Do you sometimes wish you had different strengths or talents? Do you dismiss those things you’re good at, thinking they don’t really matter? Do you ever wonder how you could possibly be used to serve the Lord with the skillset you have?
In today’s episode of All God’s Women we look at an unnamed woman from the city of Tekoa and see how God used her acting skills to bring together King David and his exiled son.
I don’t know about you, but I had never heard of the Woman of Tekoa until just recently. She’s tucked away in 2 Samuel 14 in the midst of several chapters devoted to Absolom.
When I first read about her and she was described as a professional actress, I thought surely they’ve misinterpreted. I couldn’t imagine that the Old Testament had professional actresses. But that’s certainly what she appears to be.
Today’s story falls on the tail of last week’s story of Tamar. Absolom was so upset with Amnon for what he did to Tamar, that two years later, he fabricated an elaborate ruse to get to Amnon then murdered him. But then he spent the next three years in exile to avoid being executed himself.
The Bible tells us, though, that David missed Absolom and longed to go see him.
Joab, David’s nephew and the commander of David’s army, saw how troubled the king was over the situation, so he devised a plan to to reunite David with his son.
Joab sent to Tekoa and called for a certain wise woman. He explained the situation to her and told her that he wanted her to dress in mourning attire and pretend to be a woman who had been mourning the dead for a long time. Then he gave her a script to memorize and present to the king.
She followed his instructions. She dressed in the mourning attire and requested to seek wisdom from the king. When she came into the king’s presence, she fell to the ground, prostrating herself, and begging for his help.
When he asked what troubled her, she shared her story.
I’m a widow who had two sons, but the sons got in a fight and one killed the other. Now the family has risen up against your maidservant and is asking me to deliver my son so that they might kill him as vengeance. If they do that, I will have no more family and my husband would have no heirs.
Touched by her story, King David told her to return home and he would give orders concerning her.
But she wasn’t done yet.
She pleaded with him that the iniquity be on her and her father’s house and the king and his throne be gutless.
The king gave his word that if any cause her any more trouble to bring them to him and he would take care of it.
She continued and asked that the king remember the Lord God and not merit the avenging of blood to destroy anymore.
He gave his promise that her son would be protected.
I’m sure he felt a sense of satisfaction that the matter was now settled and the woman could go on her way. But she has one last word for him.
The woman from Tekoa asked the king why he did not allow his own banished son to return home. She reminded him how limited our time is and how important it was to take action before it was too late. When she was done presenting her case, he turned it over and asked her a question. He asked if Joab had put her up to that. She acknowledged that yes, he had arranged it and told her what to say, but it was up to the king to do the right thing.
Because of the woman’s presentation, the king told Joab to bring Absolom home, but told him that he did not want to see his face.
The Rest of the Story
For two years Absolom dwelt in Jerusalem without seeing his father. Eventually, he conned his way into the king’s presence and David forgave Absolom. The woman of Tekoa’s efforts were successful.
It’s interesting how little we’re told about this woman other than that she lived in the town of Tekoa and she had a reputation as being wise. She also obviously had a gifted tongue as her speech to David is an eloquent work of art.
Who was this woman from Tekoa? Why did Joab bring her in to put on a masquerade for David rather than just talking directly to the king himself?
Why did the author not see fit to include her name? What is the significance of leaving her unnamed?
As a screenwriter, one of the very first lessons I learned was that every story has a protagonist. They’re the one the story is about. It’s their story, and the other characters are there to support them.Their role is to help the protagonist or to give us additional insight into their character.
The woman from Tekoa is not the lead in this story. It’s not really her story. She is merely there to help King David and to give us insight into his character. She was used by Joab to facilitate a reconciliation with David and his son Absolom.
As it turned out, the reconciliation was short lived as Absolom went on to revolt against David. But the Tekoa woman was not there for Absolom. She was there for David. Because of her, David did the right thing and forgave his son. The Tekoa woman had a job to do, and she did it.
We all like to think that the world revolves around us. When we do something for someone else, we want to make sure that everyone knows our name. But sometimes we’re called to be supporting characters. And sometimes we remain nameless. And that’s ok.
Isn’t it amazing, though, that Joab pulled this obscure woman from a neighboring town to go speak to the king? This woman was minding her own business, doing what she did best, and God provided her an opportunity to speak truth and impact the life of God’s chosen man. We may not know her name, but her works live on for eternity.
Just as this unnamed woman did, we need to use our gifts and talents for God’s service, accepting that it’s not about us. When God calls us to serve, we should be available to serve however He asks, without expectation of recognition or even acknowledgement.
What about you? Have you been holding tight to your gifts waiting for just the right opportunity to truly showcase them? If so, it’s not going to happen. Just as actors have to start off in background or supporting roles before they’re cast as leads, we need to be using our gifts in little ways to prepare us for those bigger roles. Had this woman been hoarding her gift of speech and eloquence, Joab would have never known what she could do and would have never hired her for this job. But her reputation preceded her. Joab knew, based on her past experiences, that she would be able to pull off this challenging assignment of changing the king’s opinion.
Today is the day to start making a difference right where you are. Start small, in seemingly insignificant ways to serve God using the gifts He’s endowed you with. Don’t seek recognition. Don’t worry if no one acknowledges what you’re doing. God sees. And as you use your talents in small ways, He’ll slowly gift you with more opportunities as He sees fit.
Lord God, thank you for this lesson from the Woman of Tekoa. Though we don’t know her name, You do. Remind each woman listening that though they may feel nameless or invisible to the rest of the world, that You know their name and You see what they’re doing. Thank you for gifting each of us in unique ways and for providing opportunities for us to serve using those gifts. Thank You for loving us and working behind the scenes in our lives, even when we have no idea what all You are doing. We love You so very much. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at another unnamed wise woman who saved her city from destruction.
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2 Samuel 14
Bible Study Review
- What does the Bible tell us about today’s woman?
- What did Joab tell her to do?
- How did David react to her story?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did Joab ask her to speak to David?
- What does this story show us about David’s character?
- Did the woman accomplish her mission?
- Are you willing to be a secondary character or do you always have to have a leading role?
- Does it bother you when you do something good and no one knows about it?
- Do you have hidden talents that you could be using to serve God?
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4 thoughts on “The Woman of Tekoa: A Gifted Actress”
Fascinating! I never would have thought of this application. I don’t mind being a secondary character in someone’s story, but I spent too many years fearing to take the leading role in my own life. I do still struggle with not being appreciated or at least acknowledged for the good things I do.
Lisa, well the good news is we do have our own leading roles. I feel like this woman must have been a leading lady in her hometown in order for Joab to have known who she was and what she could do.
It’s hard to feel unappreciated, but we never know what impact we’re having. We just have to keep doing what we’re called to do, assured that God sees and appreciates, even if no one else does. He loves us so very much!