Women Pursuing Men Is Biblical

Today is Sadie Hawkins Day, a tradition of dubious distinction. But is there a problem with women asking men to marry them? There are some preachers who would emphatically say yes. (See Voddie Baucham and the Bayly Brothers Have Weird Ideas About Marriage.) To them, men are the only ones who can pop the question. Those preachers ignore that the Bible says otherwise.

Abigail Makes Her Proposal

In 1 Samuel 25 David and his men need supplies. He sends a message to a wealthy landowner, Nabal, asking for whatever help he can give. Nabal turns him down flat.

Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” (1 Samuel 25:10-11.)

David’s response spelled disaster for Nabal and his entire household.

David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies. (1 Samuel 25:12-13.)

Things were not looking good for Nabal, so his wife Abigail took action. Taking a large supply of bread, wine, meat and fruit, she sent them ahead to David while she followed to plead with him herself.

When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. (1 Samuel 25:23-25.)

The Prudent Abigail, Juan Antonio de Frias y Escalante (1667), Museo del PradoThe Prudent Abigail, Juan Antonio de Frias y Escalante (1667), Museo del Prado

Abigail clearly was not honoring her husband’s decision, but rather taking charge of the household herself and begging peace from David in order to save her people. It worked. When she later told Nabal how narrowly he escaped David’s wrath, he had a heart attack and died. On hearing of Nabal’s death David “sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife.” (1 Samuel 25:39.)

You might think that this is nothing like the practice of women proposing marriage to men, since it explicitly says David is the one who did the asking. But look at Abigail’s actions. By way of insulting Nabal and pledging herself to David she essentially said, “My allegiance is to you, not my husband. Think of me as belonging to you.”

It may not be a wedding proposal along the lines of “David, will you marry me” but it sure is a proposal that if things work out she wouldn’t say no to him asking her. And that’s exactly how it did work out.

Within the context of her times, that was as close to a woman asking a man to marry her as she could get.

***

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10 Responses to Women Pursuing Men Is Biblical

  1. inohnothing says:

    Interesting perspective, Tim. For a moment, I thought this post would be about Ruth.

  2. I thought for sure this post would be about Ruth, but this is an interesting passage to discuss as well. I just did a report for a class I’m taking on studying the Bible as literature, analysing the literary elements of Abigail’s story…. And she’s a total boss!!! I love this story because it shows two men being irrational and/or emotional and a woman stepping in with calm, reasoned humility to protect them from themselves. We need more Abigails. 💛💛

    • Tim says:

      Her pragmatism, intelligence and wealth were all part of her story.

      • Muff Potter says:

        Great example Tim, of reading the Bible and letting it speak for itself on its own terms rather than relying on the pronouncements of men like the Baylys and Baucham; whose only aim is to have it promote their own particular ideologies.

        • I totally agree with your comment, Muff, and had the same thought. I was just thinking as I was out for a walk today, how we so often have this tendency to reduce Scripture to simple formulas: “Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.” –> “LESSON: We had better not look back either, or else..” –> “The Bible clearly warns against EVER looking over one’s shoulder.” And so on. Scripture is so rich and powerful without us having to squish it into our own boxes.

  3. Booked Out says:

    One question could be whether or not your wife would be impressed if I said nothing for the remainder of my life?

  4. Booked Out says:

    Well…Ronan Keating would have me do it of course your Honor. None of the responsability would have been mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4kzGhDEURA

  5. Booked Out says:

    wuld have *made* me do it 🙂

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