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A new scene of distress to David this Chapter opens with, in the rebellion of Sheba. Amasa is slain. Joab pursueth Sheba. A woman, by her wisdom, saveth the city. An account of David's officers. These are the heads of this chapter.
2 Samuel 20:1
(1) ¶ And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.
We shall lose sight of all the beauty of David's history, unless we keep in our remembrance the circumstances which the LORD spake concerning him. David hath many foes. But they are but GOD'S instruments. The LORD had said, that he would raise up evil to him. And when the LORD saith this of David, or of any his children, it is not difficult for the LORD to find suitable instruments for his purpose to chasten. Reader! do not overlook this in your own life. Never consider second causes, without taking into the view the first, and predisposing cause of all. David's conclusion upon another occasion, would have suited all: I was dumb, (says he) I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it. Psalms 39:9 .
(2) So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.
The character of this man is marked by the HOLY GHOST; a man of Belial. And consequently his life and conversation corresponded to the title. He was a suited person to oppose the man who is stilled, the man after GOD'S own heart. See 1 Kings 15:3 . Reader! do not fall to recollect, that the opposition between such different characters, commenced not with David and Sheba. It began at the fall. Abel and Cain were the two first combatants, and the reason was, they were of different seed, though by nature children of the same parents. John explains this; 1 John 3:12 . And still from higher authority; John 8:44 .
(3) And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.
This act was highly proper, on account of Absalom's incestuous conduct. Alas! what evils have sprung out of the corrupt lusts of our poor, fallen nature!
(4) ¶ Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present. (5) So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.
The tardiness of the men of Judah, confirms the idea that David was not well received by them.
(6) And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord's servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us. (7) And there went out after him Joab's men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
It is somewhat extraordinary, that as Joab was degraded from being Captain of the host, he should still be in the army; yet so it was.
(8) When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out. (9) And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. (10) But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
Joab, evidently was a man of blood, a man of uncontrolled passion, and full of vindictive resentment; yet certainly he was a very successful instrument for good to David.
(11) And one of Joab's men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab. (12) And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that everyone that came by him stood still. (13) When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
We hear nothing of David's resentment on this occasion. Probably, the commission he had himself sent to Joab some years before, concerning Uriah, prevented him. 2 Samuel 11:14-10.11.17 .
(14) ¶ And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him. (15) And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.
As this city belonged to the tribe of Napthali, it is to be wondered at, that Joab did not according to the law, first propose terms of peace, before that he and his army began to batter the wall. See Deuteronomy 20:10-5.20.14 .
(16) Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee. (17) And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear. (18) Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter. (19) I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?
Solomon speaks of a poor man's saving a city by his wisdom. No doubt, JESUS may be there intended. But here is a wise woman. See Ecclesiastes 9:14-21.9.15 . The expression of asking counsel of Abel, seems to have been somewhat proverbial; meaning, probably, that counsel of advice, in proposing terms of peace, were first made before an army proceeded to battle. Paul dwells upon this feature, of brethren going to war, as unsuitable to the very name of Christianity. 1 Corinthians 6:5-46.6.7 .
(20) And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy. (21) The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. (22) Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
Joab, though a man of blood, desired to prove himself a man of justice, in war. What a blessed compromise this was! how honourable to the woman, whom the LORD had made the instrument of it. Reader! What a glorious event was that, when JESUS voluntarily offered himself a ransom for his people! What a gracious display of love: in GOD our FATHER, when accepting such a substitute! Deliver him from going down into the pit, I have found a ransom. Job 33:24 .
(23) ¶ Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites: (24) And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder: (25) And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests: (26) And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.
Observe, Joab retains his post. David did not, or perhaps could not dismiss him. Some alteration had taken place in David's officers since the establishment. 2 Samuel 8:16-10.8.18 .
READER! though the perusal of this chapter before us opens a renewed occasion for reflecting on the troubles of David; yet, I pass by the consideration of these things, for the present, in order to direct your attention, and my own, to the contemplation of our adorable JESUS, in that sweet and most invaluable part of his character of Mediator, which the view of the wise woman in Abel of Beth maachan naturally suggests. If it be pleasant to see this mother in Israel, saving a city by her interposition; think, Reader, how very delightful ought it to be, to behold JESUS saving a world, by the exercise of this glorious office. He came in the name of JEHOVAH, proposing terms of peace. And such terms as astonished angels. Not that one of our rebellious Chieftans, like Sheba, should be given up: Not that a thousand, or ten thousand should die to ransom the rest; though that had been an unspeakable mercy. But that He, the gracious, the merciful, the mighty Ambassador would mediate peace, and reconciliation, by the gift and sacrifice of himself. Well might the prophet exclaim, Wonder O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!
But, oh! thou precious JESUS! while I fall before thy footstool, overpowered with wonder and astonishment in the prospect of this mercy, I behold, with increasing love and surprise, the manner of thy gracious performance of the work.
Yes! dearest LORD! as my soul gazes on thy sacred Person as the Mediator, fully qualified, and fully prepared, as GOD and Man in one Person, to the office; I look also, until my whole-soul is lost, and overwhelmed in the view, with what infinite wisdom, tenderness, love, and pity, thou earnest to propose the terms, lay the foundation, and complete the whole work, for delivering thy people from the wrath to come. Be thou eternally praised; eternally loved; eternally adored, for this thy gracious interposition! My soul, on knees of holy transport, thankfulness, and joy, accepts thee, LORD, with all thy works of grace, desiring in time, and to all eternity, to bless and praise GOD for his unspeakable gift!
Reader! think, if it be possible, how it must grieve his HOLY SPIRIT, when sinners neglect, and despise this great salvation! Think! how unalterable must be their state, whom, in consequence thereof, he leaves to wander and perish!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 20". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany