2 Samuel 20: Why are Old Testament Stories So Violent and Bloodthirsty?

2 Samuel 20: Why are Old Testament Stories So Violent and Bloodthirsty?

When last we left our hero, King David, he was brought out of his grief over the death of his son, Absalom by his head general, Joab. At the end of Chapter 19, we had the people of Israel, arguing with the people of Judah over King David. Instead of being happy to be in a united Israel under one king, they had to bicker. That led to a revolt, and an unjust, bloody murder. King David and company had crossed over the Jordan River and were in Gilgal. Let’s dig in….

2 Samuel 19:41-43 Arguing Over the King

41 But all the men of Israel complained to the king, “The men of Judah stole the king and didn’t give us the honor of helping take you, your household, and all your men across the Jordan.”

42 The men of Judah replied, “The king is one of our own kinsmen. Why should this make you angry? We haven’t eaten any of the king’s food or received any special favors!”

43 “But there are ten tribes in Israel,” the others replied. “So we have ten times as much right to the king as you do. What right do you have to treat us with such contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing him back to be our king again?” The argument continued back and forth, and the men of Judah spoke even more harshly than the men of Israel.

2 Samuel 19:41-43 NLT

2 Samuel 20 – The Revolt of Sheba

There happened to be a troublemaker there named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Sheba blew a ram’s horn and began to chant:

“Down with the dynasty of David!
    We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Come on, you men of Israel,
    back to your homes!”

So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed with their king and escorted him from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.

When David came to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to look after the palace and placed them in seclusion. Their needs were provided for, but he no longer slept with them. So each of them lived like a widow until she died.

Then the king told Amasa, “Mobilize the army of Judah within three days, and report back at that time.” So Amasa went out to notify Judah, but it took him longer than the time he had been given.

Then David said to Abishai, “Sheba son of Bicri is going to hurt us more than Absalom did. Quick, take my troops and chase after him before he gets into a fortified town where we can’t reach him.”

So Abishai and Joab, together with the king’s bodyguard and all the mighty warriors, set out from Jerusalem to go after Sheba. As they arrived at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa met them. Joab was wearing his military tunic with a dagger strapped to his belt. As he stepped forward to greet Amasa, he slipped the dagger from its sheath.

“How are you, my cousin?” Joab said and took him by the beard with his right hand as though to kiss him. 10 Amasa didn’t notice the dagger in his left hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it so that his insides gushed out onto the ground. Joab did not need to strike again, and Amasa soon died. Joab and his brother Abishai left him lying there and continued after Sheba.

11 One of Joab’s young men shouted to Amasa’s troops, “If you are for Joab and David, come and follow Joab.” 12 But Amasa lay in his blood in the middle of the road, and Joab’s man saw that everyone was stopping to stare at him. So he pulled him off the road into a field and threw a cloak over him. 13 With Amasa’s body out of the way, everyone went on with Joab to capture Sheba son of Bicri.

14 Meanwhile, Sheba traveled through all the tribes of Israel and eventually came to the town of Abel-beth-maacah. All the members of his own clan, the Bicrites, assembled for battle and followed him into the town. 15 When Joab’s forces arrived, they attacked Abel-beth-maacah. They built a siege ramp against the town’s fortifications and began battering down the wall. 16 But a wise woman in the town called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you.” 17 As he approached, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?”

“I am,” he replied.

So she said, “Listen carefully to your servant.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

18 Then she continued, “There used to be a saying, ‘If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel.’ 19 I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying an important town in Israel. Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord?”

20 And Joab replied, “Believe me, I don’t want to devour or destroy your town! 21 That’s not my purpose. All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand over this one man to me, I will leave the town in peace.”

“All right,” the woman replied, “we will throw his head over the wall to you.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn and called his troops back from the attack. They all returned to their homes, and Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.

23 Now Joab was the commander of the army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard. 24 Adoniram was in charge of forced labor. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 25 Sheva was the court secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26 And Ira, a descendant of Jair, was David’s personal priest.

2 Samuel 20 NLT

Why are Old Testament Stories So Violent and Bloodthirsty?

Sin is ugly. That is the naked truth of the Bible. Sin is destructive, it’s ugly, it’s gross. God hates sin. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have had to give us the 10 Commandments. Notice, how to get the men back into battle, they had to remove Amasa’s body from the middle of the road and cover it. Out of sight, out of mind.

It’s interesting how that still applies to today’s media. Notice that in the mainstream media, the White House Press Secretary, and even the President himself, fail to discuss the true ugliness of what happened and what’s still going on in Afghanistan. It takes people sending videos from cell phones in Afghanistan to people whom they know will tell and show the truth. The reality is that the truth is ugly. What’s going on over there is horrible. The sad truth is that it could have all been done differently and bloodshed could have been avoided.

A Fallen World

We live in a fallen world. However, when your HOPE rests in Jesus Christ, no matter what happens in the world or in your life, you have the anchor in the storm….


Below are some recent tweets and videos that reveal the truth. That’s all we want, the truth….




There is HOPE only in Jesus!

Here it is spelled out in the Old Testament…

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT

Is Jesus YOUR Savior?

There is no time to waste! It’s time to get right with God!

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift and Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Nothing But the Blood of Jesus



Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

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