Choosing Grace

Lysa TerKeurst

Day: 25 | Plan: 1-2 Samuel

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 25

1 Samuel 25:3 (NIV) His name was Nabal and his wife's name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.”

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to choose between extending grace or operating out of bitterness?

Today’s passage gives us an extraordinary glimpse at the power of grace. It is a story that could have ended in tragedy but was instead radically altered by the humble posture of one woman’s heart.

In 1 Samuel 25:3, we meet Abigail, a woman whose beauty ran deeper than her outward appearance.

Abigail was married to a foolish man named Nabal. His name literally means “fool” in Hebrew. He was a cruel and stubborn man whose impulsive actions deeply offended David, the future king of Israel.

1 Samuel 25:1 tells us David and his men were traveling through the wilderness in Paran due to the death of the prophet Samuel. And since it was during sheep shearing time, a time of celebration marked with an extra level of generosity, David sent Nabal a message asking for his “favor,” and requesting special food for himself and his men. The Hebrew root word for favor here is chen, which also means “grace.”

But Nabal denied David both food and grace. Even though David had done a great favor by protecting Nabal’s sheep and shepherds, Nabal responded with an infuriating rejection of David and his men. David, in turn, vowed to kill Nabal and all the males belonging to him.

Obviously, this horrible situation caused by her husband’s careless words deeply affected Abigail. I’m sure Nabal’s cruelty and foolishness spilled in her direction more often than anyone else’s. But instead of filling up her wounded spaces with bitterness, she found stability by filling them with grace.

In this situation, Abigail figured out a way to give David not only festive food but also the kindness Nabal had denied him. Abigail approached David, the man threatening to kill every male in her household, and she quickly bowed down before him.

I want to live with this level of grace. But, boy, is it hard in heated moments of hurt. I’m stunned by how well Abigail lived this, and I find myself trying to resist grace in her story.

As I read her words in 1 Samuel 25:24 and discover her asking David to let the blame fall on her and her alone, my jaw clenches. How can she be asked to own any part of this?

Cast the blame on Nabal. He’s the fool in this story. Or place the blame on David; he’s the hot-headed one here. But not Abigail. She’s already had to wrestle under the weight of an unfair life. Now she has to step in between her ridiculous husband and a hungry, crazed David to take on blame that clearly wasn’t hers to bear?

But instead of bowing to anger, cynicism or blame, we find Abigail choosing grace.

Her giving grace doesn’t justify her husband or validate David. 

It saves her. It makes David stop cold in his heated tracks. It makes his men with swords in their hands and death on their minds, pause. I can almost see their arms full of weapons and their bodies full of testosterone tremble. What a scene. Though Abigail is bowed low, grace gives her the upper hand. She refuses to be a victim of a circumstance she can’t fully change. Instead she changes what she can.

She gives David food and respect.

The humiliation of being married to a man whose name meant “fool” was painful. But it had secretly worked something good deep within Abigail’s soul. The more she cooperated with grace, the more her humiliation turned into humility. Humility can’t be bought at a bargain price. It’s the long working of grace upon grace within the hurts of our hearts.

Humility gave Abigail the greatest advantage in this life-and-death conversation with David. And being people of humility and grace will do the same for us.

I know it’s not easy, friends. But let’s be humble enough to learn from Abigail. She didn’t excuse the poor actions of others. She simply chose not to add her own sin in the mix by reacting out of anger or bitterness. She made the choice to walk in victory. And grace will allow us to do the same if we choose it. It’s impossible to hold up the banners of victim and victory at the same time. Our choice to give grace gives God the space to step in and rewrite the end of our story.

Prayer: Father God, in the heat of a mess, You know the last thing I want to do is get humble. Instead, I want to get loud and prove my point. Thank You for reminding me today that I need to let You interrupt my gut-reactions. Thank You for encouraging me to invite Your grace into every hurting space within me so that grace, not bitterness, can be what flows back out of me. Help me become a woman known for having a heart of wisdom, humility and kindness. A woman who is more and more like Jesus – the greatest grace giver this world has ever known. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

Abigail is also such a good example of “me too” done right.

In 1 Samuel 25,... Read More

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