Daily Devotional

July 25, 2019

Daybreak: 2 Samuel 20:1-26

“And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. (2 Samuel 20:9)

“If you don’t vote against this grant proposal, I will quit my post as your vice-president!” The woman standing in my office had issued her ultimatum. As president of the academic senate at a large west-coast college, I sometimes have to deal with intractable administrators, irate staff, and outspoken faculty members, but these words from my colleague were especially distressing and painful. Our difference of opinion on a matter would obviously have a negative effect on our personal and working relationship.

I know that I am not the only Christian who has had to deal with job stress, office intrigue, and political maneuverings at work. I take comfort in knowing that the trials of human beings have not changed much since the days of King David. In 2 Samuel 20, we of read how King David had to deal with the rebellion of Sheba, the incompetence of Amasa, and the violent machinations of Joab.

The events described in this chapter are decidedly unpleasant and gruesome. God’s Word acknowledges the difficult elements of life that we must witness and sometimes even experience ourselves. You might have a rebellious “Sheba” at church, or an incompetent “Amasa” at work, or a manipulative “Joab” in your life. Although we cannot control the actions or attitudes of those around us, we can, like King David, keep our eyes on God. We can affirm, “God is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.”


The narrative of 2 Samuel 20 is framed by the insurrection and death of Sheba, most likely an officer in the northern army of Israel. He did not declare war against David, but he told the armies and citizens of the northern tribes of Israel that they should not follow David. David knew he had to act quickly to quell the potential uprising, because Sheba was trying to raise an army (verse 14). However, Sheba met a quick demise in the city of Abel.

David put away his ten concubines as a political gesture. According to some commentators, the women, who represented David’s rule, were considered contaminated by their time with Absalom. David had to set them apart in a guarded house as a step in reestablishing his kingdom.

Amasa was told to get the loyal Judean troops together in three days, but he could not get the job done. David knew there was no time to spare, so he told Abishai, Joab’s brother, to pursue after Sheba. Evidently, Amasa caught up with Abishai and Joab at Gibeon.

The writer of 2 Samuel does not glorify or condone the violence of Joab. Joab had killed Abner (2 Samuel 3:27) and Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14) against David’s will. David had demoted Joab and advanced Amasa in his place as captain of the host because of the killing of Absalom (2 Samuel 19:13). Joab may have felt that if he eliminated Amasa, he could regain his position as captain. Joab was a man who preferred to destroy those who stood in his way. David gave in to Joab’s “power tactics,” and Joab was reappointed captain of the host.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   The shame of King David
      B.   David’s problems with his family
            3.   Sheba’s revolt against David (20:1-26)
                  a.   Sheba’s call to rebellion (20:1-2)
                  b.   David’s concubines widowed (20:3)
                  c.   David’s attempt to end the rebellion (20:4-22)
                        (1)   Amasa’s ineffectiveness (20:4-5)
                        (2)   Joab’s murder of Amasa (20:6-13)
                        (3)   Sheba’s demise (20:14-22)
                  d.   David’s administration listed (20:23-26)

A Closer Look

  1. What specific details in the narrative indicate that the historian/writer wants us to be repulsed by the violence of Joab?
  2. How did the wise woman of Abel convince Joab to spare the city of Abel?
  3. As Christians, how can we influence those around us to eschew violence and seek peaceful solutions to problems?


When people seem to be out of control around you, remember that there is a God in Heaven and in your heart who is most certainly in control. His ways are being worked out even in the seemingly chaotic violence that surrounds us.

Reference Materials