Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 20

Sheba gains control over northern Israel

2 Samuel 20:2

David only gained control over the southern part of Israel, Judah, when he returned after the failure of Absalom’s revolution. Although the people in northern Israel had asked David to rule over them, they had become jealous of the people in Judah. That gave an opportunity to a man called Sheba to gain control over northern Israel.

Sheba’s name only appears in this chapter of the Bible. We cannot say, therefore, whether he had any previous experience in the government or as an army commander. It is possible that he did not. However, Sheba was from the same tribe (family group), called Benjamin, as the previous king, Saul. Saul did give power to many of the men from the tribe of Benjamin during his rule. It may be that, like Shimei (16:5-14), Sheba’s main desire was simply to cause trouble for David.

Sheba could speak in a powerful and impressive manner; and, for a short time, he was popular. Perhaps David could have sent his soldiers to fight against Sheba at once. However, David had already said that he did not want anyone to die on the day of his return home (19:22). He wanted to make that day into a joyful holiday for everyone in Israel. So David did nothing when Sheba first gathered together the men from northern Israel. Instead, David allowed Judah’s army to continue with their plan to bring him in a joyful procession to Jerusalem. Then, when David had returned to his palace, he started to deal with the problems in Israel.

Next part: David's decision about his concubines (2 Samuel 20:3)


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