Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith Drury -- http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday .

 What to do When You've Married a Jerk.

A free verse poem based on 1 Samuel 25

The scene begins in the desert west of the dead sea.

David and 600 men are camped

hiding from Saul.

They provided security and protection for the region.

A sort of police force

against thieves and rustlers.

The big beneficiary of their presence

was Nabal.

A rich man...

3000 sheep, 1000 goats.

Nabal means "fool."

We use the term foolish today, but not "fool" so much.

Today's equivalent of fool -- "Jerk."


One wonders how Nabal got the name "Jerk?"

1. Did his mother name him that?

What kind of a mother would name her son "Jerk?"

2. Or was it a nickname acquired as a child...

One of those nicknames which stuck. "Jerk"

3. Maybe his Dad named him "Jerk"

Like "The boy named Sue"

Maybe he figured that the name would motivate him to

disprove his dad's prediction.

If so, he did.

At least in the financial area,

for he got fabulously wealthy.

4. Or maybe everyone started calling him "Jerk"

when he was an adult,

but never to his face,

Like some workers have secret names

for the boss ;

and students hang on teachers.

We don't know for sure.


What would it be like going through life

with the name "Jerk?"

-Explain that to your first grade teacher.

-Or to the clerk when you get your automobile license.

-Would you get one of those personalized vanity plates?

-Can you imagine siging your Visa receipt, "Jerk"


We don't know how "Jerk" got his name.

We do know he (eventually) lived up to it.


Nabal descended from that heroic spy "Caleb."

But he had no heroic qualities himself.

Actually he "was surly and mean in his dealings."

"Surly & mean."

Perhaps that's how he got rich?

Sometimes being mean can increase profits.

Face it,

In some situations the good guys come in last,

the "surly and mean" make the money.

Perhaps Nabal was always "Surly and mean."

Starting out an a neighborhood bully.

Or maybe he got "surly and mean" after he got wealthy...

Perhaps he discovered that

the richer you are

The more powerful you are...

the easier it is to get away with

being "surly and mean."

If you are a "surly & mean" secretary,

you'll get fired.

But if you own the company,

or are fabulously wealthy

and are "surly and mean"

they call you "eccentric."

Nabal... "Jerk" was surly and mean in his dealings.


But his wife, Abigail, was "Intelligent & beautiful."

Why did she marry this "jerk"?

1. Did her parents arrange the marriage...

And she had to go along?

2. Did she marry him for his money...

if so, she got what she was after; he was rich.

3. Or, did she see something in him...

a spark of greatness...

and she determined to make something out of him?

..a task at which she failed.

Who knows? But it has not been the only time

an "intelligent and beautiful woman"

married a jerk.

Have you seen it?

A talented,


gifted woman...

goes and marries a jerk?


4. Perhaps it was love.

True love does not always make intelligent decisions.

Perhaps Abigail fell in love with Jerk...

so she married him.

And that's that.

But getting married did not end this jerk's foolishness.

It sometimes does, you know.

Perhaps often...

But, in Nabal's case,

the single Jerk simply became a married jerk.

So we have an unlikely marriage:

A talented, gracious,

intelligent, and beautiful woman,

with a stupid, drunken,

self-centered, arrogant,



When this story opens it is sheep shearing time.


just before the hot summer months.

All the shepherds brought in the sheep

to be sheered of their thick winter coats.

The ancient equivalent to a cattle round-up.

Jerk threw a great feast.

It was the custom.

It would have included all his shepherds...

(4,000 head would require at least 40 shepherds.)

Plus neighbors, agents, buyers, and relatives.

You can imagine efficient, capable Abigail

supervising the feast.

It was a great feast.

...went on for days.

...word traveled into all the mountain hollows.

"Jerk had a good year"

"He's giving a great feast."


David sent 10 men to ask for a share of the food.

He did not crash the party.

But his men asked politely:

"Please give your servants and your son

David whatever you can find for them"

It was a just request:

David's men had protected the herds from bandits.

He deserved a small share of the fruit.

But jerk responds: "who's david"

He insults an armed band of 600 men?

Hungry men.

What arrogance!

Was he showing off for the other boys?

Playing tough guy?

Did he feel obligated to look tough

in front of his employees?

We don't know.

But he insulted the messengers,

and their captain, David.

David's men reported the reply.

David seethes.

Through clenched teeth, he says only,

"Put on your swords"


Meanwhile a servant tells abigail what jerk did

She immediately knows the consequences

of her husband's foolish insult.

She understands men,

and threats,

and how they feel compelled

to respond to insults.

She has never met this David.

But she had heard of him.

Who hadn't?

And she knew he was rash,

as rash as her husband

but not as stupid.

She took action

She did not get into an argument with Jerk.

She simply prepared a great feast.

200 loaves of bread

5 cooked sheep

5 measures of parched grain

2 skins of wine

100 clusters of raisins

200 pressed fig cakes

Some carry out order!


She loads all this food on donkeys

Then mounts up herself

to save Jerk from himself

She meets david on his way to destroy their home,

and all their possessions.

She had figured this man right.

-She dismounts and bows before this young warrior

-interceding for her husband -- the jerk.

-She presents her gifts,

-predicts his victory in Israel,

-talks him out of his vengeance,

-then remounts her donkey and rides away.


