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Did Abigail sin in talking to David behind her husband's back?

by Stephen Davey

Dwight asked: How can we balance Abigail's assertiveness, without Nabal's knowledge, with Paul's instructions for wives to submit to their husbands in everything?

In the story you refer to, Abagail went out and spoke to David without her husband knowing. She did this to save his life. Nabal, her husband, had acted foolishly, and David planned to take revenge by killing him. 

Abagail learned David was coming and went out to talk David out of what he planned to do. She gave David some very good advice. 

First, she encouraged David not to stoop down to Nabal’s level (1 Samuel 25:23-25). She knew she was married to a foolish and hardheaded man, and encouraged David to follow a different path.

Second, she reminded him that he should not take matters into his own hands (1 Samuel 25:26). God had restrained David from taking revenge up to that point, and David should not act in such an uncharacteristic way. 

Third, she expressed concern that David not diminish his high calling (1 Samuel 28:28). David had been fighting the Lord’s battles. That was a worthy pursuit. Fighting for his own honor would tarnish his role of fighting for God’s honor. 

Fourth, she wisely and courageously challenged David to not play the part of God (1 Samuel 25:29). God was taking care of David, and David need not concern himself with caring for himself. God can take care of all David’s enemies, and He had proven that to David in his encounter with Goliath.

Finally, Abigail encouraged David to not forget his future role (1 Samuel 25:30-31). David had been called to be the king over Israel. Fulfilling that role should not also come with the burden of a guilty conscience for having killed a man in vengeance. 

To get to the very heart of your question, the reason I believe Abigail is to be commended instead of condemned is because the Bible commends her. 

Notice how she's described in 1 Samuel 25:3:

...and the name of his wife was Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings.

Not only was she beautiful, but the Bible commends her for being discerning. That word means she had outstanding insight. She was wise. Abigail loved God as much as her husband rebelled against God. Abigail loved her people as much as Nabal loved himself. She was spiritually wise and Nabal was spiritually blind.

Abigail was not rebellious. She was a peacemaker. She did not violate any biblical commands or sin against her husband.

