This morning, we live in a very self-centered world. Turn on the television, listen to the radio, or just play interested observer to casual conversations, and you will hear people talk about themselves more than anything else with a heavy dose of their "rights" coupled with what they "deserve" thrown in. As faithful followers of the Lamb, we should look at the world with the mindset of J.O.Y.: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. While the world will never be perfect and fallen creation will always be self-centered, we should still try to have the servant's attitude required in servants and stewards of our Lord.
In our study verse, we read a touching account of a faithful and Godly woman and her interaction with David the king of Israel. During the time of our story, David is anointed king, but he has not yet ascended the throne. Saul is still on the throne (in name), and Saul seeks David's life as his enemy. As the story opens in the start of this chapter, David and his faithful band of followers move into the vicinity of a churlish man named Nabal, whose wife is named Abigail. While David's actions are open and honest, Nabal reacts rudely to David's presence and has David's ire up to the point of being ready to kill him. However, Abigail sends a present to David and personally beseeches him not to kill her husband. David relents, and Abigail goes back home. When Abigail tells her husband what she did, his heart dies within him, and his life ends 10 days later. When David hears the news of Nabal's judgmental death by the Lord, he sends messengers to take Abigail to him to wife.
Abigail's response to David's messengers (our study verse) forms a beautiful attitude and mindset for the child of God today. Abigail was in bondage (married) to a cruel master, and so also the family of God was in bondage to an unrelenting master as well. However, Abigail was freed from her master and given news of a husband that sent for her. Today, the redeemed family of God is freed from the bondage of sin and death, and the gospel brings the glorious news that our Husband has loved us and bids us join Him in fellowship. Notice at this point that Abigail was already David's wife in his mind, and today, we are already the bride of Christ as the redeemed church. (Ephesians 5) However, the messengers of the King bid us in the gospel to come to where He is and enjoy His sweet fellowship.
At this point, Abigail already understands that she will be David's wife in reality, and we today should understand that we will one day live with our Husband forever through all eternity. Abigail could have happily danced, jumped for joy, or even jumped on a camel to immediately go to David, and no one would have blamed her. However, her heart is evidently manifested in our study verse. Verse 3 describes Abigail as a woman of good understanding and a beautiful countenance. While she may have been an outwardly very attractive woman, our verse paints her inside as immensely more beautiful.
Rather than immediately acknowledge that she was the king's wife, she beseeches to be a servant to the servants. Instead of taking a servant's place, she asks to serve the king's servants. Notice how she proves it. She requests to wash the feet of the servants. Not David's feet. His servants' feet. Today, our King and Husband has bid us come to where He is in fellowship through the calling of the gospel. This call declares for us that we are the bride of the Master. The call declares that He loves us and has taken away our cruel master. However, some today respond to that call in a way quite differently than Abigail. Instead of joyful service, many today react with the pride of how much favour they deserve.
How should we conduct ourselves as the family of God and particularly as the household of faith? Truly, we should act honorably as befitting the wife of the King, but our display of being loved and prized by Him should show forth in the mode of servitude. No lower place could be shown than at the feet of others. Though we are members of His body in particular, we should act like the humblest servant that serves the servants of the King.
Have you ever heard someone say that they would not come to church to be around those "hypocrites?" How about someone who thinks that they know more about the Bible than the preacher, so what can he teach me? These and other attitudes are patently wrong as they miss the beautiful spirit that Abigail displayed. Though raised to the highest place in David's house, she was willing to perform in the lowest function. If someone truly feels that the church is full of hypocrites, come wash those hypocrites feet. If they do know more than the preacher, come to church, pray for him, and wash his feet in encouragement by faithful attendance and service.
Sometimes we even hear people claim that some of the functions in the church are outdated. This picture of Abigail is a wonderful type of New Testament feet washing that our Lord manifested in John 13. While we cannot wash the Master's literal feet, Abigail settled for washing the feet of David's servants. While we are part of the Lord's bride, we are His servants in this old world and should be willing and joyful to wash the feet of His servants.
Finally, the things that we do today to others reflects directly on how we would perform them to the Lord Himself. When someone talks about their rights and what they deserve, normally it is because they either do not want to do something beneath them or want to do something else that they think is more befitting of their place. Washing feet might be considered beneath them, but receiving honour for their abilities might be something more preferable to them. Beloved, we are His beloved and peculiar people. What we deserve and what our rights might be in our own mind pale in comparison to the favour that He deserves. Bestow that favour on His people, and it is like bestowing that favour on Him. (Matthew 25:32-46) Does washing feet in the Lord's church seem beneath your rights? Does serving the servants seem outside the limits of your rights? What if we pretend that each of God's precious children was Christ Himself? Does that change what we believe our rights to be in relation to others? May Abigail's noble attitude of service to her husband and his servants be our attitude to our Husband and King today. Truly, washing their feet literally in the church and figuratively in our lives makes for a sweet experience when compared to the cruel bondage of our former master before the King came into our lives.