How fickle the men of Israel were in this passage! One minute they’re having a discussion with the men of Judah about fairness. The men of Israel were feeling like they had been left out or minimalized, and then abruptly turned in the opposite direction, against David.
There’s a _____ in every crowd. You fill in the blank! In this account, it turns out to be a troublemaker. Every good story has a villain. Even fairy tales often have a frightening side. Today our troublemaker is Sheba.
I was so surprised when, just like that, at the chant of Sheba, “all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bicri.” I certainly didn’t see that one coming. Why were the men of Israel putting up such a fuss about being able to give honor to the king alongside the men of Judah? Especially considering how quickly they dismissed the king all together. Something is brewing.
We’ll have to wait to see how David responds to this quick exit by the men of Israel. Who is this Sheba anyway? He certainly got the people’s attention! To take down the dynasty of David would be to question God’s anointing power and providence. I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing something like that.
When we think of those troublemakers in our world today, who comes to mind for you? Perhaps a personal acquaintance, a “black sheep” family member, or a national figure? There’s usually something sensational about a troublemaker’s attempts. There seems to be a deep need or desire for attention. Even if it’s negative attention.
I was reminded of negative attention during a training session today with our German shepherd puppy and the trainer. We’ve trained small dogs in the past but need some hand-on assistance for this big girl! Our pup is very affectionate and sometimes doesn’t know her own strength. She is also very playful and easily excitable. With that combination and a nearly 40-pound dog, you have to be on your toes and only “reward” good behavior, ignoring all other.
Our sweet giant has gotten a little more negative attention than we would like lately, but she has eaten it up because it’s attention after all. Children are much the same way. We all know of children acting out in some negative way just to get their parents’ or teacher’s attention.
I would much rather focus on positive things. One of my favorite verses to keep me grounded in this is Philippians 4:8. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” What are those “happy thoughts” for you? Do you have a “happy place,” too, to retreat to when you need to recharge?
When we think about those disruptions in our lives caused by another, it might be caused by a troublemaker, a busy body, a tattletale, a nosy relative, etc. There are certainly one in every crowd. When we remember that God loves us all, even the troublemakers, it makes it easier, even if only a tiny bit, to love them, too.
Take some time today to think through those people who are causing trouble for you either now or in the past. Say a prayer for them. Say a prayer for yourself to be more loving.
(NOTE: In King David’s case, he should probably be wary of Sheba and show his “love” in the form of “respect.”)
Let’s pray …
Lord, help me to be better at loving those who have harmed me. Give me the peace to do so. Also, Lord, give me the wisdom to see through lies and deceptions that seem rampant in this world. Keep me safe from the many troublemakers, both obvious and in disguise, trying to push an agenda that does not glorify God or show love and respect for others. Use me, Lord, to be a good example of faithful living. In Jesus’ name. Amen.