Civil war again breaks out between Israel and JudahJudah was the name of Jacob's fourth son and one of the 12 tribes. More, this time under Sheba’s rebellion. David’s quick response preserves the unity of the nation. As before, JoabDavid's military commander who killed Absalom More, not DavidSecond king of Israel, David united the northern and southern kingdoms. More, is blamed for the bloodshed.
David’s problems are not over. Absalom’s rebellion was symptomatic of unrest throughout the realm as Sheba’s revolt shows. The flow of the narrative is set forth in the first two verses where it is stated that Judah remained loyal to David when Sheba, an opportunistic Benjaminite, persuaded the northern Israelite tribes to abandon the king. Verses 4-22 describe Judah’s loyalty and the quelling of Israel’s revolt in reverse order:
A Trumpet blow (v. 1)
B Israel rebels against David (v. 2a)
C Judah remains loyal (v. 2b)
X David’s concubines (v. 3)
C′ Judah’s loyalty (vv. 4-13)
B′ Israel’s rebellion stopped (vv. 14-22a)
A′ Trumpet blow (v. 22b)
Serving as a hinge in the center of the passage is the obscure notice of David’s concubines (v. 3). Actually, this little slice of life symbolizes much of importance. The ten concubines were the women David had left in Jerusalem when he fled before AbsalomThe son of King David who tried to usurp David's throne. More (2 SamuelThe judge who anointed the first two kings of Israel More 15:16). Absalom’s rape of these women (2 Samuel 16:20-23) was a claim to be king, as well as a fulfillment of Nathan’s prophecyProphecy is the gift, inspired by God, of speaking and interpreting the divine will. Prophets such as Amos, Isaiah, and Ezekiel spoke words of judgment and comfort to the people of Israel on behalf of God. More (2 Samuel 12:12). David’s provision for these women in a guarded house testifies to his compassion. His refusal to have sexual relations with them, however, was a political statement: the kingdom needed to be reestablished.
Lodged within this simple structure is the provocative tale of the “wise woman” who negotiates peace amid overpowering military might and delivers her city. The peace is won at the expense of Sheba, whom the townspeople kill in accordance with the negotiations worked out by Joab and the wise woman (vv. 16-21). The parallels between this “wise woman” story and the wise woman of Tekoa (14:1-20) suggest that they form a frame around Absalom’s rebellion (chapters 15-19).