2 Samuel 20

1 There happened to be there a base fellow, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite; and he blew the trumpet, and said, “We have no portion in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tents, Israel!” 2 So all the men of Israel went up from following David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah joined with their king, from the Jordan even to Jerusalem. 3 David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in custody, and provided them with sustenance, but didn’t go in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood. 4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Call me the men of Judah together within three days, and be here present.” 5 So Amasa went to call the men of Judah together; but he stayed longer than the set time which he had appointed him. 6 David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get himself fortified cities, and escape out of our sight.” 7 Joab’s men went out after him, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men; and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. 8 When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was clothed in his apparel of war that he had put on, and on it was a sash with a sword fastened on his waist in its sheath; and as he went along it fell out. 9 Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So he struck him with it in the body, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and didn’t strike him again; and he died. Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 One of Joab’s young men stood by him, and said, “He who favours Joab, and he who is for David, let him follow Joab!” 12 Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. When the man saw that all the people stood still, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a garment over him, when he saw that everyone who came by him stood still. 13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. 14 He went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel, and to Beth Maacah, and all the Berites. They were gathered together, and went also after him. 15 They came and besieged him in Abel of Beth Maacah, and they cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart; and all the people who were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down. 16 Then a wise woman cried out of the city, “Hear, hear! Please say to Joab, ‘Come near here, that I may speak with you.’” 17 He came near to her; and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Hear the words of your servant.” He answered, “I’m listening.” 18 Then she spoke, saying, “They used to say in old times, ‘They shall surely ask counsel at Abel;’ and so they settled a matter. 19 I am amongst those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the LORD’s inheritance?” 20 Joab answered, “Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy. 21 The matter is not so. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand against the king, even against David. Just deliver him, and I will depart from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. They cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. He blew the trumpet, and they were dispersed from the city, every man to his tent. Then Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king. 23 Now Joab was over all the army of Israel, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites, 24 Adoram was over the men subject to forced labor, Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder, 25 Sheva was scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar were priests, 26 and Ira the Jairite was chief minister to David.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–3

One trial arises after another for our good, till we reach the place where sin and sorrow are for ever done away. Angry disputers misunderstand or misconstrue one another’s words; proud men will have every thing their own way, or wholly refuse their assistance. The favour of the many is not to be depended upon; and what have others to expect, when Hosanna to the Son of David was soon changed to Crucify him, crucify him?

Verses 4–13

Joab barbarously murdered Amasa. The more plot there is in a sin, the worse it is. Joab contentedly sacrificed the interest both of the king and the kingdom to his personal revenge. But one would wonder with what face a murderer could pursue a traitor; and how, under such a load of guilt, he had courage to enter upon danger: his conscience was seared.

Verses 14–22

Justly is that place attacked, which dares to harbour a traitor; nor will the heart fare better which indulges rebellious lusts, that will not have Christ to reign over them. A discreet woman, by her prudent management, satisfied Joab, and yet saved the city. Wisdom is not confined to rank or sex; it consists not in deep knowledge; but in understanding how to act as matters arise, that troubles may be turned away and benefits secured. A great deal of mischief would be prevented, if contending parties would understand one another. Let both sides be undeceived. The single condition of peace is, the surrender of the traitor. It is so in God’s dealing with the soul, when besieged by conviction and distress; sin is the traitor; the beloved lust is the rebel: part with that, cast away the transgression, and all shall be well. There is no peace on any other terms.

Verses 23–26

Here is the state of David’s court, after his restoration. It is well when able men are appointed to discharge public duties; let all seek to perform those duties, as faithful servants to the Son of David.

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