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Saturday, March 12, 2005

WOMEN OF INFLUENCE

Recently I watched a movie on the life of Leona Hemsley, owner of the Harley chain of hotels. Leona was a beautiful and wealthy woman who used her wealth and influence to manipulate and abuse people for her own gain. And she ended up paying dearly-a seven-million-dollar fine and four years in prison for tax evasion and other crimes. But as Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. This week I want to highlight two women of the Bible who used their power and influence in distinctly different ways and with differing consequences.
The first one is Abigail, described in 1 Samuel 25: 3 as "intelligent and beautiful", wife of Nabal, a wealthy man, who was "surly and mean in his dealings." When Abigail heard that Nabal had spurned King David’s request for help while he and his men were in the desert, and that David had sworn to kill all of Nabal’s men, "Abigail wasted no time." She gathered a lot of food and wine, loaded it on the donkeys and sent the servants with it ahead of her. She said nothing to Nabal. Abigail met David and his men coming toward her. She dismounted her donkey, fell at David’s feet and begged him to blame her instead of her husband, who she said was a fool. After her eloquent speech and great show of hospitality, David was greatly moved and changed his mind about killing Nabal’s men.
But that’s not the end of the story. When Abigail got home, her husband was holding a banquet and was drunk, so she waited until the next day to tell him what had happened. When Nabal heard the news, the Bible says he got a heart attack and died a few days later. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he sent for Abigail and married her.
Now let’s look at Jezebel. She was the wife of King Ahab, an evil man. But Jezebel surpassed her husband in doing evil. She killed the prophets and struck fear in Elijah’s heart when she threatened to kill him. Later she arranged to have Naboth stoned to death because he refused to sell his property to Ahab. She used her power and influence for her own gain, supporting her husband in his wrong doings. But in 11 Kings 9: 33, Jezebel dies a horrible death and the dogs ate her flesh, just as Elijah had prophesied.
What kind of woman are you? Whether you’re wealthy, in charge of a large corporation, doing a simple nine-to-five job or just a homemaker, you do have some influence. The Bible says when we try to manipulate others for our own ends we are practicing witchcraft, like Jezebel did. Which type of woman would you rather be? An Abigail or a Jezebel? You can be an Abigail and reap the rewards of the King in heaven, or you can be a Jezebel and reap the rewards of your father, the devil. It’s your choice.
Next week we’ll look at two other women and the choices they made. Let me hear your comments.
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