Secret Prayer Sister: The Best Yes

The Best Yes, Ch 4-6, The Wise Woman II Sam. 20

Let’s begin by reading 2 Samuel 20, which introduces us to a wise woman. In this chapter there is an encounter between Joab and the woman of Abel Beth Maakah, a woman whose life is marked by wisdom. What is perhaps less obvious is how Joab stands in stark contrast to her as a man whose life is marked by foolishness.

  • As you read (or perhaps even as you reread) this chapter, consider his temperament, ambitions, insecurities, etc.
  • How would you characterize Joab’s mental and emotional state as he approached Abel Beth Maakah in pursuit of Sheba?
  • How do these facts about Joab influence your understanding of what the wise woman was up against when we asked to meet with Joab?



In the early years of David’s rise to power as king of Israel, Joab repeatedly demonstrated great bravery and success in battle and was fiercely loyal to David. However, as time went on, Joab’s ambitions, insecurities, and misapplied loyalty led him to make some rash and foolish choices. •

  1. While he was captain of David’s army, Joab defied David’s peace treaty and murdered Abner to avenge the death of Joab’s brother, whom Abner had killed in self-defense (2 Samuel 3:21 –27, 30).
  2. When David discovered Joab had killed Abner, he pronounced a curse on Joab and his family (2 Samuel 3:28 –29); led a dramatic public mourning ritual and burial for Abner (2 Samuel 3:31 –36); denounced Joab and his deeds as evil; and acknowledged that, although he was king, he was too weak to control Joab (2 Samuel 3:38 –39).
  3. Convinced that he knew better, Joab disregarded David’s orders to, “Protect the young man Absalom for my sake,” and killed Absalom (2 Samuel 18:9 –15).
  4. As he prepared to deal with Sheba’s rebellion, David displaced Joab twice. He first appointed a commander named Amasa, and then put Joab’s brother, Abishai, in charge of Joab’s men (2 Samuel 20:4 –7).
  5. Joab did not respond well to being displaced. He murdered Amasa, took control of Amasa’s men, and took back his command from Abishai (2 Samuel 20:8 –13). He then went after the rebel Sheba.
  6. After locating Sheba at Abel Beth Maakah, Joab’s first action was to lay siege to the city (2 Samuel 20:14 –15). It was an Israelite city, which he had no authority to attack. He made no offer of peace before attacking, which God had commanded Israel to do when going to war with its enemies (Deuteronomy 20:10 –12). And the city he attacked was not just any city but one known for preserving God’s law and maintaining stability in the region (2 Samuel 20:18 –19). Tensions were already high, and Joab’s siege had the potential to escalate from Sheba’s rebellion into all-out civil war.
  7. Many years later while on his deathbed, David urged his son Solomon to bring Joab to justice for the murders of Abner and Amasa; Solomon summarily had Joab killed (1 Kings 2:5 –6, 29 –34).


Just as the woman of Abel calls out to Joab, the book of Proverbs often portrays the virtue of wisdom as a woman who constantly calls out to those who are foolish, generously offering knowledge and insight to any who will listen (Prov 1:20-23; 8:1-6; 9:1-6).

Read 2 Samuel 20:15-21 again. As you read the interaction between the wise woman and Joab, look for the ways the woman’s words demonstrate what it means to turn from foolishness and heed wisdom’s call.

We all have a little bit of the wise woman and a little bit of Joab within us.

  • What patterns do you see in Joab’s life?
  • What patterns do you see in the wise woman’s life?
  • How do you see these patterns in your own life?
  • How can you take this instruction and make wiser patterns in your own life?

All content in this post is taken from pages 49-52 in The Best Yes Study Guide


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