Friday, January 23rd, 2015
Leading Wisely in the Wake of Foolishness
The Old Testament story of Nabal and Abigail is a classic case of one person’s poor leadership followed by the wise leadership of another. In 1 Samuel 25, we read that David and his men had been with the shepherds guarding Nabal’s sheep. David’s men had respected, guarded, and protected the shepherds throughout the stay alongside their fields. When David sent a few of his men to greet Nabal and request his favor, Nabal responded with insults and arrogance. Nabal’s foolish response to David’s request triggered David and his men to gird their swords for an attack on Nabal and his household.
When Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard the news of the impending attack, she sprung into action. We can learn at least four lessons from her response to the crisis:
- She gathered her resources. Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. – 1 Samuel 25:18 Abigail didn’t waste a minute nor did she skimp on resourcing her plan. She immediately began gathering the resources necessary to counter the firestorm sparked by Nabal’s insults to David and his men.
- She exercised discernment. She said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. – 1 Samuel 25:19 Abigail didn’t bemoan the fact that her husband’s actions had created this threat, nor did she confront him about the situation. Discernment told her that engaging Nabal would further aggravate the tension between him and the men riding in to attack. She crafted a plan and engaged those best positioned to help her diffuse the situation.
- She met the problem head on. It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. – 1 Samuel 25:20 Abigail courageously met the very men that were planning to attack her household. She did not let fear stop her from addressing the threat that loomed over her home. She recognized that the risk of trying to hide from or avoid the problem far outweighed the risk of addressing it with courage.
- She owned the problem. When Abigail saw David, …she said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you.” 1 Samuel 25:23a, 24a Even though Abigail’s husband had stirred David’s anger, Abigail accepted responsibility as she approached David. She did not act like a victim in the situation. Instead, she spoke humbly yet boldly and with sincere respect for David and his men, successfully influencing David to change his mind about attacking Nabal’s household.
When given the opportunity to lead, Nabal acted arrogantly, living up to his reputation as a foolish and harsh man. Abigail’s example shows us, however, that foolishness does not have to follow foolishness. Because she exercised wise leadership, Abigail and her household were saved from disaster. So if the foolish actions of another ever leave you in a precarious situation, don’t be a victim. Remember Abigail…think wisely, act swiftly, and lead courageously.
To your tbl success,