What movie has a fairy godmother, a pumpkin that turned into a carriage and a glass slipper? Would you guess Cinderella? Walt Disney’s classic animated version of Cinderella is beautiful with the lovely blonde girl who sings like an angel and the little singing mice that wear clothes. But for a more believable story line, the best choice may be a modern version called Ever After: A Cinderella Story. It doesn’t have a pumpkin or a fairy godmother. The 1998 movie stars Drew Barrymore and is set in France during the time Leonardo da Vinci is painting and inventing. Part of the plot line is a beautiful portrait Leonardo paints of Danielle (the Cinderella character).
The movie has an evil stepmother, played by Anjelica Houston, who siphons off the inheritance that should have come to Danielle when her father dies. Her equally evil and insipid daughters then try to make Danielle their virtual slave while vying to become the bride of the prince.
Danielle meets the prince, but in the way these stories go, doesn’t know he’s the prince. The attraction is immediate and mutual.
Ever After has another sinister character the Disney movie didn’t—a mean older man buys Danielle from her stepmother to force her to marry him. When he hears about it, the handsome prince rides off to rescue her. But when he arrives at the fort-like mansion, Danielle comes out, wiping her hands on her skirt. She’s already clobbered the bad guy with the nearest object at hand and escaped.
SPOILER ALERT: they ride away together and live happily ever after. The crimes of the wicked stepmother and stepsisters result in them toiling in the steam of the king’s laundry. They’re last seen red-faced and arguing with each other.
Despite the fictional premise of anybody being totally happy continually, Ever After sets the scene of a strong woman standing up to the many problems life hands her and triumphing. Danielle is kind to the lowliest people around her, even though she is surrounded by people who are cruel to her. She responds to daily adversity with wisdom and, usually, restraint. But occasionally she has had enough and does something to stop the abuse and its effects.
Danielle in Ever After reminds me of the biblical Abigail, a wise and beautiful woman, whose story is told in 1 Samuel 25. During the time Saul was king of Israel, Abigail was married to a rich but foolish landowner named Nabal (which means “fool” in Hebrew). Her parents may have thought they were giving her all the advantages with such a match. Or, like the mean rich guy in Ever After, Nabal could have virtually bought her from her family.
God had told Saul he was taking the throne from him and giving it to a better man. When Saul realized the better man was David, he began trying to kill him. David, the giant-killer, refused to fight Saul. He fled for his life and trusted God to take the throne from Saul in His way and His timing.
David hid out in the natural rock fortresses around the Dead Sea with the 600 men who had chosen to follow him. They voluntarily protected Nabal’s shepherds and his large flocks from theft. When the festival of sheep-shearing rolled around, David sent men to ask Nabal to share the feast with them because of the favors they had done him. But Nabal flatly refused and sent an insult back, saying David was equal to a runaway slave. So David told 400 of his men to strap on their swords and get ready to wipe out Nabal and all the men at his place.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, one of Abigail’s servants told her how Nabal had insulted David’s men and that trouble was coming. Abigail helped her servants pack up enough supplies to feed a small army and took a shortcut to head off David before he could reach her home. When she met him, she fell at his feet and asked forgiveness for what her husband had done. She begged him not to shed innocent blood, not only for the sake of her household but because one day he would be king and he didn’t need that on his conscience. David saw that she was right and promised not to harm them.
Abigail returned home where she found her husband blind drunk. So she waited until the next day when he was sober. Ironically, when he heard how close he’d come to death, he had a stroke that paralyzed him for 10 days. Then he died. When David heard that the beautiful and wise Abigail was a widow, he wasted no time in sending for her and making her his wife.
Some lessons from Abigail’s life that can be applied to ours:
* Abigail was in an incredibly difficult marriage through no fault of her own. Married to a man who was impossible to live with, she didn’t become like him. She used discernment. She knew what God would have her do because she’d been in communion with Him. She had wisdom because she’d asked God for it. In our day when marriages aren’t arranged, we need to be praying for our daughters and granddaughters that they choose husbands wisely (and not fall for the first good-looking “fool” who comes along). Abigail didn’t have an easy life. None of us are promised easy lives.
* Abigail acted quickly to save her household. She directly disobeyed what she knew her husband wanted. She wasn’t a “submissive wife,” was she? Some would say she did wrong. But God (and David) totally justified what she did. She saved a lot of lives that day. Ask God for the wisdom to see the potential of a dangerous situation and the courage to act to prevent it from happening.
* Abigail was efficient. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, she had plenty of provisions stored up for her household (not the just-in-time inventory we often keep). The wise way Abigail managed her household gave her what she needed in an emergency situation. Organize and manage your household so that you are ready for emergencies.
* Abigail turned a bad situation into a good one. She didn’t excuse what her husband had done—or really not done. And she wasn’t flirting with David by revealing she was in a bad marriage. She was concerned for the people in her household and for David’s well-being. F. B. Meyer described Abigail’s influence on David as “a cool hand on a hot head.” She reminded David not to shed innocent blood, in order to guard his future fellowship with God: “The soul of my lord, the life of my lord will be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord your God” (v. 29). You can say hard things to difficult people, if you say them with a gentle spirit and with genuine compassion.
* Abigail confronted Nabal with the truth, giving him the chance to repent. She told God on him and waited. Even when you do everything you can, the fool in your life may not change. Nabal didn’t. Notice that Abigail didn’t hit Nabal with an iron skillet; God dealt with Nabal. Let God deal with the fools in your life. God promises to avenge those who have been wronged (Romans 12:17-21), but it may not happen soon—or even in your lifetime. Don’t try to do God’s job for Him. Wait on the Lord and He will act.
* Abigail got a handsome young king as a husband. But that doesn’t mean it would be “happily ever after” for her. The good news is Abigail rode off into the sunset to marry her king. The bad news is that she became part of David’s family of two wives—with more to come. He would also have an infamous affair with Bathsheba. Abigail would have some real heartache, but she knew she was where God had placed her. God never promised it would be “happily ever after”—for Abigail or for us.
©2016 by Vicki Huffman
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