Imagine david gazing at her as she rides away.

What a woman!

Saving her husbands neck...

Saving me from a rash response...

that's the kind of woman I need.

Someone to save me from my own worst self.


Abigail returns home

The jerk didn't even know she was gone.

He was drunk

Throwing another party

she said nothing that night


The next morning she told jerk.

He was now sober,

She tells him the story.

That David was headed with 600 men

to kill him,

and she saved his life.

Nabal gets really sober.

Stone sober... in fact



As stiff as a stone.

Scared stiff.

Like a board.

He is laid down in bed.

Jerk stares at the ceiling,

In fear,




Ten days later he is dead.

"The jerk is dead."

Word travels fast.


David hears about nabal's death.

He remembers Abigail.



Experienced in advising rash men.


She is alone now,


Too soon to check this out?


David send his servants to propose to abigail.

She humbly accepts...

but Abigail doesn't send a message back.

She goes herself.

She "quickly got on a donkey,

went with David's messengers

and became his wife."

And she became the best of his wives.

"Just what he needed."

David was rash,





Abigail was the opposite,

She helped him acquire new traits:



thinking before you act,


It was a good match.

If David had taken only one wife (instead of eight)

Abigail should have been the one.

Abigail, competent lady who married a jerk


So, what does Abigail teach us?


1. Sometimes very intelligent and beautiful women marry jerks.

We can try to talk them out of it,

but they do so anyway.

We probably should talk them out of it,

if we can.

Marriage can double your effectiveness;

it can also halve it.

But these women often will not listen


2. Sometimes regular husbands become jerks over time.

A fellow can start off being a nice husband,

and over time turn into a jerk.

Perhaps his wife contributes to this.

though she might not admit it.

But people change over time;

and if you're married, you are partially

responsible for your partner's changes.

But regular guys can become jerks over time.


3. All husbands are at least part time jerks.

Once in a while,

or once a year,

every husband is a fool.

In that sense, every married woman

relates to Abigail.

At least some of the time

you are wiser,

more patient,

or smarter, than your husband.


Abigail. The woman married to a jerk

What did she do?

What's a woman to do, when her husband is a jerk?

What is the lesson of Abigail?




1. Don't argue with the jerk.


Abigail didn't waste energy

telling the jerk he was a jerk.

In fact, she didn't get into a confrontation

with him at all.

Solomon would later write the proverb down,

but Abigail probably already knew it:

Don't get into an argument with a jerk.

Abigail stayed out of arguments.

If you've got a jerk at home...

at least a part time one

-- arguments won't help.

At least while he's being a jerk.




2. Don't whine; take action.


Abigail refused to be victimized by

her husband's stupidity.

She didn't just sit at home

and let everything collapse while murmuring,

"I'm supposed to be submissive to him

-- he's the head of the house."

She did something!

She got to baking bread,

packing fig bars,

jamming raisins into sacks.

If you've married a jerk, take some action.

Do something!

Suppose you're married to a spiritual jerk.

Maybe he's fine at making money,

managing the lawn,

understanding the intricacies of sports...

but he's a spiritual jerk...

just barely a Christian...

nothing more.

What is such a spiritual Abigail to do?

Sit and whine,

"My husband is supposed to be

the spiritual leader of our home,

I'm praying he'll start devotions."

Not an Abigail type!

Abigails can't be victimized by ther husband's weakness.

What would Abigail do?

Call everybody together and get the Bible!

She'd lead the devotions herself,

and quit whining about the spiritual jerk she married.

Who should lead devotions in a family

is like asking who should sing alto in a trio...

obviously the one who can best sing alto!

If you are more spiritually minded than your husband,

quit complaining

and pack up the donkeys with food!

Like Abigail would.




3. And finally, if you've married a jerk, give God time...


In Abigail's situation her jerk died.

Perhaps you wouldn't hope

for something that bad to happen.

Though I know of several cases

where it would be a relief.

But we are now on the resurrection side of Calvary.

And that changes things.

It means people can change!

If you've married a jerk, there's hope.

Even if you've married a part-time jerk!

The atonement is designed to get us into heaven;

it is also designed to get heaven into us.

God has provided grace to remake us,

remold us,

change us,

make us into new creations.

After all, God is in the business of reforming jerks.


Isn't that what happened to the thick-headed disciples?

The "Twelve Jerks" they might have been called.

But they were changed,

And they became "apostles."


What would you call Paul before he was saved,

killing Christians,

putting Christian women and children into jail,

breathing out threatening and slaughter?

Face it, Paul was a jerk.

But Christ got a hold of him one day.

and he became the apostle Paul.

Converted Jerk.


Give God time.

Who knows what God could do to your own personal jerk.

God grace is great.

He changes us.

even jerks.

So give Him time.



Wonderful lady.






A wonderfully competent lady.

Stuck with a jerk.

She didn't argue...

She didn't whine,

She gave God time...


God is in the business of transforming Jerks.

Transforming jerks...

Your husband...

your boss at work...

your wayward children...



even you.

For sometimes a woman too is a jerk.



So what do you think?

To contribute to the thinking on this issue e-mail your response to Tuesday@indwes.edu

By Keith Drury, 1989. You are free to transmit, duplicate or distribute this article for non-profit use without permission.