Today’s reading was from 2 Samuel 20:15-22:
A little background may be necessary. Sheba has set himself up against David and is trying to establish himself as a rival king with the men of Israel. The men of Judah however remain faithful to David, and he despatches his military commander Joab to deal with this threat.
15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he answered.
She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”
The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
So how does this apply to us today? I couldn’t help but see an analogy here, with Sheba the rebel representing sin, and the city of Abel Beth Maakah representing our life. Though Sheba had rebelled against his king, (David in this case), the people of ABM were quite happy to have him make his home amongst them. They were willing to have a rebel in the camp.
It was only when judgment came (in the form of Joab, David’s assassin) that the people came to their senses, used the wisdom for which they had a reputation, and gave Sheba up.
How willing are we to allow sin to remain in the camp, to allow that which symbolizes rebellion against our king to dwell unchallenged in our life? In this story, only drastic action would do: the killing of Sheba. Are we willing to deal as drastically with our own rebellion and sin?
Colossians 3 uses much the same language of “putting to death”:
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
What do you need to put to death today? Whose head do you need to throw over the wall? Lust? Greed? Idolatry?
And how can you strengthen your walls or improve your guard so that such elements cannot gain entry again?