A Shameful End
David comes to the point where he no longer trusts Joab. But removing his nephew from commanding Israel’s army was not easy, as Joab had used his talents and skills to amass much power and influence and gain a loyal following. Yet eventually the king did remove him from his lofty position.
This did not sit well with Joab—especially when his cousin Amasa took his place as commanding general (II Sam. 17:25; 19:13).
When King David was forced to put down another internal rebellion, Joab saw the chaos and confusion as an opportunity to rise back to power. Again using treachery and deceit, he killed Amasa and assumed command of David’s army (II Sam. 20:8-13; I Kgs. 2:5). Not one soldier dared to bring Joab to justice—a testimony to how powerful and influential he was.
But Joab’s power grab was short-lived. As his death drew near, King David advised his son Solomon, whom he chose to become his royal successor, to waste no time dealing with his cousin Joab. He said, “Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet. Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoary head go down to the grave in peace” (I Kgs. 2:5-6).
After the king’s death, Joab—relying upon human reasoning, as usual—supported David’s son Adonijah and his claim to the throne (1:7; 2:28). But Adonijah’s attempt to become king failed miserably, and those who supported him paid dearly for not backing King Solomon.
Joab knew that Solomon would deal with him next. Seeking sanctuary from harm, he ran to God’s holy tabernacle. Joab assumed that no one would dare execute him as long as he held on to the horns of God’s sacred altar.
He was wrong (2:28-34).
The name Joab means “The LORD is Father.” Yet, ironically, Joab failed to look to God for fatherly guidance and wisdom. He did not rely upon His Creator to direct his life.
Joab had been exposed and intimately privy to David’s righteous example, as well as his human weaknesses. From the former, Joab should have learned to “trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6), and “Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (vs. 7). From the latter, he should have learned that even the most righteous servants of God must wage a lifelong battle against the pulls of human nature (II Cor. 10:3-6).
However, without God’s Spirit working within him, Joab was convinced that his talents, gifts and abilities were all he needed for success and prosperity. He spent his life relying upon himself, selfishly amassing power and influence, and the fame and wealth that come with it. In other words, he wasted his natural abilities chasing things that do not last.
But there is one thing that is permanent—truly lasting forever—holy, righteous, GODLY CHARACTER. Only a tiny few have been offered the privilege to build and develop God’s character in their lives. And those who do—who reject the way of Joab and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—will go on to become priests, judges and rulers in the kingdom of God!