Category: Women of the Bible (A thru M)

Hadassah is the Jewish name of Queen Esther, and she is mentioned by this name in Esther 2:7, “Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.”

Hadassah is a feminine form of the Hebrew word hadas, meaning “myrtle,” a common perennial shrub with evergreen leaves and white, star-shaped flowers. The flowers of the myrtle are used for perfume, and the berries for allspice. Myrtle is referenced symbolically in the Bible as a sign of peace and God’s blessing in passages such as Zechariah 1:11, in which the angel of the Lord stands among the myrtle trees and says, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.”

Esther’s early name of “Hadassah” was perhaps symbolic as well, not only because of her beauty but because her destiny was to procure peace and blessing for God’s people in Persia. The Jews in Esther’s time were under threat of genocide by Haman, a close confidant of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). Hadassah entered Ahasuerus’s palace as a prospective concubine, but God had greater plans for the young Jewish woman.

King Ahasuerus was known for his drinking, lavish banquets, harsh temper, and sexual appetite. In 483 BC, after a 180-day display of his riches, splendor, and pomp, he held a massive banquet. In drunken merriment, Ahasuerus requested that his wife, Queen Vashti, appear before the king “in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at” (Esther 1:11). When Vashti refused, she was banished from the kingdom.

Ahasuerus appointed officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to his harem (Esther 2:3–4). Hadassah, that is, Esther, was taken into custody by the eunuch in charge of the women, yet her cousin Mordecai kept close watch on her (Esther 2:11). After ten months, Esther was brought before the king, and he loved her more than anyone else. Hadassah won the king’s favor and took Vashti’s place as queen (Esther 2:17).

Though Hadassah’s initial circumstances appeared to serve the evil purposes of a lustful king, God used her situation, position, and character to protect the people of Israel. Esther, in meekness and humility, trusted in God’s sovereignty with her every action, confident that His will would be done concerning her people—no matter what the consequences to herself. With no concern for her personal safety, Esther acted as an intercessor with the king on behalf of her people, the Israelites (Esther 4:16), ultimately exposing Haman’s evil plot and saving the Jews from destruction.

  Michal was the younger daughter of King Saul and is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:49. Michal is important in biblical history because she fell in love with David, even though her older sister, Merab, had been promised to David as a wife as a prize for killing Saul’s enemies (1 Samuel 18:17). However, when the time came for Merab to be given to David in marriage, Saul double-crossed him and gave her to another man (1 Samuel 18:19). Seeing that his younger daughter, Michal, loved David, Saul considered her a way to ensnare the future king, of whom he was insanely jealous. So Saul agreed to give her to David as a prize for another attack against the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:24–25, 27). Saul hoped that David would be killed in the attack.

David, however, succeeded in defeating the Philistines, and Michal was given to him as a wife. Michal’s father’s jealousy of his rival escalated, and Saul tried to kill David. Michal helped her new husband escape when King Saul’s men came to kill him (1 Samuel 19:7–11). For reasons we are not told, Saul later gave Michal to another man, Palti son of Laish, while David was running for his life. Years later, when Saul was dead and David was preparing to step into his rightful position as king, he ordered that Michal be taken from Palti and brought back to him. David had other wives and children by this time, and there is no indication that he asked Michal’s input on this decision. She was forcibly returned to him, while her husband Palti followed after them, crying (2 Samuel 3:14–16).

This act seems to have destroyed whatever love Michal had once felt for David, because the next time we see her, she is caustically critical of David when he dances before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:16, 20). Rather than address the source of her bitterness, which was most likely his heartless act of taking her away from her husband, David defends himself and puts down her father. Because of her sarcastic and dishonoring attitude, Michal never had any children (verse 23). It can be gathered from this that either she and David did not share intimacy or the Lord closed her womb due to her verbal attack against His anointed servant.

We can learn from Michal’s sad story what happens in a marriage when offenses go on for years, unaddressed. Michal’s youthful infatuation with Israel’s hero turned to bitterness when he treated her like property, tore her away from a loving husband, and apparently never made it right. Even someone like David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), could also be selfish and cause pain in someone he should have loved. Although David was used greatly by God, he was also a sinful human being who made tragic mistakes. God placed stories like Michal’s in the Bible to remind us that heroes are also human and bitterness can destroy even a queen.

