More often than not, when we as born again Christians, hear the phrase “standing in the gap,” we automatically think of praying for someone, of going to God on their behalf. But let me take it one step deeper, standing in the gap means exactly that, there is a space that needs to be filled, and are you willing to put yourself, not just spiritually, but physically, in that place for someone?
Parents will often automatically answer with a resounding, “YES!” when it comes to their children, and some partners may say that about their spouses, but for the most part, bodily harm or some threat thereabouts will cause a person to pause and shy away from being their “brother’s keeper.” Let’s be honest, modern day conveniences and creature comforts have softened our resolve to “live and die for Christ.” So many times we say we would lay down our all for the cause of Christ from the safety of the sanctuaries we frequent on Sunday mornings. But recently, even the safety of our sanctuaries have been breached, so much so that I have even heard many fall behind the banner of calling for arming their security teams.
This recognition of our being “watered down” may not be shocking to some, as many have heard the clarion call back to Holiness, heeding our Master’s Voice, and feeling the pull on the link to the anchor that keeps us from drifting too far. But for some, just the idea that we have drifted at all sends shockwaves through their very being, not recognizing how much their “over-tolerant” behavior has pulled them from the Master’s Side, causing the choppy seas of tribulation to rock their boats (but that’s a topic for another day). Today, I want to get back to “standing in the gap.”
I was listening to a teacher expound on a lesson about King David and Abigail, and conducted a study on the effects of another issue in the King’s life that caused his seemingly outrageous reaction to Nabal’s insubordination (again, for another day). The supporting text was, of course, 1 Samuel 25. What struck me was Abigail’s response, and thus my subject, standing in the gap.
Synopsis of the chapter: King David had protected Nabal’s land and property and so when he wanted to come for a visit, he sent word to Nabal to help him and his servants out. Nabal sent a very nasty negative response back to King David. The King, being justifiably angered, vowed to kill Nabal and all his clan. Abigail, Nabal’s wife, got wind of King David’s plans and hurried to meet him with gifts of her own, in hopes of swaying his wrath. David relented on her say so, God punished Nabal with sickness and death, and Abigail became David’s wife. Oh, side note: Nabal had a notoriously nasty personality, so this behavior wasn’t unusual, but come on dude, the King?
Anyway, Abigail, being a godly wife, still wanting to save her husband and her household, went to stand in the gap for her husband. She hoped that by meeting with the King before he had a chance to carry out his destructive plot, that she would somehow sway his resolve for this justified destruction. Now if you remember your historical facts about approaching a King without being invited, you remember that that in itself carried a death sentence. So Abigail was really putting herself out there for her husband. Not only was she going against the law of the land, but she was also going up against the very justifiable wrath of the King, who was already on his way to wipe out her family and any associates.
When Abigail came within sight of King David, she descended from her donkey and ran to meet him, falling at his feet. She then began to remind him of all his deeds, of her husband’s stupidity (his name “Nabal” did mean “fool”), but more importantly, of the Lord’s promise fulfillment over the King’s life. She also alerted him to the foolishness of exacting vengeance for himself when vengeance belonged to the Lord (smart woman, invoking God’s laws and promises). That’s what standing in the gap truly is, putting your life on the line for another, and reminding them (and the Lord) of the promises of God and the punishments for disobeying God, of pleading with God on their behalf.
Jesus did the same thing with 10 simple words: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. He did it from the cross, His life already laid down for us. He rushed into the Father’s presence in the Garden of Gethsemane, and even though it meant His life, He still went ahead pleading our case before a justifiably enraged God.
When we study the Holy Scriptures, we are often shown types and shadows of future occurrences, and here was yet another example of the tremendous sacrifice that Christ Jesus would make being foretold in the story of David, Abigail and Nabal. So often we just read these “stories” just to read them, and just to reacquaint ourselves with what was going on at the time, but there is so much richness intertwined within these seemingly simply daily happenings. This is what I found when I went to reread this story myself; I went to read for one reason, but came away with a whole different understanding.
Won’t He do it?