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      2 Samuel - Chapter 14 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Joab knew that David couldn't stop thinking about Absalom,
    2. and he sent someone to bring in the wise woman who lived in Tekoa. Joab told her, "Put on funeral clothes and don't use any makeup. Go to the king and pretend you have spent a long time mourning the death of a loved one." Then he told her what to say.
    3. (SEE 14:2)
    4. The woman from Tekoa went to David. She bowed very low and said, "Your Majesty, please help me!"
    5. David asked, "What's the matter?" She replied: My husband is dead, and I'm a widow.
    6. I had two sons, but they got into a fight out in a field where there was no one to pull them apart, and one of them killed the other.
    7. Now all of my relatives have come to me and said, "Hand over your son! We're going to put him to death for killing his brother." But what they really want is to get rid of him, so they can take over our land. Please don't let them put out my only flame of hope! There won't be anyone left on this earth to carry on my husband's name.
    8. "Go on home," David told her. "I'll take care of this matter for you."
    9. The woman said, "I hope your decision doesn't cause any problems for you. But if it does, you can blame me."
    10. He said, "If anyone gives you any trouble, bring them to me, and it won't happen again!"
    11. "Please," she replied, "swear by the LORD your God that no one will be allowed to kill my son!" He said, "I swear by the living LORD that no one will touch even a hair on his head!"
    12. Then she asked, "Your Majesty, may I say something?" "Yes," he answered.
    13. The woman said: Haven't you been hurting God's people? Your own son had to leave the country. And when you judged in my favor, it was the same as admitting that you should have let him come back.
    14. We each must die and disappear like water poured out on the ground. But God doesn't take our lives. Instead, he figures out ways of bringing us back when we run away.
    15. Your Majesty, I came here to tell you about my problem, because I was afraid of what someone might do to me. I decided to come to you, because I thought you could help.
    16. In fact, I knew that you would listen and save my son and me from those who want to take the land that God gave us.
    17. I can rest easy now that you have given your decision. You know the difference between right and wrong just like an angel of God, and I pray that the LORD your God will be with you.
    18. Then David said to the woman, "Now I'm going to ask you a question, and don't try to hide the truth!" The woman replied, "Please go ahead, Your Majesty."
    19. David asked, "Did Joab put you up to this?" The woman answered, "Your Majesty, I swear by your life that no one can hide the truth from you. Yes, Joab did tell me what to say,
    20. but only to show you the other side of this problem. You must be as wise as the angel of God to know everything that goes on in this country."
    21. David turned to Joab and said, "It seems that I have already given my decision. Go and bring Absalom back."
    22. Joab bowed very low and said, "Your Majesty, I thank you for giving your permission. It shows that you approve of me."
    23. Joab went to Geshur to get Absalom. But when they came back to Jerusalem,
    24. David told Joab, "I don't want to see my son Absalom. Tell him to stay away from me." So Absalom went to his own house without seeing his father.
    25. No one in all Israel was as handsome and well-built as Absalom.
    26. He got his hair cut once a year, and when the hair was weighed, it came to about five pounds.
    27. Absalom had three sons. He also had a daughter named Tamar, who grew up to be very beautiful.
    28. Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing his father.
    29. He wanted Joab to talk to David for him. So one day he sent a message asking Joab to come over, but Joab refused. Absalom sent another message, but Joab still refused.
    30. Finally, Absalom told his servants, "Joab's barley field is right next to mine. Go set it on fire!" And they did.
    31. Joab went to Absalom's house and demanded, "Why did your servants set my field on fire?"
    32. Absalom answered, "You didn't pay any attention when I sent for you. I want you to ask my father why he told me to come back from Geshur. I was better off there. I want to see my father now! If I'm guilty, let him kill me."
    33. Joab went to David and told him what Absalom had said. David sent for Absalom, and Absalom came. He bowed very low, and David leaned over and kissed him.
Reflections

