Twelve Ways Abigail Is a Type and Shadow of Jesus Christ (1 Samuel 25)

Twelve Ways Abigail Is a Type and Shadow of Jesus Christ (1 Samuel 25)

When we think of types and shadows of Jesus, the Bronze Serpent (John 3:14), manna (John 6:51), rock in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4), or certain individuals like Joseph, Moses, David and Solomon probably come to mind. But Abigail in 1 Samuel 25? Probably not, but she should!

Background for the Typology

Let me briefly run through the verses in 1 Samuel 25 to explain the account:

Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah. David and Abigail Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite.

1 Samuel 25:1-3

David and his men are on the run from Saul, and it was common for them to provide for themselves by providing protection. They defended towns, such as Keilah in 1 Samuel 23:1-14, and Nabal’s flocks in this account.

David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 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. And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 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. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’” When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited.

1 Samuel 25:4-9

Since it was such a common practice for wealthy landowners to pay men who guarded their properties, Nabal shouldn’t have been surprised by David’s request. More than likely he even expected it.

Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters.

1 Samuel 25:10

Nabal responded with two insults. First, when David went to live with the Philistines to escape Saul, the Philistine leaders said:

Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”

1 Samuel 29:5

If the Philistines had heard of David’s exploits, Nabal had too, but he acted like David was a nobody.

Nabal’s second insult referred to David’s separation from to make him look rebellious.

Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”

1 Samuel 25:11

An honorable person would’ve been glad to pay David and his men for their services, but Nabal’s response, in particular the repetition of the word my, reveal his selfishness.

So David’s young men turned away and came back and told him all this. And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man 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.

1 Samuel 25:12-13

This is a low point for David. He gave into his flesh and we find out later he wasn’t only going to kill Nabal, but all his men too.

But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them. Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.

1 Samuel 25:14-16

We see how well, and honorably, the servants said David and his men protected the animals and servants.

Nabal’s servants knew there was no reasoning with him, so they went to his wife, Abigail.

Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

1 Samuel 25:17-19

Example 1: Abigail rode a donkey on the way to make atonement.

And as she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, behold, David and his men came down toward her, and she met them.

1 Samuel 25:20

Abigail rode on a donkey on the way to make atonement for Nabal’s sin like Jesus rode on a donkey on His way to make atonement for our sin:

And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

John 12:14-15 (quoting Zechariah 9:9)

Example 2: Abigail sought to bear Nabal’s iniquity

Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.” When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant.

1 Samuel 25:21-24

Abigail reveals substitutionary guilt, especially with the words, “On me alone…be the guilt.” She was willing to bear Nabal’s iniquity. Similarly, Jesus bore our iniquity:

For He shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11b

Example 3: Abigail saved a foolish man

Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.

1 Samuel 25:25

Nabal’s name means fool. His disobedience made him foolish, like our disobedience makes us foolish.

[God says] “For My people are foolish, they have not known Me.”

Jeremiah 4:22

Just as Abigail saved a foolish man who didn’t know God, so too has Jesus saved foolish people who didn’t know God…

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.

1 Corinthians 1:27

Example 4: Abigail provided an offering for Nabal’s sin

Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, because the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your servant.

1 Samuel 25:26-28a

Abigail provided an offering for Nabal’s sin so David could forgive him. Similarly, Jesus provided an offering on our behalf so we could be forgiven:

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Ephesians 5:2

Example 5: Abigail declared the king’s house, innocence, and victory over enemies

To be clear, this isn’t so much a type, but it’s worth noticing that Abigail spoke about David’s future in such a way that she could’ve used the same words to describe Christ’s future…

For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”

1 Samuel 25:28b-31

Consider how much this parallels Christ:

  • She spoke of David’s house and Hebrews 3:3 says, “Jesus [is] counted worthy of glory as the builder of [the] house [of God].”
  • She spoke of David’s innocence and in John 19:6 Pilate said, “I find no guilt in him.”
  • She poke of David’s victory over his enemies and 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 says, “[Jesus] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Example 6: Abigail was accepted as an intercessor

And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!

1 Samuel 25:32

David accepted Abigail, not just as an intercessor, but as an intercessor between God and man.

Similarly, the Father accepts the Son, who serves as an Intercessor between God and man…

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:5

Example 7: Abigail turned away wrath

Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.”

1 Samuel 25:33-34

Abigail turned away the wrath that was against Nabal, like Jesus turns away the wrath that’s against us…

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:9

Let’s briefly make sure we understand propitiation, since this isn’t a word we use often. It’s a two-part act that involves:

  1. Turning away the wrath of an offended individual
  2. Providing reconciliation as a result.

Close synonyms to propitiating are, “appeasing, expiating, placating, and satisfying.”

In other religions, man accomplishes the propitiation through the sacrifice he provides, but in Christianity, God accomplished propitiation through the Sacrifice He provided. God’s wrath was turned away from believers because it was poured out on His Son. Then we’re reconciled to the Father.

