I’ve addressed one aspect of abuse in my post Responding Responsibly. I have a lingering concern that there are women hurting around me in silence. Abused by husbands who say it is their God given authority. Maybe this wife watches her husband abuse her children. The wife often wants to obey the Lord and so she stays because it is their duty to be submissive.
So where does this leave the wife and children who are beaten and abused? Does the Bible say anything to them?
I believe He gives some instruction through the story of Abigail.
Conflict and Chaos
Nabal was a wealthy and powerful man. He owned land, three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. David, once a lowly shepherd, is now anointed King of Israel. While he was in Nabal’s land he and his band of men had helped protect the sheep and servants. In those days there were not corner markets to get food and supplies. People were dependent on the kindness of strangers.
It was an egregious affront to David when Nabal begain to hurl insults at him and refuse to help him and his army. David is infuriated and decides to kill Nabal and all his men. Yikes! What David plans to do shocks us, but it would not have been shocking given his culture.
Enter Abigail. She is a beautiful and strong woman. The servants come and plead with her to do something so they are not all annihilated. Obviously, these servants and people knew what kind of man Nabal was and went directly to Abigail to make her aware of the situation. She leaps to action and gathers breads, wine, and meat to try to change the mind of this man who would kill her people. She does not ask her husband. She just protects her people.
Wait a minute!
Isn’t she supposed to be submissive in all things? Isn’t she supposed to say “lord, lord,” like Sarah? What Abigail does seems to fly in the face of that teaching.
I assure you it does not. Women I beg you. I am pleading with you. If there is a man in your life who is going to harm you or your children you must do the Biblical thing.
Submissive in Spirit
Here are a few reasons to think about what Abigail does and the motivation behind it.
1. She knows her husband well. She does not doubt what the servant tells her because she knows her husband’s pattern of behavior.
2. She leaps into action. She gathers food for David and rides down to meet him herself.
3. She asks for protection for her family.
Abigail has done what was necessary to protect her people, but the story does not end there.
She goes back home and in the morning tells her husband what she has done. I think that is clear evidence of a submissive heart. The Bible does not tell us that she yells and screams at him. She does however communicate the details of the day.
Abigail remains in a submissive spirit even to her foolish husband. Certainly in our day and age of constant communication it would be simple enough to give an explanation of why you left and won’t come back until he gets help in a safe environment.
Protected and Blessed
God protects Abigail. As she tells her husband his heart fails and he turns to stone. Nabal would never again harm her or her family. When he dies 10 days later she is left a widow. In our culture being left a wealthy widow is sad but not financially devastating. She can go on and live in a financially comfortable state. That is not the case in this culture. All property and wealth has to be held and go through a man.
By marrying Abigail, David protects her from this most sure ruin. As much as I find myself cringing at the idea of him having more than one wife, it was an act of kindness on the part of David.
I am in no way saying that if you leave an abusive husband, the Lord will immediately punish him and you will be destined to marry a king.
I am saying that if you are forced to leave an abusive husband, God will take care of you. He will not forsake those who protect children.