Last week, in LESSONS FROM DAVID'S
FALL, Part 13, we learned from the story of Joab's search for Sheba, the
newest threat to David's throne, that the best way to deal with our
less-than-ideal circumstances is to put on the armour of God and then
stand up in victory to face the schemes of the devil. But there is one
more important lesson to be learned from this story.
When Joab went after Sheba, he had one goal in mind: To subdue this enemy of David. And he knew what he was doing. After all, hadn't he subdued countless of David's enemies in the past, including the recent uprising of Absalom? Yes, Joab's methods were tried and true: He would single-mindedly pursue Sheba, sparing nothing until this usurper was brought down!
And this is where our story today picks up. Joab arrives at the city of Abel and immediately sets to work besieging it: "Then they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth Maachah; and they cast up a siege mound against the city, and it stood by the rampart. And all the people who were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down." (2 Sam 20:15 NKJV)
What about the innocent lives in Abel?
Not of consequence.
What about the fact that Abel was an ancient, respected city of Israel?
Fortunately for the innocent people of Abel, there was a wise woman within the walls: "Then a wise woman cried out from the city … 'Hear the words of your maidservant.'" (2 Sam 20:17a)
Now something like this had never happened to Joab before, and fortunately for the people of Abel, it took him enough by surprise that he momentarily stopped his work: "And he answered, 'I am listening.'" (2 Sam 20:17b)
This wise-and courageous!-woman then went on to speak: "They used to talk in former times, saying, 'They shall surely seek guidance at Abel,' and so they would end disputes. 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?" (2 Sam 20:18,19 NKJV)
Now Joab is so overwhelmed with her audacity that he begins to stammer: "Far be it, far be it from me …" (2 Sam 20:20 NKJV). And he must have felt a little under attack as well, for he goes on to deny her accusations: "far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not so!" (2 Sam 20:20b,21a)
Isn't it interesting that though Joab's troops are in the process of doing just exactly what the woman accuses him of, Joab denies it!
But then he must realize how crazy his denial sounds, so he goes on to justify his actions: "But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David." (2 Samuel 20:21)
Joab now has to do something quickly or he will lose face. So he tells her to do something he knows is impossible: "Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city." (2 Sam 20:21b)
Imagine his surprise when Sheba's head is thrown down from the wall!
You see, Joab thought he knew how to conquer this problem, and he never stopped to consider any other options.
And that's the lesson we can learn from Joab today: Going on our gut instinct isn't always the wisest thing to do!
So often we barge into problems, standing up to them with the same stance that has served us well in the past, and yes, often achieving our goals, without giving a thought to the hurt that our actions may bring about. But what if there were a better, easier way, one that would accomplish our purpose without bringing as much destruction and hurt?
That's where the Holy Spirit comes in, friends! He is the "wise woman" that Joab was so fortunate to have! He is our wise counsellor! If we will but learn to listen to His voice, our purpose can still be accomplished, and much damage can be avoided!
The day I read this this story in my Bible, a recent situation was brought to mind. My 16 year-old's grades had just come home. Now they were good grades, grades that would make most parents proud. But they weren't the grades I knew my son could pull.
So what did I do? Well, nothing, because he was away on a retreat for the weekend. But I did plenty in my mind. I rehearsed my first encounter with him once he was back home. I would sit him down, give him a sound lecture and ground him from all extracurricular activities, from his I-Pod, and from Facebook until he started pulling the kind of grades I know him to be capable of!
Fortunately for my son, I heard the voice of my Wise Counsellor. He reminded me that lectures and grounding don't work with this child. They just make him rebellious, and every time I adapt this method with him, a rent widens between us. Oh, the grades might improve with my method, but I would stand losing even more of the fragile connection that I have with this teen.
So what did I do when my son returned? I addressed the issue, yes. But in God's way, following God's advice. In the end, my purpose was accomplished, I did not destroy my son's self-esteem, and the relationship between us was strengthened.
Friends, the next time a problem arises in your life, don't just rush in hot-headedly. Take a moment and think and pray about how you will respond. Let God be your guide! Because when you do, you can be assured that not only will your purpose be accomplished, but you will also avoid unnecessary hurt and destruction!
Please join us next week for LESSONS FROM DAVID'S FALL, Part 15: The Census.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.
(To access the entire "Lessons From David's Fall" mini-series, please click here.)