By Russ Ramsey
Abigail’s story in Scripture is brief, but it reflects the ministry of Christ.
When David and his men were in the wilderness hiding from King Saul, they sought refuge and food at the home of a man named Nabal. Nabal refused their request, insulting David and his men in the process. So David prepared to fight. When Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard they were coming, she went out to intercept them—to give them supplies and apologize for her foolish husband.
Abigail told Nabal what she had done. When he learned how David had planned to kill him, he had an apparent heart attack, or possibly a stroke, and died ten days later. When David heard about Nabal’s death, he married Abigail and took her into his home.
Many Old Testament figures foreshadow Christ, meaning they illustrate His coming ministry. Abigail is one such person. Looking at this story through the lens of the gospel, David, the righteous and strong king, represents God. And Nabal, the obstinate and intoxicated property owner who was unwilling to welcome in the king—well, he represents us. Abigail, the one who interceded before the king on Nabal’s behalf, represents Christ.
Nabal represents the worst in us. The soon-to-be-king asks for food, and Nabal says, in effect, “No. Who does he think he is, asking me to share what’s mine?” He doesn’t just decline David’s request. He does so with contempt. The wage of Nabal’s sin, according to David, is death (1 Samuel 25:12–13).
But Abigail comes to David on Nabal’s behalf, offering a righteous recompense to atone for Nabal’s prior belligerence. She asks for mercy but also brings an offering to secure it. She says (my paraphrase), “I know my husband is a fool and a rebel, but I’m asking you to receive my offering on his behalf and forgive his trespass” (vv.23–25).
This is a picture of the work of Christ. The righteous one comes to us, asking for our fidelity and generosity, and we turn away in disgust at the very thought He has any claim on us. But He does have a rightful claim on us and regards our rejection of Him as outright rebellion. Christ intercedes on our behalf, offering His record of perfect righteousness to cover our iniquities, asking the Father to forgive us according to His sacrifice. God receives the offering of Christ on our behalf, and we are delivered.
Written by Russ Ramsey