Christian Home Builder - Lesson 4

Tough Lessons From Tender Women

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student will be able to discuss the significance of the character of Leah in a difficult home situation.
  2. The student will be able to discuss the significance of the character of Abigail in a difficult marital situation.
  3. The student will recognize that life in difficult times may offer unique opportunity for an encounter with God.


  1. The teacher will want to review the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29.
  2. The teacher will want to review the story of David, Abigail and Nabal in I Samuel 25.


God's people sometimes find themselves in hopeless and discouraging situations. These trials, while difficult at the time, may offer an opportunity for a unique experience with our Heavenly Father.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class


  1. Can you think of a tough time you lived through? (A business failure, marital failure, problem child).
  2. What did you struggle with most during that period of time? (Patience, understanding, hope).
  3. What resources did you bring to bear? (Friends, study, exercise, counseling).
  4. What did you learn from that experience?

Learning Experiences:

  1. When God Works Through The Mundane
    1. Look up the following passes and see how God worked.
      1. Matthew 4:18-22 Brothers fishing
      2. I Kings 17 A starving widow
      3. John 4 A Samaritan woman
      4. Luke 24:19 Caring for the dead
    2. Each of these people were surprised to discover God at work through the common events of their lives.
  2. Leah: Genesis 29 - The Plain Older Sister
    1. Was she the typical, first born responsible child?
    2. Her younger sister Rachel was obviously the prettier of the two girls.
      (Gen. 29:17)
    3. Were they competitive like most sisters?
    4. Rachel won the heart of the good-looking guy Jacob. (Gen. 29:18)
    5. Leah's father pawned her off on a man that didn't love her. This showed little confidence in her ability to find a husband. (Gen. 29:22-25)
    6. Her husband worked 14 years for her sister. (Gen. 29:27)
    7. She bore Jacob four sons but never won his love and devotion.
      (Gen. 29:31-35)
    8. Her success at mothering elicits more resentment from Rachel. (Gen. 30:1)
    9. This is a formula for disaster. Married to a man who doesn't love her, surrounded by small children, under the shadow of a jealous and beautiful little sister.
    10. Roberta Weems points out that after her fourth son, Leah changed her attitude! She said, "This time I will praise the Lord.” (Gen. 29:35)
    11. She stopped waiting for others to provide her with fulfillment and threw herself into the life with her children that she did have.
    12. Weems (1996) notes that the words "womb” and "compassion” come from the same root word. As God opened her womb, he increased her compassion (ability to deal with a highly difficult situation).
  3. Abigail: A Classy Lady With A Lot of Courage, I Samuel 25.
    1. Abigail was married to Nabal whose name and character means "fool.”
      (I Sam. 25:1-3)
    2. Nabal offended David by not paying him the rightful debt he owed him for David protecting his sheep. (I Sam. 25:4-13)
    3. David decides to ride in on Nabal's ranch and destroy everything. (I Samuel 25:13)
    4. Abigail finds herself between a fool and an angry future King of Israel armed to the teeth.
    5. She shows discretion by secretly preparing gifts and a meal for David and his men. (I Sam. 25:14-18)
    6. She dresses herself elegantly to intercept David and save her family.
    7. She throws herself prostrate before David and pleads mercy for her household. "My husband is like his name - Fool.” (I Samuel 25:23-28)
    8. She proclaims David as God's anointed King. Future Kings do not do well seeking their own blood vengeance. (I Sam. 25:29-31)
    9. She proclaims her faith in him.
  4. What These Ladies Do And Do Not Teach Us
    1. They do not teach us that abuse is tolerable. The text no where indicates either of these women were abused. Nabal certainly fits the mold. However, the text is clear that wives are to be treated with the highest honor (Ephesians 5). To be loved as Christ does the church.
    2. Note neither woman did anything to deserve the treatment they received. In fact, they acted with true Godly character!
    3. Note both women found ways to lead productive lives in unhappy circumstances. Leah poured herself into her children and, as we shall see, found ways to build a relationship with Jacob. Abigail's conversation with her servant presents a picture of a woman with great power and authority.
    4. Neither woman lived in fear. God does not intend our families to be places of fear - from temper as in the case of Nabal, drugs, alcohol, affairs or physical and sexual abuse. These are abhorrent to covenant living. Abigail realized her husband was quick tempered and unpredictable but she would not live in fear. She saved her home, children, ranch and servants by acting courageously. Jacob was fully capable of shenanigans of his own. Remember that he stole Esau's birthright. Neither woman seemed to have allowed their husbands rejection to destroy them.
    5. Both women were shrewd. Not in the sense of being underhanded, but in the sense of showing wisdom, patience and good timing.
    6. Both women had important fruit to bear. Abigail became the King's wife. Leah bore Jacob four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. They are known, of course, as four of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  5. If You Like Happy Endings
    1. Abigail
      1. Scripture records God struck down Nabal a few days later.
        (I Sam. 25:35-42)
      2. David sent for Abigail and took her to be his wife.
    2. Leah
      1. While we don't know how, we believe Jacob and Leah finally enjoyed a close relationship as husband and wife.
      2. Jacob's last command to his sons was to take him home and bury him next to his wife Leah! (Gen. 49:32)
    3. Obviously, we are not saying that God will have every unhappy person marry a king or queen. Nor will every relationship be healed over time.
    4. These two stories illustrate the power to choose ones own attitude and actions even in the most difficult of situations. God knows our struggles. He intercedes in life on our behalf. Hope and wisdom are essential. And people can sometimes make some surprising changes.


  1. In your journal, answer the following questions.
    1. When someone is treating me unfairly, I tend to ______
    2. When times are rough, I tend to _____
      1. Become hopeless.
      2. Become stubborn.
      3. Turn to chocolate!
    3. The thing I most admire about Abigail or Leah is _____
    4. When I think of a husband and wife working together as a team, I think about
      1. Share your answers with your spouse.
      2. Can you think of any other Bible characters that endured difficult times in their relationship? How did they react?

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