David was still on his return route to Jerusalem: “All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel escorted the king on his way” (II Samuel 19::40b, NLT). “All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel.” Seems like such a simple statement, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. Why?
“All the men of Israel complained to the king, ‘The men of Judah stole the king and didn’t give us the honor of helping take you, your household, and all your men across the Jordan’” (II Samuel 19:41).
“The men of Judah replied, ‘The king is one of our own kinsmen!’” (II Samuel 19:42a).
“‘But there are ten tribes in Israel,’ the others replied. ‘So we have ten times as much right to the king as you do. What right do you have to treat us with such contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing him back to be our king again?’ The argument continued back and forth, and the men of Judah spoke even more harshly than the men of Israel” (II Samuel 19:43).
From the cradle onward, humans vie for power. A pair of toddlers wrestle for a toy. Two teenage boys get into a fistfight over a girl. Two business owners compete for customers. On and on it goes. Judah was strutting proudly as their entire army escorted the king. Israel, on the other hand, was angry because only half their troops got to participate. Their dispute wasn’t about the king’s honor; it was a competition between Judah and Israel over which of them got the most glory.
David had even more to deal with: “There happened to be a troublemaker there named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Sheba blew a ram’s horn and began to chant: ‘Down with the dynasty of David! We have no interest in the son of Jesse. Come on, you men of Israel, back to your homes!’” (II Samuel 20:1).
Seems there’s always “a troublemaker,” isn’t there? Sheba was a slick talker, too. Note his three statements:
(1) “Down with the dynasty of David!” This is strictly my opinion, but I believe Sheba spat out “dynasty” like a curse. Instead of confessing God’s anointing on David as the leader of the people of Israel, Sheba made him sound more like a self-appointed dictator.
(2) “We have no interest in the son of Jesse.” Sheba wanted to remind everyone of David’s lowly beginnings. He wasn’t of royal blood – he was a sheep herder’s son and unworthy of being their king.
(3) “Back to your homes!” Sheba was walking away from David, both politically and physically and was encouraging and even challenging the other men to do likewise.
“So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bicri" (II Samuel 20:2a).
Note how quickly Sheba was able to draw the men of Israel away from David. Folks, a slick talker is like a Roman candle: momentarily exciting but quick to fizzle. The men of Israel didn’t take time to think through their decision; they allowed themselves to be swept up in the fervor of the moment.
Be careful who and what you listen to. Always do your own research. Don’t take the word of another, especially on anything that can have eternal consequences.
“He is wise who knows the sources of knowledge – who knows who has written and where it is to be found.” (A. A. Hodge)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates