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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Original Dear Abby

“Dear Abby,” a homespun advice column begun in 1956, may attract more readers than any other newspaper column. Young and old alike turn to “Dear Abby” hoping to find help for bothersome relationships or perhaps to learn what sticky situations others have landed in. All in all, “Dear Abby” is an entertaining column that often dispenses good, old-fashioned common sense.
Pauline Phillips assumed the pen name Abigail Van Buren when she founded the Dear Abby column, and her daughter Jeanne, the column’s current writer, has kept the pen name. Pauline formed the famous pen name by combining the name of the Biblical character Abigail with the last name of the eighth President of the United States, Van Buren.
First Samuel 25 introduces us to the original Abigail, whose personality and conduct were far different from those of her husband Nabal. She was wise, cordial, and generous. He was foolish, insulting, and stingy. We may wonder how such opposites became a married couple, just as we wonder how some modern opposites ended up married to each other. Maybe Abigail’s parents had arranged her marriage.
According to 1 Samuel 25:4–11, David asked wealthy Nabal for provisions to help him and his men survive in the wilderness, but Nabal flatly refused in spite of the fact that David had protected him and his livestock from marauders. This blatant refusal made David’s blood boil to the point he decided to kill Nabal. However, Abigail wisely and graciously intervened. She took provisions to David, and explained her husband was foolish. She further expressed her confidence that God would make David king, and reasoned that killing Nabal would be out of character for righteous David. Her wisdom prevailed and defused a potentially explosive situation.
After Abigail told Nabal what might have happened to him, he died of a heart attack. Soon after his death, Abigail became David’s wife.
Our circumstances do not closely mirror Abigail’s, but we can wisely defuse potentially explosive relationships, whether they flare up at work, among family members, at church, or in the neighborhood. We can be Dear-Abby or even Dear Tom-Dick-or-Harry Christians if we employ the wisdom God has imparted to us in His Word.

© 2008, Jim Dyet

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