Read 1 Chronicles 11
Focus on verse 6
I find Joab one of the most interesting, and tragic characters among the men who followed and served David. Joab was the son of David’s sister Zeruiah. He was David’s nephew and this chapter describes how he became commander of David’s army. When David went to take Jerusalem from the Jebusites who inhabited it, there was a strong resistance. David said, “Whoever strikes the Jebusites first shall be chief and commander.” Joab seized the opportunity and was the first to go up – so Joab earned the position of commander, a position he held for the rest of David’s life and reign as king. A position he defended violently if necessary, killing at least two prominent Israelite military leaders whom David had aspired to place in the position of commander in his place, one of these men being his own brother Asahel.
Joab strikes me as a rather cold-hearted pragmatist, which in many ways made him an effective general. He did not let his feelings, or ethics, or anything else get in the way of achieving his objective. While Joab was always faithful to David, it seems his motivation is driven less by his loyalty to David than it is by loyalty to himself and the protection of his position as commander. In the end it is David who issues Joab’s death warrant, which Benaiah carries out at Solomon’s command as justice for murdering the men that Joab had felt threatened his position.
One lesson for us in all this is again the principle that God is not limited in whom He uses to achieve His purposes. God will achieve in each of us what He has ordained by His sovereignty to achieve. Within this we each have choices that we are given to make as to whether we will choose to obediently walk in His ways by serving others, or choose rather to serve ourselves at others expense. Ironically, as it turned out with Joab, when we choose to serve ourselves at others expense we find ourselves never really reaching the desire we are seeking to fill. On the other hand when we let go of our desires, and choose to serve others selflessly, the Lord typically sees fit to ensure that our hearts true desires are met.