The woman from Tekoa
1 Zeruiah's son, Joab, knew how much the king wanted to see Absalom. 2 So he sent a message to Tekoa to bring a wise woman from there. He said to her, ‘Pretend that you are upset because of someone's death. Dress in funeral clothes. Do not use any perfume on your body. You must seem like a woman who has been sad for a long time. 3 Then go to the king to speak to him.’ Then Joab told her the words that she should speak to the king.
4 So the woman from Tekoa went to the king. She bent her body down low with her face towards the ground. She gave honour to the king. Then she said, ‘Please help me, sir!’
5 The king asked her, ‘What is your trouble?’
14:5In those days, the king was like a judge. People could go to him if they had a difficult problem.
She said, ‘My husband is dead, sir, and I am a widow. 6 I had two sons. One day, they were fighting in the fields. There was nobody near to stop them. One son knocked down the other son and killed him. 7 Now all my relatives have turned against me. They want to take my son from me, because he killed his brother. They say that he must die. That is the punishment that he deserves. But if they do that, I will have no son. My husband will have no descendants, so the name of our family will not continue.’
8 The king said to the woman, ‘Go to your home. I will make sure that your son is safe.’
9 Then the woman said to the king, ‘My lord the king, I pray that nobody will think that you have done anything wrong. They should call me guilty, but not you or your family.’
10 The king replied, ‘If anyone says anything against you, bring him to me. After that, he will not cause you any more trouble.’
11 Then the woman said, ‘Sir, please stop my relative from punishing my son with death. I do not want this son to die as well as my other son. Please promise me in the name of the Lord your God that it will not happen.’
The king replied, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, I promise that nobody will touch even one hair of your son's head.’
12 Then the woman said, ‘Please sir, there is one other thing that I want to tell you.’
King David said, ‘Tell me.’
13 The woman said, ‘I think that you have done a wrong thing like this against God's own people. You have not let your own son return to his home. He still lives in a foreign city. Because of what you have said to me, you show that you yourself are guilty. 14 We must all die one day. When that happens, we are like water that is poured on the ground. We cannot pick it up again. But God does not remove our lives from us. Instead, he finds a way to bring us back to him when we have gone far away.
15 My lord the king, I have told you this because the people have made me afraid. I thought to myself, “I will speak to the king. I do not deserve it, but perhaps he will do what I ask him to do. 16 Perhaps he will listen to me. Perhaps he will save me from the man who wants to destroy both me and my son. That man wants to take away from us the land that God gave to us.”
17 Now I can say, “I know that the promise of my lord the king will keep me safe. The king can judge things like an angel of God. He knows what is right and what is wrong.” I pray that the Lord your God will be with you!’
18 Then the king said to the woman, ‘Now I want to ask you a question. You must not hide the truth from me.’
She replied, ‘Ask me anything, sir.’
19 The king asked her, ‘Is it Joab who has told you to do this?’
The woman answered, ‘My lord the king, as surely as you live, I cannot hide the truth from you. Yes, it was your servant Joab who told me what to do. He gave me the words to say. 20 He did it because he wanted things to be different. But you, my lord, are as wise as one of God's angels. You know everything that happens in our land.’
21 Then the king spoke to Joab. He said, ‘I have decided to do what you want. Go and bring back the young man Absalom.’
22 Joab bent his body down low with his face towards the ground. He thanked the king. He said, ‘Now I know that you are pleased with me. You have agreed to do what I have asked you to do.’