Because Jesus performed both parts of propitiation, Scripture says He is our propitiation…

[Jesus] Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood.

Romans 3:25 (see also Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, and 1 John 4:10)

Example 8: She established peace

Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house.

1 Samuel 25:35

Without Abigail there would have been judgment on Nabal, but Abigail established peace between he and David. Similarly Jesus established peace between us and God:

[Jesus] made peace through the blood of [the] cross.

Colossians 1:20b

Example 9: Abigail had pleasing character

See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

1 Samuel 25:35b

In the NKJV David said, “See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person.” Similarly, God is pleased with Jesus’ character:

A voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17

Example 10: Her actions defeated the “devil”

And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

1 Samuel 25:36-38

Nabal is a picture of the devil. If you look back at verse 25 the Hebrew word for worthless fellow is bĕliya`al, which is how it’s translated in the King James Version This is a name for the devil in the New Testament…

And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

2 Corinthians 6:15

Nabal died after Abigail interceded. Similarly, Jesus’ intercession on the cross defeated Satan…

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it, that is the cross.

Colossians 2:15

This was prophesied back at the fall…

God spoke to the serpent about the “Seed of the Woman,” referring to Jesus: “He shall crush your head.”

Genesis 3:15b

Example 11: Abigail washed servants’ feet

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The Lord has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.”

1 Samuel 25: 39-41

Abigail washed David’s servants feet. Similarly, Jesus His servants’ feet…

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:5

Example 12: She was elevated to a position of honor

And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife.

1 Samuel 25: 42

After Abigail finished her work, she became David’s wife. She sat next to him as Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father…

[Jesus] is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.

Hebrews 8:1b

14 Responses

  1. I have a question. How did Abigail save Nabal? I don’t get it. He was to die through David and he died later anyway. Who killed Nabal? His heart died and then 10 days later he died.

    1. Hello Queen Moloko,
      Abigail saved Nabal by intercepting David when he was on his way to kill him. But, yes, you could argue that Abigail didn’t really save Nabal, because God ended up killing him anyway. So, we could say that Abigail saved in, but only temporarily.

  2. Thank you so much for writing this precious article. I’m 3rd year MDiv. in Korea. Since I’ve been trying to find Jesus in OT, your writing led me much deeper thought. God bless you!

  3. Dear Brother,
    I appreciate your teaching. Obviously you learned this information from Bible school? Commentary? I would like to know what books or commentary you use for this teaching.


    1. Hello Todd,
      No, not from Bible college or seminary. Someone mentioned to me once that Abigail looks like Christ in her intercession for her husband, Nabal. I reread the account through that lens and found many of the types. I also searched on the Internet for information on this subject. I simply typed in, “Abigail a type of Christ.”

  4. Hello Pastor,
    Thank you so much for exposing such truth. I also enjoyed the story but didn’t really think of it as a typology.

    Bless you so much

  5. Abigail even states to David that her husband “is the devil”, and after Nabal finds out that she made the intersession he dies soon after…just as Satan will die. Then she becomes his wife (David’s) and is seated next to Him as Christ is next to the Father.

    I love this story so much. I heard a famous pastor telling the story from the perspective of how wives should act and all I could see in his description was the Plan of Salvation!

    God is good.

    1. Hi Janelle,
      Thank you so much for your insights. I didn’t see those parallels, but I liked them so much I added them to the post. You might notice the title says, “Nine Ways” instead of “Seven Ways.”

      Sadly, when I taught this passage early in my ministry I also focused on the application for wives and whether Abigail’s actions were justified, and missed the typology with Christ. If you like types, you might consider checking out my book, A Father Offers His Son. It examines the typology between Isaac and God the Son, and Abraham and God the Father.

      Thank you again!

  6. Esther is also a type of Christ ~ willing to go before the king to seek favor for her people (the Jews) even if it meant death for her in doing so. She interceded on behalf of the people and God used her in instrumental ways to save a whole nation from destruction.

    1. Hi Stacy,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Great point! Yes, the account isn’t PRIMARILY about Esther and her relationship to the king. God isn’t trying to help us understand their marriage. Instead, there are two bigger realities taking place. Like you said, one of them was providing a beautiful picture or type of the intercession Jesus accomplishes for us. Only someone the King favored could enter the King’s presence on behalf of the people. To make it clear:
      • Just like the king favored Esther, God the Father favors His Son.
      • Just like Esther saved her people, Jesus saves His people.

      The second thing Esther reveals is it’s VERY difficult to access the king. You try to approach the King/God – and like Esther said – there is but one law: you die! But through Christ, we’ve been given this access!

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please let me know. I do my best to respond to each comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Scott's Podcast
Subscribe to Scott's Newsletter

… and receive a free ebook. 
You can unsubscribe anytime.

Newsletter subscription for Scott LaPierre with Seven Biblical Insights