2 Samuel 20:14-26 Reasoning Promotes Enduring Peace, Threats Postpone Conflicts

2 Samuel 20:14-26 Reasoning Promotes Enduring Peace, Threats Postpone Conflicts

14 Meanwhile, Sheba traveled through all the tribes of Israel and eventually came to the town of Abel-beth-maacah. All the members of his own clan, the Bicrites, assembled for battle and followed him into the town. 15 When Joab’s forces arrived, they attacked Abel-beth-maacah. They built a siege ramp against the town’s fortifications and began battering down the wall. 16 But a wise woman in the town called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you.” 17 As he approached, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” “I am,” he replied. So she said, “Listen carefully to your servant.” “I’m listening,” he said. 18 Then she continued, “There used to be a saying, ‘If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel. ’ 19 I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying an important town in Israel. Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord?”

20 And Joab replied, “Believe me, I don’t want to devour or destroy your town! 21 That’s not my purpose. All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand over this one man to me, I will leave the town in peace.” “All right,” the woman replied, “we will throw his head over the wall to you.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn and called his troops back from the attack. They all returned to their homes, and Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.

23 Now Joab was the commander of the army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard. 24 Adoniram was in charge of the labor force. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 25 Sheva was the court secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26 And Ira, a descendant of Jair, was David’s personal priest.


A city was saved by a meaningful dialogue. A seemingly unsolvable problem is resolved through careful listening and irreparable destruction put to a halt. Today’s passage teaches us to never let the heat of anger blind our sense of reason. While truth and empathy brings enduring peace, violence and threats only postpone conflicts to later generations.


Meanwhile, Sheba traveled through all the tribes of Israel – Sheba campaigns for his course while passing through all the towns of Israel and eventually reaching Abel of Beth-maacah the northernmost town of Israel. Sheba and members of his clan go into the town taking refuge in it. Joab and his troops finally reach Abel of Beth-maacah and attack it by battering down the wall.

If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel – A wise woman emerges, calling for Joab’s attention, she suggests a way of dealing with the crisis through reasoning and dialogue; the use of force and destruction is wrong and counter productive: Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord? It seems that the people of the town are not aware that a rebel has taken refuge in it.

We will throw his head over the wall to you – Having heard what Joab wants, the woman proceeds to rally the people of the town towards a solution. They cut off the head of Sheba and threw it over the wall to Joab. The rebel leader is killed, the crisis is resolved, Joab returns to the king and the people to their homes.


It takes active listening and reasoning to solve problems.

Many people could not bring themselves to the state of calm in the face of conflicts. They often insist that their rights are disrespected and their perception of things is misunderstood. Hence, such people are always caught in the heat of anger, accustomed to vulgarities and violence. Their custom: it is my way or no way. If not for the two people who are willing to listen to each other and reason things out, the town of Abel-beth-maacah may not have survived. The first step to resolving conflicts is to actively listen to the concerns of another. In active listening, we suspend our own agenda in preference for the other. The wise woman called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab…” And Joab said, “I am listening…” In the process of active listening, the wise woman realizes Joab’s goal is to take Sheba, the rebel leader, but not to destroy the city. After a meaningful dialogue, they come to a solution – the residence will hand over Sheba’s head, while the people get to keep their town intact. If people would care to listen to one another and empathize with another’s concerns, there will be less conflict and destruction within the community.

Truth and empathy brings peace to their descendants, violence postpones conflicts to later generations.

We must never attempt to use physical force and threats to solve problems, for it only leads to greater chasm and hatred in the later generations. If the town of Abel-beth-maacah is destroyed in the process of rooting out the rebel, sentiments of injustice and bitterness will fester in the generations to come. In families accustomed to violence, their descendants become children of wrath who are constantly at odds with others. However, when people learn to submit to the truth, there will be enduring peace in their descendants. Therefore, we must never use threats or power to coerce others to accede to your demands, but to empathise and seek to become a blessing to others. Show by your exemplary lifestyle of truth and grace and you will win them over.


Are you accustomed to accusing and putting others down when problems arise? Perhaps, you should change your custom in conflict resolution by mutual empathy and by reasoning according to the truth. Much accusing and threatening overwhelms the faculty of reason that could bring resolution to the impasse.

Dear Lord, take away my tendencies to anger and give me a calm spirit of empathy and reason. Help me understand your truth and by not insisting on my right and personal benefit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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