September 20, 2023

God is faithful, and sin has consequences. God restores your heart!

2 Samuel 20–21

Kyle Sullivan
Wednesday's Devo

September 20, 2023

Wednesday's Devo

September 20, 2023

Big Idea

No one is immune to sin.  

Key Verse | 2 Samuel 20:19

"I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the LORD?"

2 Samuel 20–21

The Rebellion of Sheba

Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said,

“We have no portion in David,
and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
every man to his tents, O Israel!”

So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

And David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house and put them in a house under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.

Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.” So Amasa went to summon Judah, but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him. And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord's servants and pursue him, lest he get himself to fortified cities and escape from us.” 1 20:6 Hebrew and snatch away our eyes And there went out after him Joab's men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men. They went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier's garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out. And Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab's hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died.

Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 And one of Joab's young men took his stand by Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” 12 And Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped. And when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field and threw a garment over him. 13 When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

14 And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, 2 20:14 Compare 20:15; Hebrew and Beth-maacah and all the Bichrites 3 20:14 Hebrew Berites assembled and followed him in. 15 And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. 16 Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” 17 And he came near her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” 18 Then she said, “They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter. 19 I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the LORD?” 20 Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

23 Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites; 24 and Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; 25 and Sheva was secretary; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was also David's priest.

David Avenges the Gibeonites

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the LORD. And the LORD said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the LORD?” The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul's son Jonathan, because of the oath of the LORD that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab 4 21:8 Two Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the LORD, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.

10 Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens. And she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. 11 When David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. 13 And he brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged. 14 And they buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father. And they did all that the king commanded. And after that God responded to the plea for the land.

War with the Philistines

15 There was war again between the Philistines and Israel, and David went down together with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines. And David grew weary. 16 And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels 5 21:16 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams of bronze, and who was armed with a new sword, thought to kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, “You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”

18 After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. 19 And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. 6 21:19 Contrast 1 Chronicles 20:5, which may preserve the original reading 20 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. 21 And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David's brother, struck him down. 22 These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.


[1] 20:6 Hebrew and snatch away our eyes
[2] 20:14 Compare 20:15; Hebrew and Beth-maacah
[3] 20:14 Hebrew Berites
[4] 21:8 Two Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts Michal
[5] 21:16 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
[6] 21:19 Contrast 1 Chronicles 20:5, which may preserve the original reading

2 Samuel 21:12 - "Saul and Jonathan’s bones"

Listen Now

Dive Deeper | 2 Samuel 20–21

An unfortunate consequence of war, and ultimately sin, is that it rarely stops with us. It typically affects individuals and communities close to us. One of the hardest things in my life is to look back and see how my sin negatively affected not only me, but also the people I care about. Whether it's pride, selfishness, lust, etc., sin has a way of creating a ripple effect in relationships.

In 2 Samuel, we see poor leadership from King David that has affected Israel and created rivalries within his military. In chapter 20 we see a "wise woman" from Israel confronting Joab as he is about to destroy a city and its people in order to kill his enemy Sheba.

What can we observe about this woman? She describes herself as "peaceable and faithful" and tells Joab that she is his "servant." She seeks to preserve the "heritage of the LORD" (2 Samuel 20:16-19). Joab, on the other hand, has shown that, although he is a gifted warrior, his anger and wrath toward God's enemies are about to impact God's people.

This is a blueprint for conflict resolution! This woman is showing honor to God by boldly, yet humbly, asking Joab to listen to her. In the midst of warfare, she engages Joab with wisdom and persuasive speech.

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." And Proverbs 12:18 explains, "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

We all need gentle, wise people in our lives! I am grateful for people in my community who will faithfully speak up if I have the potential to dishonor God and create bad consequences for myself and those I love.

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." My prayer is that our lives will be described as "peaceable and faithful," like the woman who confronted Joab, whether we are waging war against evil or protecting people from the consequences of it.

