How to Respond to a Harsh Husband

harsh husbandAbigail and her harsh husband

Abigail had a harsh husband. We know this because scripture calls him such. Nabel was wealthy, hard-headed, impulsive, and mean. Abigail was beautiful, quick-thinking, and had a generous spirit. She had intuition and used it spare her life and the life of her ridiculous and mean spouse.

How Abigail ended up with Nabel, we don’t know. There’s a story in the Old Testament that tell us about a particular incident. You can read it here. One day, David sent a messenger to Nabel to ask for food for his men. In the recent past, Nabel’s servants and his flocks were protected because David’s men were in the area and did not allow harm to come to them. 

David’s men were tired – and hungry. David decided that since his people had “scratched Nabel’s back”, it was time for Nabel to “scratch his”.

Nabel didn’t agree. He scorned the opportunity, made fun of David, and refused to provide food for those men. He asked why he should do a thing like this, and scoffed at the idea.

His response made David furious. Leaving 200 men behind, David led 400 men to meet Nabel, to kill his flock and his family. 

Abigail was informed of Nabel’s poor response and of David’s wrath. Instead of wringing her hands together, crying off in a corner, or storming off to protect her husband, she devised a plan.

Abigail knew David’s men were hungry (they asked for food!). She took from her supplies, gathered food and headed toward David. Abigail wisely sent men ahead to pave the way for her encounter with him. She met David along the trail as he  and his men were approaching Nabel’s land.

harsh husbandAbigail shows us how to respond

Abigail showed respect for David and bowed to him. She acknowledged Nabel’s refusal to provide what David and his men needed. Abigail came prepared to provide what her husband refused. She did not excuse her harsh husband or try to “explain away” his poor behavior. 

Abigail appealed to David’s character. “Don’t do something today that you will regret later,” she said. Think about your future, she added. You’ll be king one day and you do not want this to tarnish your reputation.

I admire this woman. Her husband was a brute, but she rose above his nastiness and saved her husband’s life – and her own – by her response.

This woman and this situation shows the way for us today. The three things she did are an example for us. 1) She gave respect and admiration. (2) Abigail filled the need that her husband refused. (3) She appealed to David’s character.

There were no excuses or defense of her spouse given. Rather, she acknowledged Nabel’s surly attitude without excusing or applauding. She recognized David’s position and gave respect. Abigail also appealed to David’s character and consideration of long-term consequences.

What Abigail did in response

This is what Abigail did.

She gathered food (exactly what David’s men requested) to take to David and his men. Abigail acted quickly because she knew time was of the essence before David and his men came to kill Nabel and his household. She did not tell her husband what she was doing because it would have made him angry (and he no doubt would have stopped her from going). Abigail initiated her meeting with David in a ravine and showed respect in her behavior (she bowed to him).

This is what Abigail said: 

My husband acted shamefully. Please don’t pay any attention to him (ignore his stupidity).

I did not know your men came (or I would have made certain they received food). Here is the food your men should have been given.

Please consider what you are going to do. When you are king, you don’t want this bloodshed to be on your record.

When God gives you success, please remember me.

Abigail’s quick actions saved her life and the life of her husband. It prevented David from having the mark of a murderer on his hands when he became king. Abigail waited to tell her husband until after she acted. 

When Abigail told her husband what happened, he had a stroke. The Bible says Nabel became as stone – which likely means he had a stroke. He died ten days later.

God doesn’t always strike a harsh husband dead within ten days of his evil doing. He does, however, give wisdom and grace for his wife to do the right thing even when he is doing wrong. God equips us with knowledge, self-control, and ideas on how to respond – and also gives us grace to do what we ought to do. Abigail’s response shows us this truth.

How Abigail responded 

One of the greatest things Abigail did was to acknowledge and admit that her spouse was a tyrant – while not groveling at his feet. I don’t know what might have happened to Abigail had her spouse not died. Nor do I know if she ever asked for help in dealing with her spouse.

One of the worst things a woman can do is hide the fact that her spouse is harsh. Knowledge is power. When people know the truth, they have power to help. When women continue to hide truth in order to protect their spouse, they are giving permission for more abuse. Abigail used her capabilities to make her situation better. We must do the same.

harsh husband




Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *