What It Takes To Stand In The Gap
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30
Walls around cities were a common security measure in ancient times. In our verse above, the Lord is looking for someone to reinforce a spiritual wall of protection. The Lord looks for people to care enough to stand up. He wants people who know the difference between right and wrong, holy and unholy, who sees the truth and works to maintain the purity of God’s people. While names and details change throughout the ages, God is always in need of individuals to stand in the gap. One such example comes to us from Abigail in I Samuel 25.
Abigail is married to Nabal, a rich, yet evil and foolish, man. In I Samuel 25, David, the anointed future king of Israel and his 600 men have been protecting Nabal’s flock, unbeknownst to Nabal. When David makes his presence known and requests some food for his men, Nabal denies his request quite disrespectfully, (I Samuel 25:5-11). This infuriates David, and he’s ready to take his men and attack Nabal (I Samuel 25:12-13)! This is where Abigail steps in. When she finds out about the rift between her husband, Nabal, and the future king, David, she seeks a just solution. Abigail has food prepared for David’s men and she goes to David herself to offer peace, (I Samuel 25:14-23). Abigail shows us what it takes to stand in the gap.
Wisdom to Discern Righteousness - Abigail understands the foolish character of her husband Nabal, and the favor David had shown by protecting their household. She also recognizes that revenge is not the answer. Here she is stuck in the middle of a conflict between her husband, whom she is bound to by God, and the future king of Israel, who is the Lord’s anointed one! Thankfully, Abigail has the clarity of mind to know the difference between right and wrong.
Care to Get Involved - Abigail had a choice to make. When she finds out David is coming to enact vengeance on her husband, she could have just sat back and let her cruel husband have it! However, knowing that is not right, she cared enough to get involved. Standing in the gap means seeing unrighteousness or injustice, having the ability to do something about it, and caring enough to actually get involved.
Courage to Speak Up - Abigail was brave enough to get on a donkey and ride right up to David, the hero who defeated Goliath, backed by 400 armed men, and she falls at his feet to plead her case. This is not Abigail's responsibility, yet she takes responsibility anyways, (I Samuel 25:24-25). It’s one thing to have the wisdom to recognize unrighteousness, and to care enough to get involved, but if you lack the courage to speak up, then all the wisdom and concern in the world will not do anybody any good.
Humility to Seek God - The crux of Abigail’s case before David is what the Lord thinks about this situation. In I Samuel 25:26-31, Abigail reminds David of God’s promise to preserve David’s house. She urges him to withdraw his men so that, when he becomes king as God has promised, this episode would not mar David’s reputation. With Abigail, it’s never about herself and her own interests. She never plays the victim. Instead, Abigail is focused on God’s righteousness. She sees people acting unrighteously, and she embraces her opportunity to appeal to God and His righteous standard.
Do you have what it takes to stand in the gap? Ephesians 5:27 says it is Christ’s desire and purpose to present the church as “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” This seems easy when we gather together on the first day of the week. However, when we depart from our assemblies, each of us occupies our own place in the wall. You have to stand in the gap at home. You have to stand in the gap at school or at work. You have to stand in the gap in your neighborhood and your community. In Ezekiel 22:30, the Lord says, “I found no one.” What does the Lord see when He looks at your place in the wall? Do you have the wisdom, the care, the courage, and the humility to stand in the gap?