Thursday 14th March 2024

Who are the women who have inspired you? That you have learned from? Changed your life? What is the longest recorded speech by a woman in the Bible?

This Wednesday, in recognition of International Women's Day, I asked our students in Chapel: "Who are the women who have inspired you? That you have learned from? Changed your life?"

Believing that the questions I ask the boys I should be willing to answer, I shared briefly about three women who fit this criteria for me. One of these was my Grandmother - Lesley Cameron Powell, my mothers mother. Sadly, I never had the privilege of meeting her as she passed away during my Mother's high school years. By this time she had inspired and nurtured my Mother's growing faith, (another woman who changed my life), and established herself as a caring and highly regarded teacher in several rural or semi-rural communities. In my Mother's words she "lived faithfully, loving people - all kinds of people". Here I am all these years later, trying to love students - all kinds of students and whānau in our school community. 

After this we moved onto exploring the story of Abigail, Nabal and David (1 Samuel 25). A story of drama, love, pride, humility and also the story which contains the longest recorded speech by a woman in the Bible. The beautiful and wise Abigail (whom my elder daughter is named after) begins the story married to a mean surly and very wealthy farmer named Nabal. 

Our next character David has been anointed as the future King and is currently on the run in the desert as the reigning King Saul has taken a dim view of this word from God. David and his mob of men, 600 odd strong, have protected Nabal's stock and shepherds all winter. Seeking a koha for his protection and support from Nabal he is instead met with a rude rebuke from Nabal. Irate at this insulting and unjust response, he and his men arm themselves and set off to violently avenge this great slight. 

Two proud men making poor choices - Nabal unjustly refuses to acknowledge and provide some recompense for the work David and his men have done for him. David seeks to avenge for himself this great insult when he should be leaving it to God. We looked again at a Proverb: 

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

Into the midst of these two proud angry men strides the wise Abigail. Tipped off by the panicked servants of Nabal, she immediately sets out to meet David with a significant koha and peace offering. Amidst profuse apologies she highlights how she is offering David the chance to avoid bringing bloodguilt upon himself, to leave justice for God to consider.

At this moment David chooses humility. He recognises the truth in Abigail's offer and gentle challenge. He returns with food for his now joyful men, Abigail returns to find her foolish husband drunk, stubborn and proud as ever. Within weeks God allows Nabal to drop dead seemingly from illness. David on hearing this news, recognising Abigail's wisdom, beauty, and willingness to speak truth asks her to marry him. 

Abigail plays an integral role in the life story of David who goes on to become Israel's greatest earthly King. Thousands of years later we can still learn from her willingness to act on what is right, from her reminder to remain humble and finally from David's willingness to realise his mistake when truth was spoken to him.  

We ended Chapel this week with the same questions we started with: Who are the women who have inspired you? That you have learned from? Changed your life? David Song our Chapel Prefect then closed for us with the following prayer for the many wonderful women we know are essential to our community here at John McGlashan.

Father, we offer gratitude for the remarkable women of our John McGlashan community. Lord, I thank you for the story of Abigail and how it teaches that with humility comes wisdom and not pride. I thank you for all the women that have contributed greatly in our lives. Bless them abundantly with resilience, compassion, and grace. Amen 

Reminder: Invitation to pray for our students and school community

I know there are many who pray regularly for our school and students. I would love to invite those who would be keen to gather and pray together for their boys and the wider school to join me on Tuesday March 19th (This coming Tuesday). We will meet 7pm in the Parents & Friends Room (upstairs in the Edgar Learning Centre). If you have any questions I would love to hear from you: