2 Samuel 14:1-11

The Woman of Tekoa

14 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was drawn toward Absalom. So Joab sent a messenger to Tekoa and [a]brought a wise woman from there, and said to her, “Please follow mourning rites, and put on mourning garments now, and do not anoint yourself with oil but be like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for many days. Then go to the king and speak to him in this way.” So Joab put the words in her mouth.

Now when the woman of Tekoa [b]spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and prostrated herself, and said, “Help, O king!” And the king said to her, “What is troubling you?” And she [c]answered, “Truly I am a widow, for my husband is dead. And your servant had two sons, but the two of them fought in the field, and there was no [d]one to save [e]them from each other, so one struck the other and killed him. Now behold, the entire family has risen against your servant, and they have said, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed, and eliminate the heir as well.’ So they will extinguish my coal which is left, so as to [f]leave my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.”

Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your home, and I will issue orders concerning you.” The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My lord, the king, the guilt is on me and my father’s house, but the king and his throne are guiltless.” 10 So the king said, “Whoever speaks to you, bring him to me, and he will not touch you anymore.” 11 Then she said, “May the king please remember the Lord your God, so that the avenger of blood will not continue to destroy, otherwise they will destroy my son.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”

Though Joab “put words in her mouth”, he also chose a wise woman whom he could trust to deliver the message properly. This wasn’t a task for just anyone (man or woman), but something that had to be done carefully.

By law Absalom’s life was forfeit, and it would take some convincing for David to turn aside from the law, though it be his son, and though it was known David wanted to restore his son.

There is a place for the law and strict rules, but there is also a place for mercy and love to reign. God shows us this best, but let us not forget it in our own lives. Not for ourselves, but for those around us that need to see compassion in the midst of their misery and shame.

It’s easy to “cast stones”, but far more difficult to know how and when to balance mercy and justice. Let God’s love guide you, and strive to live in His image instead of blindly following “the rules”.

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