Tuesday, October 26, 2010

“Abigail: No Victim of Circumstances”

Abigail: No Victim of Circumstances”

What is a peacemaker? The dictionary says, “a person, group, or nation that tries to make peace, especially by reconciling parties who disagree, quarrel, or fight.”
When I looked up the phrase “Peacemaker in history” on Google, I came upon an interesting article. Someone had asked who people thought where the ten best peacemakers from history. The answer included men like the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa and even Santa Clause.   Of course we know that the greatest peacemaker is Jesus Christ. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). And one of the names given for Jesus in Isaiah is Prince of Peace. The story of Abigail beautifully illustrates how the spirit of a peacemaker transforms potential victims into victors. The story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 25. 
After the death of Samuel, and while the people were still in mourning for the prophet, David took the opportunity to find greater protection and security in the wilderness of Paran. While there, he was among the flocks of a very rich man named Nabal. David and his men were good to the shepherds. They didn’t hurt them, or take anything from them.
At shearing time, David sent a few of his men to Nabal to ask for some provisions. Nabal treated the young men badly, calling them run-away servants, and acting as if he didn’t know who David was. He sent them away empty handed. When David heard this he was very angry. Taking two-thirds of his fighting force, he set out for Nabal’s house to show him a thing or two. Meanwhile one of the servants ran to Abigail, Nabal’s wife and told her about the young men’s request for help. He also told how her husband had treated them. Quickly she took a large amount of food, loaded it on donkeys and set out to meet David and his army.
“She met them in a covert of a hill.” And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience” (1 Samuel 25:24). Abigail addressed David with as much reverence as though speaking to a crowned monarch. Nabal had scornfully exclaimed, “Who is David?” but Abigail called him, “my lord.” With kind words she sought to soothe his irritated feelings, and she pleaded with him in behalf of her husband. With nothing of ostentation or pride, but full of the wisdom and love of God, Abigail revealed the strength of her devotion to her household; and she made it plain to David that the unkind course of her husband was in no wise premeditated against him as a personal affront, but was simply the outburst of an unhappy and selfish nature.”
--Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, page 666
Abigail admitted that what Nabal had done was wrong and yet still pleaded for his life. We, too, should always hate the sin and yet love the sinner. 
Abigail met David with respect, showing him honor and deference, and pleaded her cause eloquently. While not excusing her husband’s insolence, she pleaded for his life. She also revealed the fact that she was not only a discreet woman, but a godly woman, acquainted with the works of ways of God with David.                                                      --Ellen White, Manuscript 12, 1891
“A soft answer turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).
Abigail did not take to herself the credit of this reasoning to turn David from his hasty purpose, but gave to God the honor and the praise. She then offered her rich provision as a peace offering to the men of David, and still pleaded as if she herself were the one who had so excited the resentment of the chief.   These words could have come only from the lips of one who had partaken of the wisdom from above. The piety of Abigail, like the fragrance of a flower, breathed out all unconsciously in face and word and action. The Spirit of the Son of God was abiding in her soul. Her speech, seasoned with grace, and full of kindness and peace, shed a heavenly influence.
--Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 666
Here is the secret to how Abigail could be a peacemaker, how she could speak words of peace and wisdom in the face of conflict. “The Spirit of the Son of God was abiding in her soul.” This peace is for us as well. Letting Jesus live out his life within us, we can be peacemakers. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). A cup filled with sweet water cannot spill one bitter drop, no matter how violently jolted.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Would that there were many more like this woman of Israel, who would soothe the irritated feelings, prevent rash impulses, and quell great evils by words of calm and well-directed wisdom.
 --Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, page 667
He who has the meek and lowly spirit of Christ will be a peacemaker. Such a spirit provokes no quarrel, gives back no angry answer. It makes the home happy, and brings a sweet peace that blesses all around.                                                                         --Ellen White, The Story of Jesus, page 62
A story told by Arthur Maxwell illustrates our point. A young boy attended evangelistic meetings. He gave his heart to Jesus. He went home and told his mother what he had heard, and how wonderful Jesus was. He begged her to go with him to the next meeting. His mother became angry and slapped him hard across the face. The boy remained respectful and kind, though he was shedding a few tears. The mother marked the ongoing changes in her son’s life, and decided that she wanted what he had. She went with him to the meetings and eventually gave her heart to Jesus also.
“Christ’s followers are sent to the world with the message of peace. Whoever, by the quiet, unconscious influence of a holy life, shall reveal the love of Christ; whoever, by word or deed, shall lead another to renounce sin and yield his heart to God is a peacemaker” (Ellen White, In Heavenly Places, Page35). Let us choose, with Jesus’ help, to be peacemakers today.