Fifteen-year-old Abigail accepts her position as her father’s payment of debt to King Saul, knowing her family’s hearts break over the arrangement. Now she is betrothed to Nabal, rumored to be cruel, brash and deceitful. When Nabal comes to claim her, she quickly learns the rumors are true.
Abigail spends a miserable three years married to this violent, drunk man. But throughout the abuse and humiliation, she remains faithful to God, following His ways and trying in vain to encourage her husband in the ways of the Lord. She hopes an heir will soften his heart, but no child is forthcoming and Abigail fears she is barren. Shortly after they marry, the rest of her family escapes Saul’s reign to join hundreds of others in the camp of David, future king of Israel and Saul’s son-in-law and enemy. Abigail’s brother, Daniel, is anxious to fight for David, who many believe should be king instead of Saul.
David knows he is the Lord’s “anointed one” and will someday be king, but is painfully aware the journey will be long and difficult. He has already lost his first love, Michal, the king’s daughter, who has been given to another man. He is weary of living on the run, hiding his growing group of soldiers and followers from Saul’s armies. Exhausted and starving, they request provisions from Nabal, but are answered with nothing but insults. Nabal’s response puts his entire household at risk. Hearing word of her husband’s dangerous blunder, Abigail arranges for food and drink to be delivered to David’s camp. She apologizes to David on her husband’s behalf, knowing she is risking the violent wrath of Nabal.
David is immediately taken with the beautiful and intelligent Abigail, and learns of her unfortunate circumstances from Daniel. The following day, Abigail confesses her actions to Nabal. Enraged, he gets ready to beat her, then suddenly collapses. The stroke results in his death a few days later, and David wastes no time in marrying Nabal’s young, wealthy widow.
Though the union bodes well for both of them, it is no marriage of convenience. David and Abigail are truly soul mates, sharing their faith, friendship and passion. But Abigail is aware from the start she must share her husband. His first wife, Michal, is no longer in the picture, but she knows he will someday reclaim her. His second wife, Ahinoam, has been with him a few years, though her whining and complaining irritate David. Abigail hopes there will be no more wives in his future, but as the years go on, that hope is dashed repeatedly.
Eventually, Saul is killed and David becomes king. His heart still belongs to Abigail, but his kingly duties and increasing number of wives steal away his time. Abigail’s heart breaks over seeing him with other women. Time and again, kings of other nations offer their daughters to David in political pacts, increasing his wives to six, plus the absent Michal. Abigail’s distress is compounded by her inability to have a child. But then, a miracle. Abigail discovers she is pregnant and gives David a son. Five years go by with Abigail happy in motherhood, delighted her son is David’s favorite, but still struggling with sharing her husband with five other women. When a horrible accident cripples her son and kills her mother, followed by David reclaiming Michal, it is all more than Abigail can bear. She comes up with a plan, but it backfires with a heartbreaking result. Has she lost David forever?
In this second book of The Wives of King David series, author Jill Eileen Smith once again demonstrates a remarkable ability to weave historical and biblical research into a compelling story of love, passion and faith in the face of adversity. The reader gets a peek into the heart of David --- king, soldier, husband, father, friend and musician, but first and foremost, faithful believer. Smith’s books are the perfect combination of romance and action, complete with interesting twists, fascinating historical references and imagery that transports you to another place and time.
If you enjoy biblical fiction or have never read it, purchase a copy of MICHAL and ABIGAIL --- you’ll be glad you did. I devoured each one, cover to cover.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on February 1, 2010