This month's memory verse

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

– Matthew 5:16

Discussion Questions

1. How have you seen poor leadership negatively impact those intended to be served? How could you confront those in power as the wise woman did? (Galatians 6:1)

2. Is there any sin in your own life that has impacted your relationships? Have you been reconciled? (Matthew 5:24)

3. What can you learn from this story about engaging people to resolve conflict? (Proverbs 15:1)

4. Do the words peaceable and faithful describe your life? How can you live them out? (Galatians 5:22)

Respond to Today's Passage

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Hugh Stephenson

Good morning, Kyle! I love your observation of the truth that sin has huge ripple effects on those around us - and that sin in leadership just multiplies those effects. Q1. This is a tough question. I have no answer that satisfies me. As noted prior, I have worked inside of three large companies. Over those 39+ years I have had at least 17 CEOs and about the same number of direct bosses, (Managing Directors or MDs). With one exception out of all of them, it was made abundantly clear that feedback, speaking truth, confrontation of sin etc was not to be attempted. It would not have any impact. Q2. What sins? This is a HAHA question. The answer is ALL OF THEM. Being inwardly focused on myself nearly guarantees that I will make some very bad choices. And that they will impact my family and/or work team. Q3. Amazingly, the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that I must seek to know and own what is my part in the problem.

Hugh Stephenson

One of my earliest memories as a boy was of a severe admonishment given to me by my mother. She was a full hands-on parent and did not hesitate to “trample out the vineyard…” when the situation called for it. My younger sister had taken a small plastic bowl I was playing with and put it on as a hat. I was of, of course, wronged. I let my sister know it by pounding the bowl down on her head. My mother’s judgement and justice were swift. The anger problem didn’t go away. Fights were a regular feature of my young life. And then even into high school. When I felt wronged, I was going to make the person pay. Big time. Emotional maturity was slow in coming. Spiritual maturity was decades away. In business I judged all competitors as seeking to take was what rightfully mine. It gave me a drive that was way, way over the top. Then there was the long list of unhealthy ways to cope and decompress. It all came to a head early in Prodigal when Jay Burns was doing a talk on conflict resolution. He asked this question to all of us- “The purpose of conflict resolution is…”. I silently shouted…”WINNING”!!!! Then he threw the lightning bolt- “…glorifying God”. I felt like dog manure. The Holy Spirit’s conviction was immediate and bone-marrow deep. Literally, that moment became a pivot point to my understanding anger. The lesson made the further point that the only righteous anger is from God. All, or virtually all, human anger is sinful. It becomes about me and how I have been wronged. Not about what my part in the conflict is. Why do I say all this- Joab is my point of focus. To me, he has some real anger issues. His amazing gifts for military leadership are offset by a white-hot temper. Just ask Abner. It’s so bad that David removes him from leadership. Then Joab makes sure the position is quickly vacant again when he slays Amasa. What’s the lesson, the takeaway? Joab is in the midst of several chapters so God wants to make sure I understand that something in here is very important. For me, it’s the truth of the certainty of judgement. AND that only He is the judge, jury, and executioner. Joab and I may be, or we may not be. But we don’t take the role without ‘inquiring of the LORD” and having Him designate us. My faithfulness as His witness, (Acts 1:8), will be judged by God Himself. That’s very sobering. The redemption for me comes in understanding my unworthiness but also to know I am of infinite worth to Him. So much so that John 3:16 becomes a neon sign 100 feet tall. “For God so loved Hugh that…”.

Hugh Stephenson

Some great summary comments from the notes. The last major section of the Book of Samuel (2 Sam. 21—24) consists of six separate pericopes that together constitute a conclusion to the whole book (cf. Judg. 17—21). Each pericope emphasizes the theological message of the book and the major theological points the writer wanted his readers to learn (cf. Judg. 17—21).[456] They also seem to focus on the divine and human sides of leadership. These chapters reconstruct David's image, which chapters 11 through 19 deconstruct. The former section (chs. 9—20) focused on David's private life, whereas these last chapters focus on his public life. "... the final four chapters, far from being a clumsy appendix, offer a highly reflective, theological interpretation of David's whole career adumbrating the messianic hope." The two lists of David's mighty men (21:15-22 and 23:8-39) show God's remarkable blessing of David for his submission to Israel's Commander-In-Chief: Yahweh. David's small army accomplished amazing feats because God was with David. David's divine election, coupled with his customary trust and obedience Godward, resulted in many forms of fertility (military, political, and influential). The point of this brief section is that God blessed David with military victories far beyond anyone's normal expectations because he was God's faithful anointed servant. Yahweh brought blessing through him to Israel militarily as well as agriculturally (vv. 1-14). The first incident in the appendix (vv. 1-14) illustrates that breaking covenants reduces fertility, but this one (vv. 15-22) shows that God's favor results in supernatural victories. "If there is one thing 2 Samuel 21 reveals, it is the fact that God judges nations."

