1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 2) – Joab Goes To God When All Else Fails – Sound Familiar?

Posted: October 14, 2018 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 2 of 3)
Solomon Establishes His Rule

Joab was quite the character in David’s kingdom, was he not? But to be fair, his actions, though loathsome, are all too familiar to us. He’s what you might call  a “political pragmatist”. He makes his own way! He is keenly aware of who stands in his way. He is the definition of a Machiavellian politician. Machiavellianism is a term that some social, forensic and personality psychologists use to describe a person’s tendency to be detach themselves from conventional morality in an effort to achieve their own goals. They are the classic “the end justifies the means” kind of person.

Joab fits that description. He is someone who takes brutal views and a tough guy approach to problems because he thinks that’s the only reasonable way to behave. Joab seeks revenge against Abner, killing him for murdering his brother, and he executes Absalom against David’s orders (though he spins the events to show himself to actually be serving David’s best interests afterwards). His most aggressive act might be when he treacherously guts and kills Amasa, who had replaced Joab as David’s chief general. It’s an extremely jealous and rather mean thing to do. Don’t forget he has the goods on David because he also helps David carry out his treacherous plot to kill Uriah the Hittite. Like David keeps saying about Joab and his brother, Abishai, they’re simply “too violent.” You never see Joab seeking after the Lord but rather trying to politically position himself or to defend the position that he has obtained.

We do not have to go far to see this in the movies. There was the movie, Primary Colors. Primary Colors is a 1998 film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Elaine May was adapted from the novel Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, a thinly-veiled fictional tale that anyone could deduce was about Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992. This film masterfully shows the inside of a political campaign in which morality goes out the window in a no-holes barred attempt to grab the White House. There are no boy scouts in this film. It shows politics is as a dirty a game as the participants are willing to take it. It was certainly an indictment of the Clintons as the “say and do whatever is necessary to win” candidate couple. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether the film is true to the political careers of the main characters of this “fictional” film. It is an indictment of us as the American voting public that we do not require more depth of character and morality from our candidates for public office.

The thing that is striking Joab and the main characters in Primary Colors is how much like him we all can be. We want to control our own destiny. We want to make our own way. We want what we want and we want it now. When it all doesn’t work out for us or we get caught doing the wrong thing, we then turn to God. God is our God of last resort. We often try to figure out every way to fix or solve our problems ourselves as opposed to putting it in God’s hands. When this doesn’t work out for us we decide to turn it over to God, because we have no other option.

Whenever we find ourselves in “a situation”, whether it be small or significant, we typically have multiple choices as to how to handle it. Just look at all the self-help or self-actualization books out there. We all are looking for ways to get a leg-up on our competition. But there is always emptiness that comes with our efforts. There is always somebody to that we have to be weary of. There is always somebody that’s gonna simply be better than us at what we do. There is always going to someone that is better positioned than you. And when you get to where you want to be, as you see it, then it all becomes about defending the fort at that point. It can be maddening and tiring to say the least. We all are aware of these kinds of people in our lives. We may actually be one of these people and not even realize it and, then, like we said, there are plenty, o’ plenty, examples in the political landscape at the federal, state and local levels that you and I can think of immediately. That’s what makes a character study of Joab so topical to us in the 21st century.

It is that type of “making your own destiny at all costs” kind of personality that kind of sums up Joab as he runs to the altar as a last resort that I thought of when I read this passage one more time today. Let’s read this passage together again now:

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.

22 “How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”

23 Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. 24 The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” 25 So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” 27 So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.

28 Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. 29 When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31 “Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 The Lord will repay him[a] for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.

36 The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. 37 On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. 42 So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. 45 But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” 46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.

So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.

In this passage, we remember that Joab had spent his life trying to defend his position as David’s commander of Israel’s armed forces. Twice David tried to replace him, and both times Joab treacherously killed his rivals before they could assume command (See 2 Samuel 3:17-30, 2 Samuel 19:13, and 2 Samuel 20:4-10). Because Joab was in his service, David was ultimately responsible for these senseless deaths. However, for political and military reasons, David decided not to publicly punish Joab. We can suspect that Joab’s political “ace in the hole” with David was his knowledge of the inner workings of the Bathsheba/Uriah incident. Additionally, Joab was far and away the most skilled military tactician that Israel had to offer.

Instead of deposing Joab as he should have done long ago, he put a curse on Joab and his family (see 2 Samuel 3:29). Solomon, in punishing Joab, was publicly declaring that David was not a part of Joab’s crimes, thus removing the guilt from his father’s throne and placing it on Joab where it belonged. It is interesting to note that Joab, usually taking matters into his own hands, runs to God, literally, when he saw no way out of paying for his crimes. With his political games at an end, he runs to God.

How often do we do the same thing? We try to control our own destiny and get upset when things don’t go our way. We worry and we fret about who is doing what and how we can counteract it. We plan and scheme as to how to react to the things that happen in our lives. We take actions that are in our self-interest and no one else’s. We allow pride to determine our reactions to the world around. We allow our self-worth to be defined by our circumstances. When all else fails, we turn to God. We try everything our way first and then we turn to God just as Joab does here in this passage. God is only God when we need Him to do something for us. Otherwise, it’s all about us and how we can handle our lives.

When researching for this blog, you know what I ran across, a psalm from David himself. It is my wife’s favorite passage in the Bible. It is from Psalm 121. David writes the following:

I lift up my eyes to the hills –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you –
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm –
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Are you tired of trying to control your destiny which is not yours to control? Are you just tired of the rat race of actions and reactions and more actions and reactions after that? Are you tired of the latest self-help book that inspires you for a couple of weeks then leaves you empty and right back where you started from? Is it not time to trust your life to the Lord? Is it not time to have a real, day-to-day relationship with Him? Is it not time to go deeper in your trust in the Lord? Are you tired of constantly worrying about what you’ve got to do to react to the world around you? Have you ever really placed your life and your entire trust in the Lord? The Lord provides for those who trust and obey. How real is your trust in the Lord? There’s an old saying that is almost cliché now in Christian circles, but it is something that we really should take heart in, “Let go and let God!” Do you trust him? Really trust him?

Or do you want to continue living the life of Joab, forever fearful, forever protecting your turf, forever putting fingers in the leaking dam of your life? Let go. Let God.

Amen and Amen.

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