Nabal represents another type of toxic person: the unwise master. Again thriving in his authority by generating fear, his decisions are based more on his mood than on reason (good or bad). Unlike the nature of wickedness, which is purposely destructive, this is the nature of foolishness, whose thoughts are but shallow. The wake of chaos this creates is then left for others to remedy.
Abigail must have been well-accustomed to this, for she acts immediately, without hesitation in averting the crisis with the angry David. A few things to note:
- She relied on her own judgment based on a reliable report. (She knew there was no point in trying to reason with her husband beforehand.)
- She was generous with the resources she had, though she could not give them exactly what they wanted.
- She humbled herself and was grateful (Which Nabal refused to do.)
- She did not cover up Nabal’s foolish nature once he had clearly revealed it himself.
Abigail acts with swiftness and prudence to prevent a disaster, likely more for the sake of the servants. While Nabal himself might fully deserve the punishment David and his men were going to dole out, the rest of them did not. By protecting the servants from harm, she was also shielding Nabal. In the long run (which had likely been the case here), the unwise master can begin to believe that his behavior is entirely acceptable because he never has to suffer any painful consequences personally. Abigail’s heroic protection of the innocent then enables the fool and allows him to become even more ingrained in his ways.
While prevention of one disaster is a great blessing, the source of the ongoing problem still remains. Those under the arbitrary dictates of an unwise master live in fear of the unforeseeable consequences because someday, they will not be able to divert the disaster in time. Prevention will fail, and they will suffer harsh consequences caused by a foolish leader. Not only is this anticipation agonizing, knowing that the protecting/enabling dynamics are only heightening the severity of the inevitable terror is even worse.
Toxic people shamelessly feed off of the nobel sacrifices of those around them.
Abigail does attempt to address this, but Nabal is too engrossed in his own self-indulgence to understand or care. If God had not intervened the way He did, Abigail might have been forced to pull out as many innocents as she could and then allow the natural consequences to fall justly where they were deserved. Sometimes God rescues swiftly, but like Moses, sometimes we must initiate the withdrawal. Distance or death are often the only hope of relief. Either way, it will still be messy and we’ll need supernatural help every step.