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. 25 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. ESV 1 Samuel 25:24-25
Once married we quickly realize we married a fellow sinner. Of course, this realization often exposes our own sinful thoughts and actions as we process how to live with someone who often sins as much as we do. We also begin to learn each other’s weaknesses and sin patterns, and dealing with these patterns can be frustrating, especially when we see no change. Our marriages though can provide some of the best opportunities for spiritual formation. In the story of Abigail and Nabal we see the unique opportunity of interceding for our spouse.
When we realize the sinful nature of our spouse, the worst thing we can do is cover for them. If one spouse constantly blows up in anger, we are actually sinning against our spouse and children to make excuses for them, cover their actions, and try to patch things up. Untold damage has been done in these situations, especially when abuse is involved. On the other extreme, however, is the response where we wash our hands of our spouse’s sin, pretend it has nothing to do with us, and let them reap the consequences of their own sin. While this seems healthier than covering for them (and I suppose it is to an extent), the Biblical response is to intercede on behalf of our spouse. Note that Abigail did this as she reacted to neither extreme of covering for Nabal or abandoning him. While her response seems to be one of covering, she honestly admits his faults–calling him a fool to David. If your husband reacts in anger toward the kids, make sure the kids know he is wrong–but don’t take the opportunity to bash and trash your husband. Abigail works to restore the relationship between Nabal and David, and as such models godly character in marriage.
Perhaps nothing challenges us more than jumping into the trenches with our sinful spouse and working them through a sinful response pattern. It’s much easier to abandon them, or pretend the sin doesn’t exist. But God calls us to intercede on their behalf–both asking Him to forgive them, and asking others to work with them. In this intercession, we fully acknowledge their sin and foolishness, while simultaneously working to support change in their lives. It doesn’t always work, but this is the path God calls us to walk. May you prayerfully and considerately intercede for your spouse.