Sheba lost his head – literally – in choosing to rebel against God’s anointed leader David. A wise woman saved her city by having the courage to speak to Joab and find out what it would take to stop his troops’ attack. A wise Joab listened and thereby eliminated a lot of needless bloodshed.
We move into Chapter 21 with a brand new problem for David. “There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it” (II Samuel 21:1a).
David knew that sometimes things just happened. But when the famine continued into the third year, he began to think that perhaps there was a spiritual reason for it. And he was right.
“The Lord said, ‘The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites’” (II Samuel 21:1b).
What was that about? If we look back at the book of Joshua, we see that, after the death of Moses, the Lord appointed Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land. After they defeated the people of Jericho and Ai, fear of the people of Israel spread throughout the land.
“When the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, ‘We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us’” (Joshua 9:3-6).
“The Israelites replied to these Hivites, ‘How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you’” (Joshua 9:7).
“So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. Then Joshua made a peace treaty with them and guaranteed their safety, and the leaders of the community ratified their agreement with a binding oath” (Joshua 9:14-15).
If you look back at the Israelites’ first confrontation with the people of Ai, you’ll see that Ai soundly defeated them. Why? Because after Israel defeated Jericho, they “violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord” (Joshua 7:1). This crime was committed by a man named Achan, but his sin affected the whole community. Once Achan was dealt with, God blessed them with victory over Ai.
But clearly, the Israelites still had more to learn. Against God’s instructions, they made an agreement with a local people, the Hivites or Gibeonites. How did this happen? “They did not consult the Lord.”
Folks, you can’t make decisions and ask the Lord to bless them after the fact. Life has enough unavoidable problems without adding unnecessary difficulties. The Israelites, you would think, would have realized that by now. But like the rest of us, they sometimes had very short memories that caused them to have to relearn some very hard lessons.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you” (James 1:5a).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates