In my quiet time today, I have been reading 2 Samuel 20. It is the time when David's son Absolom had revolted against the king and was killed. When David returned to Jerusalem, a wicked Israelite leader named Sheba denounced King David and led the Israelite army away from "bringing David back to Jerusalem". David sent Joab and his army to hunt Sheba down and squash the dissension. When Joab and David's army reach the city of Abel Beth Maacah, they begin to siege it. It is the next part of the story I finding interesting.
While the army is attacking Abel, a wise old woman takes charge. She calls out of the city to talk to Joab. After telling him that Abel is a peaceful and reliable city, she asks Joab why he would destroy God's legacy there. Joab responds that he only wants Sheba. The wise old woman gets the leaders of the city to kill Sheba and throw his head over the city wall to prove it. The army goes home. The city is saved. Done. And we didn't even get to learn the wise woman's name. It is a shame.
Here is what is interesting. I teach middle schoolers every day. Repeatedly I see kids accidentally knocking into one another, jumping to conclusions, getting in each others spaces, coming to the defense of their friends, trying to save face in the midst of the violence, and on and on. Hormones spike, yelling explodes, and tears fall. If we are lucky, a physical altercation gets avoided . . . but not always.
Fast forward 35 years. Adults jump to conclusions, misunderstandings cause pain, emotions get hot, tears fall, sleepless nights stewing over all sides of the sticky occasion don't help, either.
Sometimes it is a good idea to take a lesson from a page in history. Stop the madness. Be like the wise old woman. She didn't cry out for mercy. She made a plan. She made the attacker think about his consequences when she asked him if he was willing to destroy God's legacy in that city as the price of attaining his goal. She weighed the options--continue to be attacked/destroyed or sacrifice a little (provide refuge for someone who had sought her help) and make a deal for the big plan of peace.
How often do I get caught up in nitty-gritty misunderstandings, false accusations, crazy conclusions drawn from insecure thoughts? A Lot. How much pain and destruction does it cause? A Lot. Why can't I learn from the wise old woman of Abel: stop the madness and make a new plan?
Lord, help me to recognize when I am driven by my insecurity and jumping to false conclusions. Help me to take a step back and realize that everything people do around me isn't ABOUT me. Help me to think of others and try to see things from their perspectives. Help me to not take everything so personally. Help me to devise a plan to communicate my needs, accomplish my goals, and help others reach theirs, too.
Image: The Jerusalem Post Copyright © Tel Abel Beth Maacah Excavations 2013