A Discerning Woman
How many times yesterday were you needed by someone? Perhaps you felt the tug of a child pulling at your clothes, your cell phone was ringing with someone who needed a question answered or a favor done, co-workers were calling for your assistance, your husband was down the hall calling your name. These kinds of interruptions are common for us as women, but at times they can push us to our breaking point and we respond violently to the one that added the proverbial last straw to our load.
In verses 14-17 of I Samuel we meet Abigail who has one of her husband’s servants running to her to ask her to intervene on her foolish husband’s behalf. The servant tells her what had transpired between David’s servants and Nabal when they requested the provisions that were rightfully theirs. They had served Nabal’s shepherds in the field and were entitled to a gift from Nabal, but instead of a gift David received insults and anger. The servant explained to Abigail that now trouble was to come to Nabal’s house if something wasn’t done.
The fact that the servant went to Abigail rather than Nabal tells us that he knew he couldn’t speak to Nabal about this. Proverbs 23:9 says, “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.” The servant knew that Nabal wouldn’t listen to anyone. He realizes that Abigail is one with wisdom in the family. I wonder how many times Abigail had been asked by others to step in and fix a problem her husband had created? Perhaps something else had already occurred that day. Now here she is being asked to take care of another mess that foolish Nabal had made. The servant knew he could go to Abigail. She was approachable.
Do you have the reputation of being approachable? Do people know you’re a wise woman and they can come to you because you will handle things wisely? Do your children know they can come to you in a conflict or crisis and that they can talk to you? If your husband or perhaps your boss has a grievance with you are you approachable? Or do people know you’ll fly off the handle, out of control? Proverbs 18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” We need to be still and allow the person that comes to us to speak. Our responsibility at that point is to listen – not interrupt with our excuses or accusations. If we answer before we’ve heard the whole matter we are foolish and will be brought to shame, just like Nabal.
In verse 14 the servant tells Abigail that Nabal “railed” on David’s men. It means that he was screaming at them. It means to swoop upon, to dart greedily. He’s a mad man going wild with anger. If we find ourselves behaving like this in the midst of life’s circumstances, we need to stop and realize we hare behaving like a fool.
Some doctors in Gables, Florida did a study on 18 men with coronary artery disease. They ran them through some strenuous physical stress tests while monitoring their hearts. Then they gave them three mental stress tests. At one point they were asked to recall an incident that had made them very angry and give a short speech defending themselves. Using sophisticated X-ray techniques, the doctors took pictures of the subjects’ hearts and saw that anger reduced the amount of blood that the heart pumped to the body tissues more than any of the physical tests. Anger can effect us in so many ways. Anger is deadly in any relationship – a marriage, the body of Christ, in a friendship or work relationship. Now we also see it can be deadly even to our physical body. When you’re in a situation that angers you stop and take a breath…breathe in, breathe out, so you don’t blow up!
In verse 15 the servant tells Abigail that he can’t even understand why Nabal was so angry because when David’s men were with them nothing was missed from their belongings. Nothing had been stolen; indeed, the men had been good to them. In other words, there wasn’t anything that could have provoked Nabal to anger. There’s is no good reason for Nabal’s poor behavior. We look at that and we shake our heads and are sure we’d never behave like that! But wait, we may not fly off the handle, but what if our child comes to us and asks, “why?” for the 100th time today? Or just as we’re settled into our scrap booking project we hear our husband’s voice call out to us to come help him with the project he’s working on, and we turn on him with clenched teeth, a sigh of desperation, or rolled eyes. He did nothing to provoke us, the child is totally innocent in his question, but we turn and “rail” on them. We may not be screaming, but our eyes are screaming. Our spirit is yelling. We have turned into a Nabal–ish character.
Perhaps you’re saying, “I didn’t do that yesterday. Instead I was the one that was turned on viciously! I didn’t provoke, but I got anger thrust at me!” How are we to respond when we deal with people that act foolishly? Look at Abigail. She’s caught between two angry men, yet she doesn’t respond with anger. Both of these men were hurling out ugly things, but Abigail responds true to what’s in her heart. We do not have to respond in the same way as the fool – we can remain a woman of character and discernment.
…Tomorrow’s post will discuss how to be a discerning woman.