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Sabbath School Lessons on Background Characters in the Old Testament
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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
- The Main Characters
- 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.)
- Do you know beautiful and intelligent women who are
married to rich and surly men?
- How does that work out?
- The Business Dispute
- 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?")
- 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?"
- Would you think you were being visited by the Mafia?
- Does David have a legal claim on Nabal's profits?
- Does David have a moral claim on Nabal's profits?
- Does David have a "feel good" claim on Nabal's
- 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
- 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?
- Read 1 Samuel 25:10-11. What is Nabal's answer to David's
request for part of the profits? (No.)
- 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.)
- Read Proverbs 13:16. What counsel do we find
- 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?)
- 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.)
- If Nabal knew from where David had immigrated,
would it have made a difference?
- Did you know that most employees get fired because they
cannot get along, not because they are incompetent to do
- The ability to get along with others, as mentioned
in the introduction, is called "emotional
intelligence." How would you rate Nabal on his
- 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.)
- Let's read some Bible-based principles of emotional
- Read Proverbs 18:19, Proverbs 20:3 and Proverbs
11:17. How is Nabal doing on the Bible-based
rules of emotional intelligence?
- David's Response
- Read 1 Samuel 25:12-13. Is David really like the Mafia?
- 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.)
- Is David showing emotional intelligence?
- Read Proverbs 12:16, Proverbs 24:19 and Proverbs
19:11. What does the Bible say about David's
- Abigail's Response
- Read 1 Samuel 25:14-17. Why do you think that the servant
went to Abigail? (No doubt because she had some sense.)
- Consider that the servant is telling Abigail what to
do. Should she be insulted?
- 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
- Read 1 Samuel 25:18-19. What point is Abigail making with
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.