2 Samuel 14:1-24
14 Joab, the son of Zeruiah, knew that the king longed to see Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to have a wise woman brought back from there. Joab said to her, “Pretend you are filled with sadness. Put on the rough clothing people wear when they’re sad. Don’t use any makeup. Act like a woman who has spent many days mourning for someone who has died. 3 Then go to the king. Give him the message I’m about to give you.” And Joab told her what to say. 4 The woman from Tekoa went to the king. She bowed down with her face toward the ground. She did it to show him respect. She said, “Your Majesty, please help me!” 5 The king asked her, “What’s bothering you?” She said, “I’m a widow. My husband is dead. 6 I had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in a field. No one was there to separate them. One of my sons struck down the other one and killed him. 7 Now my whole family group has risen up against me. They say, ‘Hand over the one who struck down his brother. Then we can put him to death for killing his brother. That will also get rid of the one who will receive the family property.’ They want to kill the only living son I have left, just as someone would put out a burning coal. That would leave my husband without any son on the face of the earth to carry on the family name.” 8 The king said to the woman, “Go home. I’ll give an order to make sure you are taken care of.” 9 But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “You are my king and master. Please pardon me and my family. You and your royal family won’t be guilty of doing anything wrong.” 10 The king replied, “If people give you any trouble, bring them to me. They won’t bother you again.” 11 She said, “Please pray to the Lord your God. Pray that he will keep our nearest male relative from killing my other son. Then my son won’t be destroyed.” “You can be sure that the Lord lives,” the king said. “And you can be just as sure that not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.” 12 Then the woman said, “King David, please let me say something else to you.” “Go ahead,” he replied. 13 The woman said, “You are the king. So why have you done something that brings so much harm on God’s people? When you do that, you hand down a sentence against yourself. You won’t let the son you drove away come back. 14 All of us must die. We are like water spilled on the ground. It can’t be put back into the jar. But that is not what God desires. Instead, he finds a way to bring back anyone who was driven away from him. 15 “King David, I’ve come here to say this to you now. I’ve done it because people have made me afraid. I thought, ‘I’ll go and speak to the king. Perhaps he’ll do what I’m asking. 16 A man is trying to separate me and my son from the property God gave us. Perhaps the king will agree to save me from that man.’ 17 “So now I’m saying, ‘May what you have told me prevent that man from doing what he wants. You are like an angel of God. You know what is good and what is evil. May the Lord your God be with you.’ ” 18 Then the king said to the woman, “I’m going to ask you a question. I want you to tell me the truth.” “Please ask me anything you want to,” the woman said. 19 The king asked, “Joab told you to say all of this, didn’t he?” The woman answered, “What you have told me is exactly right. And that’s just as sure as you are alive. It’s true that Joab directed me to do this. He told me everything he wanted me to say. 20 He did it to change the way things now are. You are as wise as an angel of God. You know everything that happens in the land.” 21 Later the king said to Joab, “All right. I’ll do what you want. Go. Bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground. He did it to honor the king. And he asked God to bless the king. He said, “You are my king and master. Today I know that you are pleased with me. You have given me what I asked for.” 23 Then Joab went to Geshur. He brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “He must go to his own house. I don’t want him to come and see me.” So Absalom went to his own house. He didn’t go to see the king.
This story presents another dramatic episode in David’s tumultuous life. A royal saga that continues with Joab’s plan to restore the banished Absalom to the King’s court.
The key part that ‘jumps out’ to me is 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.”
The first half is a bit philosophical – downbeat, like a excerpt from Ecclesiastes. But the second half breaks through to us like Jesus: God is active to reverse the banishment of humankind. We do well to know this deep in our hearts, like a mantra (‘God wants me back, God wants me back, God wants me back’). I am reminded also to live it as an evangelical proclamation (‘God wants you back, God wants you back, God wants you back’).
Jesus, I want this idea pushed deeply into my spirit – you want everyone, you want me – returned from the banishment of sin. Thank you that you made a way, thank you that you enlist us to lead people to that way. By your gracious love we can come to your kingly court. We love you Lord, Amen.
Written by Sam Stewart