ROCK OF ESCAPING: Abigail and David, Part 2


Read MARRIED TO A FOOL: Abigail and David, Part 1.

When I was studying Abigail in 1 Samuel 25, my eyes caught a glimpse of a verse in chapter 23 that had the words "Rock of Escape."  So naturally my curiosity was piqued.  I went back to that chapter and made some wonderful discoveries.  Chapter 23 details the time when David had asked the Lord if he should go down and fight the Philistines.  The Lord said yes.  During that time, Saul learned what David was doing and plotted evil against him.  What captured my attention begins with verse 25:  "When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David.  Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon.  And when Saul heard that, he pursued David in the Wilderness of Maon." (Emphasis mine.)

The passage continues in verses 26-29: "Then Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain.  So David made haste to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were encircling David and his men to take them.  But a messenger came to Saul, saying, 'Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!'  Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape.  Then David went up from there and dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi." NKJV (Emphasis mine.)

I will be using the Blue Letter Bible Outline of Biblical Usage and Strong's for the meanings of words.

First notice the word rock in verse 25.  The Hebrew word is cela and means "crag, cliff, rock, stone or stronghold."  The word is first mentioned in Numbers 20: 8, "Take the rod, you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together.  Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals."  We know this is a picture of Christ, the Rock and the Living Water that He is and that flows from Him.

The Hebrew word for Rock of Escape is Sela-hammahlekoth and means "the cliff of escapes" or "the cliff of divisions"   
             1. a rock or cliff in the wilderness of Maon, southeast of Hebron, the scene of an escape of David from Saul.

There are a two more verses to consider.  The first is 1 Samuel 23:14: "And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph.  Saul sought him every day, but God did  not deliver him into his hand." (Emphasis mine.)

The second verse to consider is 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you except such is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

Remember, Maon is where Nabal was...where Abigail was. What we see in chapter 23 is that Abigail's king was in the wilderness with her! But she wouldn't find that out until later.  In the meantime, she had been industrious and productive, understanding the situation she was in.  Our King IS our Escape... our Hiding Place.  Sometimes He provides a physical escape.  Sometimes, He just wants us to escape in Him our Hiding Place.  But He is always there in the wilderness with us.

Consider also, it might have been tempting to Abigail to give Nabal a piece of her mind, to let him know how stupid he had been.  She could have, in righteous indignation, fussed and fumed and gotten it "off her chest."  Instead, she kept quiet, did what needed to be done and took the way of escape that God provided.  There was a Rock of Escaping not only for David, but for Abigail, too.

In the last study, we saw Abigail's elegant words to David in 1 Samuel 25: 29, "Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling."

Of course, that reminds us 1 Samuel 17 when David killed Goliath with a sling and a stone.  As we consider deliverance and escape from the enemy, David's words in verse 34-37 reveal so much.  David had volunteered to go against Goliath.  Saul told David he would not be able to because he was young and no match for Goliath. 

1 Samuel 17: 34-37: "But David said to Saul, 'Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.  Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.'  Moreover David said,  'The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.'  And Saul said to David, 'Go, and the LORD be with you!'" (Emphasis mine.)

David recognized the Lord's deliverance. The paw of the lion was the hand of the enemy. Remember 1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." Even though he had killed the lion and the bear, he recognized from where the deliverance came.  It was David doing the battle, but the deliverance came from the Lord.  

Back to David and Abigail.  David was in his own wilderness.  He was a warrior in battle fighting for his life.  He was ready to destroy Nabal and all he had, but as we saw, Abigail was a woman of understanding.  She was wise.  She was keenly aware of what was going on.  She was prepared and ready to take action when it was time.  She had humbled herself before David and was now speaking truth into his life.  We see her speaking truth in verses 30 and 31: "And it shall come to pass, when the LORD has done for my lord according to all that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, that this will be no grief nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself.  But when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant."

Abigail knew that the Lord God had a divine appointment for David.  We see His sovereign plan in her words in verse 30.  A look at the Hebrew words are very revealing:  Yehovah 'asah 'adown towb dabar tsavah nagiyd Yisra'el.

Yehovah   the existing One
'asah         to work, make, produce
'adown      lord, master 
towb          good, pleasant, agreeable
dabar        to speak, to promise
tsavah       to lay charge, commission, command, appoint
nagiyd      leader, ruler, captain, prince
Yisra'el     God prevails

Do you see it? The Existing One works, makes, produces.  He is Lord and promises and appoints and prevails! God is sovereign!  He is sovereign, still.  He is sovereign in your life and mine.  In Psalm 138:7-8, David expresses a promise that I find much comfort in,  "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me.  You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.  The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.  Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the works of Your hands." (Emphasis mine.)

The Hebrew word for perfect is gamar and means to bring to an end, complete.

The Lord will bring His sovereign plan for your life and mine to a completion.  

The Hebrew word for that which concerns me is checed and means lovingkindness, mercy, favor, goodliness.

I encourage you to learn more about that beautiful word checed.  It's a study all by itself.  But back to this study.  The Lord used Abigail to remind David that the Lord will avenge David, not David.  The Lord is in control of David's life––not David.  She told David if he will leave the revenge in the hands of the Lord and remember what the Lord had appointed him to, then he wouldn't have the grief and regret that would have resulted from taking things into his own hand.

Then we see in verses 32-34 that David recognizes that the Lord has arranged this encounter: "Then David said to Abigail: 'Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!  And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.  For indeed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!'"

Abigail had protected the king's reputation.  This has application for us as Christians today in a world that loves to paint Christians with an unpalatable, broad stroke.  Jesus told us to be salt and light.  Salt makes things tasty and palatable.  That's what Abigail did.  David received what she said as good because it was said with discretion and understanding. She hadn't wasted valuable time. She had been watching and waiting and preparing, so that when the time was at hand, she had mahar - made haste, prepared quickly, speedily.  Let us imitate Abigail in using discretion and wisdom and timeliness in our speaking so that we will be salt and light. David also recognized that in the process of revenge, he would have taken collateral damage...and that being Abigail. That is always something for us to consider in our actions.

Verse 35: "So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, 'Go up in peace to your house.  See, I have heeded your voice and respected  your person.'"

The word translated respected is nasa' and means "to lift, to bear, carry, support, sustain, endure, to carry off, to forgive."

The word translated person is paniym and means "face, presence, person, countenance."  It is the same word used in Exodus 33:11, "So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to a friend."  (A Jewish friend of mine tells me it means "without riddle.")

Verse 36:  "So when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, 'Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept His servant from evil!  For the LORD has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head.'  And David sent and proposed to Abigail, to take her as his wife."

David was so grateful that he hadn't taken revenge in his own hands, but had left that to the Lord.  There is always collateral damage when we take things into our own hands, whether it be revenge, or just helping God out when He takes too long or doesn't do things the way we think they should be done.

There would be more battles for David with Saul and with his enemies.  In Part 3 we will look at Psalm 18 which is David's song of deliverance.

Dear One, if you are still in the wilderness, go to your Rock of Escaping.  The greater lesson here is not to go the Him just to wait it out, just to help you out while you are in the wilderness, but to FIND Him. To find that He is all you need.  He is life.  He is your life.  Seek to know Him paniym—face to face—without riddle.

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