This is the story of a beauty who was to be married to a beast, but it’s not a fable or a Disney movie. It takes place during Bible times in Israel, when David—who would soon be king—was hiding out from King Saul who wanted to kill him.
Abigail came from a devout family, so why would they offer their daughter in marriage to a beast like Nabal? Listen to the Bible descriptions of the two of them:
His name was Nabal (which means fool) and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings.”
Back to the questions: What possible reason could her family have to want their daughter married to such a vile man? For some people, money covers a multitude of sins, and Nabal was wealthy. Perhaps Abigail’s family was very poor or deeply in debt, and the bride price that was paid at the time of the betrothal (called mohar) would mean that the rest of the family would not have to sell themselves into slavery.
All we know, based on Biblical record, is the patriarchal culture of Abigail’s time, a woman’s value was judged in terms of marriage and children. To Nabal, his wife was his property, and he got more than he bargained for–more than mere property–when he arranged to marry her.
In the days before her wedding, how would Abigail answer the questions asked to her by a young woman of this century? Let’s name her Blythe, which means “free spirit.”
“Women don’t get to choose—not their tasks, their duties, nor their husbands. Nobody asks women how they feel or what they think. They’re told what to do, who their husband will be, and then he decides what their life will be like. Women have no choices, no power, no control. It’s not fair? How can you stand it, Abigail?
“How could your father promise you to that boorish, surly, cruel, drunken lout? Can’t he see what kind of a man he is? But what do men care about our happiness? Your father’s only concern is that mohar that will save him from the moneylenders.
“Nabal … Nabal. It’s such an ugly name! But then, what else would you call such a fool, but fool?
“You’ll never get to rest. You’ll have to manage the servants, the shepherds, the household, the trade, but you’ll never get any credit for it. And Nabal will act like he is in charge while he does absolutely nothing but drink the wine.
“He’s mean—he beats his servants, you know. Especially when he’s drinking, and when isn’t he drinking? His own mother was afraid of him. It was a blessing when she died.
“I can’t believe how calm you are. Your trousseau is finished, and you’ll have to go home with him! I’m frightened for you. Oh, Abigail, it’s so unfair!”
“Calm. If she would ever quit wailing, I’d tell her how frightened I am. If she’d been awake for those long nights she would have seen my tears and heard me pleading with God to stop this awful marriage. I would tell her if she’d give me a chance, but she never stops talking.
“I talked to God about all of this: cruelty, fairness, a woman’s lot, and no choices. And he told me I was wrong. There are choices. I can choose to be miserable or to make the best of a miserable situation. I can choose to look for ways out of this agreement between men or realize that I can help my family this way. I can choose to make sure that everyone knows that Nabal is a fool who can’t handle his responsibilities or I can do my best to see that he prospers. I can choose to love the Lord and trust that he will take care of me or I can turn my back on him when things don’t go the way I want them to.
“I’ve said these things to my sBlythe, but she doesn’t listen. She thinks that I am too afraid to fight. I can’t seem to get her to understand that I am trusting in God’s promises. He promised that all things work out for good for those who love him. Well, I love him, so this is my promise. Can’t she see that I will have more opportunities to make my own choices if I am married to a man who is usually too drunk to function? Who will run the estate if I don’t? Who will take charge of the servants, the flocks, the vineyards, if I don’t?
“She moans that women have no choices, and I can’t deny our lot. But how can I get her to see that the most important choice of her life is hers alone to make? I’m talking about choosing to love and follow God.“My help is from Jehovah who made the mountains. And the heavens, too. He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping. Jehovah himself is caring for me! He is my defender. He protects me day and night. He keeps me from all evil and preserves my life. He keeps his eye upon me as I come and go, and always guards me.” (Psalm 121)