2 Samuel Chapter 14

Absalom, was the son of David, who had killed his brother out of revenge. He had fled to Geshur, where he had family from his Mother’s side. David wanted to see his son, in fact the last verse of chapter 13, said that his soul longed to go to him. Joab, who led the king’s army and happened to be his nephew, was a faithful servant to David. This chapter tells the story of what Joab did to help the king.

1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was toward Absalom.
2 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:
3 And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.

Joab made a plan for a wise woman to go to king David disguised as a woman who mourned for a long time. He told her the words to speak to David.

4 And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.
5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.
7 And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.
8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.
9 And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father’s house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.
10 And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.
11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the Lord thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
12 Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
13 And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.
14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.
15 Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.
16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.
17 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the Lord thy God will be with thee.
18 Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.
19 And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:
20 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.

The woman pleaded for help from David. She told David a story about her problem. She said that she was a widow with two sons. Her sons had been together in a field and one killed the other. She said that her family was all against her at this time, because they wanted her to deliver up the son who had killed his brother, so that they could kill him for his crime. If they did this, they would take away the heir of her family, leaving her alone and she would be left with nothing. In the law of Moses, it was known that the family of one who had been killed by another, where allowed to seek revenge out of justice. The family would not have been in trouble for doing so according to the law. However, David told her to return to her home and he would take charge of her. She told him that the problem was for her and her family, but that the king was not responsible. David told her that anyone who spoke against her, could be sent to the king and she would be protected. She reminded the king that he would not allow anyone to kill her son by revenge, as she said her family planned to do. David promised that no one would be allowed to harm her son. The woman asked to speak further with the king and he allowed her. Then, she said, what she had really come to say. She said that the king himself did this thing, by not allowing his own banished son to return home. Everyone will die and no one is different in the eyes of God. But God works to bring home those that are banished from Him, because he is a merciful God. If the king was willing to hear her story and help her, she suggested that she reveal herself and the Lord would be with David in deciding what to do. David told her to reveal herself to him. He asked her if Joab had arranged this. She admitted that this was true and that David had been wise.

21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.
23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face.

David recognized what he had done and told Joab to bring Absalom to him. Joab thanked David for it, honoring him with a blessing, and went to bring Absalom from Geshur. He told Joab to have Absalom go back to his home and not to come to the king at this point. According to the chapter header, this was about three years since he had left Jerusalem.

25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight.
27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.

Absalom was described as a man of great beauty, without blemish, and long and heavy hair. He had three sons, and a beautiful daughter named Tamar. In returning, he would have been able to go back to his family again.

28 So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face.
29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.
30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?
32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.
33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.

For two years, Absalom lived in Jerusalem, without seeing his father’s face. Absalom asked Joab to go to the king for him, but he would not do it. He asked again and was denied again. Absalom had his servants set Joab’s field on fire, in order to get his attention. Joab came to him and asked him why he had done this thing. Absalom said that he wanted Joab to go to the king and ask him why he had brought him from Geshur. He could have stayed there and it would have been good, as he was safe from harm there, but now he wanted to see the face of his father, the king. If the king felt there was any iniquity in Absalom, he could have him killed, according to the law. Joab went to the king and told him this, and Absalom was called for by David. He came to the king and bowed to the ground before him. David kissed his son to show that he was reconciled to him.

It could not have been easy for David to handle these situations within his own family. As the king, he would have had so much to do and think about for his people. Adding the difficulty that must have existed knowing Amnon had taken advantage of his daughter, would have been hard enough for any loving father. Then, having Amnon, his first born son, killed out of revenge for it, must have been heartbreaking. Finally, Absalom had fled to another land and was no longer in Jerusalem with the rest of his family. David’s heart must have been aching and struggling to know how to grieve, comfort, and forgive, while still remaining a strong and able king for Israel. Joab was kind to risk his standing with David, to show him that he needed to forgive and bring his son back into his life in order to have peace come to his heart. Sometimes, in order to give greater help to those we love, we have to take risks, or make decisions, that may hurt them. Sometimes these decisions might hurt us as well, but it is true charity, to care for the welfare of another soul in doing so. Though it is not exactly related, I can’t help but think of the example of the Savior. He made the decision to follow through with the atonement and crucifixion. He chose to hurt His closest friends by leaving them and allowing them to go on without Him, and then made the decision to suffer the greatest a man would ever suffer, with the intent to bring an infinitely greater help to those who knew Him in His life, as well as to all mankind. This was pure love. This was charity.

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