John begins his second epistle with these words: “The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth” (2 John 1:1, ESV). The apostle identifies himself as “the elder,” a title that reflects bThe-Chosen-Lady-Squat1oth his age at the time of the writing and his authority in the early church. The letter is written in sincere love—the words truth and love are found five times each in the first six verses. And the recipient of the epistle is a lady and her children—the “elect” lady, to be precise.

The word elect means “chosen.” In fact, the NIV translates 2 John 1:1 with the phrase “chosen by God.”

There are two categories of those who are elect, or chosen, in Scripture: those who are part of the nation of Israel and those who are in the universal Church. Paul says about the nation of Israel, “Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Romans 9:4–5). The Jews are the chosen people of God to bring about His purposes in the world (see Deuteronomy 7:6; John 4:22; and Romans 11:28).

But the lady of 2 John is called “the elect” not because she was Jewish (we don’t know her ethnic background) but because she was part of the church. The universal Church is comprised of all people who believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior who died on the cross to bear the guilt and pay the penalty of their sin and who conquered death at His resurrection. The universal Church came into existence on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and will be taken from the earth at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). The Bible clearly teaches that the church is elect—i.e., they are chosen by God “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; cf. Revelation 13:8).

John calls the lady in 2 John “the elect” because she believed in Jesus Christ and was therefore saved; she was a member of the universal Church. Some interpreters see the lady not as an individual but as a symbol of the church as a whole or of a local body of believers. But that interpretation makes it difficult to explain who her “children” are. It is better to view this lady as an unnamed friend of John who had actual children who were serving the Lord.

There are actually two elect ladies mentioned in 2 John. The apostle concludes his letter by relaying a message: “The children of your elect sister greet you” (2 John 1:13, ESV). So, we have an “elect lady” who receives the letter, and she has an “elect sister” whose children (her nieces and nephews) also know John. The mention of this other elect lady and her children further supports the view that John is writing to actual individuals. The lady and her family were chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and made part of the family of God (John 1:12).

Dinah was a daughter born to Jacob from his first wife, Leah (Genesis 30:21). When Jacob returned to his homeland after working for his father-in-law, Laban, for over 20 years, he settled in in a place called Shechem. Dinah was a young woman at this time.

Genesis 34 gives the account of Dinah’s venture into the city to visit the women there. When Shechem, the son of the city ruler, saw her, he raped her. Verse 3 says that he was drawn to her and wanted her for a wife. Shechem appealed to his father, Hamor, to get her for him.

When Dinah’s brothers heard that their sister had been defiled, they were furious. Hamor, ruler of the city of Shechem, went to speak with Jacob about getting Dinah for his son. Shechem himself offered a great sum: “I will give you whatever you ask. Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me” (Genesis 34:11–12). The Bible does not record Jacob’s reaction but follows the story of his sons. They intentionally deceived Hamor and Shechem, pretending to work out a deal with them. Jacob’s sons told the ruler of Shechem that they could not give their sister to a man who was not circumcised—but if Shechem and all the men of the city would be circumcised as the Israelites were, they could intermarry from then on (verses 13–17).

Shechem was so taken with Dinah that he and his father agreed to this. Because Jacob’s household was so wealthy and large, the men of Shechem thought it would be to their benefit to incorporate this family. So everyone agreed to be circumcised. Genesis 34:25–26 say, “Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.” Then the other brothers looted the city, carrying away everything, including their women and children (verses 27–29).

When Jacob learned what his sons had done, he was horrified. He knew when word got out to the nations around them, they would be in trouble (Genesis 34:30). His sons replied that they had vindicated the men who treated their sister like a prostitute (verse 31). The next few chapters of Genesis record Jacob moving his family, at God’s instruction (Genesis 35:1), to new lands. Nothing more is heard of Dinah in the Bible.

  Martha is a significant New Testament figure, a personal friend of Jesus, and someone with whom many women today identify. She lived in Bethany with her sister, Mary, and her brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:1–15, 43–44). We meet Martha three times in the Bible, and each event helps to build a profile of this interesting woman.

The Bible first mentions Martha in Luke 10. She is in her home in Bethany, a small town near Jerusalem, where she is hosting Jesus and the disciples. Jesus was well-known to Martha and her siblings; in fact, Jesus loved this little family (John 11:5). On the day that Jesus visited, Martha’s desire was to be a good hostess—to serve the best meal with the best possible presentation, for Jesus’ sake. Her sister, Mary, however, was taking some time out to listen to Jesus (Luke 10:39). As Martha “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40), she became a little cross with Mary and spoke rather abruptly to the Lord: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (verse 40). In this foolish utterance, Martha implied that Jesus did not care about her, and she gave the Lord a command, demanding that He force Mary to assist in the serving. In her busyness, Martha had taken her eyes off the Savior. Jesus, who was able to see into her soul, diagnosed her problem: she was worried and troubled about the serving and had no peace in her heart. He gently told Martha that a simple dinner was more than adequate, and He reminded her that Mary’s decision to sit at His feet and hear His word was the better choice (verses 41–42).

We see Martha again just after her brother, Lazarus, had died (John 11). The sisters had sent for Jesus when Lazarus fell ill (verse 3), but He did not arrive in time to heal him. When Jesus finally approached Bethany, four days after Lazarus’ death, Martha ran out to meet Him and declared, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21–22). Notice Martha’s faith: she firmly believed that Jesus could have healed Lazarus of his illness. And her faith is not diminished by the fact that Jesus had arrived “too late.” Jesus encourages Martha with one of His “I AM” statements: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (verses 25–26). Martha’s response is one of great faith and understanding of Jesus’ divine nature: “Yes, Lord . . . I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (verse 27). Martha’s faith was rewarded that very day as she witnessed her brother’s miraculous resurrection from the dead (verses 43–44).

The third time we encounter Martha in the Bible, she is doing what Martha was known to do—serving (John 12:2). Jesus is again attending a dinner in His honor in Bethany, and Martha is again serving. It is on this occasion that Martha’s sister, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume (verse 3). It becomes apparent that Martha was likely a woman of some means, evidenced by the size of her home, the frequency of her hosting dinners, and the expensive perfumed oil her sister owned.

In Martha’s life-changing encounters with Jesus, we see the importance of balancing service with worship, of trusting the Lord even when all seems lost, and of using our material resources for the glory of God.

Dorcas, or Tabitha, in the Bible lived in the town of Joppa, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Dorcas was also called Tabitha—Dorcas is a Greek name meaning “gazelle,” and Tabitha is the Aramaic rendering of the same name. Dorcas, or Tabitha, was a charitable person who made things, especially clothing, for the needy in Joppa. The story of Dorcas in Acts 9 is notable because Peter raised her back to life after she had died.

Dorcas was known for her good works and acts of love for the poor (Acts 9:36); she was much loved in the community of Joppa. When she became ill and died, the believers who knew Dorcas heard that Peter was in the nearby town of Lydda, and they sent for him. The Bible does not specifically say that the disciples at Joppa were hoping for Peter to resurrect Dorcas, but they did call urgently for him (Acts 9:38). When Peter arrived at the home where Dorcas’ body had been laid out, he went up to see the body. There were many widows there, weeping. They all showed Peter “the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them”—tangible evidence of Dorcas’ loving service (Acts 9:39).

What happened next is proof that our God is full of glorious, unrestrained power: “Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:40–42).

Bringing Dorcas back from the dead was not done for the Dorcas’ sake—Peter knew she was in paradise, with Jesus, and that her life after death was preferable to her life on earth (see Luke 23:43). Peter’s motive, at least in part, for raising Dorcas to life may have been for the sake of the widows and others in Joppa who needed the help Dorcas could provide. The resurrection of Dorcas was also a major reason so many people in Joppa believed. This miracle performed in the name of the Lord led many to faith in Christ.

Dorcas is a fine example of how we are to meet the needs of those around us. Christians are to “continue to remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). Part of “religion that God our Father accepts” is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). This was the type of religion Dorcas practiced.

We also see in the story of Dorcas how the Body of Christ functions as a whole. We are united in Christ, and the believers in Joppa mourned the loss of Dorcas as a close family member. “There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25–26). Dorcas was one of their own, and her absence left a huge void in their lives.

