- LogosWalk Word Journal - http://logoswalk.com/journal -

2 Samuel 20:19-21 • Steps to Addressing Heresy

“‘I am of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You are seeking to destroy a city, even a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?’ Joab replied, ‘Far be it, far be it from me that I should swallow up or destroy! Such is not the case. But a man from the hill country of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand against King David. Only hand him over, and I will depart from the city.’ And the woman said to Joab, ‘Behold, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.'”
    —2 Samuel 20:19-21 (NASB)

To summarize what is really being said in this exchange with a woman of the city Joab is in the process of destroying in order to get to the traitor Sheba hiding inside, is actually a dispute concerning how to act according to the Word of God. In Deuteronomy 20, God provided laws for warfare—a sort of “code of conduct”, if you will—which stipulated under what conditions something was to be captured or completely destroyed.

“When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace.”
    —Deuteronomy 20:10 (NASB)

The woman is pointing out and actually doing what Joab failed to do in the first place according to God’s command: Negotiate—give talking a shot at resolving the issue. Instead, he is treating his own countrymen in a major city of Israel (a.k.a., “the inheritance of the Lord) as if it were owned and occupied by the enemies of God.

“But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you,”
    —Deuteronomy 20:17 (NASB)

I believe that there is a parallel to how Christians sometimes deal with Christians. There are times when a false teacher rises to power over a congregation, organization, or even an entire movement. That false leader needs to be pursued and removed, but sometimes the tactic is to attack everyone as a whole, seeking to wipe out everyone involved. It’s carrying out a form of “guilt by association”.

One of our responsibilities is to reach out to the members in earnest. This is really the only way to determine if the organization is competely corrupt from top to bottom and without hope of recovery. Sometimes, however, the faithful remnant within responds to the dialogue and becomes empowered to make the necessary change, to confront and cast out the false leader if necessary. In fact, it’s much harder to carry out the work of communication than to burn the whole thing down. But we have an obligation to make a good faith effort to rescue the remaining faithful.