Joab was King David’s nephew. He was also a very successful military commander and in many ways David leaned heavily upon him. But beneath this veneer of success was a character trait that is one of the most dangerous that a person can possess. He never fully understood the clear difference between honor and dishonor. Two incidents reveal a major flaw in his thinking that “the end justified the means.” It is a troubling philosophy that is only time away from a major collision!
When David asked Joab to take a census in Israel (1 Chronicles 21), Joab vehemently objected, declaring that God could easily multiply what He needed to protect Israel. David insisted–wrongly–that Joab proceed with the count. After being rebuked by God, David wisely repented. Joab did bring back the numbers, but hid the real total by withholding the count of the tribes of Benjamin and Levi, because he did not agree with David’s request.
When David released Abner (Saul’s confidant) without exacting any judgment, Joab was furious and demanded action, because there was an earlier score that he was interested in settling. Joab took matters into his own hands when he schemed and then killed Abner. When David discovered it, he pronounced a curse upon Joab’s family. Joab never understood the boundaries of honor and dishonor. He never got it (like David did), that you ultimately have to trust God to execute judgment regarding leaders and situations.
Though God had anointed him king, David continued to honor the office that Saul held, even while the jealous leader was hunting him down. When he became king, David still honored the household of Saul by seating Mephibosheth at the king’s table and giving him all of Saul’s inheritance.
All I know is that these kinds of action gave David a reputation of “being a man after God’s heart!” What are you known for?
“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.” Psalm 15:1-2 (NKJV)