2 Sam 20.1-26 gives us the account of another rebellion led by Sheba (“oath”), a “worthless fellow” (“son of Belial”), the son of Bichri (“youthful”), a Benjaminite. He knew that David’s position at this time was weak and so he is going to try and exploit it. He blew a trumpet to gather people to himself and he said, “We have no portion in David (not even a tenth-2 Sam 19.43), nor do we have an inheritance in the son of Jesse (as if he is a private person and not the king); every man to his tents, O Israel!” Now, “every man to his tents” is an idiom relating back to their days in the wilderness meaning “break ranks and go home” (1 Kings 12.16; 2 Chr 10.6), or “do your own thing.” So the men of Israel (ten tribes) withdrew from following David and followed Sheba. Judah remained loyal to David and never left him, from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
In 2 Sam 20.3 we learn that David took his ten concubines and shut them up for the rest of their lives, but he took care of them. He did this for several reasons. First, he could not divorce them or punish them because they weren’t the ones who sinned. Secondly, he could could not have relations with them because they had been defiled by Absalom. It was as if they were widows.
Then David said to Amasa, his nephew and Joab’s cousin, “Call out the men of Judah for me within three days, and be present here yourself (to command the militia). They knew he was Absalom’s general, so it took longer than three days to get them together because he was not up to the job like Joab was.
Then David said to Abishai that Sheba is doing more harm than Absalom. He had little to say to Joab by this time. Without waiting for Amasa and the troops he was assembling, David tells him to take his warriors (David’s bodyguard) and pursue Sheba before he gets behind fortified walls and escapes. So, with Abishai at their head, he took Joab’s men, the Cherethites, Pelethites and all the Givorim (mighty men) and they went after Sheba.
They met at a rendezvous point called the “large stone in Gibeon” and Amasa arrived with the men he assembled. Joab was also there with his men and he was dressed in his military attire. As he went to meet Amasa, his sword fell out. When he saw Amasa he kissed him, but Amasa was not alert enough to see the sword in Joab’s hand, and Joab killed Amasa (like Judas in Matt 24.49).
Although he was pardoned by David, Amasa could not escape God’s judgment for joining the rebellion of Absalom. After that, the army followed Joab and he was ruthlessly devoted to David and a true leader. Then Joab went through all the tribes and found people who were loyal to David in his recruiting.
2 Sam 20.15-22 tells us about the end of Sheba’s revolt. Sheba was hiding in the city of Abel (“meadow”) and a siege began. A siege is a horrible tactic, especially for the people in the city. The attackers and those in the city do not want to have a siege take place. It is expensive, it takes time, destroys a city and the casualties can be very high. A woman who had some wisdom (chachmah) came out of the city and talked to Joab. She knew the Torah said that they should ask for peace in a siege first (Deut 20.10). She did not want to see a major city destroyed (“a mother in Israel”). This idiom is because there are usually many little towns around a major city that are seen as “children.”
Joab agreed saying that he did not want to do that either. He was only after a man who had rebelled against David, and he was only interested in Sheba. She said his head will be thrown to Joab over the wall, and she had the power to make this happen. She went back to talk with the people, and they took Sheba and cut off his head. When Joab saw this, he blew the trumpet and they dispersed the army from their siege plans of the city. Sheba thought he was safe within the walls of the city, but no one is safe when they run against the will of God. There isn’t a wall high enough to protect that person from the Lord.
Spiritually, we are like a city (Jer 1.18; Ecc 9.14). Our sin is like the rebellion of Sheba, who was considered a traitor against the will of God. Yehovah calls for the death of the traitor. If we love the traitor over our soul, we will die. If we “cut it off” we will live (Matt 5.30).
This ended the revolt of Sheba and Joab is now the head of the army. He gained it through vengeance and murder, but David allowed Joab to take control over the army anyway. David tried to replace him but he was very powerful and he had influence with the men. So, David started his reign over again and Benaiah continued to be over the bodyguard of David (2 Sam 8.18), and Adoram was over the tribute to be collected from his own people and those he conquered. Yehoshaphat was the recorder (clerk/historian) and Sheva was scribe (secretary). Zadok and Abiathar were the priests like before (High Priest and Sagan or “deputy” high priest).
Ira the Jairite was also a priest to David. He was a chief ruler, counselor and possibly the prime minister. He seems to have succeeded Ahitophel and he will be an intimate friend of David and would hear his most intimate thoughts. In this we see that David’s kingdom will not be built on David;s abilities alone, but he knew how to assemble capable people around him and delegated his authority to them. Spiritually, this teaches us that even though David was God’s anointed it didn’t mean he didn’t need other people who were talented, gifted and anointed to help him.
We will pick up here in Part 19.