Focal passages: 2 Samuel 20:1-2, 14-21
The trumpet sounds twice in this story of near civil war within David’s kingdom. The first trumpet sounds when Sheba, a known troublemaker, calls “every man to his tent, Israel” (2 Samuel 20:1). The second trumpet sounds when Joab, the fierce military commander, declares victory over the rebel and calls every soldier back to his home (20:22).
Right on the heels of Absalom’s rebellion, this conflict carries forward Israel’s narrative with gloomy foreshadowing of a divided kingdom between the northern tribes and Judah. In the case of Sheba’s rebellion, the crisis is averted thanks to God’s wisdom given through a wise woman to Joab. Calling her townspeople “the peaceful and faithful in Israel,” she negotiates a truce with the attacking forces in exchange for Sheba’s life.
Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn from evil and do good: seek peace and pursue it.” In numerous places in scripture, Christians are called to live at peace with one another, and not to pursue quarrels.
This does not equate to an avoidance of conflict, although conflict is actually a healthy component in relationships. Nor does it disallow sharing alternative viewpoints through debate and dialogue, even with authority figures.
Rather, we learn from this passage that sin leads to questioning God’s provisions and leaders, which can result in terrible consequences for God’s people and their mission in the world. This is precisely the reason why scripture issues such a strong warning against stirring up discord and conflict among God’s people.
Called out from among all the peoples on the earth, Israel was chosen by God to represent Him to the world. This kingdom of priests was blessed in order to be a blessing, culminating in the Savior being born out of the line of David.
May we all consider in our own day how to protect the priority of the gospel against turmoil, grumbling and infighting by gospel messengers.