How to be Filled with Understanding
By Marlene Houk
1 Samuel 25: 17 “Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do… ”
Abigail takes her place in divine scripture as Nabal’s wife and later King David’s wife. Her first husband, Nabal, named for his manipulative and mocking attitude, rejected everyone with degrading and mean comments. Abigail gained valuable experience in soothing angry reactions to Nabal’s rude and ill-tempered ways of treating others. The Bible calls her a woman of good understanding. (1 Samuel 25:3)
In 1 Samuel chapter 25, David, the future king, had guarded Nabal’s huge flock of sheep and goats from predators, the southern Bedouin tribes, and other dangers. Customs of the day dictated that the owner would reward the protectors at sheepshearing time for their services. When David sent his young men to humbly request anything that Nabal wanted to send, he treated the future king of Israel churlishly and with great disrespect. He rejected the reasonable request, and this enraged David who led 600 hungry soldiers. Abigail intervened and saved the lives of her husband and her people.
Listening to Abigail’s Wisdom:
Abigail knew how to prepare her pantry with emergency supplies. She hurried to meet them because David and his hungry army were rushing to kill Nabal and his men for refusing their simple request. David had requested anything they wanted to give, so she grabbed food from her pantry already prepared and directed the servants most efficiently to load the donkeys. But these food gifts simply introduced the greatest gift that Abigail gave David–helping him to defuse his anger.
Abigail’s words to David align with the best methods used over 3,000 years later in our customer service protocols as described in Forbes magazine [i].
Before Abigail calmed David’s rage, she acquired the skill from her many encounters with other people whom Nabal had insulted. With 316 words, about 2 minutes to say in the English language, Abigail’s honed ability to defuse David’s anger worked. She apologized profusely, accepting blame personally. Similarly, customer service calls begin by saying, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Abigail reviewed what happened in 1 Samuel 25:25, inviting David to disagree or add to the story. Her gifts of food and generous advice from her well of wisdom fixed the problem. By giving David what he had requested, she fulfilled his needs. (Compare 1 Samuel 25:8 with 1 Samuel 25:27.) By appealing to God’s greater plan for his life, she helped him to release the grip of emotions and return to his thinking brain. Finally, she documented and sealed her intervention by asking him to remember her—a powerful reminder that relationships rule circumstances.
Remember the wisdom and understanding you’ve gained from God in past troubles. Abigail lived with Nabal’s narcissistic and selfish ways. When Nabal angered yet another person, David, she knew how to intervene. What God leads you through gives understanding for your current situation, and, often, the answer to calm others rests in our prior experiences.
Locate the four steps listed above on the shelves of understanding in your pantry of wisdom. Like Abigail, apply the ways that God taught you in the past to your current situation. Then, you can open the sacks of God’s bountiful plan for your life and enjoy His guidance while helping others.
The evidence of knowing something is to teach the steps to others. We see Abigail knew how to dispel her own anger from her words to David. She understood that she needed to:
1. Calm herself
2. Articulate her rejection rather than seething inside
3. Behold her current situation from the future
4. Learn that God fulfills His plan for her regardless of others’ criticism.
5. Expect God to provide others to help her see truth as she was doing for David
How do we prepare for the pit of being blindsided by evil? Emotions explode at our enemy’s unmitigated gall to attack. Like a chain reaction, their Nabal-like evil extends in all directions. Logic leaves. Unexpected and velvet-covered barbs sting our souls, and we hesitate in our service to the Lord. We drown in our emotions.
Counselors help us cope with reactions after rejection. But Abigail offers a framework for preparing our emotions before harsh treatment. Her wise words reveal a transforming template we can use. As she defuses David’s anger, she opens a door of truth for us. Start now to develop a plan to defuse your emotional reactions and return your brain to God-focused thinking. Practice the five viewpoints above. Like Abigail, God can use your new understanding to defuse someone’s anger at being blindsided by the Nabals of this world.
_____________________________[i] https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/07/16/customer-service-recovery/#7e0220c945fc; https://bit.ly/2DZ6Lzh
Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at Bible167@gmail.com
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