The story of Abigail, her foolish husband Nabal, and David is the foundation of this beautiful pamphlet. Written in a way that will appeal to the Muslim or Christian woman, this Biblical story will inspire a legacy of righteousness to Allah.
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A Wounded Heart
Copyright © 2018 GC WM
Abigail – A Wounded Heart
Authored by Jamile Mansour Al-Kindi
Translation by Adventist Commons
Cover and Layout Design by Adventist Commons
Illustrations by Carlos Seribelli and Paula Lobo
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A Wounded Heart
The birds chirped cheerily outside Abigail’s window as she finished brushing her long, luxurious hair. She mentally made a list of activities she would do that day: give the house servants their instructions for the day, spend some time weaving her latest tapestry, oversee the preparations for the feast, and oh, yes—take a long walk before her husband Nabal came home. She shuddered to think of him, as she always did. But, no use to think of him now, it would only spoil her day. Never mind.
Abigail put her comb down and peered into the washbasin. Her watery reflection gazed back at her. The women of the village all envied Abigail for her glorious hair and elegant features. “You’re so lucky,” they always told her. “The most beautiful woman, married to the richest man.” They would click their tongues in good-natured jealousy, but Abigail never told them what life was really like behind Nabal’s walls.
The name “Nabal,” in the language of her region, meant “fool,” and Abigail often wondered how Nabal’s parents had been so accurate in predicting his character. Being married to an emotionally abusive, callous man was a heavy burden to bear, one that could be escaped only in the quiet moments when she walked the pasturelands alone. She found moments of cheer in simple acts of kindness, showing warmth to the household servants and absorbing the smiles of neighbor children at play. She dreaded the return of her husband from his work each day, but had learned to bear with patience the cruel words and dark glances he cast her way. This was the lot granted to her from Allah, and she would accept it.
A Desperate Emergency
An urgent tapping on the door called her attention back to the present. It was early morning—who could be knocking at such an hour? Casting a veil around her hair, she opened the door to find one of the field servants panting breathlessly, his face tight with anxiety. Abigail drew him into the room and gave him a stool to rest upon. “What happened?” she exclaimed. “Is everything alright?”
“Look what happened,” the servant whispered nervously, “Ten men came from the prophet Daoud to greet Nabal, but he shouted and railed against them.”
“Men from the prophet Daoud’s army?” Abigail gasped. “But they have always protected us. Ever since his army came to this area, we have never had sheep stolen from the pasture.”
“Yes,” the servant continued. “They were respectful and merely asked for food for the feast day. Nabal shamed them and sent them away empty handed.” He gulped in trepidation. “Beware, mistress: Daoud’s army has protected us, but this same army has slain the Lord’s enemies by the thousands. Surely evil will come upon our household—for Nabal is such a son of the devil that no man can speak with him!”
Abigail stood still for a moment, stunned. She did not need her servant to remind her of Nabal’s wretchedness. But who could tell whether this offense done to Daoud might be her golden ticket to freedom? She could escape now across the hills to her father’s house and watch Daoud’s judgment fall upon Nabal from a distance. After all, the life of a widow would perhaps be more pleasant than to be married to such a vile creature. Could she…? Should she…? No. Abigail instantly pushed such opportunities from her mind; instead, she determined to take immediate action to spare her husband’s life.
Infusing her servants with the same desperate, rapid energy that animated her own body, Abigail led them to pack a large supply of food for Daoud and his men. 200 loaves of bread, two flasks of juice, five prepared sheep, five measures of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of figs were loaded onto donkeys. Without speaking a word to Nabal, she and several of her servants secretly departed. Tucking the edges of her long, graceful robe beneath the saddle, Abigail urged her donkey to trot faster—perhaps she could find Daoud before he found Nabal.
In a dense thicket near the mountainside, Abigail abruptly came face to face with Daoud and his soldiers, armed and stony-faced as if marching to battle. Surely they were on their way to her own home to avenge themselves upon Nabal! Some of Daoud’s soldiers drew their swords upon seeing the little caravan of packages approach, unsure of what to expect. Ignoring the sound of unsheathed metal, Abigail leapt from the saddle and hurled herself at Daoud’s feet. She knew it might be her only chance to intercede for her wicked husband, if only Daoud would allow her to speak—!
“On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be!” she exclaimed. “Please hear me for just a moment; let your maidservant speak a word to you.” Humbling herself before the man of Allah, she kept her face to the dust. Would he let her speak? Peering through her eyelashes, she could see that Daoud’s armored legs had not moved. “Please, don’t pay any regard to this son of the devil. His name is Nabal, and he is certainly a fool! But I, your maidservant, did not see your men when you sent them. I know that Allah will keep you back from shedding blood today—surely He will avenge you in His own time. Now, please, accept this gift that I have brought for you and your men.”
Abigail remained where she had cast herself to the ground. She heard the clinking of swords and armor as soldiers relaxed their poses, but still Daoud did not speak. “Please,” she pleaded, seeing her breath move the dust, “forgive my trespasses against you. Allah will certainly make for you an enduring house, because no evil is found in you. And one day, when you are king, and this nation bows at your feet, you will not even remember the offense caused to you this day.”
A long silence reigned, and Daoud spoke. “Blessed is Allah, who has sent you to meet me. And blessed is your advice, blessed are you, for you have kept me back from shedding blood and avenging myself today. For indeed, unless you had come to meet me, by the next morning’s light there would be no males left in the household of Nabal.” Abigail dared to lift her face from the dust. Daoud’s countenance had softened. “Go in peace to your house,” he said gently. “I have taken your advice and will not hurt you or your household.”
A Wretched Fool
By the time Abigail and her servants returned home, Nabal’s rowdy feast already filled the courtyard with music and laughter. Food that he had been unwilling to share with others filled his own tables. Abigail watched him drowning himself with wine, and spoke nothing to him until the next morning, when his drunken stupor had worn away. Then she told him of the death he had narrowly escaped. For the first time in his life, it seemed that Nabal came to his senses. He suddenly recognized that his barbaric attitude could have dire consequences. Fearing that Daoud might break his word and come to kill him, he suffered a massive stroke so that his body could not move for ten days. His sudden, fearful encounter with consequences seemed to siphon the life out of his body, and after ten days, Nabal died.
As Abigail watched family members lower Nabal’s body into the grave, she cried tears of sympathy, forever lost on her husband. Even in his vilest moments, she had pitied him—a miserable, misery-causing man. On days when she had been tempted to hate him, she prayed for mercy, the same mercy showed by Allah for weak human beings. But now her pity was lost forever. She had done her best, but even though her best efforts had not changed him, she felt righteous before Allah.
Envoy from the Prophet
“Madam Abigail?” a respectful voice addressed her. She turned, recognizing one of the men of Daoud. “Our master Daoud has sent us to give his heartfelt condolences for your loss.”
“Thank you,” she replied softly.
The man continued: “Daoud says it is rare to find a woman with such wisdom, bravery, and tenderness. He has sent us to ask if you would be willing to unite your life with someone who would be most admiring of it.”
“What do you mean?” Abigail gasped in astonishment.
“If you are in agreement, Daoud is asking for your hand in marriage.”
Thus it happened, in due course of time, that the widow Abigail became Daoud’s wife, ever afterward to be loved and admired by one of the greatest men who ever walked upon the earth. Gone were the days of Nabal’s stormy looks and ugly words. Gone were her nights of silent tears, wept secretly on a pillow while Nabal slept off his violent outbursts. Now, married to Daoud—both a prophet and a king—she felt loved, cherished, and safe.
Healing for Today
The lesson taught through Abigail’s story lives on with universal appeal to women of all time. Nabals are still alive and well in every country of the world, victimizing tender women who feel the cutting words, the blow of a heavy hand, and the pain of isolation. The wedding vows seem to legitimize treatment that would never be tolerated were the man to approach any other woman in the same way. These women hoped to be loved and cherished, but instead are seen as sex objects, servants, or punching bags. The story of Abigail informs us that Allah does not approve. Allah brought righteous judgment upon Nabal, and gave his wife to a man who would bring her under his protection and endearment. The story shows us that Allah does not condone the abuses that are often hidden under the cover of marriage.
Have you been disillusioned by the failure of your husband to cherish and protect you? You are not alone. The very first one to express His disapproval is Allah. Every rough word and uncaring touch you receive from your spouse is registered in the books. There will be justice one day. And although Abigail’s story was not severe enough to illustrate the following point, it should be noted that in cases of severe physical or sexual abuse, women have the right to speak out and get help. They do not have to suffer in silence when they are being physically harmed. They have the right to receive help and safety from extended family members or the law.
At the same time, the story of Abigail teaches devotion and loyalty to the man we have pledged our lives to in marriage. She was willing to put herself in harm’s way to save her wicked spouse. She went to meet Daoud’s army in full knowledge of the their anger and the very real possibility that she would be struck down upon sight. She could have escaped and saved herself, but instead, she humbly interceded for her husband and saved his life. She didn’t know that her actions would lead to widowhood and then a second marriage to the prophet. Her actions were done in pure devotion to someone who didn’t deserve her love. This example leaves a legacy of righteousness for married women to follow. Abigail’s actions pleased Allah, because she demonstrated the very same kind of undeserving mercy that He Himself has for forgetful, wicked mankind.
However smooth or rocky your marriage may be, determine to love your husband whether he deserves it or not. Allah does not want you to feel pain, but take comfort in the remembrance that your mercy is not wasted: you are storing up treasure in Paradise each time you repay evil with good. Look beyond your “Nabal” to the bounties of our Lord: healing and wholeness are freely offered by Allah, the One Who Loves and the One Who Sees, to women who seek after Him.
Abigail lived with a harsh, unfeeling husband; her heroic efforts to save his life led the Prophet Daoud to praise her wisdom and grace. Then, a sudden twist of events changed her life forever.
More stories from the Tawrat and Injeel:
Hajar / Jochabed / Naomi / The Woman at the Well
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