Posts Tagged ‘Wise Woman’

Now he (Joab) went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel, even Beth-maacah, and all the Berites; and they were gathered together and also went after him. They came and besieged him (Sheba) in Abel Beth-maacah, and they cast up a siege ramp against the city, and it stood by the rampart; and all the people who were with Joab were wreaking destruction in order to topple the wall. Then a wise woman called from the city, “Hear, hear! Please tell Joab, ‘Come here that I may speak with you.’” (2 Samuel: 20:14-16)

In His providence God raised up two wise women during King David’s time to give good counsel to David and Joab. These women fit into the larger picture of God’s redemptive plan. The wise woman of Tekoa (See last week’s post) urged David to bring his son Absalom home.

Recall that Absalom was in hiding since he killed his half-brother and fled from David’s presence. David heeded the words of the wise woman from Tekoa and allowed Absalom to come home. However David was still angry with Absalom and commanded that Absalom “turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom turned to his own house and did not see the king’s face.” (2 Samuel 14:24) Absalom retaliated by burning down Joab’s field. Eventually David admitted Absalom into his presence and gave him a kiss of peace.

Absalom was very handsome and much loved by the Israelites. They expected him to be the next king. Absalom decided not to wait for David to die but took steps to make himself king. Many people followed Absalom so David fled from Jerusalem. You can read this story in 2 Samuel, chapters 14-20. I will just summarize by saying that Joab went after Absalom. Absalom was eventually killed.

When David returned to Jerusalem, a dispute arose between the people of the tribe of Judah against the other tribes. The other tribes accused those from Judah of keeping the king for their own use. “Now a worthless fellow happened to be there whose name was Sheba,” (2 Samuel 20:1). Sheba rounded up the other tribes and they foolishly decided to follow him against the king. Sheba was a troublemaker.

After David was settled in again as king in Jerusalem, he set about punishing those who had rebelled against him. Of course one of those was Sheba and David sent Joab to find him and bring him to justice.

Joab traced Sheba to Abel Beth-maacah and began to lay siege to the town. We are not told why Joab Abel Beth-macaahjust decided to completely destroy the town rather than just ask them to give up the refugee. Perhaps he was tired after searching for so long. Abel was some distance from Jerusalem. It was six miles to the west-northwest of the city of Dan. Perhaps Joab was just being the hothead that he was. After all, Joab had slain many men before including some innocent ones. He had no patience.

An unnamed wise woman realized what was going on and decided to save her city. This woman may have been a prophetess. She certainly had the respect of the people. She decided to open the communications with Joab and asked his officers to get him for her. Joab consented to speak with her.

Just like the wise woman from Tekoa, this woman skillfully began her plea for her city. She reminded Joab that Abel Beth-maacah was a special place in Israel. The town was known as a peacemaker in that province for many years. There was a saying in fact about Abel – “They will surely ask advice at Abel, and thus ended the dispute.” (2 Samuel 20:18)

The wise woman respectfully asks Joab why he would want to destroy such a peace-loving city. She said to Joab, “I am of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You are seeking to destroy a city, even a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?” (Verse 19)

What courage this woman had to speak to the commander of a besieging army this way. Joab had a reputation for being ruthless. She knew that. The wise woman took a chance but God was with her. The wise woman was successful in calming Joab down. Joab realized that she was being more just than he was. He explained to her that all he really wanted was the traitor, Sheba. He explained to her the Sheba had lifted up his hand against King David. Sheba was a traitor and needed to be brought to justice. He told the wise woman, “’Only hand him over, and I will depart from the city.’ And the woman said to Joab, ‘Behold, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.’” (2 Samuel 20:21)

sheba-rebellionThis woman must have had a lot of respect and even authority as a “wise woman” or prophetess. The people of Abel were happy that she had negotiated with Joab for them. They listened to her advice now. After all, they were faithful subjects of King David. They wanted no part of a traitor. They were willing to wield the sword of justice immediately. They cut off Sheba’s head and threw it over the wall. Joab returned to Jerusalem to King David. The city of Abel was saved.

The stories of the wise women from Tekoa and Abel Beth-maacah show that wisdom comes from the Lord. This is a biblical principle. Deliverance comes from the Lord not from strong armies. Thanks to these wise women much less blood was shed during the struggle between King David and his rivals.

What makes a “wise woman”? Wise women lead people in righteous ways. They love the Lord and they must study God’s ways. They grow in wisdom as they age and are able to achieve their goals by using carefully chosen words. They are good psychologists! They know how to speak to those in authority in respectful ways. They use “more honey than vinegar”. The wise woman wins support and cooperation through her peaceable and humble attitude. She is also mature enough to know how to keep the conversation going well. She is quick witted and can adapt. Through her many years of living and serving the Lord she has earned the title “wise woman”.

The Bible doesn’t really tell us much about the wise woman’s early life. But we know from the skillful way that she engaged Joab during a life and death situation that she must have spent her youth learning wisdom from God. Her words and actions show that she worshipped and glorified her Maker.





