Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2 Samuel 19: David Does Right Too Late

Sin is a nasty little bugger. It wraps its tentacles around parts of life that you might not see, so when you try to remove it, it rips out good with the bad. The longer the sin can fester and grow, the thicker and deeper the tentacles will reach, and far more collateral damage will ensue.

Looking at David's life as he tries to restore family and kingdom after Absalom's rebellion, it's not hard to see the pervasive effects of sin reverberate through the lives of those closest to David.

The restored king makes a very bold decision: Amasa replaces Joab as commander over King David's army.
And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me and more also, if you are not commander of my army from now on in place of Joab’” (2 Samuel 19:13).
Frankly, Joab should have been deposed long ago, but David never took decisive action. Though this wasn't final enough, for Joab (along with Abishai and Ittai) was still in charge of a third of the army.

The ESV Study Bible notes say that David may have done this to punish Joab for killing Absalom. That's a bit speculative, because there are many good reasons to install Amasa. Joab may have upset David when rebuking him (2 Samuel 19:1-8). Perhaps Amasa was installed as a political maneuver. Since Amasa was chosen to be commander of Abaslom's army, David may have wanted to integrate the two factions and show unity (he was also David's nephew along with Joab and Abishai according to 1 Chronicles 2). David may not like that Joab was a bit of a loose cannon, first murdering Abner then killing Absalom against David's instruction. Or, perhaps it was a little bit of all these reasons.

Whatever the reason, as David starts to take the right steps, it doesn't solve the problem. He has allowed sin to fester in his own life and in the life of Joab for too long, and with little surprise, Joab murders Amasa from apparent jealousy.
When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier's garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out. And Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab's hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died.
    Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. And one of Joab's young men took his stand by Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” (2 Samuel 20:8-11 ESV)
The saddest part about all of this is that, yet again, David does nothing. He doesn't even mourn this time. It is matter of fact that Joab is commander again (2 Samuel 20:23), and no justice is sought.

But Joab does not ultimately escape justice. For those reading the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, they will see on September 30th that it takes David's son to finally seek the life of the murderer that David should have demanded years ago.

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