Miriam in the Bible is Moses’ older sister. She is called “Miriam the prophetess” in Exodus 15:20. She plays an important role in several episodes of Moses’ life and in the exodus of Israel from Egypt.

Miriam is most likely the sister who watches over her baby brother Moses among the bulrushes on the banks of the Nile. Their mother had hidden Moses in a basket on the river bank to protect him from Pharaoh’s decree to throw all Hebrew baby boys into the river (Exodus 1:22—2:4). As Miriam watches, Pharaoh’s daughter discovers and pities Moses, and Miriam quickly intervenes to ask if the Egyptian princess would like a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for her. The princess agrees, and Miriam quickly gets their mother. Pharaoh’s daughter commands Moses’ biological mother to nurse him and bring him back to her when he is older. By the grace of God, Miriam helps save the infant Moses (Exodus 2:5–10).

Miriam had another brother, Aaron. Their parents, Amram and Jochebed (Exodus 6:20), were both from the Levite tribe of Israel (Exodus 2:1). Together, God uses Moses, Miriam, and Aaron to lead the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land in Canaan (Micah 6:4). After miraculously crossing the Red Sea on dry ground and seeing the Egyptian army overthrown in the sea, Miriam leads the women with a tambourine in worshipping God with song and dance (Exodus 15:20–22). The words to Miriam’s song are recorded in verse 21: “Sing to the Lord, / for he is highly exalted. / Both horse and driver / he has hurled into the sea.” In this same passage, she is given the title “prophetess,” the first of only a handful of women in Scripture identified that way. Others called a “prophetess” are Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3), Anna (Luke 2:36), and Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21:9).

Unfortunately, Miriam later falls into a spirit of complaining. Both Miriam and Aaron criticize Moses for marrying a Cushite or Ethiopian woman, but Miriam is listed first (Numbers 12:1) so it is likely she instigated the complaint. While the complaint was ostensibly against Moses’ wife, the discontent ran deeper: “‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?’ they asked. ‘Hasn’t he also spoken through us?’” (Exodus 12:2). In her criticism, Miriam was questioning the Lord’s wisdom in choosing Moses as the leader.

God was angry that Miriam and Aaron were so willing to speak against the servant He had chosen. The Lord struck Miriam with leprosy. Aaron, realizing the foolishness of their words, repented of his sin, and Moses, ever the intercessor, prayed on behalf of his sister: “Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘Please, God, heal her!’” (Numbers 12:13). After a week-long quarantine, Miriam was healed and rejoined the camp. As Miriam’s leprosy convicted Aaron of the foolish words they had spoken against God’s chosen servant, it should also remind us not to judge those around us or live in jealousy when God has given a specific call to someone else (see Titus 3:1–15; James 1:26; 4:11–12; Ephesians 4:31; Philippians 4:8). Miriam had an opportunity to show the people of Israel what it meant to live in love as a servant of God without complaining, and, for most of her life, she did; but she failed in the matter of Moses’ wife. We, too, have opportunities to show the grumblers and complainers around us what it is to be a servant of Jesus Christ. Let us draw them to Jesus through our love and servanthood and not be drawn away from Him ourselves.

Our next encounter with Miriam is at the end of the 40-year desert wandering. Because of their grumbling and lack of faith in God, the first generation of Israelites to leave captivity was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. This included the prophetess Miriam. Most of the older generation had already died in the wilderness when Israel comes back to Kadesh, where they had started their wanderings. It’s here that Miriam dies and is buried (Numbers 20:1). Hers was a life of responsibility and service, of God’s calling and providence, yet it also reminds us that no one is too important to receive God’s discipline for personal sin (see 1 Corinthians 10:12).

Elizabeth in the Bible was the wife of a priest named Zechariah; she was also a cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Elizabeth and Zechariah are called “righteous and blameless” people who walked in all the commandments of the Lord (Luke 1:6). Elizabeth was barren; she was unable to have children (Luke 1:7). When Elizabeth is first mentioned in the Bible, she is an old woman, or as Luke puts it, “advanced in years” (Luke 1:7). This could mean anything from late middle-age to old age. In any case, she was past child-bearing age (Luke 1:18).

