Memory verses for this
week: Job 12:14 Behold, he breaketh
down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and
there can be no opening.
Overview of II Samuel 20:
More consequences of the civil war with Absalom continue. A
different Benjamite, Sheba, incited a new revolt. Meanwhile Joab
murders Amasa. Joab in turn suppresses the revolt of Sheba.
Political Situation For David Is Still Unsure
2 Sam 20:1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial,
whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he
blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have
we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O
2 Sam 20:2 So every man of Israel went up from after David, and
followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave
unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.
2 Sam 20:3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the
king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep
the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in
unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death,
living in widowhood.
In verse 1, it is noted that this Sheba is called a man of
Belial. Belial is essentially a name of the devil. It
referred to a wicked man. Though unstated, this Sheba may
have been a part of Absalom’s rebellion. As a Benjamite, he
may also have been still sore that David had removed the kingdom
from the house of Saul of that tribe.
He sounded a trumpet which was a public signal announcing that
as far as he was concerned, he
wanted nothing to do with the son of Jesse. The phrase “the
son of Jesse” likely was one of contempt not even giving David
the honor of mentioning his name. He urged all disgruntled with
David to desert to him.
Verse 2 indicates that David had not as yet arrived at
It would appear that many of the men who came to meet him as he
crossed Jordan were not enthusiastic. Those of diluted
loyalty turned away from him. The tribe of Judah showed their
loyalty to their king as he journeyed up from the Jordan River
valley to Jerusalem. When David had been forced to flee the
city, he had left ten of his concubines in charge of his
palace. Absalom had publicly defiled them and humiliated
them. David took care of them for the rest of their lives,
but he was not intimate with any of them.
J. Vernon McGee in his commentary pointed out how undependable
the children of Israel had become to King David.
It is amazing how
faithless and undependable the children of Israel were. Some
people might say, “Well, that was a crude day before man was
developed and civilized.” I would like to ask those people a
question. Do you think things are any better today? It is
interesting that the president of this country, or any public
official, can make some little statement that should not have
been said and, when a poll is taken, they find out that his
popularity has so diminished that he cannot be elected to office
again. This can happen to any officeholder regardless of his
party affiliation. That proves just how fickle the mob can be;
it shows how fickle all of us are. God knows our hearts.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Whose heart is this
verse speaking about? The heart of a brutal dictator? No. It is
speaking about your heart and mine. Wicked things are in the
human heart. The apostle Paul could say in Romans 7:18, “For I
know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:
for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is
good I find not.”
The ten tribes of
Israel followed Sheba in his rebellion.
2 Sam 20:4 Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of
Judah within three days, and be thou here present.
2 Sam 20:5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he
tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.
2 Sam 20:6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son
of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord's
servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities,
and escape us.
2 Sam 20:7 And there went out after him Joab's men, and the
Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and
they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of
Because Sheba’s revolt was already brewing, David ordered Amasa
to call up the men of Judah for action within three days.
For reasons not disclosed, Amasa was unable to do so in the
appointed time. Verse 6 finds David clearly worried
about the extent of Sheba’s revolt. He ordered Abishai, a
longstanding general (and nephew of his) to take the forces at
hand to deal with Sheba. Included in this quickly assembled
force were Joab’s men. (David had apparently removed Joab from
his position as chief of the general staff because of his
killing of Absalom).
Also David’s palace guard (the Cherethites and the Pelethites)
along with all other warriors available set out to pursue after
Sheba. David wanted to nip this rebellion in the bud before
Sheba could occupy a fortified city and thus have military
2 Sam 20:8 When they were at the great stone which is in
Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab's garment that he had
put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword
fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went
forth it fell out.
2 Sam 20:9 And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my
brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to
2 Sam 20:10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in
Joab's hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and
shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and
he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the
son of Bichri.
It is apparent that Joab, though demoted, was still in this
fighting force. Amasa was the one who led David’s forces.
Joab was wearing a loose garment girded with a belt. He
apparently was not dressed for battle, but went anyway when the
opportunity arose. He had evidently hastily fastened a sheath
upon this belt and stuck a sword in it. However, the sword was
too small for the sheath. It fell out when they were by the
large rock outcropping at Gibeon. Perhaps in sarcasm, perhaps
in feigned friendship, Joab grabbed Amasa by his beard to kiss
him. However, Amasa was naive to the murderous intent of Joab
who ran a sword under his ribs and killed him. Stabbing him in
that place evidently allowed the sword to pierce his heart. He
evidently then ripped the sword down in such a way as to cause
the intestines of Amasa to fall out. Having accomplished
murder born of jealousy and hatred,
Joab and Abishai his brother
pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
Matthew Henry said this about Amasa.
We have here
Amasa’s fall just as he began to rise. He was nephew to David (ch.
17:25), had been Absalom’s general and commander-in-chief of his
rebellious army, but, that being routed, he came over into
David’s interest, upon a promise that he should be general of
his forces instead of Joab. Sheba’s rebellion gives David an
occasion to fulfil his promise sooner than he could wish, but
Joab’s envy and emulation rendered its fulfillment of ill
consequence both to him and David.
