2 Samuel 18:1-18 (Part 3) – Bloom Where You Are Planted & Trust God With What’s Next

Posted: July 30, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel
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2 Samuel 18:1-18 (Part 3 of 4)
Absalom’s Defeat & Death

What’s up with Joab? He killed someone again after David had given an order for them not to be killed. We see a pattern starting here, don’t we? Joab later here in the book of 2 Samuel will kill again, when told not to do so when he kills Amasa. When you think about these killings, each one was politically advantageous to Joab in either retaining his position as the head of David’s armies or getting that position back. Abner would have been a rival for Joab’s position so…he took him out. He mortally wounded and then had his men finish off Absalom. Absalom would have been a threat to his position as well had he been allowed to live. David would have most assuredly granted his son a position in the army after having watched him lead the revolt against him. David would have seen leadership skills in his son that he had not noticed before the civil war. Thus, it is likely that Absalom may have displaced Joab in the general’s seat in the army of the king. Finally, he will later kill Amasa who had taken his position as general (because David demoted him after he found out that Joab was responsible for the murder of his son, Absalom).

David never really punished Joab in any real way (other than taking his position away temporarily) for these acts of direct disobedience to the king’s orders. Why? Joab was skilled at war and at making himself seem indispensable. Joab was very talented at the art of war. He was personally never defeated when he was in command of any troops – as far as I can tell in the Bible. Thus, he was very talented and very valuable to the king. David knew, or at least, felt, that there was probably not another man in Israel that could lead his armies as well as Joab. To David, Joab was a superstar. In that sense, David overlooked these acts of disobedience.

Joab was kind of the Johnny Manzel of college football. If you remember the brash, cocky quarterback for Texas A&M, Johnny Manzel, he was an amazing college quarterback. He could extend plays that seemed doomed and then make some wacky unbelievable pass to bail himself out that always seem to go for major yardage or even a touchdown. He would sometimes scramble for 30 yards back and forth to get away from the defensive rushers and then make a throw that made the scrambling all worth it (and would demoralize and exasperate the defense). However, though he was an amazing talent, he was the classic case of person who was very talented but knew it. He was literally a spoiled brat who did not care what he said or did. He figured his talent would make up for his misdeeds and people would overlook it. He had always been bailed out because he was a star quarterback. He was good and he knew it and people would give him a pass when he misbehaved. Joab was kind of like that. He was good and he knew it and David would give him a pass when he misbehaved – because he was the star quarterback of David’s military team.

Let’s read this passage, 2 Samuel 18:1-18, for the third of four times, and see why Joab directly disobeys and order from his king.

Chapter 18

1 David now mustered the men who were with him and appointed generals and captains[a] to lead them. 2 He sent the troops out in three groups, placing one group under Joab, one under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one under Ittai, the man from Gath. The king told his troops, “I am going out with you.”

3 But his men objected strongly. “You must not go,” they urged. “If we have to turn and run—and even if half of us die—it will make no difference to Absalom’s troops; they will be looking only for you. You are worth 10,000 of us,[b] and it is better that you stay here in the town and send help if we need it.”

4 “If you think that’s the best plan, I’ll do it,” the king answered. So he stood alongside the gate of the town as all the troops marched out in groups of hundreds and of thousands.

5 And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.” And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders.

6 So the battle began in the forest of Ephraim, 7 and the Israelite troops were beaten back by David’s men. There was a great slaughter that day, and 20,000 men laid down their lives. 8 The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword.

9 During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair[c] got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10 One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.”

11 “What?” Joab demanded. “You saw him there and didn’t kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver[d] and a hero’s belt!”

12 “I would not kill the king’s son for even a thousand pieces of silver,[e]” the man replied to Joab. “We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, please spare young Absalom.’ 13 And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son—and the king would certainly find out who did it—you yourself would be the first to abandon me.”

14 “Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. 15 Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes.

18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.

In this passage, we see Joab again disobeys an order from David. He cannot plausibly claim ignorance of the order this time (as was the plausible situation with Abner). Joab was right there with David when the order was made. He knew David did not want Absalom killed. Why did he do it?

Joab had loyally supported David and, for the most part, obeyed his orders, even when they were contrary to his own better judgment. But there were three cases in which Joab acted against the king’s wishes by killing men whom David wanted to live: Abner, Absalom, and Amasa. Here Joab’s own interests were mixed in with service to the king. These men were threats to his own position. We can reflect that no one’s motives are as pure as the driven snow, except in their own eyes. We can be serving ourselves even while claiming to be serving Jesus and the church.

The story of Joab is a warning sign to us all. We must check our motives for what we are doing in service to our King – King Jesus. Are we serving so we can be seen serving? Are we serving so as to meet our own objectives? Can we submit to authority above us or do we submit as long as our personal objectives are being met? Do we strike out on our own if those in authority over us do not do things the way we want them done?

We must determine why we serve the Lord. Is it for ourselves or is it so that God will be glorified? Do want the bright lights and the spotlight or do we serve where God has us right now because we trust in Him completely? We must trust God that He has us right where He wants us. Sure, we should compare the motives of those in leadership over us to Scripture and act accordingly but we should examine ourselves first to see if our disdain for the orders given us by those above us is personally motivated. Is our disdain righteous or simply a hurt ego? If we see that those in power over us are following God and His Word then we must examine ourselves and our motives. We must be willing to set our ego aside and submit to the authority of those placed in authority over us by God himself. There are no coincidences in God’s plan for us. If He has us under the authority of another, we must seek to find God’s will for their leadership over us…and learn what we need to learn at this point in our walk with God…and trust that God will move us along His developmental plan at His pace.

Just think about Joseph in prison. He became the best prisoner he could be and became a trusted inmate. If he had not done that (and trusted God with the rest), he would not have been in a position to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream and then eventually become the second most powerful man in Egypt. Without being in that position, he would not been in position to save His people. Just think about Moses, he spent 40 years in Midian learning to be a shepherd, learning the rough life in the wild that he would have never learned in Egypt, and becoming a more humble man such that God could use him to free his people. Just think about Jesus – God in the flesh. He was born as a baby in human flesh, grew up as a boy into a man, worked hard with his earthly dad. He did all that for 30 years before He launched his public ministry. He learned what it was like to be a human being in a fallen, broken world. When he wept over Jerusalem and when he wept over the death of Lazarus, it was real. When He preached, it was not only based in the fact that He was God in the flesh but it was also based on the fact that He knew what it was like to be human. He submitted to 30 years as a son of human beings, as a brother, as a worker so that He could not only teach us but relate his teaching to everyday life as a human.

If even Jesus submitted to the Father and trusted Him completely with the process of preparing for His ministry, we can submit to those who God has placed over us and trust Him with the rest. Coach Dabo Swinney is a man of many catchphrases but one of his that is my favorite, “bloom where you are planted.” Basically, he is saying that God has a plan for where you are at right now. It is part of a bigger plan. Trust Him with that. Be the best you can be right where God has you right now. Trust Him. Trust Him. Be the best where you are at right now for the Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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