Here is a passage of scripture that has gotten me thinking again about the value of talking (relating?) to our enemies. This passage recounts an act of diplomacy that would likely be considered foolish and 'inexperienced' today, yet is preserved in scripture as a timeless reminder of how an educated, cool-headed leader can do more with words than bombs in certain military situations.
In the spirit of disclosure, I should state that I am decidedly anti-war, anti-death-penalty, and pro-choosing-life (as is consistent with a culture of life). So when I read this passage today in second Samuel wherein an unnamed woman lead men and women alike to the wall to confront Joab and persuade him to withdraw his troops, I was comforted by the outcome of her diplomatic efforts. Here is a leader with little experience, exercising both oratory prowess and strength (dare I say a spine of steel?) in a show of civility and diplomacy toward her city's enemy…
2 Samuel 20:16-22 (New Living Translation)
16But a wise woman in the town called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you.” 17 As he approached, the woman asked, "Are you Joab?"
"I am," he replied.
So she said, "Listen carefully to your servant."
"I'm listening," he said.
18 Then she continued, "There used to be a saying, 'If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel.' 19 I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying an important town in Israel. Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord?"
20 And Joab replied, "Believe me, I don't want to devour or destroy your town! 21 That's not my purpose. All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand over this one man to me, I will leave the town in peace."
"All right," the woman replied, "we will throw his head over the wall to you." 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba's head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the ram's horn and called his troops back from the attack. They all returned to their homes, and Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.
And some commentary on this passage from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:
Justly is that place attacked, which dares to harbour a traitor; nor will the heart fare better which indulges rebellious lusts, that will not have Christ to reign over them. A discreet woman, by her prudent management, satisfied Joab, and yet saved the city. Wisdom is not confined to rank or sex; it consists not in deep knowledge; but in understanding how to act as matters arise, that troubles may be turned away and benefits secured. A great deal of mischief would be prevented, if contending parties would understand one another. Let both sides be undeceived. The single condition of peace is, the surrender of the traitor. It is so in God's dealing with the soul, when besieged by conviction and distress; sin is the traitor; the beloved lust is the rebel: part with that, cast away the transgression, and all shall be well. There is no peace on any other terms.