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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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)?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?