Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Joab and Military Power (3) Ruthless Force

The problem was that David relied on military force to remain on the throne. This is the nature of kingship. Here are some of the tasks that Joab did for him.

  • Joab conquered Jerusalem for David.

    David had said, “Whoever leads the attack on the Jebusites will become commander-in-chief.” Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, and so he received the command (1 Chron 11:6).
    David had promised that whoever conquered the city would become his army commander. This was a foolish promise, because he did not know who it would be. David broke this promise several times by trying to take the command off by Joab.

  • Joab would often lead the army to war while David remained in Jerusalem.

    In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins (1 Chron 20:1).

  • When he committed adultery, David used Joab’s to deliberately kill Bathsheba’s husband. He wrote a letter to Joab.

    Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die (2 Sam 11:15).
    Joab obeyed his king and Uriah was killed (2 Sam 11:17). He was one of David’s most loyal soldiers. He seemed to dislike Joab’s brutality, but he was happy to use it when it suited him.

  • Once when David joined his army to fight the Philistines, he became exhausted and was nearly killed. Joab’s brother Abishai rescued him.

    David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. And Ishbi-Benob said he would kill David. But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle (2 Sam 21:15-17).
    Joab’s brother rescued David when was in trouble.

  • Several of David’s victories were actually won Joab or his brother.

    Abishai son of Zeruiah struck down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David (1 Chron 18:12-13).

  • In his early days, David tended to trust the Lord when going into battle.

    David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?” The LORD answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands”(2 Sam 5:19).
    However, as his kingdom advanced, he seemed to rely more on his military commanders. This made him dependent on ruthless men like Joab and his brother Abishai.

  • Joab allowed David some easy victories.

    Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.” So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head (2 Sam 12:26-30).
    Joab did not seek his own glory, even though he established the victory. He called David in, so that he would get the glory.

A king is a permanent military leader. All kings rule by force. A king has to be the most powerful force in the land to maintain his position. Joab removed all potential threats to David's power. David tried to stand apart from these struggles, but he would not have survived as king, if Joab had not removed all the opposition.

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