Saturday, January 27, 2018

Joab and Military Power (6) Death

David gave his backing to Solomon, because he was Bathsheba’s son. Joab knew that Solomon was conceived in adultery and murder, so I presume he did not expect him to become King. However, Nathan and Bathsheba manipulated David to ensure that Solomon gained the throne (1 Kings 1:1-40).

David told Solomon to kill Joab.

Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his grey head go down to the grave in peace (1 Kings 2:5-6).
This was a bit ungrateful. David had benefit hugely from Joab’s violence and brutality. He relied on Joab’s violence when it suited him, but claimed to be upset by it. This was a bit hypocritical. David had killed Uriah at a time when he was not engaged in war. Abner and Amasa both died as a consequence of their actions during wartime, so David was a bit mischievous to claim that they were killed during peacetime.

David frequently killed people who were not a war. When he had defeated the Moabites, he took a ruthless action.

David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David (2 Sam 8:2).
The Moabites were already defeated, so this was not an act of war. It was a brutal act of intimidation to keep the Moabites down. In contrast, Joab had often ended a war quickly to prevent unnecessary bloodshed (2 Sam 2:28; 8:16; 20:20; 21:3). David had one standard for himself and a different standard for others.

David had cursed Joab and prayed that he would die (2 Sam 3:28-29). However, God had not answered his prayer and Joab lived on. Because God had not done what he wanted, David instructed Solomon to take matters into his own hand and kill him.

Maybe David wanted to protect Solomon from Joab’s violence, but he then encouraged Solomon to use violence against. Using violence to deal with violence, creates more violence. Solomon began his kingship with violence, so it affected his entire reign and his successors.

Solomon sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada, who was one of David’s mighty men to kill Joab while he was holding the altar in the temple. It was supposed to be a place of sanctuary for people in trouble. This would have been a distasteful task for a man whom he had served with Joab for many years, but political power is a ruthless business.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried at his home out in the country. The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab’s position (1 Kings 2:34-35).
There is huge irony here. David disliked Joab because the used the sword during peacetime (1 Kings 2:5-6). Yet the first act of his successor was to kill a man without trial during peacetime. Solomon was unwittingly releasing the violent spirit that he feared into his own administration.


Bundle 74 said...

David murdered Solomon's father?!?

Ron McK said...

Thanks. Corrected.