Monday, January 22, 2018

Joab and Military Power (1)

When a person gains an important military position, the spiritual powers of evil concentrate against them to establish control over them. They will usually know where they are vulnerable. The spiritual powers of evil also take advantage of the fear and anger of battle to gains access and control.

David had problems with his own family. His sons rebelled against him and fought with each other. He also had problems with fighting between his military leaders, who were mostly his cousins, sons of his sisters.

Joab and his brothers were good men loyal to David. Their history shows how military power corrupts good people.

Joab, Abishai and Asahel were brothers. Their mother Zeruiah was a sister of David 1 Chron 2:16) They had served David faithfully right from when he was being persecuted by Saul, before he became king. When Saul died, the brothers helped David defeat the remnant of Saul’s army.

Joab was the commander of David’s armies (2 Sam 8:16; 21:23).

Abner, who had commanded Saul’s army, had installed Ishbosheth as king of Israel (2 Sam 2:10-11) while David was king in Judah.

When war broke out between David and Ishbosheth, Abner killed Asahel when he pursued Abner after Ishbosheth’s army had been defeated (2 Sam 2:23). Joab and Abishai chased Abner seeking revenge, but Joab stopped the bloodshed when Abner asked for mercy.

Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”

Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.”

So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore (2 Sam 2:26-28).
Joab called off the chase, but the war continued.
The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker (2 Sam 3:1).
Abner fell out with Ishbosheth and tried to gain a place of influence in David’s kingdom (2 Sam 3:19-21). Joab did not trust Abner and killed him in revenge for his brother’s death (2 Sam 3:27).

Although it was foolish dealing with Abner without telling Joab, David claimed to be innocent of Abner’s death.

Later, when David heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the LORD concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food” (2 Sam 3:28-29).
David was being devious. Joab was ruthless, but David had relied on him for protection against Saul, and for defeating the opposition to his kingship. He could not have it both ways. He could not rely on Joab’s military prowess, and then disavow it when it suited him.

David put a curse on Joab and his family. This was extremely foolish, given that Joab would continue to be the commander of his armies. David was giving the spiritual powers of evil permission to manipulate and control his military commander. He was giving them authority to introduce violence and sickness into his own house.

David attended Abner’s funeral procession, which really impressed the people.

All the people took note, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people (2 Sam 3:36).
This is what happens with a king. The people become infatuated with his power, and trust everything he does.
For all the people came to understood that day that the king had no part in the murder of Abner (2 Sam 3:37).
I am not sure that the people’s understanding was quite right. David had got Abner involved without telling Joab. While Abner was commanding Saul’s army, he had tried to kill David. David would never be able to trust him, so he would probably have to kill him, as all kings dealt with those who opposed them. David benefited the most from Abner’s death.

David spoke to his army.

Today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me (2 Sam 2:39).
This was a fairly feeble excuse. David was king, so he had responsibility for his soldiers. He had used Zeruiah’s sons to gain power. He had given them authority in his army. David was in this difficult situation, because he had relied on military force to establish his kingship, rather than waiting on God. David prayed that God would deal with Joab.
May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds (2 Sam 2:39).
However, David did not trust God to answer his prayer. Before he died, he instructed Solomon to kill Joab (1 Kings 2:6).

When Ishbosheth was killed by a couple of his commanders, David killed them. He took the moral high ground, but he benefited from Ishbosheth’s death, because it cleared the way for him to be made king of the northern Kingdom.

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