How do You Handle a Stick of Dynamite?

What do you do with a live stick of dynamite? Do you run? Do you scream and dance around in circles? Do you throw it at someone else? Do you try to stomp on it and put the fuse out? Or do you just stay away from dynamite all together?

Silly questions, I suppose. Most of us obviously try to stay as far from dynamite as possible.

But what about other flammable situations? How do you handle a lit fuse of other sorts?
That's exactly the dilemma Abigail found herself in.

The story of Abigail is one of my very favorites in the Bible and plays no small part in why I named my daughter after her. She is my trailblazer for diffusing dangerous situations with hot-tempered people.

You can read Abigail's story in 1 Samuel 25 and it's well worth the quick read--a delightfully fast-paced and action-packed story of love and anger and revenge and beauty. All the stuff of a good Lifetime movie. But I'll give you the basic facts to spark your interest.

Abigail was married to a fool. (See? I told you...good Lifetime movie) Nabal was wealthy, arrogant, selfish, and rude. Abigail, on the other hand, was intelligent and beautiful. How the two got together is a mystery to me. Probably the result of an arranged marriage gone sour. But from all we can tell, Abigail had been doing the best she could to be faithful and good to her wealthy but foolish husband.

We meet this interesting couple when king-to-be David sends an entourage of his men to ask Nabal for a sort of gratuity for the voluntary protection David and his men had afforded Nabal's shepherds and sheep in the wilderness. Evidently this was accepted custom and David tells his men to approach Nabal with respect.

But you can just imagine how well the fool responded to the men's request. Nabal lashed out, "Who is David? (I imagine Nabal saying this with a surly growl.) Who does he think he is? I'm not going to just give a portion of my wealth to every Tom, Dick or Harry who says they've watched my shepherds or my sheep!" You'll have to read the story yourself to see what Nabal really said, but I think I'm pretty on target with my interpretation.

The entourage heads back to report to David. Cue intense music that accompanies the sounds of galloping horses and boiling blood. One fuse is lit. Another is about to spark as well.

Meanwhile one of the servants runs to Abigail--beautiful, wise, gracious Abigail--to tell her what her foolish husband has done now. Not only that, but he tells her that indeed David and his men did protect Nabal's property and should have been rewarded handsomely. The servant then adds: (love this line!)

Now therefore, know and consider what  you should do,
for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household;
and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.

Abigail doesn't waste a minute stewing over how worthless her husband is. She scurries around arranging for bread and wine and prepared sheep meat and grain and raisins and figs, all in huge amounts, to be loaded on donkeys. She sends the bounteous gifts on ahead and says she'll be along shortly, but she tells Nabal about none of this. Personally, I think she goes and changes clothes and freshens up before getting on her own donkey. I'm just saying.

When she finally comes across David and his men, they are on their way down the mountain to Take. Nabal. Out. He is livid. Fuse number two is officially lit.

And this is the point at which I would I ask Abigail our question of the day. What do you do with a stick of dynamite? What do you do with a stick that is lit on both ends? What do you do with a very short fuse that's getting shorter by the minute?

Abigail hurries to David, dismounts from her donkey, and falls on her face before him, bowing to the ground. Then she pours out to him a soliloquy of respectful appeal for mercy. She takes the blame for Nabal's bad conduct on her own shoulders, begs him to hear her out, agrees that Nabal had acted foolishly, and presents the gifts she had prepared for David and his men. But those are not the most important thing she does.

Abigail reminds David that he is the Lord's anointed king for Israel (funny how she knew that but Nabal claimed not to know who he was...). She appeals to the fact that so far he hadn't shed anyone's blood in revenge and anger, and he didn't need to start now. She points to the higher purposes for which God had called him and set him apart. Simply put, Abigail helps David look at the big picture, remember Whose he is, and focus on the important things again. She brings him to his senses.

You can almost see and feel the flame of anger being diffused in this passage as David finally responds to Abigail with:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, 
who sent you this day to meet me,
and blessed be your discernment,
and blessed be you,
who have kept me this day from bloodshed, 
and from avenging myself by my own hand.

David takes the gifts from Abigail graciously and leaves with, "Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request."

Abigail returns to her rotten, scoundrel of a husband. David returns to the wilderness with his band of men. Nabal has a party and gets very drunk. Nabal gets sober. Abigail tells him what she did and Nabal "becomes as a stone." Ten days later, Nabal dies at God's hand. David hears the good bad news. He sends for Abigail and takes her for his wife. A Lifetime movie extraordinaire.

But here's the point for us today. 

Whether we're professional pyrotechnicians or deathly afraid of loud booms, we all have to handle highly explosive situations now and then. We can get in there and throw a few flames around ourselves, adding gun powder to the fuse, or we can bring a little peace, a little reason, and a little soundness of mind to the situation. 

My prayer is that I'll be more like Abigail. She could have run the other way. She could have gotten so carried away with yelling at Nabal for his stupidity that she never bothered to do anything truly constructive or positive. She could have hidden in a hole and hoped the whole thing blew over. She could have stood still, paralyzed with fear and indecision. But she didn't.

Abigail acted with wisdom and decisiveness. She showed David respect and acted with humility. She spoke truth with grace and tact and authority. And she even managed to speak the truth to Nabal but resist the temptation to "let him have it," giving that responsibility to God instead. 

So today's trailblazer, Abigail, forges the way for those times when we, too, have to deal with foolish people, incensed victims, raging tempers, and blatant injustices. And that's the real stuff of life. Aren't you glad the Bible indeed is a light to our path, even the paths we'd rather not have to take?