Michael Sisson

Re: 2Sam 21:2 2Sam 21:2 (NASB) So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and >>>the sons of Israel made a covenant with them<<<, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah). See Jos 9:15, 19 Re: 2Sam 21:6 2Sam 21:6 (NASB) let >>>seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the LORD<<< in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.” Perhaps illustrative of the principle in Judaism: The death of the innocent (righteous) atones for sin. However, the circumstances seem problematic (see below). Re: 2Sam 21:9 2Sam 21:9 (NASB) Then he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before the LORD, so that the >>>seven of them fell together<<<; and they were put to death >>>in the first days of harvest at the beginning of barley harvest.<<< “Saul's descendants may have been involved in the attack on the Gibeonites, since it was illegal to put children to death for their fathers' sins, under Mosaic Law (Dt 24:16).... “David could justly slay Saul's descendants if they had had a part in the execution of the Gibeonites (cf. Dt 24:16; 2Kings 14:6). This seems to have been the case (2Sam 21:1; c.f. Eze 18:4, 20).” — Dr. Thomas Constable The executions occurred roughly during Passover season. If execution was unjustly carried out, is this a case of the death of the righteous atoning? On the other hand, Yeshua’s (Jesus’) execution was both unjust and atoning.

Greg Jones

My friend Cynthia Shafer Elliot is Associate Professor of Hebrew/Old Testament at Baylor University. She is also a real life Archaeologist and works a portion of the dig at Tel Abel Beth Maacah. She hasn’t found Sheba’s head yet but said she would keep in mind some of the places I suggested to look… I really appreciate the kind of scholarship Cynthia brings to Bible study. Her research interests focus on the day to day living of ordinary people during the time we’re covering right now. What did they eat? How did they prepare it? What items did they keep in their houses? How were they influenced without advertisement and social media? I also appreciate how Cynthia can present a deep knowledge in this area, and a deep knowledge of Hebrew and Bible interpretation to ordinary people today.

Sue Bohlin

Thanks so much, Kyle, and also to Hugh for your powerful story about conviction by truth. And to Greg for your comments about Cynthia. We need more female perspectives in biblical studies and theology. LOVE that she is asking the kinds of real-life questions that never occur to most men (because they're asking different questions, like how was warfare fought). It was satisfying to come across this third story of a wise woman in the Samuel scroll--first Abigail, then the wise woman of Tekoa, and now the wise woman of Abel. So many people wrongly believe the Bible is anti-woman and misogynistic, but here's beautiful evidence of how wrong that is. In all three stories, there is not a shred of disrespect or minimizing the value of the women's pivotal role in creating space for peace in the midst of chaos and anger.

Amy Lowther

1, Poor leadership can negatively affect those intended to be served. Negative leadership can force people to extremes and force people to make unnecessary mistakes. Leadership that is poor shows they are not close to God because they typically act from “their own” opinions and ideas. To confront negative leadership in areas they need to improve, have peace before you interact with them and know that God is a leader for all of us. While interacting with the negative leadership, try to be positive and focus on strengths as God would. Encourage the negative leadership to understand and work on what they really can do. 2. Currently relationships are ok for me. 3. It is important to be responsible for your actions and ideas. It is important to work at resolving conflict if it exists. 4. I am faithful to obey God and to walk with Jesus. I can live faith out by studying God’s Word and applying His values in daily life. I can live peaceable by being humble, honest, and sincere in everything I do.

Michael Scaman

Some fallout from after David's son rebelled and the kingdome was in dissarray. Anothr rebellion rethinking whether they wanted the house of David in control. But God says 'my purposes will stand' in Isaiah and already promised David a forever dynaty. Disgruntled Sheeba was from Benjamin like Saul He blows his own horn and has his insurection and despite having a huge initial acceptance, he is motly in defensive ode and in retreat. His demise follows almost anticlimactic with his head flying over the wall from negotiations of a wise old lady. Sheba can mean seven, or an oak ( his father Bichri can mean firstfruits or promise. but maybe the disgruntlement is mainly because he's from Saul's tribe Benjamin) Sad that the Gibeonites were harmed by Saul after Joshua promised them safety for working for them as slaves to the temple. One of their jobs was carrying water and God shut off the water, perhaps fitting until it was dealt with. Shimei, David's brother didn't step up about Goliath.... his son, David's nephew did and slew his own giant. A prideufl prtentious name for the giant Ishbi-benob " My Dwelling Is At Nob, His Seat Is In The High Place" As proverbs says "pride goes before a fall and humility before honor."