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A word to the wise is sufficient for them. The quick, intelligent mind of Abigail comprehended at once the whole bearing of the matter. She saw that not only her husband's safety was endangered, but that the cause of God was also about to be dishonoured, by a deed which would have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. With the recorded example of her great progenitor . before her, who, when trembling for the safety of his household, sent a gift before him to allay the anger of his brother, she lost not a moment in preparing such a sumptuous and liberal offering as far outwent the modest demand of David.
Whilst her husband was feasting himself without fear, together with the other ungodly revellers of his household, she was busied in preparations for ensuring his safety; and when the cavalcade was in readiness to move onward, bearing the burden which her bounty had prepared, she herself closed the procession, and went fearlessly forth to meet the band of spoilers, taking with her words of wisdom which she knew would reach the heart of him who, however borne away by the sudden gusts of passion, yet desired to set God alway before him, and to have respect to all his commandments.
It was well for David that the measures which Abigail took were equally prompt and decisive. He and his men were already on the march to execute their bloody purpose, when they encountered the bearers of. Abigail's present, and immediately after herself also. The manner of Abigail's approach was highly characteristic of her gracious and condescending behaviour. “ When she saw David she hasted and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her feet, and bowed herself to the ground.” The rich and beautiful wife of Nabal was, we may conclude, on that day of festivity “clothed with broidered work and covered with silk, decked also with ornaments, and perfect through comeliness ;” and the sudden view of such an apparition accosting him in the attitude of an inferior, and in the posture of humble supplication, might well have served to arrest the chief of an enterprise, even more urgent than was that of David ; but before he could cease to wonder at the vision, Abigail had commenced that address, which for the wisdom of its arrangement, the eloquence of its language, and the delicacy of its respectful allusions to David's circumstances, combined with the high tone of piety running through the whole, is almost without parallel, even in the pages of scripture.
She first craved pardon for not having been herself present when the messengers of David arrived in Maon, and took the whole blame of Nabal's proceedings upon herself: “ Upon me, my lord, upon me, let this iniquity be; but I, thine handmaid, saw not the young men of my lord whom thou didst send. I pray thee forgive the trespass of thine handmaid.” The very word used to express her acknowledged failure in duty, carried with it a powerful extenuation of her fault, and was well understood by him to whom it was addressed-“ forgive, I pray thee, the trespass of thine handmaid.” The ritual of that law which enjoined the believer of old to love bis neighbour as himself, had made provision for the incidental transgressions of that law which “ was weak through the flesh," and had appointed the trespass-offering to be at once an acknowledgment of, and atonement for, his wilful or involuntary sin. He whose lips had given utterance to the self-renouncing prayer, “ Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins," could not turn a deaf ear when a cry of like import was uttered by an offending brother, more especially when the fourfold restitution gave evidence of the sincerity of that brother's repentance. Already must the softened heart of David bave relented, ere the skilful advocate of the guilty Nabal referred personally to him. In endeavouring to exculpate, as far as possible, the misconduct of her husband, she adroitly throws back some share of blame upon David himself. Why had he sought “ to gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles ?” How could he expect a different mode of proceeding from one who was notorious for his “ evil doings," and whose very name should have served to caution David against any unreasonable expectations of gratitude or liberality on his part ? “ Why should my lord regard this man of Belial, even Nabal, for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him : now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my Lord, be as Nabal:”-let the folly of all thy persecutors be as manifest as his is :-let thy enemies be all equally impotent to injure thee.
In how different a light must the whole transaction now have appeared to David from that in which he had beheld it in the morning, when viewed through the magnifying medium of his own anger. The skilful pleader seized this favourable moment, when. the wisdom of her strong arguments must have prodaced a perceptible impression upon her listening auditor, to call forth his well-known devotional feelings towards that God whose providence alone had
kept him back from the exhibition of an act of folly, as much greater than that of Nabal as the crime which David would have perpetrated exceeded his in dye. Abigail takes it for granted, that David has already abandoned in his heart all thoughts of his meditated revenge; and passing over, with a delicacy and humility truly admirable, all mention of herself, even as the means under God of saying David from the commission of evil, she boldly and beautifully directs his thoughts at once to the clear azure, the unveiled throne of the Great Controller of the deeds of men, and exclaims, “ As the Lord liveth, the Lord hath with holden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand.”
Having now, as it seemed, secured to her offending husband forgiveness at the hands of David; and having ascribed his deliverance from danger, and David's preservation from sin, solely to Him to whose preventing grace alone the glory of that doliverance and preservation was due, she next invited attention to the richly laden beasts bearing the freewill offering of her bounty, and which, as it was intended to be, both of a propitiatory nature, and also expressive of gratitude for favours received, was aptly designated by her, “ this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought:" and here again is exhibited another trait of that refined and high-wrought courtesy, which gives the finish as it were to the graces, and virtues of Abigail. The present which she had to bestow, sumptuous and liberal as it was,
I No cloud is seen in Palestine during the months of May, June, July, and August. The period of this interview is denoted by Nabal's occupation.
is not referred to with the ostentation of munificence, but laid lowly at the feet of David, with a graceful insinuation on the part of the donor, that in her estimation it was not worthy of his acceptance, since not to bimself but to his servants it is presented : « And now this blessing which tbine handmaid hath brought, let it be even given to the young men that walk at the feet of my Lord.”
Having thus meekly presented the fourfold restitution of her husband's trespass, she concludes with a few words of encouragement, calculated to strengthen David's trust in God, and such “ sweet counsel” as must have distilled like dew upon the fainting head of him who, though ofttimes delivered from impending danger, could not altogether shake off the infirmities of human faith, and to whose harassed soul the unbelieving thought would sometimes present itself, “ I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul.” Not such is the view which Abigail bad taken of David's desperate circumstances; she staggered not at the divine declarations concerning him; no, not though all apparent probabilities were against their fulfilment: not though the reins of Judah's dominion were then firmly grasped by Saul the Benjamite, encircled by a powerful and numerous clan of dependants and relatives, and supported by the state's best prop, the brave and pious Jonathan, the idol of the people, and the presumed successor to the throne. But, “ Hath He said and shall He not do it, hath He spoken and shall He not bring it to pass ?” So reasoned Abigail; and therefore she could say with confidence, “ The Lord will certainly make my lord a sare house, because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy