2 Samuel 20
-A worthless fellow named Sheba happened to be there when this discussion between Judah and Israel was taking place over the kingdom of David (see 2 Samuel 19:41-43). He was the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. He blew the trumpet of rebellion and proclaimed, “We have no portion in David, nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!” This led many in Israel to withdraw from following David, and they followed after this Sheba. Judah, however, remained faithful and steadfast to their king, from the Jordan all the way to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 20:1-2).
-David eventually came back to his house in Jerusalem. When he came, he took the ten concubines whom he had left behind and placed them under guard providing them with sustenance. But, he would no longer go into them sexually, so they were shut up until the day they died much like widows (2 Samuel 20:3).
-Soon David called his new commander, Amasa, to bring all the men of Judah before him to present themselves. He gave him three days to accomplish this mission, but Amasa delayed longer than the set time appointed. Due to the delay, Amasa was not with them when David assigned Abishai to take the lord’s servants and pursue this dangerous man, Sheba. The king rightly discerned that he would do more harm than Absalom if left to gather support, weapons, and protection in fortified cities against David’s kingdom. The king did not want to let this one escape out of his nation’s sight. So Joab’s men also went out from Jerusalem after Sheba, along with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the mighty men from David’s forces. When they were at the large stone which was in Gibeon just north of Jerusalem, Amasa finally showed up. Joab is described as having his military attire on with a belt over it that had a sword in its sheath fastened at his waist, which would fall out as he leaned forward. Joab gave a bogus-cordial greeting to Amasa. With hidden animosity he chimed, “Is it well with you, my brother?” Then, he took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him in greeting. Amasa was not on guard for a murderous attack that was coming. Joab had slipped the sword into his hand as he leaned forward; then, he venomously struck David’s newly appointed military commander in the belly pouring his inward parts out onto the ground. This killed him. Immediately, in a war hawk frenzy, Joab and his brother, Abishai, took off to get Sheba too. There was a young follower of Joab who then proclaimed, “Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” Meanwhile, Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. When this young fellow saw that it was causing all the people to stand still, he removed the carcass into a field and threw a garment over it. As soon as Amasa’s dead body was out of the sightlines, all the men returned to their focus and followed on after Joab to pursue Sheba (2 Samuel 20:4-13). A deadly day in the land. Violence was far too prevalent.
-While this was going on, Sheba was going through all the tribes of Israel all the way up to the north where Abel, even Beth-maacah, was. This was near the tribe of Dan in the northern most section of the land of Israel. Joab’s forces now besieged this fortified city, even casting up a siege ramp against the city by the rampart. All those with Joab were wreaking destruction in an effort to topple the wall of the city. But, at this point, a woman, who is described as being “wise” called out to Joab for a discussion. Joab showed some reasonability now as he entered this dialog with this “wise” woman. She maintained that she was of those who were “peaceable and faithful in Israel.” She reasoned with Joab that it would not be prudent to destroy a whole city, “even a mother in Israel,” since it was an inheritance of the LORD. Joab agreed that this would the right thing as he stated, “Far be it, far be it from me that I should swallow up or destroy!” Kind of ironic considering the source, but he went on to tell her exactly what Sheba, who had come from the hill country of Ephraim, was up to in lifting his hand against King David. Joab asked for him and then all would be peaceful in the city. She told him matter-of-factly that his head would be thrown over the wall to them to appease this conflict. Then the “wise” woman came to all the people of Abel Beth-maacah with the plan, and soon it was carried out. They cut off the head of the want-to-be usurper and threw it to Joab over the city wall. This initiated Joab to blow the trumpet of dispersal and they all went back to their respective tents. Joab went back to Jerusalem as well with mission accomplished (2 Samuel 20:14-22).
-The rest of the chapter gives the reader an update on the ones holding office now in David’s kingdom. Joab was back over the whole army, unpunished once again apparently. Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites. Adoram was over the forced labor division, and Jehoshaphat was the nation’s recorder. Sheva was the chief scribe, while Zadok and Abiathar remained as priests. Ira the Jairite was also a priest to David (2 Samuel 20:23-26).
-*Application* The violent nature of the things going on in this ancient culture is enough to make us sick, I fully concur. In the midst of a violent society, and our American culture is growing in this unfortunately, we can be “wise” with how we handle situations to bring a substantial impact for peace. Cultivate wisdom in handling each and every situation to bring resolution without further damage. This is the theme of this section in a very fallen-vicious context.
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 20:10, 22