Another chapter of indecisive rule, an insubordinate subject who leads a rebellion, and an act-now-think-later military commander who fixes things in his own style. Not edifying reading, perhaps.
This time the rebel is Sheba, one of Saul’s clansmen. Foolish as he is, he at least has the wisdom to know that, if he’s leading a rebellion, he’ll need northern support for it (vv.1-2). To add to David’s alarm, the man he sends to deal with it, Amasa, is slow in his work. Joab has no doubt that this delay is a sign that he is up to no good, so that when he does show, Joab has neither doubt nor hesitation, but takes his life (vv.9-10). After that, the rebellion is swiftly crushed, as Sheba is put to death (vv.21-22). Disaster is averted, but the decline of David’s rule cannot be stopped.
Who can rule? Joab is all that David is not – fearless, decisive, ambitious, and also, ruthless, rash and a man of extremes. All his faults are here. And yet, they are the faults which are accentuated by David’s weaknesses. David fails to lead, so no wonder Joab overcompensates, rushing into decisions, and so falls into his own sins. It was ever thus. A sharp-tongued wife often has a lazy husband, and a wayward son is often actually rebelling against his disinterested parents. My sin encourages yours, and vice versa. Heaven help us.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord Jesus, Gentle Shepherd and yet Mighty King, thankyou that You are the perfect Ruler, and the sufficient Saviour. Teach me how to live with the sins of others. Keep me from pride when I don’t share them, but also from sin she opposite to those I see. Teach me to walk in the steps You have left for me. Amen.