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Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 14.1-20

2 Samuel 14.1-20
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.  Now when the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and prostrated herself and said, “Help, O king.” The king said to her, “What is your trouble?” And she answered, “Truly I am a widow, for my husband is dead. Your maidservant had two sons, but the two of them struggled together in the field, and there was no one to separate them, so one struck the other and killed him. Now behold, the whole family has risen against your maidservant, and they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother, that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed, and destroy the heir also.’ Thus they will extinguish my coal which is left, so as to leave my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.” Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “O my lord, the king, the iniquity is on me and my father’s house, but the king and his throne are guiltless.” So the king said, “Whoever speaks to you, bring him to me, and he will not touch you anymore.” Then she said, “Please let the king remember the Lord your God, so that the avenger of blood will not continue to destroy, otherwise they will destroy my son.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.” Then the woman said, “Please let your maidservant speak a word to my lord the king.” And he said, “Speak.” The woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in speaking this word the king is as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring back his banished one. For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him. Now the reason I have come to speak this word to my lord the king is that the people have made me afraid; so your maidservant said, ‘Let me now speak to the king, perhaps the king will perform the request of his maidservant. For the king will hear and deliver his maidservant from the hand of the man who would destroy both me and my son from the inheritance of God.’ Then your maidservant said, ‘Please let the word of my lord the king be comforting, for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and evil. And may the Lord your God be with you.’” Then the king answered and said to the woman, “Please do not hide anything from me that I am about to ask you.” And the woman said, “Let my lord the king please speak.” So the king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” And the woman 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.”

In today’s passage, David’s legacy is in crisis, a direct consequence of his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).  David’s son and heir to the throne Absalom has killed his half-brother in revenge of the rape of their sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13), then fleeing in exile.  Three years on, David’s emotions are still prevailing.  He is at once grateful that Amnon is dead, but is refusing to welcome Absalom back into the family.  Surely David is feeling doubly devastated, realizing that Absalom’s act was in some way a result of David’s unwillingness to exact justice on his own son Amnon over a two-year period.

Joab senses that David needs to be provoked into choosing mercy for his son.  He seeks out a wise woman to engage in a deception and give David an opportunity to see his situation more objectively.  She takes on the guise of a mourning mother, relating a story of how one of her sons has killed the other, and she asks for the king’s protection for her remaining son.  David grants that protection. 

What followed next must have (painfully) reminded David of being confronted by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-15.  The wise woman takes David’s promise of protection for her own son and asks David to look closer to home and apply the same decision and forgive his son Absalom.

As the wise woman shares in verse 14, we have a Father who loves sinners and prodigals like us (Luke 15).  We don’t choose God, he chose us (John 15:16, Romans 5:8).  Today’s reading is an echo of the gospel.

Sometimes our emotions get the most of us and we can’t see the truth.  Take a moment today to listen to those wise believers God has placed in your life to point you to the love of your Great Shepherd.

Weekly Memory Verse: O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34.8