2 Samuel 14:1-21
Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s mind was on Absalom. Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth.
When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and did obeisance, and said, “Help, O king!” The king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. Your servant had two sons, and they fought with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. Now the whole family has risen against your servant. They say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, so that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he murdered, even if we destroy the heir as well.’ Thus they would quench my one remaining ember, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.”
Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my father’s house; let the king and his throne be guiltless.” The king said, “If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you again.” Then she said, “Please, may the king keep the Lord your God in mind, so that the avenger of blood may kill no more, and my son not be destroyed.” He said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”
Then the woman said, “Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” The woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence. Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid; your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. For the king will hear, and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would cut both me and my son off from the heritage of God.’ Your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest’; for my lord the king is like the angel of God, discerning good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!”
Then the king answered the woman, “Do not withhold from me anything I ask you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” The woman answered and said, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn right or left from anything that my lord the king has said. For it was your servant Joab who commanded me; it was he who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. In order to change the course of affairs your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.”
Then the king said to Joab, “Very well, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Absalom.”
This story highlights how God used a wide variety of brave figures to teach and guide God’s people. In this case, the wise woman from Tekoa helped David the King to recognize the importance of mercy and the folly of revenge. She spoke truth to the person in power so that he might recognize the importance of reconciliation in his own family. We too are called to speak to the importance of unity and to recognize that God has given each of us courage and a voice to be God’s instruments today. May we also learn from King David who listens to the wise woman (a humble servant) and changes his mind and plans for his son, Absalom.
Merciful God, thank You for giving us voices and courage to speak out when we see injustice and the need for reconciliation. Empower us to seek Your will and to share Your love with all we encounter. Guide us to listen to Your voice and to heed Your call. Amen.