She’s almost invisible, tucked away in the pages of 2 Samuel. (2 Samuel 20:15-22, to be exact). I confessed to a recent Sunday School class I taught that I had read through the Bible on numerous occasions and had 68 years worth of sermons under my belt, but somehow this woman’s contribution seemed new to me. Yet, there it was. I love it when a woman is the heroine of a story in the Bible.
The setting was this: Joab and his army were besieging the city of Abel, trying to scale and dismantle the protective wall, in order to reach Sheba who was stirring up traitorous intentions toward King David. Sheba had declared that the people of Israel (meaning the 10 tribes in the northern part of the land) had no reason to follow and support David. He was mad at the people of Judah (representing the 2 southern tribes), and he wanted to cause their demise.
The residents of Abel were innocent. Their city had a solid reputation for doing good. Yet, they were going to suffer huge losses if something didn’t happen. Enter The Wise Woman.
15 When Joab and his men came to Abel Beth Maacah, they surrounded the town. They piled dirt up against the city wall and began breaking stones out of the wall to make it fall down.
16 But there was a very wise woman in that city who shouted out to them and said, “Listen to me! Tell Joab to come here. I want to talk with him.”
17 Joab went to talk with the woman. She asked him, “Are you Joab?”
Joab answered, “Yes, I am.”
Then the woman said, “Listen to me.”
Joab said, “I am listening.”
18 Then the woman said, “In the past people would say, ‘Ask for help in Abel and you will get what you need.’ 19 I am one of many peaceful, loyal people in this town. You are trying to destroy an important city of Israel. Why do you want to destroy something that belongs to the Lord?”
20 Joab answered, “I don’t want to destroy anything. I don’t want to ruin your city. 21 But there is a man in your city from the hill country of Ephraim. He is named Sheba son of Bicri. He rebelled against King David. Bring him to me, and I will leave the city alone.”
The woman said to Joab, “All right. His head will be thrown over the wall to you.”
22 Then the woman spoke very wisely to all the people of the city. They cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it over the city wall to Joab.
So Joab blew the trumpet and the army left the city. The soldiers went home, and Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
Nowhere in the passage do we learn her name . . . or age . . . or economic status . . . or level of education.
We can deduce that she had earned a reputation for saying and doing wise things in the past.
She realized that her own life was about to be threatened along with all those she loved and cared about.
She got in a position to be heard.
She identified the person who could make a difference – Joab.
She asked him to listen to her. (How many times have we said to our husbands or children, “Are you listening to me?”)
She got to the root of the problem while defending the reputation of her city and its citizens.
She understood what the solution had to be and convinced the townspeople to carry out the solution.
Yes, the “solution” was gruesome, but, without a doubt, that one act saved the lives of hundreds, maybe even thousands.
I want to be a wise woman, don’t you? I want to have a track record for making wise decisions and speaking words of wisdom. I want to have good communication skills. I want to defuse potentially explosive situations. I want those around me to live in peace.
I’m so glad I got a chance to encounter this woman while studying God’s Word. I believe I’ll remember her from now on.