Abigail Married to Nabal…How to Survive Marriage to a Difficult Spouse

Attractive couple having an argument on couch at home in the living room

Every man has a key. The key to a happy home is to discover your partner’s key. What works for one man may not work for the other. Whether you are married to a Boaz or a Nabal (Abigail’s husband) the way to succeed in your marriage is to find what works for you and stick to it.

So the story of Abigail and Nabal in the bible is not a very popular one cos I’ve heard a number of people ask, if Abigail is a character in the bible so I’ll first tell you a little about this beautiful woman immortalized as a woman of great wisdom. Their story is set at a time David was labelled a rebel and together with his band of followers was on exile to Carmel. While there they formed a sort of vigilante group guarding livestock and shepherds. In summary, David and the men kept peace and protected lives and property in that region by their presence there.

The season was over and the shepherds returned to their masters with tales of David’s protection from marauding beasts and cattle rustlers. Nabal, the biggest livestock merchant in that area, a man so full of himself, pompous and unreasonable was told of David’s kind gestures and suggestion that he should be compensated for his efforts. He mocked at David’s, asking why he should give a damn about a vagabond who had unrealistic expectations of becoming a King. David heard about his disdain and was enraged. He vowed to raid Nabal’s domain and plunder his household. A servant heard about it and quickly went to tell Abigail.

On hearing this, she hastily prepared a feast, food, wine and rushed out with a few servants without telling her husband. She met David and his men on the way and entreated them gently not to take such a drastic action against her husband. David was impressed and promised not to hurt them but turned back with his men. She got back home only to see her husband in the middle of a feast, drinking merrily and oblivious to the carnage they would have experienced but for her wisdom. Well, she eventually told him the next day when he was sober and he got really scared. He probably imagined his life would have ended the previous day and his blood pressure shot up or maybe he had a heart attack but the story goes that he never recovered from the shock. He died ten days later and David remembered the lovely woman that had prevented him from giving voice to his rage that day. He later proposed and married Abigail and they lived happily ever after…well until he met his 3 other wives and Bathsheba you know.

Anyway the thrust of this story is Abigail’s wise and proactive actions and the fact that being married to a foolish man didn’t make her sit down and fold her hands for things to get so bad. Sometimes I sit back and wonder how many years she must have lived with Nabal and his foolishness for. Even his name Nabal means Foolish. That means his foolishness must have been legendary. Nabal was obviously a man incapable of deep or wise thoughts. He probably inherited his family wealth and didn’t know how to relate with people. His pomposity made him incapable of apologizing when he was wrong or being kind to servants. He was a very difficult man, impossible to bear and so full of himself. He felt entitled to everything he received whether it was a favour or help from a stranger. He probably never said thank you or sorry all his life. He must have spoken harshly to his wife at will and abused her verbally.

Abigail on her part remained wise and prayerful in the midst of it all. She didn’t let her husband’s attitude turn her to a bitter woman. Where her husband was harsh to servants she was kind and generous. When workers got restless and wanted to walk away from their employ she would placate them. Where her husband reneged on an agreement, she was there to speak softly to the people involved. In summary, she was the backbone of her husband’s life and success.

You may be married to a Nabal of today who is the classical big man that has no respect or regard for you as his wife, who belittles and berates you in public, embarrasses you in front of relatives, won’t take advice from you or listen to your opinions and makes you go to sleep every night wishing it could be your last. So here are a few tips from Abigail for managing a foolish husband like Nabal

Pray for him all the time: there’s no limit to the kind of prayers you should make on his behalf

Refrain from telling him how foolish his actions are; instead find creative ways of suggesting better ways he could handle a situation.

Speak positive words to and about him: Ever hear of how potent words are? Instead of talking about how unwise his decisions are keep speaking positive words about him and soon they will begin to manifest in him.

Improve yourself: In marriage you really can’t change your spouse except God specifically changes him through the Holy Spirit. You can only change your own self. That means you must adjust your mindset to seeing good in him and encouraging him rather than focusing on his weakness.

Finally, be his Abigail: By this I mean cover for him where he is weak. Speak kindly to those he is harsh to, take action where he is sloppy and be proactive where he is complacent all without rubbing it in his face.

That said, it’s only with the help of God that you can survive marriage to a Nabal. Seek God’s help and don’t stop until he intervenes in your marriage.


Further reading: 1 Samuel 25:3-42


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