Rethinking Marriage from Abigail’s Commitment

There’s this secret about Marriage that Abigail knew and held onto.

His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”
She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “Here is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master’s servants.”
— 1 Samuel 25:40-41, NIV.

When it comes to a lifelong commitment, one would always take time to think twice. But this question kept surfacing in my head — are we supposed to?

The Bible didn’t talk about love stories between a man and a woman a lot. In fact, I couldn’t think of any. Sure, you may argue there are instances where “love” between a man and a woman prior to marriage can be observed. Say, for example, Jacob and Rachel. But in all honesty, did Rachel get to choose? Did Rachel think to herself, “Jacob’s cute. But there’re better people out there that God might have in store for me.” No, that wasn’t how it was written.

In fact, it appears to me that the trend is as follows. A boy goes somewhere. He sees an attractive girl. If she’s a virgin, then he talks to her parents who then give her to the boy in marriage. If she’s not a virgin, and God decides to give her as a wife to the boy, then something will happen to her husband, and she will marry the boy. And in all instances, she will serve him all her life.

In an attempt to wrap my mind around servitude and marriage, I think it is important to put aside pre-conceived notions of the idea that we must have the compulsory butterflies-in-the-stomach sensation before we make any commitment, and look at marriage in its truest form.

What exactly is marriage?

“Here is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master’s servants.” — 1 Samuel 25:41, NIV.

The words that Abigail uttered when the servants of David went to her to take her as his wife struck a chord deep in my heart. Abigail wasn’t answering a call to fame and glory, neither is she answering a call to comfort and self-satisfaction. Abigail was answering a call to servitude.

Does it then mean that to be someone’s wife is to be someone’s servant? If we look at this textually, it appears very much the case. But if we were to look deeper at the texts before this took place, Abigail was the same person who cursed his former husband Nabal, calling him a “Fool” and a “wicked man” [1]. “Fool” is the exact word that Jesus taught us not to call anyone by in Matthew 5:22 saying that if anyone who calls anyone “Fool” or “Raca”, that person will be liable to the hell of fire [2]. Surely, a woman who has just condemned her husband by calling him, “Fool”, must not have been a good wife, let alone servant.

Then again, we need to take the context into consideration. Abigail must have put up with Nabal that she could tolerate him no longer. Given her intelligence, her pride and arrogance could have overcome her call to submission. But then again, if that was truly the case, then Abigail wouldn’t have accepted the call to servitude so quickly when the servant of David came to her. Something must be hidden in this story.

My meditation on this topic brought me to Ephesians 5 where Paul taught us about the symbolism between the marriage of a man and his wife, and God and his church. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22, NIV). Submission was the only thing mentioned by Paul to the church of Ephesus in this passage that was targetted at the ladies about marriage. That does not seem too fair for the ladies, does it? But when we dive deeper and understand Spiritual Hierarchy, we will notice that though the husband is the head of the household, the household in itself is part of the body of Christ. We are the bride of Christ [3].

As a man, I’d expect my future wife to submit to my authority and to serve me. But as the bride of Christ, we need to ask ourselves how often do we “bow our head to the ground” before the Lord and say, “here is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master’s servants”?

““For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” — Ephesians 5:31-32, NIV.

Here, we see a divine love triangle. While the wife serves her husband with all her heart, soul, and strength, the husband should likewise, serve the Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength. And as the husband does this, he looks to Christ who suffered and died for his household. With this example, he focuses his life for the betterment of his wife and his family, making them holy by cleansing them by the washing with water through the Word of God and presenting them as a radiant bride without stain or wrinkle or blemishes before the Lord [4].

This was the marriage that Abigail knew. This is also the marriage that we should all aim to strive for — a marriage of servants committing to love the way Christ has loved us.

Footnotes:

[1] – May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.” — 1 Samuel 25:25a, NIV.

[2] – But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. — Matthew 5:22, ESV.

[3] – https://themanifoldwisdomofgod.wordpress.com/2019/05/13/rethinking-our-identity-who-are-we-exactly/

[4] – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. — Ephesians 5:25-27, NIV.

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