Marriage Matters: Lessons from Biblical Couples 1
David and Abigail – Character Matters
1 Samuel 25:2-42
While anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows of King David and his lasting legacy of strength and honor in Israel, it is easy to forget the many lessons we can learn from his marriages—both from his wicked choices and his wise choices. David’s marriage to Abigail the Carmelite was certainly the latter.
The way David first met Abigail was inarguably unusual. She was married at the time to a foolish man named Nabal who had just rudely rejected David and his men when they requested help from him. David was riding with a small army toward Nabal’s house to kill his entire household and avenge the offense, but Abigail met him on his way and, falling on her knees, passionately pleaded with him to change course:
“My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him. I wasn’t there when the young men my master sent arrived. I didn’t see them. And now, my master, as God lives and as you live, God has kept you from this avenging murder—and may your enemies, all who seek my master’s harm, end up like Nabal! Now take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to my master, and give it to the young men who follow in the steps of my master. Forgive my presumption! But God is at work in my master, developing a rule solid and dependable. My master fights God’s battles! … When God completes all the goodness he has promised my master and sets you up as prince over Israel, my master will not have this dead weight in his heart, the guilt of an avenging murder. And when God has worked things for good for my master, remember me” (1 Samuel 25:24-30, excerpted from The Message translation for readability and clarity).
Though Abigail gave this speech while humbly bowing at David’s feet, we should note how much courage this would have taken. Throughout the passage, we see that Abigail took the initiative to protect her husband, her household and her future king when she found out about Nabal’s sin. She acted quickly in preparing a generous gift for David and his men, sincerely apologized for the sin of her husband, and humbly challenged David’s plan for vengeance.
David’s heart was moved by this display of Abigail’s honorable character. She respected him, but courageously called him to more—for the glory of God. While standing up to her evil husband and her noble king, Abigail showed incredible strength of character. Yes, she wanted to save the lives of her household. But her impassioned speech to David was about more than that; it was about giving God honor—and that’s what attracted David. So much so, that when Nabal died by God’s hand 10 days later, David asked Abigail to be his wife.
Whether we are currently seeking a potential spouse or have been married for years, we need to remember that character matters. We should ask the Lord to shape us and shape our spouses into people of integrity, humility, and courage. We should long for God to transform us into people who radiantly display the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
We should also ensure that we are recognizing, encouraging, and thanking God for the signs of strong, godly character in our partner. Let us not take for granted the very rare gift it is to be married to a person who is even more committed to God’s glory and God’s will than they are to us. Proverbs 31:10 (NASB) says, “An excellent wife, who can find her? For her worth is far above jewels”; likewise, Proverbs 20:6-7 says, “Many a person proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy person? A righteous person who walks in his integrity—How blessed are his sons after him.” When we can safely trust in the integrity and wisdom of our husbands and wives, we should count ourselves blessed by God. Excellence and integrity are the true legacy we leave to our loved ones, so let us be encouraged by David and Abigail to prize and nurture godly character in our marriages.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-24, ESV)