DESTRUCTION WILL BE THE DESTINY OF THOSE WHO REBELLIOUSLY REJECT THE INHERITANCE OF THE LORD AND SEEK TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN DOMINION
A foolish man (as portrayed in the Book of Proverbs) is one who has lost his head. When confronted with life choices, the fool rejects the counsel of wisdom and the path of righteousness to strike out on his own course of self will and rebellion. His path and experiences may be varied, but his destiny is determined. Here we see one such fool Sheba who rejects the inheritance of the Lord and the rule of God’s anointed to try to establish his own dominion. In the end he loses his head. No surprise – but this sad scenario is played out time and again in the lives of so many.
I. (:1-3) FOOLISH REBELLION OF SHEBA
A. (:1) Trumpeting of Rebellion – Declaration of Independence by Sheba
“Now a worthless fellow happened to be there whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite; and he blew the trumpet and said, ‘We have no portion in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!’”
Mittelstaedt: His claim was that David’s heart and interest were solely with Judah. . . Sheba touted himself as a leader who would work for the good of all Israel. After all, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, the same family that had given Israel its first king.
B. (:2) Test of Loyalty — Division Between Israel and Judah
“So all the men of Israel withdrew from following David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah remained steadfast to their king, from the Jordan even to Jerusalem.”
C. (:3) Testimony of Shame — David’s Sad Return to Jerusalem
“Then David came to his house at Jerusalem, and the king took the ten women, the concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and placed them under guard and provided them with sustenance, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as widows.”
Blaikie: The only way of disposing of them was to put them in ward, to shut them up in confinement, to wear out the rest of their lives in a dreary, joyless widowhood. All joy and brightness was thus taken out of their lives, and personal freedom was denied them. They were doomed, for no fault of theirs, to the weary lot of captives, cursing the day, probably, when their beauty had brought them to the palace, and wishing that they could exchange lots with the humblest of their sisters that breathed the air of freedom.
Mittelstaedt: We find David’s treatment of these women to be harsh and uncaring. It is a reminder for us that our sins can affect so many others in so many different ways.
II. (:4-14) RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF SHEBA
A. (4-10) Joab Relieves Amasa of Command of the Troops
1. (:4-5) Amasa Fails to Deliver on Time
“Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Call out the men of Judah for me within three days, and be present here yourself.’ So Amasa went to call out the men of Judah, but he delayed longer than the set time which had appointed.”
Blaikie: Whether he found the people unwilling to go out again immediately to war, or whether they were unwilling to accept him as their general, we are not told, but certainly he tarried longer than the time appointed.
Wiersbe: The most logical explanation for Amasa’s delay was that the men didn’t trust him and were unwilling to follow him and risk their lives.
2. (:6-7) Abishai Charged With Same Mission = Hunt Down Sheba
“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 find for himself fortified cities and escape from our sight.’ So Joab’s men went out after him, along with the Cherethites and the Pelethites and all the mighty men; and they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.”
Gordon: David’s fear was that Sheba and his partisans would be able to entrench themselves in some of the fortified cities of Israel and so require a major effort to root them out, and cause us trouble.
3. (:8-10) Joab Slays Amasa to Regain Military Leadership
a. (:8) Sneaky Approach
“When they were at the large stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was dressed in his military attire, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened at his waist; and as he went forward, it fell out.”
Ryrie: Joab apparently contrived to let his sword fall out of its sheath so that as he picked it up, seemingly innocently, he could stab the unsuspecting Amasa.
b. (:9) Deceptive Pretense
“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.”
Ryrie: Taking hold of someone’s beard and kissing his cheek was a customary Oriental greeting.
c. (:10) Savage Butchery – Slow, Agonizing Death
“.But Amasa was not on guard against the sword which was in Joab’s hand so he struck him in the belly with it and poured out his inward parts on the ground, and did not strike him again; and he died”
Pink: We have also seen how that, at length, David made a determined effort to strip Joab of his power, by removing him from the head of the army. Accordingly Amasa was selected as the one to replace him. But the king’s design was thwarted, frustrated by one of the vilest deeds chronicled in the Scriptures. Under pretense of paying obeisance to the new general, Joab thrust him through with the sword. Such an atrocity staggers the thoughtful, making them to wonder why God suffers such outrages to be perpetrated. This is indeed one of the dark mysteries of divine providence—why the Lord permits such monsters of wickedness to walk the earth. Faith is assured that He must have some sufficient reason. Though often God giveth “no account of His matters” (Job 33:13), yet His Word does indicate, more or less clearly, the general principles which regulate His governmental dealings.
d. (:10b) Renewed Focus on the Mission at Hand
“Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri.”
B. (:11-14) Distraction of Amasa Set Aside So Pursuit Could Continue
1. (:11) Call to Rally Behind Joab’s Military Leadership
“Now there stood by him one of Joab’s young men, and said, ‘Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.’”
2. (:12) Shocking Sight of Slain Amasa – Distracting Spectacle
“But Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa from the highway into the field and threw a garment over him when he saw that everyone who came by him stood still.”
3. (:13) Renewing the Pursuit
“As soon as he was removed from the highway, all the men passed on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.”
4. (:14) Unifying the Troops
“Now he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel even to Bethmaacah and all the Berites; and they were gathered together and also went after him.
III. (:15-22) CALCULATED EXECUTION OF SHEBA SPARES THE CITY OF ABEL
A. (:15) Potential for Huge Collateral Damage — Siege Against City of Abel
“And they came and beseiged him in Abel Bethmaacah, and they cast up a mound against the city, and it stood by the rampart; and all the people who were with Joab were wreaking destruction in order to topple the wall.”
Ryrie: The purpose of the mound, was to help them reach the top part of the wall, break through, and gain entrance to the city.
B. (:16-21) Wise Intervention to Spare the City
1. (:16-17) Dialogue Established
“Then a wise woman called from the city, ‘Hear, hear! Please tell Joab, Come here that I may speak with you.’ So he approached here, and the woman said, ‘Are you Joab?’ And he answered, ‘I am.’ Then she said to him, ‘Listen to the words of your maidservant.’ And he answered, ‘I am listening.’”
2. (:18-19) Destruction Decried
“Then she spoke, saying, ‘Formerly they used to say, They will surely ask advice at Abel, and thus they ended the dispute. I am of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You are seeking to destroy a city even a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?’”
3. (:20-21) Diplomacy Prevails
“And Joab answered and said, ‘Far be it, far be it from me that I should swallow up or destroy! Such is not the case. But a man from the hill country of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand against King David. Only hand him over, and I will depart from the city.’ And the woman said to Joab, ‘Behold, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.’”
Apparently not many troops had accompanied Sheba to Abel. Anyway, once you cut off the head of the serpent you have destroyed it.
C. (:22) Mission Accomplished — Delivering the Head of Sheba to Joab
“Then the woman wisely came to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they were dispersed from the city, each to his tent. Joab also returned to the king at Jerusalem.
(:23-26) CONCLUSION – LEADERSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE RECONSTITUTED KINGDOM
A. (:23) Military Leadership
“Now Joab was over the whole army of Israel,”
“and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites;”
B. (:24a) Director of Public Works
“and Adoram was over the forced labor”
C. (:24b) Recorder
“and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder;”
D. (:25a) Scribe
“and Sheva was scribe”
E. (:25b-26) Priestly Leadership
1. Zadok and Abiathar
“and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; “
2. Ira = David’s Chaplain
“and Ira the Jairite was also a priest to David.”