David is convinced to seek reconciliation with his son Absalom.
2 Samuel 14:1-22
14 Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, ‘Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. 3 Then go to the king and speak these words to him.’ And Joab put the words in her mouth.
4 When the woman from Tekoa went to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honour, and she said, ‘Help me, Your Majesty!’
5 The king asked her, ‘What is troubling you?’
She said, ‘I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, “Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.” They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.’
8 The king said to the woman, ‘Go home, and I will issue an order on your behalf.’
9 But the woman from Tekoa said to him, ‘Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.’
10 The king replied, ‘If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.’
11 She said, ‘Then let the king invoke the Lord his God to prevent the avenger of blood from adding to the destruction, so that my son shall not be destroyed.’
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ he said, ‘not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.’
12 Then the woman said, ‘Let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.’
‘Speak,’ he replied.
13 The woman said, ‘Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.
15 ‘And now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, “I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant’s request. 16 Perhaps the king will agree to deliver his servant from the hand of the man who is trying to cut off both me and my son from God’s inheritance.”
17 ‘And now your servant says, “May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.”’
18 Then the king said to the woman, ‘Don’t keep from me the answer to what I am going to ask you.’
‘Let my lord the king speak,’ the woman said.
19 The king asked, ‘Isn’t the hand of Joab with you in all this?’
The woman answered, ‘As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything my lord the king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20 Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God – he knows everything that happens in the land.’
21 The king said to Joab, ‘Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.’
22 Joab fell with his face to the ground to pay him honour, and he blessed the king. Joab said, ‘Today your servant knows that he has found favour in your eyes, my lord the king, because the king has granted his servant’s request.’
This passage comes after the awful series of events that took place in chapter 13. David’s family has been split apart; his daughter Tamar is traumatised after her rape at the hands of her brother Amnon, Amnon is killed by another son Absalom, and Absalom has, as a result, fled to a distant land. I can’t imagine the grief that a father would experience from seeing his family break apart in such a way!
Joab, being David’s right hand man, would have seen the grief that David felt at the breaking apart of his family and Absalom’s departure. And so, we see Joab’s somewhat convoluted plot to convince David to take the initiative in seeking reconciliation with Absalom. The plot reminds me of the prophet Nathan’s rebuke of David just two chapters earlier in Chapter 12 – in that we see:
1) A fabricated story told to David
2) A request for a ruling or response from David
3) A revealing of David’s hypocrisy in his response (as his response to the hypothetical situation is different from how he is acting in his own life).
In this case, we see David offering protection to this woman’s son, who in this hypothetical situation had killed his brother (a reflection of the situation with Absalom and Amnon). David makes a promise to the woman that her remaining son would not be harmed and is then surprised when the woman turns the situation back on him in a rebuke. When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son?
David doesn’t take much convincing to put out the call for Absalom to return (verse 21). It is striking that even though Absalom killed Amnon, David’s heart still longs for Absalom to return (verse 1). Absalom did an awful thing, but this says something for the love of a parent for a child and points us toward the perfect love that God has for us, in longing for us to return to him even when we treat him like an enemy (Jesus’ story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 springs to mind). Ultimately, David’s effort to be reconciled with Absalom fails, as the following chapters will reveal. But we can be reminded from this chapter that God longs for his children to be reconciled to him. We can see this clearly in verse 14:
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.
It is truly incredible that we serve a God who longs to be reconciled with us, no matter how far we turn from him!
Head: What do you think of Joab’s plot to convince David to send for Absalom? Was it an action to be commended for being helpful, or condemned for being deceitful? Why do you think that?
Heart: Have you been truly reconciled to God by genuinely trusting in Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? Is there something in your life that is stopping you from doing so?
Hands: Who do you know in your life who is yet to be reconciled with God? What steps can you take this week to seek to share the gospel of Jesus and hope of reconciliation with them?
Father God, I am sorry for all the ways in which I have turned my back on you. Thank you that despite all my sinfulness, you have adopted me into your family, and that I can now call you Father. Please help me to bring every area of my life before you, that I may be fully reconciled to you through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Amen.
A song to listen to: What love my God
Living Church Creek Road