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Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. (2 Samuel 12:10)

We saw in last week’s post about David and Bathsheba that God graciously forgave King David for his terrible sins of adultery and murder. However sin has consequences. First of all, David and Bathsheba’s child died. Secondly, Nathan foretold that there would always be trouble in David’s family. We see the fulfillment of this prophecy starting in the very next chapter of 2 Samuel and it continued until the end of David’s life.

 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was inclined toward Absalom. So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought a wise woman from there and said to her, “Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning garments now, and do not anoint yourself with oil, but be like a woman who has been mourning for the dead many days; then go to the king and speak to him in this manner.” So Joab put the words in her mouth. (2 Samuel 14:1-3)

Trouble in David’s family started immediately with the story of Tamar and Amnon. (2 Samuel 13) These two children of King David were stepsister and brother. Amnon raped Tamar and left her devastated. Absalom was the eldest son of King David and Tamar’s full brother. He sought vengeance against Amnon for humiliating his sister. Absalom set a trap for Amnon and had him killed. Then fearing the king’s wrath, Absalom fled. Thus began the bloodshed predicted by the prophet Nathan.

Three years went by and Joab, the general of David’s army, perceived that King David really loved andtekoa map missed his son, Absalom. Joab thought of a way of bringing Absalom back home. He enlisted the aid of a “wise woman” from Tekoa. Tekoa, a city now in ruins, was on the Eastern slopes of the Judean hills about twelve miles south of Jerusalem. This would have been about a day’s journey. It was also far enough away so that David could not immediately check up on the woman’s story.

The term “wise woman” is used three times in the Old Testament. This woman from Tekoa is described as a “wise woman” as well as the woman from Abel Beth-maacah (2 Samuel 20) and the wise woman from Proverbs 14:1. This phrase seems to describe an older woman who is noted for giving good counsel and thereby may have considerable influence.

Joab sent for this woman and instructed her how to dress and what to say. He was basically asking her to pretend. Apparently this woman agreed with Joab’s purpose for the deception. For the sake of the people she was willing to face the king and risk his wrath, especially if he found out she was sent deliberately by Joab.

The woman of Tekoa went before David and fell on her face and said, “Help, O king.” David asked her what her trouble was. She proceeded to tell him a story that was purposely made up to be like David’s own story.

B21-488408 - © - J.D. Dallet“Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. And your handmaid had two sons, and they quarreled with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. And now the whole family has risen against your handmaid, and they say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he slew’; and so they would destroy the heir also. Thus they would quench my coal which is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant upon the face of the earth.”

King David told her to go home and said that he would do something about it. But the wise woman would not be put off until her purpose was accomplished. She wanted the king to grant mercy to his son Absalom. Of course the king did not know at first that that was her only purpose in coming.

In a very respectful way she continued pleading with David, carefully leading him to the conclusion that Absalom’s banishment should be ended.

This wise woman even rebuked the king gently, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again.”

The woman was saying that the death of her own son was a small thing in comparison to the death of the king’s son. Absalom was looked upon as David’s successor to the throne. David owed it to the people to make amends with Absalom.

At this point David asked the woman if Joab had something to do with her coming to him for help. Indeed the woman proved how wise she was and replied, “As your soul lives, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken. Indeed, it was your servant Joab who commanded me, and it was he who put all these words in the mouth of your maidservant; in order to change the appearance of things your servant Joab has done this thing. But my lord is wise, like the wisdom of the angel of God, to know all that is in the earth.” (2 Samuel 14:19,20)

The wise woman accomplished her purpose. This woman was not just flattering David, but she was showing her devotion to God and to the king. She clearly understood the issues and she showed wisdom in how she approached the Lord’s anointed leader. Because of her humble attitude and wisdom she won David over. David told Joab to go and bring Absalom back home.

What are some lessons to be learned from this story? We might wonder whether or not it is ok to tell “stories” even for a good purpose. The wise woman allowed herself to be used by Joab for a greater purpose. If we understand that there is something bigger going on than just our own concerns, we may be justified in using deception. A good example of this is Corrie ten Boom who lied to the Nazi soldiers about the Jews that she was hiding in her home during World War II. We must be very careful. We have an obligation to pray for discernment so that we don’t harm others or lead them astray.

We must pray that what we are doing is in God’s will.

Obviously, the wise woman of Tekoa thought that the reconciliation of David and Absalom would please God. It was part of God’s gracious plan. God used this wise woman to accomplish His purpose. We will see in continuing stories that it was part of God’s overall plan of redemption. Perhaps the wise woman could not know it, but modern readers know that God had planned for Solomon to be the next king.

This story is part of the continuing saga of the fallout from the strife amongst the children of David that was predicted by the prophet Nathan. Next week we will continue this story. What a tragedy sin is. But more importantly, how good God is Who brings good out of the bad.

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