“…Abigail…a woman of good understanding…” (1 Samuel 25:3)
I have yet to see a Biblical anthology of women of the Bible that did not include this exceptional woman, including the one I put together several years ago. Verse three also describes her as being a woman “of beautiful countenance,” but the first compliment is the one I take note of here. Obviously, it was this quality—good understanding—that impressed David; while I would wager it was her good looks that appealed to her unreasonable husband, Nabal.
If I had to say what I think exemplified this quality in the woman, I would say it was her ability to know when to speak and when to be silent. We are told that when she was made to understand the futility of trying to reason with someone (in this case, her husband), she held her tongue (vv. 17-19). On the other hand, even though her own life might put her own life in jeopardy, she courageously chose to speak to the more powerful, but more reasonable David, pleading with him for the life of her husband. In the first instance, she knew Nabal was in no condition to hear what she had to say; but David, however, responded to her with the words, “Blessed be thy advice” (v.33).
I have addressed this theme before, and I will continue to do it, because I think it is crucial. Success, in almost every area of life, is dependent on good timing. Not so much being “at the right place at the right time,” but being able to recognize the right time. This is especially true in communicating with people. Proverbs says words spoken in “due season” are a good thing (15:23); and it is the “fitly spoken” word that is praiseworthy (25:11). Not only spoken in a fit way, but at the fit time. We so often assume that something that should be said must be said now; when in reality, it loses much, if not all of its effect, due to poor timing.
If you have lived for any length of time, you know that what I am saying is true. But that doesn’t mean we always put that knowledge to use. You never get too old to make poor judgments. At this moment, I cannot think of anything I have not said that bothers me enough to weigh heavily on my mind; but oh, the things I have said that come back to haunt me! Solomon was right: “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth” (Prov. 15:23). Our joy has much to do with whether or not we know how—and when—to answer. And it’s a dead give-away as to whether or not you or I are women “of good understanding.” Women who “get it.”