I. Amasa has a
commission to raise forces for the suppressing of Sheba’s
rebellion, and is ordered to raise them with all possible
expedition, v. 4. It seems, the men of Judah, though forward to
attend the king’s triumphs, were backward enough to fight his
battles; else, when they were all in a body attending him to
Jerusalem, they might immediately have pursued Sheba, and have
crushed that cockatrice in the egg. But most love a loyalty, as
well as a religion, that is cheap and easy. Many boast of their
being akin to Christ that yet are very loth to venture for him.
Amasa is sent to assemble the men of Judah within three days;
but he finds them so backward and unready that he cannot do it
within the time appointed (v. 5), though the promotion of Amasa,
who had been their general under Absalom, was very obliging to
them, and a proof of the clemency of David’s government.
II. Upon Amasa’s
delay, Abishai, the brother of Joab, is ordered to take the
guards and standing forces, and with them to pursue Sheba (v. 6,
7), for nothing could be of more dangerous consequence than to
give him time. David gives these orders to Abishai, because he
resolves to mortify Joab, and degrade him, not so much, I doubt,
for the blood of Abner, which he had shed basely, as for the
blood of Absalom, which he had shed justly and honorably. "Now
(says bishop Hall) Joab smarteth for a loyal disobedience. How
slippery are the stations of earthly honours and subject to
continual mutability! Happy are those who are in favour with him
in whom there is no shadow of change.’’ Joab, without orders,
though in disgrace, goes along with his brother, knowing he
might be serviceable to the public, or perhaps now meditating
the removal of his rival
Sheba's Revolt is Suppressed
2 Sam 20:11 And one of Joab's men stood by him, and said, He
that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after
2 Sam 20:12 And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the
highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still,
he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a
cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him
2 Sam 20:13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the
people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of
2 Sam 20:14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto
Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were
gathered together, and went also after him.
2 Sam 20:15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of
Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it
stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab
battered the wall, to throw it down.
lieutenant of Joab announced for all loyal to Joab and David to
follow after Joab to the battle ahead.
As other soldiers headed north to fight Sheba, in coming upon
the body of Amasa, they stopped to gape. Joab’s lieutenant
dragged his body to the side and covered him with a cloth.
This removed the distraction.
In verse 14, we have the record on the ongoing pursuit of
Joab’s forces pursued Sheba northward through Israel all the way
to Bethmaachah. This is in the far north of Israel near the
city of Dan on the Lebanese border. It appears that a
community of Berites joined with Joab in pursuit of Sheba.
Joab’s men cornered Sheba and his forces in the city of
They laid siege to the city and made preparations to attack.
The mention of them casting a bank against the city likely
refers to building mounds adjacent to the walls thereof
to batter from and shoot arrows into the city.
2 Sam 20:16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear,
hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may
speak with thee.
2 Sam 20:17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said,
Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him,
Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.
2 Sam 20:18 Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in
old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so
they ended the matter.
2 Sam 20:19 I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in
Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel:
why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?
2 Sam 20:20 And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it
from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
2 Sam 20:21 The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim,
Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against
the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will
depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his
head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.
2 Sam 20:22 Then
the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut
off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab.
And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man
to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
A woman in the city interceded, wanting to know why their city
was about to be destroyed.
This elder state’s woman of the city (also known as Abel)
eloquently and diplomatically enquired why Joab was about to
destroy a city of Israel. Joab replied,
be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
Joab also informed her of Sheba’s revolt against King David and
if the city would deliver Sheba, they would be left alone.
And the woman said unto
Joab,”Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.”
Verse 22 shows that the woman had little trouble persuading the
men of the city to remove the head of Sheba which was
thrown over the wall to Joab. As promised, Joab signaled his
men to retreat. They packed up and returned to Jerusalem.
How he explained his murder of Amasa to David is not recorded.
2 Sam 20:23 Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and
Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over
2 Sam 20:24 And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat
the son of Ahilud was recorder:
2 Sam 20:25 And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were
2 Sam 20:26 And Ira
also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.
Note is made of the reorganized government of David. Though
David was king, his reign was weak at this point. He likely
deemed it wise to place Joab back as chief of his general
Although a loose cannon, Joab had proved loyal to David. Other
notables are mentioned such as Benaiah continuing in his
position as palace guard. Adoram became the head of the newly
created department of internal revenue. Jehoshaphat and Sheva
continued in their old positions as did Zadok and Abiathar as
priests. Ira the Jairite became what amounted to chief of
staff for David or possibly a type of prime minister. Although
battered, David was restored to his throne. The bitter harvest
of his sin years earlier had finally come to pass. David paid
a terrible price for his sin with Bathsheba. He of the flesh
reaped bitter corruption.
In the KJV Commentary, it said this about Joab.
Sheba did finally
enter into a walled city at Abel … Beth-maachah. This
city was located in the extreme northern part of Israel near
Dan. Here Joab attempted to batter down the wall.
During the siege a woman of wisdom bargained with Joab for the
preservation of the city. Joab spared the city for the head
of Sheba. Once Sheba had been killed, the siege was
called off; and the army went back to Jerusalem