(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung 1/16/2021
Every time I say the words, “Virtuous Woman” in today’s sermon I want you to think of Church brethren who are living their faith to the full.
There is a consistent and major analogy throughout the Scriptures that alludes to Jesus Christ’s courtship, espousal, engagement, wedding and marriage to Israel and the Church. The Church is the Virtuous Woman. The brethren of God’s Church constitute the Virtuous Woman.
From Genesis to Revelation, God uses the intimacy and love between a man and his wife to reflect the deeply spiritual relationship between Jesus Christ and His Bride. Keep that theme in mind as we go through today’s sermon. We are told that it will no longer be an allegory or metaphor when Jesus marries His Bride – but in fact a true reality:
Revelation 19:9 Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
The Church brethren will be adorned for her Husband (Revelation 21:2). Paul said of the Church brethren:
2Corinthians 11:2 I have a Godly jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
John says in John 3:29 The one who has the Bride is the Bridegroom.
In Matthew 9:15 and in Mark 2:19 Jesus is called the Bridegroom.
Isaiah said of our Creator God in Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker is your Husband.”
And in Isaiah 62:5 …As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Ezekiel speaks of Christ taking Israel as His Bride in Ezekiel 16:8.
Perhaps, best described of all, in Jeremiah 31we find the New Marriage Covenant God has promised to those who love Him.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
The Church is the Virtuous Woman. So it behooves us to know what Virtue is. It sure is a nice sounding word. Virtue is not a word that we use in God’s Church very much – but we should. Peter uses this word, Virtue.
In the Greek of the New Testament, Virtue means uprightness, excellence, valor, even manliness. It has a sense of courageous gallantry about it. In Proverbs, in the Old Testament Hebrew, Virtue has the similar connotation of commanding bravery, and strong substance. The entire Bible is the story of how to become the Bride of Christ.
Throughout the Bible the word Virtue has what we would consider more of a masculine leaning than the softer and gentler feminine mannerisms—yet it is descriptive of Biblical women – and, namely, the Church brethren. Again, God has all the qualities and virtues – both male and female desirable virtues.
1Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who has called you (ekklēsia) out of darkness into His marvelous light:
Praises of Him (it is the same Greek word translated as virtuous elsewhere) means the Virtues of God the Father that should be exhibited in every True Christian.
Decidedly masculine traits one would suppose, and yet we’ve seen that man is incomplete without the woman – and vice versa.
2Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ:
Notice how Peter begins his second letter describing how he serves Jesus. In today’s sermon we will examine Scriptural examples of Godly service. Peter is going to go on and instruct us to add Virtue to our precious faith.
2Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
2Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
2Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
Throughout the Scriptures, the virtuous woman is analogous to the Church. Paul is quick to use the marriage analogy when speaking of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the collective Church brethren.
Ephesians 5:31-32 …a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.
We, the True Church of God brethren, constitute the virtuous woman. The virtuous woman is sometimes called a wise virgin. I use the phrase, “True Church of God,” because there are many members among us who do not serve the Lord – and sadly, will be shut out. We are all familiar with the parable that sends us that severe warning:
Matthew 25:10 And while the [foolish virgins] went to buy [the oil representing God’s Holy Spirit], the Bridegroom [Jesus Christ] came; and the [wise virgins] that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
We are shown in Matthew 25:10 that there are foolish virgins in the church. Almost all the brethren I know, almost without exception, believe they are the of the Wise Virgin category in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Please note that this is a severe warning!
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.
A woman in these Scriptures is a perfect picture of the Church – and every true member in particular. The topic of serving the Lord is the subject of today’s sermon.
A good marriage is a beautiful thing – a Godly thing with deep and transcendent meaning for the total Church of God. That is why it is so important to continuously build on our marriages – for all of our lives. A good marriage is an intimate relationship between a man and a woman. It is God who instituted the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. God brought about the marriage covenant for a vitally important reason.
A, “Just you and me Lord,” is not the kind of relationship that we are to have with our God. God designed man to be interactive with other brethren in a spiritual way. The apostle Peter explains that our eternal life depends, not only on our relationship with God, but also on how we relate to our spouse, and with our Church brethren:
1Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
A poor relationship will impede our prayers to God. In His infinite wisdom, God intends and expects that marriage be the epitome of perfect unity.
What Does the Lord Require of His Bride? Our Spirit-driven relationship with God is the very basis for our serving the brethren. It is in serving that we prepare to be the Bride of Christ.
Brethren, World events tell us that time is short – and it takes time to grow spiritually: We are fast running out of the time that the Bride will need in order to become pleasing in God’s sight. The day will come soon when it will be too late to accomplish anything more than a death-bed repentance – and that is not God’s will. God’s will is that we be blameless in His sight at all times.
In the same way that quarrels between marriage partners are spiritually harmful because they impede our prayers; offenses between Church brethren also frustrate and encumber a right relationship with God. Most members of Christ’s scattered Body underestimate the seriousness of severed relationships between Church of God brethren. Until such time that the camaraderie among brethren is restored – our prayers are hindered. Let us keep the big picture here:
The Bride that Christ is going to marry will be made up of all the reconciled brethren in the Church – those who are ardently working to restore and maintain right relations among all the brethren. The Bride that Christ marries will have learned to make peace and reconciliation a way of life.
How far should the virtuous woman to go in order to provide the saving love that a member needs? The virtuous woman is literally willing to die for others. We have a very beautiful chapter in the Bible on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
Again, the woman in these Scriptures is a perfect picture of the Church – and every member in particular.
In our Church history we have had a problem in that we sometimes consider our Holy Women to be lesser citizens – compared to the men in our congregations. It was never stated outright, but women have not always been treated with the same dignity and respect that men have been.
God never looks at women that way– even though the Scripture says women are the “Weaker Vessel.” Let’s understand that women are heirs to the Kingdom of God with all the rights and dignity that men possess. It was taught and understood by too many in the past “Worldwide Church of God” that women were to be told to submit and stay in their place.
Women are even now “Children of God” – same as men – to be born eternally into the Family of God. There will be neither male nor female in God’s Kingdom. Today we are looking at the Godly characteristics of serving – from a Biblical perspective.
Abigail is one of my favorite people in the holy Scriptures.
In 1Samuel 25:1-42 Abigail was the wife of a stubborn and evil man by the name of, Nabal. It was a time in David’s life when he was persona non grata in Jerusalem because of the palace intrigue. David was not welcome. Never think for one moment that you are persona non grata with God simply because you are out of favor with some headquarters somewhere.
God had very big plans for David, and brethren, God has very big plans for us also. David had a six-hundred man security force while he was out of favor with King Saul. That was a rather powerful peace keeping force in those days.
David was being effective in protecting the land from marauding bands of outsiders who preyed upon outlying homesteaders. The people of the land who benefited from David’s services contributed to the welfare of the security team. David’s security force needed food and provisions to carry on their dangerous task.
1Samuel 25:1 And Samuel [the prophet] died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
1Samuel 25:2 And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great [rich], and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
Nabal means “fool” in Hebrew.
1Samuel 25:3 Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish [rude] and evil [lawless] in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.
Abigail was a Virtuous Woman – possibly the most Virtuous Woman of her day. Please Keep in mind that Abigail is a type of the Church that Christ will marry. Abigail was a Godly woman of good behavior with a serving attitude – and a beautiful woman in the way she conducted herself. When the Bible says that Abigail was of “good understanding” it means that she had a good deal of Godly wisdom and fortitude. Abigail possessed the virtues of uprightness, and excellence. These are qualities that all Church members should put on.
1Samuel 25:4 And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.
1Samuel 25:5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:
1Samuel 25:6 And thus shall ye say to him that live in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou have.
1Samuel 25:7 And now I have heard that thou hast [sheep] shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there anything missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.
David was saying, “Nabal, all your young shepherds were well protected by us from marauding enemy bands …and we never took advantage of them in any way.”
1Samuel 25:8 Ask thy young men, and they will show thee. Wherefore let the young men find favor in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever comes to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David. [David was the leader of the protective group – like a national guard.]
They were soliciting a contribution for their work that had profited Nabal considerably.
1Samuel 25:9 And when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.
Nabal said, “I can’t be helping every Tom, Dick and Harry that has broken away from their master.’
So, Nabal criticized David – and did not respect his request.
In a vulgar and pompous fashion, Nabal rejected David’s service, and sent the messengers away empty-handed. David had sent a few men to receive a donation to help them in their necessary service to the community.
1Samuel 25:10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.
1Samuel 25:11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not where they came from?
“I don’t know these men or who they are.” Actually, he knew.
1Samuel 25:12 So David’s young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings.
Nabal’s ungracious attitude stirred up David’s anger.
1Samuel 25:13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.
David lost it – he became enraged against Nabal. David intended to wipe Nabal and his entire homestead off the face of the map.
1Samuel 25:14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them.
Nabal was totally irrational, unreasonable and unappreciative of David’s protection.
One of Nabal’s own sheepherders realized that Nabal had made a terrible mistake so he went to warn Abigail of the coming trouble.
He knew to appeal to Abigail because obviously she was the level-headed one in Nabal’s household.
The sheepherder warned Abigail:
1Samuel 25:15 But [David’s] men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we anything, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields:
Notice the protection provided by David, and his men to the shepherds. The sheepherder continues to inform Abigail:
1Samuel 25:16 They were a wall [of protection] unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
The sheepherder was warning Abigail of a looming disaster:
1Samuel 25:17 Now therefore know and consider what you will do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial [fool], that a man cannot speak to him.
Nabal would not listen to reason… The definition of Belial is, “worthless,” – the spirit of evil personified… and Abigail was well aware of Nabal’s hard-headedness.
David and his men had been making it possible for Nabal to prosper. What would Abigail do?
1Samuel 25:18 Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed [ready to cook], and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys.
Abigail sent veritable truckloads of produce!
1Samuel 25:19 And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
Abigail knew that Nabal was too unreasonable to deal with. Abigail was at the head of the mule-train bringing supplies to David in what could have been impending death. Brethren, that was certainly a most courageous act of Virtue. She was barely in time!
1Samuel 25:20 And it was so, as she rode on the donkey, that she came down by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them.
David was in a very warlike and aggressive attitude at this point. David said, “I have wasted my time and resources defending Nabal’s property—three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats scattered all over creation. And, David and his entourage had not helped themselves to a single goat!
1Samuel 25:21 Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and [Nabal] hath requited me evil for good.
David fully intended to wipe out Nabal – lock, stock and barrel – that included men women and children – even Abigail, also.
1Samuel 25:22 So God do to David and add more to the foes of David, if I leave so much as one man-child of all that belong to Nabal by the morning light.
1Samuel 25:23 And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the donkey, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,
Notice Abigail’s attitude. Abigail knows that David is powerful… But she was willing to lay down her life to save her husband and his household.
1Samuel 25:24 [Abigail] fell at David’s feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.
Abigail admits that she realizes how impossible and foolish her husband, Nabal, is. She says, “Had I been there – I would have seen to it that it worked out right.”
1Samuel 25:25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.
Abigail shows her great wisdom. She says that if she had been there when David’s men came – the result would have been entirely different. Abigail was doing the work of God.
*We will see that Abigail not only saves her husband Nabal, she saves David – whom she knew God had great plans for David with respect to all Israel and the Kingdom of God. Abigail saves David from making a horrible error that would have destroyed his reputation and life. Abigail gives God all the credit!
1Samuel 25:26 Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as thy soul lives, seeing the LORD hath withheld thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.
*SPS God intends the Church brethren to be women of spiritual fortitude, wisdom, strength and Virtue as in this Biblical example.
The Church is the Virtuous Woman. Abigail continues:
1Samuel 25:27 And now this blessing [mule-train of food stuffs] which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the [hundreds of] young men that follow my lord.
*Abigail takes the blame for letting things get out of hand – and reveals that she was aware of the working of God’s Holy Spirit in David’s life, and God’s great plans for David. (see verse 30)
1Samuel 25:28 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord [David] a sure house; because my lord fights the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.
Abigail, in great faith in God, realized that even though King Saul wanted to kill David, his life would be preserved by God for God’s greater purposes and Plan.
1Samuel 25:29 Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.
1Samuel 25:30 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;
Abigail knew the prophecies about David – and that David was about to commit a shameful act of vengeance that would be forever a thorn in his side – rendering David unfit for the throne of Israel. Abigail was looking out for the things of David – to fulfill prophecy! Brethren of the Church of God, do we look out for the things of Jesus Christ?
Are we willing to lay down our life for Jesus Christ – as Abigail was willing to lay down her life? Abigail counted on David to reflect on her words and make the right choice. Abigail was so certain that David would choose correctly – she even tied her long-range future welfare to David. Abigail could look at Nabal’s health and realize that he was not going to be around much longer. If David had slaughtered Nabal and his house hold, it would have been an albatross around his neck all his days—a heavy and inescapable burden.
1Samuel 25:31 That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood without cause, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.
1Samuel 25:32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:
David begins to calm down – And men notice this: David listened to the advice of a woman! God intended it so.
1Samuel 25:33 And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
1Samuel 25:34 For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou had hasted [quickly] and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisses against the wall. [All the males anyway.]
David listened to Abigail – a virtuous woman indeed. She stepped out in faith. She was coolheaded and wise. David appreciated Abigail.
1Samuel 25:35 So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.
1Sa 25:36 And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.
Abigail wisely chose when and how to inform her husband of her actions. Nabal’s bad heart would not last long. Nabal was in an alcoholic stupor – Abigail could not speak to him in that state… but then Nabal has a heart attack when Abigail tells Nabal how they had been spared because of her intervention.
Her wisdom and graciousness saved Nabal’s life—for a time—and prevented David from taking her husband’s life. When Abigail told Nabal what she had done, his rage brought on a stroke and a heart attack. God was in it.
1Samuel 25:37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
1Samuel 25:38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.
David fully realized that Abigail’s intervention had saved his honor and reputation—allowing for David to be king. Had she not intervened in the way that she did—David would have disqualified himself of ever being King of Israel. David prospered because of Abigail’s service.
1Samuel 25:39 And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.
1Samuel25:40 And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to be his wife.
Here Abigail is a Type, not only of the Church, but also of Jesus Christ! Brethren, we come now to one of my favorite Scriptures.
**1Samuel 25:41 And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
In God’s Church, a minister is to be a servant of the brethren! Not the other way around.
John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. [Jesus washed the feet of the servants]
Abigail only asked to be a servant’s servant – Abigail is a type of Christ.
1Samuel 25:42 And Abigail hasted [quickly], and arose, and rode upon an donkey, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife.
King David is a type of Christ. Abigail is a type of the Church and Christ.
We see that this Virtuous woman, Abigail, saved David from making a terrible mistake – the worst in his life.
Proverbs 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness.
These few words describe Abigail so well. She took care of business; she was wise; she was strong. She was a strong and virtuous servant. Abigail certainly did look well to the ways of her household – or her entire household would have been wiped out. Abigail served her husband, her family, her household, her servants and she served King David, and she served the LORD. She was a Virtuous Woman, and she served her God.
Brethren, we too are to be strong and virtuous. Study the meaning of that word, “virtuous,” in the Bible. It means to be upstanding, tough, resilient, courageous, wise and serving.
We, the Church brethren are to be the Virtuous Woman.
End: The Virtuous Woman.