Today’s reading in II Samuel is full of petty jealousy and strife. It tells the familiar story of man’s rebellion against God’s leadership. It tells the tale of the people following the words of a trouble maker and deserting their king – only the tribe of Judah remained loyal along with David’s mighty men (the 400 from the Cave of Adullah). Joab, the king’s first in command has been sent with the remaining army to hunt down and destroy the rebellion led by Sheba.
The most remarkable part of this story, in my opinion, occurs at the end of chapter 20 when Joab and his army track down Sheba in the twin cities of Abel and Beth Maachah north of the Sea of Galilee. They proceed to build a ramp and attack the city gates with the intent of entering the city and killing all of the inhabitants for sheltering Sheba. The city was doomed!
Then a woman cries out from inside the city “Hear, Hear! Send Joab that I may speak with him.” Now, I assume that there were city elders, men of importance therein, but an elderly woman has to assume leadership in their time of crisis. She gets right to the heart of the matter with Joab: “I am among the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?” Was she brave or just crazy? With some further research I learned that the city of Abel was known in the region as a place where you could go and get wise counsel. A “mother” in Israel is a way of stating that this city was one of influence and respect.
This woman, whose name we don’t even know, withstands and negotiates with David’s foremost general and convinces him of his error in thinking, determines the solution to the problem, convinces her fellow inhabitants of the proper course of action, accomplishes what Joab hadn’t been able to do, and ultimately saves her entire city from death and destruction.
The trumpet is blown after the head of Sheba sails over the city wall and Joab’s army returns to their tents and withdraw back to Jerusalem. The rebellion is over! Thanks to a nameless older woman!
I have been thinking lately about the stage of life that I am quickly and irreversibly entering and wondering how effective I will be in accomplishing anything for God. Then I read this story which is contained in just a few verses of II Samuel and as it so often occurs, a portion of scripture that I have read many times is illuminated to my mind and I am encouraged, and lifted above my circumstances and my fears. Always before I have concentrated on the actions of Sheba and Joab and never paid much attention to this woman and her actions.
Thank you, God, for showing me through the actions of one nameless woman that people in the winter of their lives can accomplish great things for God and His Kingdom and their fellow inhabitants.
Thank you, God, for showing me again the importance of being part of the solution to the crisis of life instead of being faint of heart or part of the problem itself. Stand up and be a voice of reason, speaking according to God’s heart, and let His will and plan be the order of the day.