I ran, fear making my belly churn as I approached the mistress. “We’re dead men!” I declared, still gasping for breath. “Nabal has just sent David’s men away, refusing them food and insulting David as if he was a common criminal. Surely he will not take such an insult without retribution!”
Abigail turned from her work to look at me, her face pale.
This was the worst thing yet. God had blessed us all by bringing Abigail into Nabal’s household, although she was not so blessed by being his wife. He was a coarse, selfish man, who had no sense. This time his greed and stupidity had put us in mortal danger – David and his men would take our lives, I was sure. Desperately, I hoped this woman would think of something to do. I had witnessed her handling of her husband’s many indiscretions, and she had proven herself capable and shrewd. On this fact, I staked our lives.
“Quick!” she hissed, “Get the mules! I will have the women pack as much food as the animals can hold!” Within an hour we were on our way with loaves of bread, raisin cakes, meat and wine. Without a word to her husband, Abigail mounted her donkey. Half drunk, partying with his friends, Nabal never noticed.
Abigail sent me and some others ahead with the food. She followed, dressed in her best, I noticed.
Up ahead, a rising cloud of dust told me that we were in the nick of time. They were riding hard - another hour and they would be upon us. Who could blame them for their anger? They had protected and helped us; but our master thanked them by refusing to even feed them.
David was at the forefront of his men, his face angry. I had never seen him look this way. As he stopped in front of us with his men, I could see that he was puzzled by the animals laden with food.
“What is this?” he demanded. But I was struck dumb by fear and uncertainty.
“My Lord!” It was our mistress speaking. “Please forgive the house of Nabal for the inhospitable attitude shown to you and your men. I was not at home, or I would have made sure you were given all you needed. My husband, indeed, can be very rude. But you, as a man of God, would surely not raise your sword against a household that has already suffered by being servants of such a man. Surely no innocent blood needs to be spilled. You are God’s man, my Lord. May his hand be upon you and bless you.”
“God has surely stayed my hand because of you!” David replied. “My men and I would not have left one male alive in your household!” In a softer voice, he told her, “Go in peace. And thank you for bringing these provisions for my men.”
We were safe. David, a man of his word, would not harm us.
“Come with me, Josiah!” Abigail called. We rode back together. She was pale, and I knew she was worried. I did not think she would go to my master and confess what she had done, but that was exactly what she had on her mind. “Stay nearby, in case I need you.” I knew she was afraid he might beat her and she would need my help.
As we reached home, the noise of revelry greeted us. While our lives had hung in the balance, Nabal had been without a care – eating, drinking, and laughing with his friends. His negligence and stupidity knew no bounds! He did not deserve this woman! I trembled for her as she approached him in front of his friends.
“Nabal!” she said loudly. “A woman has just saved your life and the lives of your friends! David was on his way to kill you and every man here. Your friends would have died with you! You refused David your hospitality!”
The master turned white under the intense scrutiny of those he entertained. One by one, they left the room. He had broken one of the most important rules in our culture – and he had thoughtlessly put their lives at risk when he did it. For once his embarrassment and fear overcame his anger. Not looking at anyone, he left the room.
Praise God, we were twice spared – once from David’s anger and now from Nabal’s.
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