While the term strength will usually lean more toward the physical aspect of strength, scripture seems to elucidate a different kind of strength; humility (James 4:6-10). This might be more of the oxymoron state of strength, that is, remaining humble yet strong simultaneously. Although, as women, we can withstand force or pressure by God’s grace, our strength, as we shall see, may not necessarily manifest physically as compared to men. Instead, it oozes out in other forms (more of strength in disguise).
Courage versus Wisdom
In 1 Samuel 25, a beautiful story emerges, one of submission which results in deliverance. The Bible presents Abigail as wise and discreet, but Nabal, her husband, is harsh and badly behaved (1 Samuel 25:3). Consequently, David and 400 of his men were on their way to seek vengeance for Nabal’s foolish behaviour. However, before their arrival, one of Nabal’s servants informed Abigail of her husband’s lack of social graces and David’s intentions upon his arrival. So Abigail, in her God-given wisdom, appears before David to plead for her husband’s safety, as we see in verse 24 “My lord, let the blame be on me alone. Please let your servant speak to you; hear what your servant has to say.” It must have taken courage for Abigail to go out to meet David to address something she was completely innocent of. It also took wisdom for her to know what to say to David once she faced him. God has given us strength as women to change situations and bring solutions, which is facilitated by applying the knowledge we receive from God our Father. This is where we draw value from having the gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4). To sum it up, we can safely say that there is strength in wisdom.
Humility in the Face of Adversity
When Abigail met David, she fell on her face before him, bowing to the ground without a word. Falling at his feet, Abigail delivered the most humble, heartfelt plea to David. She was not making her request from a heart of fear or anger toward her husband. “And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and working salvation with my hand!” (1 Samuel 25:32-33). My highlight in David’s response is the word discretion, which refers to discernment or judgment. God has given us the gift of discernment to give us a unique view of our situations, but it takes wisdom to change them. Abigail devised a wise plan of how to counter David’s plan. Her humility is evident as she approaches David; for instance, in how she bows and falls on her face before David. It’s also apparent in her choice of words as she spoke to David, “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.” Humility here is applied in wisdom. David’s heart was changed as a result of Abigail’s plea. Wise choice of words, birthed from a humble and gentle attitude, will always give us an upper hand amid adversity (Proverbs 15:1).
The wrong application of our strengths can lead to chaos and broken relationships. On the other hand, correctly applying our strengths leads to solutions, peace and a healthy environment. A significant impediment to correct application of our strength is fear. When faced with difficulties, we may feel tempted to cave in and despair. During such times, may stories of women like Abigail remind us that God is with us. He promises never to leave his own; let’s take his word for it. Therefore, may we, in obedience, do what God has called us to do through Christ who strengthens us.