Friday, August 25, 2023

Joab convinces King David to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem

Have you ever had a disagreement with someone, a long time friend or family member? And then you stop talking? But as the months and years go by you long to see that person again. You think about them. You think about the good times. Yet, you can’t quite get yourself to call them up, or make things right? It’s a tough situation. It's like a wall goes up, that we can't quite get down.

I was close with my cousin Travis growing up, we would do so much together, we would play videogames, play football in grandma's backyard, fight and wrestle in mom's backyard, and go to concerts together. But we would sometimes get into angry fights, one of us would storm out, and for months, and years we would not talk. It's sad, when those walls go up. 

Similarly today we see King David in a similar situation with Absalom his son.

Absalom the dearly loved son of King David has committed murder, he killed his own brother Amnon. This was in revenge for something truly disturbing that Amnon did to Absalom’s sister Tamar.

So Absalom is now in hiding, out in the country far from King David. King David is very upset about this, day and night he wrestles with the pros and cons of what happened. He is caught between two opinions, one, he is very angry and upset with Absalom, he killed his own son Amnon. But David had a huge heart. He loved Absalom despite what he had done. He was his own son. So secondly, David longed to go to Absalom, bring him back, and make things right with him.

So there’s this man named Joab who is the closest advisor to the king. He’s been with David many years. And Joab makes a plan to try to convince David to let Absalom come back home.

It says this in 2nd Samuel 14:1-3: “Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, “Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. 3 Then go to the king and speak these words to him.” And Joab put the words in her mouth.”

Joab put the words in her mouth. Which is where the saying comes from: “Don’t put words in my mouth.” So many things we say and believe in our society come from the Bible. More than most of us will ever realize.

Joab sets up a situation with a wise woman, to speak the right words to David, to convince David to bring his son back to Jerusalem.

Joab sends someone to get this wise woman from Tekoa, a town about 10 miles south of Jerusalem, and brings her back.

Joab tells her exactly what to say to get the King’s heart swayed in the right direction.

Sometimes we need to see a situation from a different perspective. It is very hard to see things we do wrong, or notice things within us that are troubling or need to be changed.

We all tend to have a blind spot toward our own bad behavior. But we’re very good at recognizing sin and problems in other people.

In this situation Joab is using this woman to help David see his own behavior from a different angle.

Nathan the prophet did the same thing, when David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. He gave a parable.

We all need friends, accountability partners, who can speak truth into our lives. Who can call us out when we’re doing wrong. We all need that. Find that in your life, and you’re going to be blessed.

So the woman comes before the King and here’s what says: (verses 4-11)

4 When the woman from Tekoa went to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honor, and she said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”

5 The king asked her, “What is troubling you?”

She said, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.’ They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.”

8 The king said to the woman, “Go home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.”

Ok, so the woman is saying that she’s a widow. And she had two sons. One got angry and killed the other. But the one whose still alive has to be punished for the crime. But she’s asking that he not be punished, so that she can still have a son, a descendent for her family name.

Do you follow so far? 

But realize this isn’t really true. Joab gave this scenario to the woman to say to David to get David to realize he should bring Absalom back home.

The king agrees to spare the son of the widow.

Then it says in verses 9-11: But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.”

10 The king replied, “If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.”

11 She said, “Then let the king invoke the Lord his God to prevent the avenger of blood from adding to the destruction, so that my son will not be destroyed.”

“As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”

The woman even gets King David to commit to the Lord his God, to invoke the name of God, to swear that he will make sure her son’s safety is cared for.

Next, in verses 12-20: Then the woman said, “Let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.”

“Speak,” he replied.

13 The woman said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.

15 “And now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant’s request. 16 Perhaps the king will agree to deliver his servant from the hand of the man who is trying to cut off both me and my son from God’s inheritance.’

17 “And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.’”

18 Then the king said to the woman, “Don’t keep from me the answer to what I am going to ask you.”

“Let my lord the king speak,” the woman said.

19 The king asked, “Isn’t the hand of Joab with you in all this?”

The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything my lord the king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20 Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God—he knows everything that happens in the land.”

King David figures out what is really going on here. He realizes that Joab must’ve spoken to this woman and given her the words to say. David knows what really happened. But he seems to understand the message his friend is trying to give him. 

Do you have a friend like that? Someone who can speak raw truth to you in your life? We all need accountability partners like that. 

Then in verses 21-22: The king said to Joab, “Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.”

Joab fell with his face to the ground to pay him honor, and he blessed the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that he has found favor in your eyes, my lord the king, because the king has granted his servant’s request.”

Another king might’ve said no, and then had Joab arrested for this deception. But King David knows Joab’s heart. He knows that Joab longs for him to be happy and to united with Absalom once again.

So Joab bows down and blesses the king.

In verses 23-27: Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.” So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king.

25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard.

27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.”

So Absalom is brought home. But King David also says that Absalom must not go into the kings court and see the king face to face.

We get mention of Absalom's beauty, and how he had a great deal of hair on his head. 200 hundred shekels, 5 lbs. of hair on his head. During this time 3 sons and a daughter are born to Absalom. So he starts having a family as well.

But Absalom wants to see his father.

In verses 28-30:  Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

Here we begin to see Absalom’s erratic behavior. First he stabbed his own brother, and now since Joab won’t come see him, he sets his field on fire. Clearly Absalom has some serious issues. He reacts with anger and it causes him to do terrible things.

Lastly, in verses 31-33: Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”

32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent word to you and said, ‘Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.”

33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.”

Absalom is finally able to get in to see the king. He bows down before him. He wants to see this thing resolved.

He bows down. King David kisses him. And all is well. For now.