When Zechariah was in the temple offering incense to the Lord, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, saying that he and Elizabeth would soon be parents; they were to name the baby John. This baby would grow up to be “great before the Lord” and bring joy and gladness to them, as well as to many other people (Luke 1:14–15). Zechariah was doubtful because of his wife’s age and the fact that he was himself old (Luke 1:18), so Gabriel—the same angel who appeared later to Mary—told Zechariah that he would be unable to speak until the prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of John (Luke 1:19–20, 26–27).

Elizabeth, when finding herself pregnant, kept herself in seclusion for five months. She said, “The Lord has done this for me. . . . In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people” (Luke 1:25). Six months after Elizabeth conceived, Mary also became pregnant, and she went to visit Elizabeth, because Gabriel had told her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:36–37). It is a sign of God’s love and care that he placed these women in the same family. He could have just as easily made them strangers to one another, but, by making them relatives, He gave them mutual comfort and encouragement. Especially for Mary, the experience of being pregnant outside of wedlock must have been frightening and shocking. But God provided Elizabeth as a comforting presence—a trusted and known relation and older woman who was going through a similarly miraculous event (Luke 1:38–45).

As soon as Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s home and Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, “the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’” (Luke 1:41–45). The Holy Spirit told Elizabeth of Mary’s condition even before Mary could say a word.

Eight days after Elizabeth’s child was born, several neighbors and relatives were there for the ceremony of circumcision. It was during this time that children were officially given their names, and Elizabeth declared her baby’s name to be John—Zechariah was still unable to speak. The neighbors questioned Elizabeth about the name; none of her relatives had ever been called John—certainly they should name him Zechariah. But Zechariah procured a tablet and wrote on it the name of John. In this he showed his faith in the angel’s prophecy, and, with that, Zechariah was able to speak again (Luke 1:57–64).

Elizabeth’s son grew up to be John the Baptist, who ministered “before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) and was the prophet who prepared the way of the Lord, fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy (Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:76; John 3:1–6).

Very little is said in the Bible about Lydia. There is only one mention of her by name in Scripture—in Acts 16 we find the record of her conversion and her subsequent baptism (Acts 16:11–15). From the story of Lydia we can glean a few useful details about conversion, specifically about the conversion of Jewish believers.

Lydia in the Bible was originally from Thyatira but was living in Philippi when she met Paul on his second missionary journey. She was a seller of purple cloth, which Thyatira was famous for, being a center of indigo trade. Lydia apparently had moved to Philippi to ply her trade in that city. Archaeologists have found among the ruins of Thyatira inscriptions relating to a dyers’ guild in the city. It is possible that Lydia was a member of this guild, but there is no evidence from the Bible to prove that detail.

Lydia was also a worshiper of God (Acts 16:14), and, when Paul found her, she was honoring the Sabbath, which means she was likely a Jew. The account of Lydia’s conversion says that she was gathered with a group of other women on the Sabbath at a place of prayer near the river outside of Philippi. The fact that Paul, Timothy, Luke, and Silas came to the riverside to speak to the women most likely indicates there were not enough Jewish men in Philippi to open a synagogue there.

Lydia heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Bible says that God opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying (Acts 16:14). After she believed, Lydia was baptized, along with the rest of her household. Whether “her household” refers only her family, or if there were servants included in the number, is unclear from the biblical account. After Lydia’s conversion and baptism, she insisted that Paul and his friends come to stay at her home, if they judged her to “a believer in the Lord” (verse 15). Luke says that “she prevailed upon us,” which indicates the fervency of her desire to be hospitable. The missionaries did indeed judge Lydia to be a true believer, and they stayed at her home while in Philippi.

Lydia’s conversion marks the start of a new epoch in the Bible. Up to that point, the gospel had not gone further west than Asia Minor. In fact, on this journey, Paul’s original intention had been to stay in Asia, but God had changed his plans. The Lord sent Paul a vision calling him westward across the Aegean Sea and into Macedonia (Acts 16:6–10). Lydia, although a native of Asia Minor, is the first person recorded to have been saved in Europe.

Later in biblical history, we discover there is a church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18). Paul did not visit that city in any of his missionary journeys, and we have no record of who might have established that church. Could it be that Lydia is the one who brought the gospel to her hometown? It’s possible, but by no means certain. The Bible doesn’t say.

The story of Lydia in the Bible is a great example of God’s providence and His care for believers. Lydia was a worshiper of God but, like Cornelius in Acts 10, had not yet heard the gospel. God rerouted Paul and friends and also ensured that Lydia would be in the right place at the right time to encounter Paul and hear the good news of Jesus. And, as Lydia heard the gospel, God opened her heart so that she received the life-giving message. In this story, so full of divine intervention, we see the sovereignty of God in salvation; as Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them” (John 6:44). We also see the immediate bond that a new believer has with other believers in Christ—Lydia showed hospitality to those who brought the good news, and she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Abigail was one of David’s wives. Her story is found in 1 Samuel 25. At the beginning of the story, Abigail is the wife of a wealthy man named Nabal who lived in a town called Maon in the wilderness of Paran, an area near the Sinai Peninsula. Abigail was “an intelligent and beautiful woman” (1 Samuel 25:3) who saved her husband and his household, prevented David from doing something rash, and secured an unexpected future for herself.

The story of Abigail in the Bible is an interesting one for many reasons. For one, Nabal is a rather bizarre character. For no apparent reason, Nabal refuses David’s request for food and shelter. Despite knowing of David’s previous benevolence to his shepherds, Nabal churlishly refuses to aid David and his men as they tried to keep one step ahead of King Saul. David’s request was not unreasonable, but Nabal, who is described as “surly and mean” (1 Samuel 25:3), essentially spits in the faces of David’s servants, saying, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” (verses 10–11).

David did not take this rejection well. He swore to kill every male associated with Nabal’s household (1 Samuel 25:22). He had strapped on his sword and was on his way with four hundred armed men (verse 13), when Abigail met him on the road. She offered David gifts of wine, grain, prepared meat, and cakes of figs. Then she fell down in front of David, pleading with him to show mercy to her husband, Nabal (verse 23). In her plea, Abigail shows that she understands Nabal’s character: “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him” (verse 25).

In taking up Nabal’s cause and asking David to spare his life, Abigail proves herself to be a righteous, caring woman. At great risk to herself, she approaches David, an angry man bent on revenge, and intercedes for her husband, despite his bad behavior. Her request can be seen as a picture of Christ, who offered Himself as a sacrifice to save foolish sinners from the consequences of their own actions and who continues to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25).

Abigail’s propitiation saves the day. David thanks Abigail for staying his hand and repents of his own foolish and rash decision to slaughter Nabal’s household (1 Samuel 25:32–34). In fact, David sees Abigail’s coming to him as a blessing from God, and he send her home in peace (verse 35).

Meanwhile, Nabal, insensitive to his wrongdoing and the danger that he had been in, holds a kingly feast for himself and gets drunk (1 Samuel 25:36). Abigail waits until the next morning for her husband to sober up, and then she tells Nabal everything—how David had been on his way to destroy him and how she herself had saved Nabal. Upon hearing this news, Nabal falls ill: “His heart failed him and he became like a stone. About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died” (verses 37–38). David then sends a message to Abigail asking her to become his wife, and Abigail responds affirmatively (verses 40–42).

Scripture says that we should not seek vengeance for ourselves. Rather, we should “leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19; cf. Deuteronomy 32:35). This is exactly what happened in Abigail’s story. David was prevented from taking revenge, and the Lord Himself took care of the matter in due time.

David and Nabal can be seen as representative of the two responses men have to Christ. Nabal does not repent or acknowledge his sin; neither does he thank Abigail for her willingness to risk her own life on his behalf. On the other hand, David’s heart is tender and repentant, and he calls Abigail blessed for her actions. David is spared the consequences of the sin he had planned, but Nabal dies in his sin.

In the end, Nabal’s wealth, his wife, and his very life are taken from him. Abigail—a savior full of beauty, wisdom, and discretion—enters a loving relationship with David. In Abigail, we have a small picture of the ultimate Savior, the Source of beauty and wisdom, who desires a loving relationship with us forever.