Read 2 Samuel 20
Sheba Rebels Against David
1 Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjamite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted,
“We have no share in David,
no part in Jesse’s son!
Every man to his tent, Israel!”
2 So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
3 When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them but had no sexual relations with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.
4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.” 5 But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him.
6 David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bikri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.” 7 So Joab’s men and the Kerethites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.
8 While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.
9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri.
11 One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!” 12 Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. 13 After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.
14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites, who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he answered.
She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”
The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
23 Joab was over Israel’s entire army; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; 24 Adoniram was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 25 Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was David’s priest.
Today’s reading shows us the harsh consequences of sin. Because of Absalom’s sin in raping the ten concubines, they were “defiled” according to Old Testament law and unsuitable for marriage to anyone else. David did the best he could by providing for them, but they had to live as widows in confinement for the remainder of their lives, all because of someone’s sin against them. Because Joab was jealous of Amasa’s position in David’s army, he betrayed him and then murdered him in cold blood. Because Sheba attempted an insurrection, he was murdered. Sin leads to more sin, which leads to more sin, which eventually, always, leads to death. Romans 6:23 tells us “the wages of sin is death.”
However, we also see the results of sin contrasted with the results of wisdom. The woman who saves the day for the entire city of Abel doesn’t have her name, her full story, or her lineage recorded in the Bible. In fact, she’s only mentioned in a mere eight verses and yet, look at how she is described: wise. She courageously gave wise advice that Joab and his army took to heart. And because of her wisdom, an entire city was saved!
Sin leads to death, but wisdom leads to salvation. Psalm 14:1 says it this way: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile.” Fools live as though there is no God by acting as though they are the gods of their own lives. Absalom, Joab, Sheba, and even sometimes David, live as though they are the sole authority over their lives and that prideful sin leads to their ultimate death and destruction. In contrast, the wise know in their heart that they are not God. Instead, they humbly submit to God’s way. That wisdom not only saves them, but oftentimes it is used by God to bring His salvation to others, like in today’s story.
What about us? Maybe we say we believe in God, but are we really living like we do? Do we humbly submit to God’s leadership in all areas of our lives? Or, are we actually saying that there is no God by the way we live? “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26). Let’s allow today’s story to remind us all that the path of the fool leads to death, but wisdom leads to life.
- How have you seen the consequences of your own sin play out? How has your sin affected you as well as others?
- In contrast, what have been some of the results of your obedience to God and how have you seen Him work through your humility?
- Is there an area of your life in which you have yet to fully surrender to God’s leadership? What might He be asking you to do?
God, I recognize that you are God and I am not. Please reveal to me every time I attempt to control my life, rather than submit to your leadership. In your kindness, show me the areas in which I have not fully trusted you. And, in your love, increase my faith in your role as God in my life. Help me wisely submit to you and walk in obedience wherever you lead me. Amen.
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