Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s mind was on Absalom. Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth. 2 Samuel 14:1-3 (NSRV)
A few weeks ago, while Wendy and I were spending a few days at the lake, we watched the movie 12 Years a Slave. The Academy Award-winning movie is based on a book written during the abolition movement in America and is the autobiography of a free African American living in the north who was kidnapped, smuggled to the south, and sold into slavery. His story was so powerful, and so powerfully told, that Wendy and I sat speechless on the couch as the credits rolled, tears streaking down our cheeks. Our hearts had been rent. It was, for me, a history lesson, a parable about the human condition, and a call to continue opening my eyes, my mouth, my pen, and my wallet to address similar injustices that still exist in this world today.
One of the reasons I love the arts, and the dramatic arts, in particular, is their ability to communicate spiritual truths and move people to action in a way that no other mode of communication does. I remember during one of the final read-throughs of my script Ham Buns and Potato Salad before we were to go into production one of the female readers, emotionally shaken by the story, exclaimed that we had better have counselors available at the back of the theatre because of the emotions and painful memories it might stir within audience members. I was taken aback by her strong emotional response after simply being part of a table reading of the script. I took it as a compliment that the script and the story stirred her that deeply. As a writer, it gratified me to know that the story had effectively reached at least one person at that level.
Today’s chapter is one that I studied in depth while pursuing my theatre degree in college. It is one of only a few stories of acting told throughout the entirety of the Great Story. Joab needed to get through to King David. Perhaps he’d seen how Nathan’s story of the rich man stealing the poor man’s only lamb had gotten through to the king. David couldn’t see his blind spot even if Joab tried to reveal it to him plainly, but when Joab cloaked it in a metaphorical story, David could finally see his own situation clearly. Joab decides to hire an actor, costuming her in mourning clothes, using a little make-up to make it look like she’d been grieving, and giving her a script to follow. She played the part brilliantly. What impresses me is that she took the part and nailed the role knowing that the King, once it was revealed that he’d been conned, could easily have ordered her death for “deceiving” him with her charade.
I believe that we don’t give enough thought to how we communicate. Not only on a corporate level but also on an interpersonal one. Most every human conflict can be traced back to a breakdown in communication. I believe equally that the hope of redemption and restoration hinges on our ability to communicate it, not only clearly, but in multiple channels and mediums. It was during the pandemic that I start recording these chapter-a-day posts and publishing them as a podcast. I’ve had multiple people confess to me that they never read my posts, but they faithfully listen to the podcast. There’s a lesson in that. Sometimes I have to change the medium of my communication in order for the person on the other end to receive the message.
A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m take a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014.
Today’s featured image was created with Wonder A.I.
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