2 Samuel 14:4
When the woman from Tekoa went to the king, she fell facedown in homage and said, "Help me, O king!"
The Woman of TekoahB. Dale 2 Samuel 14:1-20

2 Samuel 14:1-20. - (JERUSALEM.)

1. In David "the king" we hero see that fatherly affection may come into conflict with regal justice. He must have perceived the ill effects of sparing Amnon, and felt constrained to punish Absalom. But his grief and resentment were mitigated by the lapse of time (2 Samuel 13:39). Nevertheless, though prompted by natural affection to recall his son, he was deterred from doing so by political and judicial considerations. And to overcome his reluctance a stratagem was devised, which, as the sequel shows, was only too successful. For by his weakness towards Absalom "he became guilty of the further dissolution of the theocratic rule in his house and in his kingdom" (Erdmann).

2. In Joab "the son of Zerniah" (2 Samuel 3:39) we see that a man may promote another's interest out of regard for his own (2 Samuel 3:22-30; 2 Samuel 11:16-21). "He may have been induced to take these steps by his personal attachment to Absalom, but the principal reason no doubt was that Absalom had the best prospect of succeeding to the throne, and Joab thought this the best way to secure himself from punishment for the murder which he had committed. But the issue of events frustrated all such hopes. Absalom did not succeed to the throne, Joab did not escape punishment, and David was severely chastised for his weakness and injustice" (Keil). "Joab formed a project by which the king, in his very capacity of chief judge, should find the glimmering fire of parental love suddenly fanned into a burning flame" (Ewald).

3. In the "wise woman" of Tekoah we see that skilful persuasion may so work upon natural feeling as to induce a course which is neither expedient nor just. The cleverness, insight, readiness of speech, tact, boldness mingled with caution, and perseverance, which she displayed (under the direction of Joab, who perhaps "stood by at some distance whilst she addressed herself to the king," ver. 21) are remarkable. Such qualities may be employed for a good or an evil purpose. In contrast with the reproof of Nathan, her persuasion

(1) was inspired, not by God, but by man;

(2) was addressed, not to conscience, but to pity and affection;

(3) aimed, not to manifest the truth, but to obscure it;

(4) and "to give effect, not to the convictions of duty, but to the promptings of inclination" (Blaikie);

(5) sought to do this, not sincerely and openly, but insincerely and insidiously;

(6) and not by proper motives alone, and honest, though unpleasant speech, but by improper motives and "with flattering lips;" and

(7) produced, not a beneficial, but an injurious effect. In her persuasive address we notice, more particularly -

I. AN AFFECTING BUT FICTITIOUS APPEAL. (Vers. 4-11.) "And the woman of Tekoah came to the king," etc., making her appeal for help in an acted parable, like that of Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-4). "Parables sped well with David; one drew him to repent of his own sin, another to remit Absalom's punishment" (Hall). This parable of the hapless son, or the avengers of blood, was intended, adapted, and employed:

1. To excite compassion toward the unfortunate: a son who had slain his brother "unawares" Numbers 35:11) in the field, and whose life was imperilled by the avengers, "the old family" (ver. 7); and his widowed mother, whose only stay and comfort he was, whose "live coal which is left" would be quenched, and whose husband's "name and posterity" would be destroyed. "The power of the discourse lies in the fact that they are represented as already doing what their words show to be their purpose."

2. To procure protection against the avengers; who, according to ancient custom, sought to take his life (2 Samuel 3:22-30); their conduct being portrayed as persistently pitiless (ver. 11), "and actuated, not so much by a wish to observe the Law, as by covetousness and a desire to share the inheritance among themselves" (Kirkpatrick); obscurely suggestive of the hostility exhibited toward Absalom. "Her circumstances (as a widow and living at some distance from Jerusalem, which rendered the case difficult to be readily inquired into), her mournful tale, her widow's weeds, her aged person, and her impressive manner, all combined to make one united impression on the king's heart" (A. Clarke). "In all this she intended to frame a case as like to David's as she could do; by determining which in her favour, he might judge how much more reasonable it was to preserve Absalom. But there was a wide difference between her case and his, however plausible soever their likeness might appear" (Patrick).

3. To obtain assurance of preservation from the king; which was given at first as an indefinite promise (ver. 8), afterwards (through her importunity) in a more definite engagement (ver. 10), and finally confirmed by an oath (ver. 11). "Had David first proved and inquired into the matter which with cunning and deceit was brought before him, he would not have given assurance with an oath" (Schlier). "We should learn from David's example to be more guarded over all our feelings and affections, even such as are in their proper degree essential to a religious character" (Lindsay). "Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause" (Exodus 23:3).

II. AN EFFECTIVE BUT FALLACIOUS ARGUMENT (vers. 13, 14); based upon the assumed resemblance between the case of the hapless son, of whom she had spoken, and that of Absalom, to whom she alluded as fully as she might venture. For her appeal had "a double sense," or twofold purpose - one clear, immediate, feigned, subordinate; the other dark, ultimate, real, supreme; and to the latter she now comes. "And why dost thou think [devise] such a thing as that of which I am now permitted to speak] against people of God? And by the king's speaking this word ['As Jehovah liveth,' etc., ver. 11] he is as one that is guilty [or, 'self-condemned'], in that the king does not bring back his banished one." "My banished one!" he must have thought, as the main object of the woman's appeal flashed upon him. But she went on: "For we must die ['shall surely die,' Genesis 2:17], and are as water poured out on the ground that is not gathered up. And God takes not away a soul [nephesh, equivalent to 'individual life'], but thinks thoughts [devises devices] to the end that he may not banish from him [utterly] a banished one." She thus sought to persuade the king to recall his son by:

1. The obligation of his oath, in which "he had acknowledged the possibility of an exception to the general rule of punishment for murder;" sworn to save her son, who had killed his brother under severe provocation; and was consistently bound to spare and restore his own son in similar circumstances. But the difference between them, here kept out of view, was fatal to the argument. Absalom's crime was deliberately planned, executed by his servants under his order, and seen by many witnesses.

2. The welfare of the people of God, involved in the preservation and return of the heir to the throne. Although the king's sons and the whole court were against Absalom (ver. 7), a large party of the people was in his favour. But the general welfare would have been more promoted by his just punishment, or continuance in exile, than by his restoration, as the subsequent history shows.

3. The mortality of men - the inevitable and irreparable decease of Amnon, Absalom, the king himself; the consideration of which should induce compassion and speedy help, lest it should be too late. But "even compassion, amiable as it is, will not justify our violation of the Divine Law, or neglecting the important duties of our station" (Scott).

4. The clemency of God; in forbearance and long suffering toward sinful men, and devising means for their restoration to his presence; such as David himself had experienced (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51:11). His example should be imitated. But his forbearance is limited - he pardons only those who repent, and punishes the guilty; and for the king to spare the guilty on insufficient grounds, or pardon the impenitent, would be to harden the wicked in their wickedness, and to act contrary to the purpose, for which he is made "an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil." The reasons assigned, though excellent in themselves, were inapplicable and fallacious. The noblest truths may be perverted to a bad purpose. A weak argument appears strong to one who is already disposed to accept its conclusion; and is a sufficient excuse for a course which he is inclined to pursue. By the manner in which her words were received by the king, the "wise woman" perceived that her point was practically gained; enough had been said, and leaving it to work its effect on his mind, she returned to the ostensible occasion of her petition for help; and "now she would go home happy (she said), as if this reference to the king's behaviour had been only the casual chatter of a talkative woman" (P. Thomson).

III. AN APPROPRIATE BUT FLATTERING APOLOGY for intrusion on the king (vers. 15-20); expressive of:

1. The anxious fear and hope with which she had been impelled to make her request (ver. 15).

2. The joyful anticipation and grateful assurance of rest which she now felt (vers. 16, 17).

3. Devout admiration and praise of the king, on account of his wisdom in judgment; with a prayer for his prosperity: "May Jehovah thy God be with thee!" Fully acknowledging that, as the king surmised, she had acted under the direction of Joab," in order to bring round the face [aspect] of the matter" (to alter Absalom's relation to his father), she again commends the discernment of the king: "My lord is wise," etc. (vers. 18-20). "When we are most commended for our discernment we generally act most foolishly; for those very praises cloud and pervert the judgment'" (Scott). "And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go and bring the young man Absalom back" (ver. 21). "The feelings of the father triumphed over the duty of the king, who, as supreme magistrate, was bound to execute impartial justice on every murderer, by the express Law of God (Genesis 9:9; Numbers 35:30, 81), which he had no power to dispense with (Deuteronomy 18:18; Joshua 1:8; 1 Samuel 10:25)" (Jamieson). Although neither the end of the woman's address nor some of the means are employed can be approved, yet much may be learnt from it concerning the art of persuasion; e.g. the importance of

