Nabal misses the main issue? (It could be because he assumes that David helped protect his herds, but David has no authority to enforce his claims. Or, it could be that Nabal is not only surly and mean, he is so stupid that he cannot arrive at the real issue. Stupid, surly and mean come as package in some people.)

        2. If Nabal knew from where David had immigrated, would it have made a difference?

    5. Did you know that most employees get fired because they cannot get along, not because they are incompetent to do their job?

      1. The ability to get along with others, as mentioned in the introduction, is called "emotional intelligence." How would you rate Nabal on his emotional intelligence?

        1. What, specifically, is Nabal doing that is emotionally unintelligent? (Most of what he says is simply insulting David. There is no need to insult David in making the business decision or in giving a reply.)

      2. Let's read some Bible-based principles of emotional intelligence:

        1. Read Proverbs 18:19, Proverbs 20:3 and Proverbs 11:17. How is Nabal doing on the Bible-based rules of emotional intelligence?

  3. David's Response

    1. Read 1 Samuel 25:12-13. Is David really like the Mafia?

      1. Why do you think he has this reaction? (Because of what we know about David generally, and the fact that God chose him to be the future King of Israel, I'm going to assume that he is not involved in some sort of shakedown of Nabal. Instead, I think David is reacting to the insults.)

    2. Is David showing emotional intelligence?

      1. Read Proverbs 12:16, Proverbs 24:19 and Proverbs 19:11. What does the Bible say about David's emotional intelligence?

  4. Abigail's Response

    1. Read 1 Samuel 25:14-17. Why do you think that the servant went to Abigail? (No doubt because she had some sense.)

      1. Consider that the servant is telling Abigail what to do. Should she be insulted?

      2. What do you think about the fact that Nabal doesn't take advice and Abigail does? (Read Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 13:10 and Proverbs 19:20. Abigail could have been insulted. Instead, she showed emotional intelligence by taking advice. She showed further emotional intelligence ( Proverbs 13:16) by seeking to act based on knowledge. The fact that Nabal never takes advice is further evidence that he lacks emotional intelligence.)

    2. Read 1 Samuel 25:18-19. What point is Abigail making with the food?

      1. Why does she ride along behind? Is this for her safety, and not the safety of the servants? (Nabal has insulted David by not giving him any food. Abigail is showing David's importance by giving him many gifts of food. She rides behind so that David will see the presents first.)

        1. If you were Abigail, would you ride toward David or would you gather as many of your possessions as you could and ride the opposite way?

      2. Is it good or bad that she did not tell her husband what she was doing? (Read Proverbs 18:1, Proverbs 21:24 and Proverbs 9:7-8. Nabal would not have taken Abigail's advice. As a "mocker," he would simply have abused her for her actions.)

    3. Read 1 Samuel 25:23-28. What does Abigail understand that Nabal does not? (That the insults towards David are the problem. She is doing all she can to show that David is worthy of praise and honor.)

      1. Could Abigail have reasonably said, "What are you guys, the Mafia? Those herds are ours and I'm willing to pay for your help. But what you have in mind is simply criminal!" (Read Proverbs 11:2 and Ecclesiastes 10:20. The prior argument would express pride. David was to be the next king. Reviling him would be a big mistake. Abigail showed emotional intelligence by being humble and by avoiding giving insult to those in authority.)

    4. Read 1 Samuel 25:32-35. How has Abigail's emotional intelligence served Abigail? (It arrested David's anger and brought out David's own emotional intelligence.)

    5. Read 1 Samuel 25:36-40. How does the story end for the emotionally intelligent wife and the emotionally unintelligent husband? (Abigail trades mean and surly for the next King. It seems to be a pretty good trade.)

    6. Friend, have you considered whether you act in an emotionally intelligent way? If not, why not study Proverbs to increase your emotional intelligence and increase your success in life?

  5. Next week: Uriah: Faith of a Foreigner.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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