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Relevant Passages: 1 Samuel 25, Esther 8

Abigail and Esther are two strong-willed women who played prominent roles in steering a daring passageway between dangerous alternatives established by powerful and foolish men.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you characterize the strengths and weaknesses of the three primary characters in the drama in which Abigail played the key role: Abigail, her husband Nabal, and David the threatening Robin Hood?
  2. Should we consider Abigail’s role “normative” when a woman’s spouse acts in foolish ways? Or were her particular traits exceptional, allowing her to respond in an extraordinary way?
  3. Was David’s honest response to Abigail a result of her skillful diplomacy, her feminine charms, or both? Was David always willing to accept such “wise” counsel which countered his more determined intentions: e.g. with reference to the threat from Absalom (Joab, 2 Sam. 14:19; 19:5-8); the threat from Adonijah (Nathan and Bathsheba, 1 Kings 1), his desire to build the temple (Nathan, 2 Sam. 7; 1 Chron. 17, 22)?
  4. In the story of Esther, at least three women occupy the stage: the resolute Vashti, who refused her husband’s drunken request (Esther 1); the resolute Esther, who confronted her husband the king in time of crisis (Esther 5, 8); and Haman’s morose wife, Zeresh who predicted her husband’s downfall (Esther 6:13). Typically Esther gets high marks for her courage, but what of Vashti and Zeresh: did they speak and act with extraordinary courage or insight?
  5. In the story of Jesus’ trial, Pilate’s wife attempted to intervene in the proceedings, but to no avail (Matt. 27:19). Was the failure the result of her flawed approach or her husband’s flawed response?
  6. Examples of bad advice from a spouse: Eve to Adam (Gen. 3), Sarai to Abraham (Gen. 16:2); Job’s wife to Job (Job 2:9-10); Herodias to Herod Antipas (Mark 6). Is there any common ground that could help us resist bad advice from a spouse?
  7. Scripture contains several accounts of married couples who collaborate for evil (Ahab and Jezebel, 1 Kings 18; Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5) and for good (Joseph and Mary, Matthew 1-2; Aquila and Priscilla). Do these stories yield principles of collaboration which can help us encourage one another to do good instead of evil?

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