(1) knowing the character and sentiments of those who are addressed;

(2) having a definite aim in view;

(3) arresting attention and awakening interest and sympathy;

(4) earnestness and fervency of manner;

(5) using argument and illustration adapted to present the matter in the most attractive light;

(6) saying enough and no more, especially on a difficult and delicate subject;

(7) advancing step by step with a]persistent determination to succeed. - D.

Absalom sent for Joab... but he would not come to him.
Absalom had fled from Jerusalem under fear of David's anger; he was after a time permitted to return, but he was not admitted into the presence of the king. Earnestly desiring to be restored to his former posts of honour and favour, he besought Joab to come to him, intending to request him to act as mediator. Joab, having lost much of his liking for the young prince, refused to come; and, though he was sent for repeatedly, he declined to attend at his desire. Absalom therefore thought of a most wicked, but most effective plan of bringing Joab into his company. He bade his servants set Joab's field of barley on fire. This brought Joab down in high wrath to ask the question, "Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?" This was all that, Absalom wanted; he wished an interview, and he was not scrupuluous as to the method by which he obtained it. The burning of the barley-field brought Joab into his presence, and Absalom's ends were accomplished. Omitting the sin of the deed, we have here a picture of what is often done by our gracious God with the wisest and best design. Often he sendeth for us, not for his profit, but for ours; he would have us come near to him and receive a blessing at his hands, but we are foolish, and cold-hearted and wicked, and we will not come. He, knowing that we will not come by any other means, sendeth a serious trial — he sets our barley-field on fire, which he has a right to do, seeing our barley-fields are far more his than they are ours. In Absalom's case it was wrong; in God's case he has a right to do as he wills with his own. He takes away from us our most choice delight, upon which we have set out heart, and then we enquire at, his hands, "Wherefore contendest thou with me?"

I. THE TEXT WITH REFERENCE TO BELIEVERS IN CHRIST. We cannot expect to avoid tribulation. If other men's barley-fields are not burned, ours will be. If the Father uses the rod nowhere else, he will surely make his true children smart. Your Saviour hath left, you a double legacy, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me ye shall have peace." Gold must be tried in the fire: and truly the Lord hath a fire in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem.

1. You have first, this sweet reflection, that there is no curse in your cross.

2. That your troubles are all apportioned to you by Divine wisdom and love. As for their number, if He appoint them ten they never can be eleven. As for their weight, he who weigheth the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance, takes care to measure your troubles, and you shall not have a grain more than His infinite wisdom sees fit.

3. That under your cross you have many special comforts. There are cordials which God giveth to sick saints which He never putteth to the lips of those who are in health. Dark caverns keep not back the miners, if they know that diamonds are to be found there: you need net fear suffering when you remember what riches it yields to your soul. There is no hearing the nightingale without night, and there are some promises which only sing to us in trouble. It is in the cellar of affliction that the good old wine of the kingdom is stored. You shall never see Christ's face so well as when all others turn their backs upon you." When you have come into such confusion that human wisdom is at a nonplus, then shall you see God's wisdom manifest and clear.

4. That your trials work your lasting good by bringing you nearer and nearer to your God.(1) Our heavenly Father often sends for us and we will not come. He sends for us to exercise a more simple faith in Him.(2) At another time He calls us to closer communion with Himself. We have been sitting on the doorstep of God's house, and He bids us advance into the banquetting hall and sup with Him, but we decline the honour. He has admitted us into the inner chambers, but there are secret rooms not yet, opened to us; He invites Us to enter them, but we hold back. Jesus longs to have near communion with His people.(3) Frequently the call is to more fervent prayer.(4) Often, too, He calls us to a higher state of piety.

