Monday, January 29, 2018

JMP (8) David and Power

David was a very good man. He was chosen by God as a boy because he had a good heart. He had an amazing love for God and expressed this in the beautiful Psalms that he wrote.

As a boy and during his early battles and flight from King Saul he trusted in God, and refused to engage in unnecessary violence. He was able to say, “my hands are free from violence” (1 Chron 12:17). As his kingdom advanced he seemed to rely on military force more and more. To be successful in war, he needed a ruthless military commander. He disliked his nephew Joab, because he felt he was too violent, but he called on him again and again when he needed some violent work done.

I presume the tide turned when David committed adultery and used Joab to kill the husband that David had betrayed. This violence released violence within his family, and one of his sons raped a sister, another son killed his brother, and a third son used violence to push David off his throne. To deal with the situation, David relied on military force and trusted Joab to deliver it. His kingship was distorted by military power and none of his successors escaped from it.

Joab had real wisdom, but he seemed to be corrupted by violence after his younger brother was killed unnecessarily during a war. Joab tended to minimise unnecessary deaths of civilians and soldiers, but he was ruthless in dealing with political and military leaders who threatened the power of his King.

All kings rule by force. A king has to be the most powerful force in the land to maintain his position. David’s throne was kept safe, because Joab delivered the ruthless military force needed to protect it. Joab was ruthless, but he understood the reality of political power.

The foundation for all political power is military force. It can remain hidden for much of the time, but it must be brought out whenever political power is threatened. Those who hold political power have to be ruthless when their power is threatened. Like David, many political leaders pretend to dislike military force, but the reality is that force is the foundation for their power. If their power is threatened by rebellion, they have to deal with ruthlessly, or they will be defeated.


Bundle 74 said...

"...his cousin Joab..." Wasn't Joab his nephew?

Ron McK said...

Good spotting, thanks. Corrected.