Life with an abusive husband comes with a rigid guarantee. I could be sure he would make life wretched for me and everyone he encountered. A prisoner in a dungeon can at least count off the days with markings on the cell wall. He held me captive; and I daily feared possible marks upon my body, made by him in times of drunken rage. In the early days of our prearranged marriage I clung to any shred of hope. Maybe he would mend his ways; and we could make a comfortable life together. Hope ceased; and I wished my life would end during one of his drinking binges.
My twisted mind began to work as a defense system. I blacked out days at a time not remembering routine functions or his cruelty. One day a hired hand on our ranch discovered me alone and approached.
“All of us here working for your husband know he’s no good! He treats us like dirt beneath his feet. That’s bad enough; but we hate what he is doing to you! We put up with his treatment, because we have no choice. Why do you stay?”
Why do I stay? My parents believed they were setting me up for life with a good match. He does own one of the biggest spreads around. His success has nothing to do with his wisdom or leadership. The foreman gets that credit. I swallowed the lump in my throat gasping for air, and felt stinging tears welling up in my dark circled eyes.
“I can not answer your question. I’ve asked myself a million times. I guess I have my father’s stubborn streak; and I don’t want to admit to myself I can’t take his abuse.”
“If you won’t leave him, we want you to know we are on your side. We’ll follow Nabal’s cruel shouts; but we’ll answer to you. The other guys talked it out; and we’ll try to keep a close eye on you from now on. We feel real bad about not doing that before. Abigail, you can count on us; you have my word!”
I saw a glimmer of hope in his promises for protection. I would not let my husband ruin the rest of my life. He could not control himself. Why did I allow him to control me for so long? My thoughts were broken by the sound of a group of approaching men. I quickly moved out of sight. My husband would not want me around while he talked business. I took advantage of the time to go and refresh myself wading in a near by stream. It seemed like my anxieties were carried away with cool ripples of water.
“Quick, you must do something! There is no time to waste!”
My new trusted friend breathlessly scurried to my side. His eyes told a story of impending danger; and I knew my husband really messed up this time.
“Men came from the camp of David requesting some of the meat and provisions following sheep sheering. They earned it, believe me! If they were not around to help protect the flocks we would have been in big trouble! Your husband doesn’t have the sense to know that sharing with them is no favor. They did the favor for us! David will get even! He’ll wipe us all out!”
“Gather enough supplies for David and all his men! I’ll take it myself. Maybe there is still time to stop innocent bloodshed….”
My mind raced with jumbled thoughts of fear and possibilities as I rode into David’s encampment. What could I lose? He might slay me at his feet or back at our ranch. I remembered praying in earlier years. When hope diminished prayers subsided. The sound of my own imploring voice came as a surprise. “God, guide me.”
My words tumbled out as I lay prostrate at the feet of Israel’s future king. His mood mellowed; and he treated me with favor. His anger would be appeased. Lives of innocent men and their families were saved. I could return home unscathed.
The next couple of days seemed unreal. My husband died following a severe stroke; and we conducted a simple funeral service. Peace and quiet filled the once turbulent ranch; and contentment entered my heart. The arrival of one of David’s trusted men caught me by complete surprise. Is there another problem? Did he say David wants me to be his wife? Huh? “Jehovah God, my life is in your hands!”
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