Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Study of Two Women

There are two women in the bible who share an interesting parallel in their lives – both women acted on behalf of their husbands, and consequently both husbands found themselves under the judgment of God.

The two women are Abigail and Jezebel.

You could hardly imagine two women more dissimilar and yet both be remembered for the same reason.
I think even a quick glance would have made their differences apparent.

Abigail was a woman of calm beauty, full of grace and modest apparel. Her eyes warm and inviting , her smile welcoming and assuring. She exuded confidence and practical wisdom. Not only her own but also her husband’s servants came to her for advice because they could trust her to listen and respond with understanding.
She was loved and admired.

Jezebel ,in stark contrast to Abigail, was a woman of cold beauty. The kind that is emphasized by too much make-up and artificial enhancements. She dressed for shock effect and cared little what people thought of her. Her eyes were cold, her smile never reached them. She was manipulative and conniving, self-centered and cruel. Her servants served her with trembling hands, afraid of incurring her displeasure.

Both Abigail and Jezebel were married to wicked men, yet both looked out for the interests of their husbands.

Abigail’s husband we are told was “churlish and evil in his doings”. His name, Nabal, means ‘fool’, and he was aptly named, although he was a very wealthy man. When David and his men came to Carmel tired and hungry, David sent a message to Nabel reminding him of the protection he had provided for Nabel’s flocks and shepherds in the wilderness . David requested that he would now be so kind as to provide food for his hungry men. Nabal sent back a scathing reply saying, “Who is David ? and why should I give of my bread to someone I don’t know?”
David, of course, reacted in justified anger at being so humiliated and gathered his men with their swords to seek revenge against Nabal.

But someone warned Abigail of what Nabal had done and Abigail took things into her own hands. Without a word to her husband, she took provisions in hand and went out to meet David. She met him with calming words of wisdom, acknowledging that her husband was a fool. She assured David that had she seen his young man, she would have responded favourable to his request, and had indeed brought ample supplies with her. She begged David to accept her gifts and turn away from his intentions for revenge against Nabal.
David was impressed by Abigail’s wisdom, accepted her provisions and sent Abigail home in peace.

Jezebel was the wife of the King of Israel, whose name was Ahab.
Ahab was an evil king but he was spineless – Jezebel took advantage of his weakness to perpetrate her own evil intentions, as we are told she “stirred up” the wickedness of Ahab. When she observed Ahab one day in a sullen mood, she asked the reason why.
Ahab whined that he wanted their neighbour Naboth’s vineyard but Naboth refused to sell it to him. Jezebel replied, “Are you not the king? Go eat and drink wine, I will get your vineyard for you.”
So Jezebel plotted to trick Naboth into attending a banquet in his honor where two men instigated by Jezebel would come in and accuse him of blaspheming God and the king. The punishment? Death by stoning.
The plan was executed and when Jezebel’s servants came and told her that Naboth was dead, she went to her husband and told him to go and take possession of the vineyard, it was now his.

Both Abigail and Jezebel’s plans of actions, on behalf of their husbands, were successful in achieving their desired end but God was not finished yet.

When Abigail returned home and found her husband drunk she decided to say nothing to him that night. When in the morning Abigail told a somewhat sober Nabal what had transpired the day before, his heart failed him, he was turned to stone, and ten days later he died.
“God smote him”.

God’s eyes were also on Ahab, and God sent the prophet Elisha to Ahad to proclaim to his that God’s wrath was upon him ‘because he had sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord”.
He would bring evil upon Ahab’s house, and not one of his descendants would be left.
Ahab was filled with fear and lay in sackcloth and ashes, fasting and humbling himself before the Lord. God seeing his acts of humility , relented and declared that He would withhold the calamity until after Ahab’s death.
Though Ahab humbled himself before God, he did not change his ways and died under God’s judgement – he was ambushed and killed in battle by an arrow that found its way through the joints of his armour.

God also had a plan for both Abigail and Jezebel.

When David heard that God had judged Nabal, he immediately sent for Abigail to be his wife. Abigail graciously accepted David’s offer, and lived happily ever after (?) in the palace as one of King David’s wives, becoming the mother of one of his sons.

Jezebel was also named in Elisha’s warning. God had said,“The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” And so it also happened. God made Jehu king, instead of Ahab’s son and when Jehu come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it.
She painted her face, dressed her hair and stood looking out of a window. Jehu looked up, saw her, and shouted, “Who in the house is on my side?”
Two eunuchs looked out at Jehu and he shouted at them to throw Jezebel down out of the window. They did so, and she fell to her death.
When Jehu later sent someone to bury the ‘cursed’ woman out of respect for the fact that she was a king’s daughter, they found nothing left of her except her skull, her feet and the palms of her hands.
Though time had passed since God’s judgment was spoken through Elisha, his prophecy had come true.

As I pondered the lives of these two women, I wondered what are we to learn from them? Why are we given this information about their lives?

I thought of a few reasons….

1. To show us how the events of a single day can drastically change our lives
2. To show us how God’s purposes weave in and through our lives, for good if we love Him, but for our destruction if we set ourselves against Him.
3. To encourage us to trust the Hand of God – His love, His righteousness, but also His judgement against sin and evil.
4. To teach us to know that human passions and characteristics do not change – even though these women lived thousands of years ago we still find it easy to identify with them.
5. To understand God - that He sees and watches over the lives and thoughts of men and no detail escapes His attention.
6. God’s heart is so merciful that He will give opportunity , even to wicked men, to repent.
7. God’s word, though it may be delayed, will come to pass.

I Sam. 25 – Abigail’s story
I Kings 21- Jezebel’s story


Lovella ♥ said...

. . who needs to watch day time televison when the true life stories in the bible are so shocking?
The Lord was amazing in knowing that we would think that things of this world have never been so bad. He gave us so many examples to learn from. We look at Israel and wonder why they didn't learn.

Sometimes, I think it would be so interesting to have a forum to discuss some of your posts. They only touch the tip of the iceberg.

Demara said...

Oh my! That's so funny and scary at the same time!!! I can't believe Jehu did that...but you know it makes some sense...but still I can just imagine Jezebel sitting there looking out the window *trying* to look pretty for Jehu and then her whole scheme backfiring on her! Abigail reminds me of my Auntie Monica...a lot...just because when I was growing up I'd always go to Monica for advice and I thought she was very pretty too...mentally...and physically...but mostly mentally...she always knew how to help me!

Neat story and excellent writing Julie!!! Honestly I felt like I was watching an episode of CSI...when I could see Jezebel's skull and feet and grusome...

An excellent post!
Good Job~

John Yeboah said...

Have we ever discussed or elaborated how Abigail frantically disgraced, embarrassed and humiliated her husband before David by calling him a fool?
Is that how married women are suppose to live their live?