II. A few words TO THE SINNER.

I. God also has sent for you, O unconverted man, God has often sent, for you. Early in your childhood your mother's prayers sought to woo you to a Saviour's love, and your godly father's first instructions were as so many meshes of the net in which it was desired that you should be taken; but you have broken through all these and lived to sin away early impressions and youthful promises.

2. If God is sending these, are you listening to them?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Now, just as the shrewd young prince dealt with Joab in order to bring him unto him, so God employs a regimen of discipline very often in order to bring wayward hearts to Himself. Many a reader may have had his barley-field set on fire; there are some even now whose fields are wrapped in flames or are covered with the ashes of extinguished hopes. With backsliders this method is often God's last resorts. He sees that the wayward wanderers care more for their earthly possessions than they do for His honour or His service. So He touches them in the tenderest spot, and sweeps away the objects they love too well. They have become idolaters, and He sternly dashes their idols to atoms.

For two whole years Joab paid no attention to the returned son of David, but the moment his barley-field was set on fire he paid Absalom a visit of inquiry. It was crafty on the part of Absalom. Perhaps he looked upon it as a last resort and thought the end would lustily the means. But there is a spiritual use of this incident which is well worth considering. Is it not so that when we will not go to God lovingly, voluntarily, He sets our barley-fields on fire, saying, Now they will pray? We desert His Church, we abandon His book, we release ourselves from all religious responsibilities; God calls, and we will not hear; then He sets all the harvest in a blaze, and we become religious instantaneously. We are richer if we have lost a barley-field, and found the God of the harvest. He will make up the barley-field to us, if so be we accept the providence aright, and say, "This is God's thought concerning us."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Absalom, Joab, Tamar, Zeruiah
Geshur, Jerusalem, Tekoa
Face, Falleth, Falling, Fell, Ground, Herself, Honor, Honour, O, Obeisance, Pay, Prostrated, Save, Spake, Speaketh, Spoke, Tekoa, Teko'a, Tekoah
1. Joab, suborning a widow of Tekoah to incline the king's heart to fetch Absalom,
21. brings him home to Jerusalem
25. Absalom's beauty, hair, and children
28. After two years, Absalom is brought into the king's presence by Joab

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 14:4

     5174   prostration
     5230   beggars

2 Samuel 14:1-20

     5383   lawsuits

2 Samuel 14:1-24

     6682   mediation

2 Samuel 14:1-33

     6684   mediator

2 Samuel 14:4-7

     5701   heir
     5704   inheritance, material

2 Samuel 14:4-14

     5438   parables

God's Banished Ones
'God doth devise means, that His banished be not expelled from Him.' 2 SAMUEL xiv. 14. David's good-for-nothing son Absalom had brought about the murder of one of his brothers, and had fled the country. His father weakly loved the brilliant blackguard, and would fain have had him back, but was restrained by a sense of kingly duty. Joab, the astute Commander-in- chief, a devoted friend of David, saw how the land lay, and formed a plan to give the king an excuse for doing what he wished to do. So
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Barley Field on Fire
Omitting the sin of the deed, we have here a picture of what is often done by our gracious God, with the wisest and best design. Often he sendeth for us, not for his profit, but for ours. He would have us come near to him and receive a blessing at his hands; but we are foolish and cold-hearted and wicked, and we will not come. He, knowing that we will not come by any other means, sendeth a serious trial: he sets our barley-field on fire; which he has a right to do, seeing our barley-fields are far
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 10: 1864

The Blessed Privilege of Seeing God Explained
They shall see God. Matthew 5:8 These words are linked to the former and they are a great incentive to heart-purity. The pure heart shall see the pure God. There is a double sight which the saints have of God. 1 In this life; that is, spiritually by the eye of faith. Faith sees God's glorious attributes in the glass of his Word. Faith beholds him showing forth himself through the lattice of his ordinances. Thus Moses saw him who was invisible (Hebrews 11:27). Believers see God's glory as it were
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The Hebrew Sages and their Proverbs
[Sidenote: Role of the sages in Israel's life] In the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jer. xviii. 18; Ezek. vii. 26) three distinct classes of religious teachers were recognized by the people: the prophets, the priests, and the wise men or sages. From their lips and pens have come practically all the writings of the Old Testament. Of these three classes the wise men or sages are far less prominent or well known. They wrote no history of Israel, they preached no public sermons, nor do they appear
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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