2 Samuel - Chapter 14

Entered: February 05, 2008
Understandably, David's mind was on Absalom. His son was a murderer and in self-imposed exile. This exile was probably the best solution for in Israel David would need to address the crime and likely to execute his son. But Joab got involved. What his motives were are not clear. Maybe it was to remedy the king's distractedness. But the king being distracted was rather insignificant in comparison to the problems raised by bringing Absalom back home which was Joab's remedy for David's distraction. To bring about this solution Joab sent for a 'clever' woman who lived in Tekoa. He told her what to say and sent her in to the king pretending to be a widow in mourning for her sons. As her tale went, her husband was dead and now one son had killed the other and the people wanted to take the life of the remaining son for the sake of justice, leaving her without an heir to carry on her husband's name. David told her to go home and he would issue a decree on her behalf and promised to take care of anyone who gave her trouble. Having responded to the woman's supposed plight in this manner, the woman then told the king he was guilty of similar action by banishing one son over the death of another. Then she did what we all are too prone to do - suppose that she knew the mind of God. We don't know how to balance God's love against His justice therefore we suppose He will not impose harsh justice since His love is so great. But this leaves the question, what is love without justice? Though we may not understand it or be able to reconcile in our own minds the taking of one life for the sake of justice in response to the taking of another life, we see God doing this repeatedly throughout scripture. Though it may seem abhorrent to us, is it good practice to find explanations that bring God around to our way of thinking rather than to simply accept what is obvious in scripture is God's way of thinking, though we don't understand it? Must we understand what God does before we can accept it? If so, where is faith? If so, aren't we bringing God to our level rather than us being brought up to His level? So the woman claimed that God would not do as David was doing in banishing his own son over the murder of the other. She claimed that out of love for the living son he would devise a plan to bring him out of that banishment. David saw through the act, though, and asked her if Joab had put her up to coming to him like this. She confessed that this was the case. David granted Joab's request to bring back Absalom to his home. However, David forbid Absalom to see his face. So Absalom returned to his house but did not see the king. In affect, he remained in banishment from the king. It makes one wonder why David even had him brought back to Israel. After two years of living like this, Absalom sent for Joab to come to him, but Joab refused. So Absalom instructed his servants to burn Joab's field of barley which was next to Absalom's. This brought Joab to see Absalom. Then Absalom told him he wanted him to go to the king to ask, "Why have I come back from Geshur? I'd be better off if I were still there. So now, let me see the king. If I am guilty, let him kill me." So Joab did as Absalom asked and went to the king. David consented and had Absalom come to him. Absalom bowed before David and David kissed him.

Entered: July 09, 2013

Many dynamics lie beneath the surface in this account unknown to the reader and therefore complicating our understanding of why certain choices were made. It is obvious that David cared greatly for his son Absalom so his refusal to offer him clemency for his murder of his half brother Amnon did not come from dislike of Absalom. Why, then, could David so easily grant clemency to the widow's son who had murdered his brother but not grant it for his own son? We wonder also at Joab's motivation in plotting for Absalom's return. Was it out of loyalty and genuine concern for David, knowing of his concern for his son?  Or might he have had an eye for personal gain in some way? Since Absalom was the natural heir to the throne, might Joab have been attempting to endear himself to both David and Absalom?

These are questions for which we have no clear answers. What we do know is that Joab engaged the services of a "clever woman" from Tekoa to enact a scheme he had devised. She was to spin a tale of two sons who got into a fight which resulted in one son killing the other. With her husband dead this remaining son was the only one to carry on his father's name and her only means of support. Her family avenger of blood insisted on killing the remaining son and she wanted David to grant him clemency so she would not lose her only son. Her story, however, was only a fantasy created to trap the king. Once David granted clemency to the imaginary son she had him. She then confronted him as to why he would not extend similar mercy to his own son. David was wise enough to recognize Joab as the person behind the woman's scheme. She admitted as much and David called for Joab and consented to have him go and bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

Again, we do not know David's motives. Why did he offer clemency for Absalom to return home while still refusing him access to himself? We don't know. But we do know that David initiated a series of bad decision starting with the decision to have the affair with Bathsheba and kill her husband. Each succeeding decision in this series was influenced more by this initial bad decision than by God's guidance. Thus he did not act wisely when dealing with Amnon's rape of Tamar which further complicated the situation in dealing appropriately with Absalom. 

Bringing Absalom back from  Geshur to live in Jerusalem was not a solution but merely a temporary calm before a much greater storm to come.