Add a Comment


Valerie Bishop says:
we are instructed to avoid being yoked with an unbeliever. But many of us come to Jesus after marriage so we must keep praying for our spouses! Go Abigail!
Rebecca says:
Once again, you have shed such truth and light on the question. Thank you, dear teacher of the Word!
Tim Stevens says:
You are right, the uprightness of her heart and the Lord's will lead her to talk to David this way. She was following the Lord's leanings.
Natalie Johnson says:
David is just like us. He is dissed and he wants to get revenge. His worldly ideas are overtaking his spiritual thinking. I wish someone as discerning as Abigail had been around to make David think twice before going to Bathsheba as I think he would have seen the err of his ways. We all need someone to step in the gap for us when we go off on a tangent. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful husband who is wise and gives me good advice (and sometimes I resent it) but it makes me stop and think about what I am doing wrong. If we truly want to grow and become mature Christians, we need to listen and grow in the knowledge of God. Thank you for your ministry. I especially enjoy the lessons on the book of James. God bless you all. Natalie Johnson
Gizelle S Greene says:
Such an amazing picture of godly grace and beauty, that speaks to my heart. Abigail‘s truest beauty was in her act of covering the sins of her husband. in quietness she covered her husband’s burden of sin. I love her actions here. Thank you for these messages.
BARBARA LEPORE 17-24-30-0000-00-042 WEST 7 ACRE PARCEL says:
And David was discerning to protect Abigail from staunch criticism she would surely receive from 3rd parties after her courageous response to this delicate ordeal for all.
Kerry says:
Dr. Davey, Thank you for the privilege to offer a comment for further clarification from you. Are you advocating that (in this case) the ends justified the means? From what I understand from the email you received, was the issue that Abigail did what she did without consulting with her husband first? Moreover, in judging that Nabal had not the capacity to make the decision, she decided to stepped in herself on behalf of their entire family without his involvement or consent? Can you comment simply on that choice she made, rather than all the justifications that it was the “right“ decision to make considering the outcome? As always, I appreciate your thoughtful insight. Kerry
Patricia (Gail) Birdsong says:
Thank you for this answer, Stephen; I'm in agreement with your interpretation of what I, too, believe God says about Abigail in His Word. I serve on the board for Granville County's Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault non-profit agency. One of our board members wrote a book entitled, "Abigail's Veil" a few years ago, and it relates specifically to how Nabal was more than likely abusive as a husband, and how Abigail's wisdom in this particular situation saved his life. With October's national emphasis on Domestic Violence awareness, this is particularly relevant, and I appreciate pastors such as yourself speaking openly about this disease of evil from your pulpit. I listen to you on BBN each morning at 8:30 and always come away with spiritual truths that apply in my own life. Thank you for your boldness in never departing from what God still says about the sin that is in our world.
Fernando Suarez says:
Abigail was also a devoted wife, she withstood the bad temper of her husband for years, and yet he interceeded for him, like a good wife would do.
Cheneta Jones says:
Absolutely love God’s Word and the high view you always have for it! Thank you for this blog!
Thomas Altizer says:
Brother, I think you nailed it. Your answer was full of wisdom because it was based upon God's holy Word. I appreciate you and your ministry. May God continue to bless you. By His grace, Thomas
April Knox says:
The scriptures do not say she was forbidden to do as she did. She was defending her husband as much as David’s honor. I can not tell you how disheartening it is to see a situation where assistance would be good but is a denied action on my part by a non God fearing husband. God knows the heart of all and deals with each accordingly.
Cynthia Hicks says:
Hi, Stephen! I have been married 52 years. Born again for 61 years, PTL! I love Abigail! Maybe the real question is Nabal's rebellion, and stubborn pride, as well as his lack of love for God. Many times wives, by God's wisdom and leading must step in to remedy a situation with obedience and love, not dishonoring or disrespect. Great answer Stephen!
Marilyn Ezell says:
Abigail was being led by God to intercede with no idea how it would effect her future 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
Timothy Amoroso says:
My faith was recently tested. What I learned from the situation was that I was incompetent. Testing usually happens in times of boredom and waiting. I had a few moments to pray. I gave my incompetence to Lord Jesus. And I trusted in Him to give me His ability to handle the situation. I praised Him for what He has already done for me. And I went into the testing with that attitude. I came out of it still praising the Lord for what He did for me. He gave me Himself as a free gift. I believe this is also how Abigail handled her situation as well.
Don Zeigler says:
Initially, I commend the questioning gentleman for a thoughtful issue that relatively few (including me) would have considered. As you already know, I am a regular listener to Wisdom For The Heart, and have been proud to tell others of how much I have personally been challenged by your insight, and teaching format. As such, it did not surprise me that my belief is your detailed answer was spot on. But when you use scripture to support your position, you should always feel comfortable in your position. My question for you, semi-related to Abagail’s and David’s situation, is can you see any similarity with what is, and has been, going on in the Southern Baptist Convention the last few years? Thanks for being a clear voice in a very muddled society.
Rose Tierney says:
I am grateful for your clear teaching from the Word of God. My husband, Raymond, and I use to come out from CA to visit our daughter, Kimberly and Joel West and you would say to me, "You need to move to Cary." Well, here it is about 20 years later, and, while Raymond has gone home to be with the Lord, I am overjoyed to be a part of Shepherd's Church. I pray for you and thank God for you.
Trena Garrison says:
Commenting only, no need to reply! AWESOME, AWESOME response regarding Abigail. You nailed it. Thank you!! FYI - A certain gentleman very dear to me (read between the lines) asked me about my favorite OT woman. I chose Abigail and Hannah equally. His was Moses' mother. OK, I understood his rationale, but I'm still rooting for Abigail! LOL Blessings to all....
Karen Scott says:
The answer you provided is Biblical and filled with wisdom and direction for us today. O that we may hear and respond in like manner. May the Lord continue to bless you with wisdom and discernment in handling His most Holy Word and sharing it so many. To God be all the glory!!
Linda Barnette says:
I totally agree with you. Having lived 58 years with a hard man, I wholeheartedly commend Abigail for what she did. Sometimes it is easier to go ahead with what you think is right and suffer the consequences later. In Abigail's situation, the Lord took care of the consequences. Thank you Dr. Davey, for your insight, I really enjoy your morning program on BBN. May the Lord bless you as you labor for Him. In Christ, Linda
Paul Beals says:
The response to the story of Abigail was excellent!
Lorraine McNeill says:
Wonderful seeing this in the light that God intended. Thank you!
John B says:
Very thorough and insightful answer. I thought along the lines of two of your responses but yours have more depth. :-)
Dina Richards says:
Your answer concerning Abigail is right on the mark! I try to listen every morning. I love your examples. They often make me smile. I also use your calendar for daily Bible reading. I find it very helpful to stay on track. Thanks for your ministry! I pray for your ministry and BBN daily.
Ralph says:
In addition to all of the very good points made by Dr. Davey, Abigail was risking her life to save her husband. David had already stated his ill intentions regarding Nabal and all those connected with him. See I Samuel 25:22.
Chris says:
The overarching fact is that she did not fail to submit to her husband, having been given no instructions by him, and not telling him of her intent. All else is pleasant understanding of a peacemaker or maybe just one who feared David. Either could be argued by one turning his back on the living God and looking for an excuse to do what seems right in their own eyes. But, in this case, I see a woman who knew her husband, and feared God, keeping His law regarding her husband and simultaneously serving His anointed.
Lillie Hinnant says:
No,Abigail did not sin and she lived long before Paul was born, so his advice to women was advice and not mandatory during her lifetime. Picture yourself in the shoes of any woman who lives with a man like Nabal. Most women could learn from her example in how she came to her husband’s rescue.
Pamela King says:
I think she was being protective of her husband. She obviously loved him very much.
Kwame Cudjoe says:
Abigail did the right thing in my opinion, she averted a greater evil and prevented a potential massacre of her whole household by David and his men. By the same act she also prevented David from shedding blood needlessly and being bloodguilty from rash prideful uncontrolled anger. So the 'sin' of talking behind her husband's back is a small price to pay in avoiding all those troubles. Thanks for your time and the opportunity to share my opinion. God bless.
Karen says:
I have always admired Abigail and have often felt a sense of camaraderie with her. I too have a husband who is rash and acts foolishly with his speech and his frustration toward others. I’ve tried to live in a way that honors God and also protects others from such foolishness. Thank you for your ministry.
Dwight Hayes says:
Thanks Stephen for answering my question. I appreciate your detailed argument against any rebellious behavior on Abigail’s part. May God continue to bless as you continue to obey our Wonderful Lord, Jesus.
Yolanda says:
Awesome explanation. It’s as you stated, what does scripture say about her. It commended her for her wisdom. She was protecting her husband and keeping David from a role that belonged to GOD which is vengeance.
Sandra Burns Wharton says:
No, I don't believe that she did. She was acting on what she felt was right and necessary. A husband and wife become one flesh, but we wouldn't let our leg be cut off to simply not offend our arm. She was protecting them all. God surely gave her the words and strength to make it work out for their good. God bless Shepherd's Church and you Pastor and your staff. My husband and I are so grateful to have you teach us God's word and I pray you have a heart to do it for another 30 years.