By Sarah Cornwell

A Reading from 1 Samuel 25:1-22

1 Now Samuel died; and all Israel assembled and mourned for him. They buried him at his home in Ramah.

Then David got up and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

2 There was a man in Maon, whose property was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean; he was a Calebite. 4 David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5 So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. 6 Thus you shall salute him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favour in your sight; for we have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

9 When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David; and then they waited. 10 But Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are breaking away from their masters. 11 Shall I take my bread and my water and the meat that I have butchered for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” 12 So David’s young men turned away, and came back and told him all this. 13 David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every one of them strapped on his sword; David also strapped on his sword; and about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.

14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he shouted insults at them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we never missed anything when we were in the fields, as long as we were with them; 16 they were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17 Now therefore know this and consider what you should do; for evil has been decided against our master and against all his house; he is so ill-natured that no one can speak to him.”

18 Then Abigail hurried and took 200 loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys 19 and said to her young men, “Go on ahead of me; I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 As she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, David and his men came down towards her; and she met them. 21 Now David had said, “Surely it was in vain that I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; but he has returned me evil for good. 22 God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of all who belong to him.”

Meditation

Today we read about Abigail capably discerning and doing what needed to be done. It seems altogether fitting that on this same day the Episcopal Church remembers four women whose insight and courageous work furthered the struggle for Black emancipation and women’s suffrage in the United States: Harriet Ross Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, and Sojourner Truth.

Here is a little on the life of Sojourner Truth:

She was born into slavery in New York in 1797. After her slave holder reneged on his promise to free her, she took her youngest child and simply walked away, refusing even in these circumstances to run away from anything. With the help of friends, she successfully sued for the return of one of her children who had been sold down to Alabama. In obedience to a call of the Holy Spirit, she took up the name Sojourner Truth and became a travelling preacher and a well-known advocate for emancipation and woman’s suffrage. Below is an excerpt from a speech she gave at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention:

I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. … When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother… and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and woman who bore him. Man, where is your part?

Abigail fits well into these examples of biblical women who were integral to God’s work to set the world right side up again. Sojourner Truth does as well. May we not run away when the Spirit calls us to do what needs doing, and may we walk with these women to further the coming of the kingdom.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman, ballet teacher, and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. John’s Church, Savannah, Ga.
The Diocese of Dallas