05/31/16 – 487 – David the King, David the Dad
After Joab’s last tirade against David (which admittedly stirred him out of his funk and got him moving back toward Jerusalem after Absalom’s death), David had removed Joab as commander of all his armies, and given that job to Amasa, son of his wife Abigail. So, I guess even Joab couldn’t say whatever he wanted to the king and get away with it completely. Now that this “troublemaker” Sheba had started up, and had all too easily convinced people to follow him, David had a problem.
So soon on the heels of Absalom’s rebellion, I’m sure it looked like a) the 10 northern tribes would follow just about anyone, and b) if this was the beginning of a new uprising he had better nip it in the bud! So David sent Amasa to muster the troops once more to pursue Sheba and his men. Amasa was to gather as many men as he could and report back to David in 3 days. Turns out there was one small problem – Amasa was late.
We don’t know why he was late. We do know that when he didn’t show up David reacted swiftly, in a way that pretty much showed that any trust he may have had in Amasa was gone. That’s sort of funny when you consider that David had made him his military Chief of Staff! Maybe it was because Amasa had been commander of Absalom’s army during the uprising. Maybe David thought he had turned against him after all and joined Sheba. Maybe Joab still had David’s ear.
Regardless, David called Abishai, Joab’s brother and commander of one third of David’s troops during the recent revolt, and sent him to hunt down Sheba. For some reason, Joab tagged along even though he had no official place. Shortly after they left, they met Amasa coming in to meet David! Unfortunately, Joab (who had murdered before in order to do what he felt had to be done ‘for king and country’) saw him coming. Amasa had no idea what treachery Joab had in mind.
2 Sam 20:8 While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.
9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bicri.
11 One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!” 12 Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. 13 After Amasa had been removed from the road, all the men went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bicri. NIV
This is the danger of rationalization. Joab had done bad things for what he thought were the right reasons. We could get into a thousand ethical and moral debates about this, like ‘is it OK to torture a terrorism suspect’? The problem is that when we stop allowing God to have control, and instead believe that we are the only ones who are qualified, and therefore whatever we do is OK, we are on a very slippery slope.
I know it’s hard. I know it’s scary at times. But I also know that God is in control. He must be, or we’re all done. I’m sure Joab talked himself into believing that he was doing this for the greater good. He very likely talked his brother Abishai into believing that also. But it really doesn’t matter who believes it.
All that matters is the truth. God’s truth. God’s Word is pretty simple. When we read His law, and follow by saying, yes, but… Stop right there. Pray. Because you’re going to need it.