Filed under Series Girltalk Book Club
“There’s a time for a woman to resignedly sit back and wait for the Lord to change her husband’s mind. And there’s a time for a woman to assertively rise up and take matters into her own hands. Abigail knew how to tell time.” Womanly Dominion, p. 77
Elizabeth asked on facebook: How did Abigail know that this was the time to take matters into her own hands? Great question!
Abigail was a “discerning” woman (1 Sam. 25:3). How can we become such a woman? How can we learn to “tell time”? How can we know when to humbly speak up and when to wait?
1. Know God. “Discernment comes from sound doctrine, not subjective impressions” is a phrase my dad often repeats. The better you know God’s Word, the better you will understand His ways, and the more discerning you will be. Abigail knew what was important (the protection of her family), but also how to act (decisively, humbly, boldly). The Bible is not a reference manual that we pull off the shelf only when we have a question. It is God’s revelation of Himself and His ways. We must read it daily to grow in wisdom. This is the only way to learn how to accurately “tell time” (Ps. 25:12, all of Psalm 119).
2. Know your heart. Abigail “wasn’t motivated by pride or vanity” explains Matthew Henry. These two sins throw off our time-telling ability. For some of us, self-protecting pride causes us to shrink in fear from conflict or to excuse inaction for the sake of “peace.” Pride also fuels the desire for “control” that lashes out in anger; it is the source of the slow drip of a nagging, critical spirit. We must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how “pride and vanity” are warping our ability to “tell time.” We must seek Him for power to change, and wisdom to know how to respond to our husband in a manner pleasing to God (James 4:1-10 and Cravings & Conflicts).
3. Know your husband. We must be a faithful friend to our husband. We must study him: learn his strengths and weaknesses so that we can give timely help. Abigail knew her husband, so she knew she had to take matters into her own hands. But maybe your husband only needs a gentle word and a few days to pray and read God’s Word. Maybe he needs a chance to get it wrong in small ways so he can learn big lessons. If we fail to know our husband we may get it wrong—by waiting indefinitely or cowering before our husband when he needs the faithful wounds of a friend; or by giving into manipulation and bitterness when our husband needs a patient, forbearing (and not a self-righteous) wife. If you are interested in more on this important topic, I highly recommend Mom’s message “Watch Your Man” which you can download in our resource section or from Sovereign Grace Ministries (Prov. 27:9).
Abigail acted after Nabal refused to act. We need to give our husband a chance to act, and we must appeal to him to act, if need be. But if he won’t act, we shouldn’t give up. We may need to wait—prayerfully and prudently—but always with an eye toward the next step.
We’re glad Womanly Dominion is raising questions like Elizabeth’s (that’s one of the reasons we like this book). Questions like these don’t have easy answers—they throw us back on the wisdom of godly counsel and most of all, God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. Blogs and books (ours included!) cannot replace the local church, pastoral care and counseling, and godly friends. Let’s pursue these conduits of grace to help us tell time in our marriage.