David’s army was pursuing a rebel named Sheba who had cast his lot with Saul’s dynasty. Since Sheba was from Benjamin, it’s possible that he was a descendant of Saul. Regardless, his military actions were designed to prevent David from taking his rightful place as King of Israel. The Army chased him into a city named “Abel.” Joab began his preparations to sack the city and put down the rebellion, when someone from the wall addressed him. This verse says that it was an un-named “wise woman.”

This un-named “wise woman” described her city as one in which wisdom is found and one in which peace had reigned. She persuaded Joab to stop his siege of the city and accept, instead, the head of the rebel who had fled there for protection.  Remarkably, she was able to convince the residents of her city to behead Sheba and throw his head to Joab. Thus, she averted much collateral damage. Several times in David’s life women had prevented unnecessary bloodshed.

One might argue that David’s life was an interesting contradiction between bloodshed and forgiveness. He refused to take personal vengeance against Saul on several occasions and walked away blessed by God for it. When cursed by Shimei, David would not let his general take his head. Yet, something seemed to happen to David after his sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. It seems to have affected him the rest of his life.

David’s final words were about Shimei, who had humiliated him during the flight from Absalom. On his deathbed, David thought of this event and told Solomon to kill Shimei. The next chapter tells us how it was carried out. David set the agenda for his son’s first years on the throne. Here is Solomon—his name meant peaceful—beginning his kingdom with bloodshed left him by his father. 

Solomon needed a wise woman’s advice.