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Lesson 8: Joab: David's Weak Strongman *

Introduction: Do you have power or authority over others? If so, God cares about how you use your power over others. Most power over others arises in the family, political or the employment context. Our government, our parents or our employer can do a great deal to benefit or harm our life. In Ephesians 6:9 God reminds those in power about the use of their authority. He tells them to respect those under their authority and refrain from threatening them. Why? Because God is Lord over everyone, and He is just. Our lesson this week looks at a military leader/ politician who has a great deal of power over others. Lets jump into our study and find out what lessons the Bible teaches us about the use of power and authority!

  1. A Tale of Two Generals

    1. Read 2 Samuel 3:17-18. God's people were divided into two nations - Israel and Judah. David was King over Judah. His general was Joab. Ish-Bosheth was King over Israel and his general was Abner. What has Abner decided to do? (Switch sides! He now decides to support David.)

      1. What reasons does he give for this change in his allegiance? (David is the choice of both the elders of Israel and God.)

    2. Read 2 Samuel 3:19-21. How important is Abner to this deal? (Abner is the deal-maker. He is obviously more powerful than King Ish-Bosheth.)

    3. Read 2 Samuel 3:22-25. Would you accept Joab's statements as being true?

      1. What do you think motivated Joab's statements? (2 Samuel 2 reports that Abner killed Joab's brother in battle. Joab does not like Abner for that reason. But, I suspect that the most compelling reason is that in a consolidated kingdom, Joab views Abner as a rival to his position as top general.)

    4. Read 2 Samuel 3:26-27. Have you heard of this kind of approach in the workplace? (By deceit, you gain promotion by stabbing your rival in the back. Here, the stabbing is in the front and it is a real knife!)

      1. What would you say if you were David? (Joab is interfering with the deal to consolidate the two kingdoms under David. This murder is not in David's best interest.)

      2. Joab says he is avenging the death of his brother. Read 2 Samuel 2:22-23. Is this proper revenge? (No. Abner tried not to kill Joab's brother. Instead of challenging Abner to a fair fight, Joab uses a trick to murder him.)

    1. Read 2 Samuel 3:28-29. What do you think of King David's reaction? (Weak, to say the least. David sounds like an outsider who has no authority over the situation. David must depend to a great deal on Joab.)

      1. Read 2 Samuel 3:38-39. Who are the "sons of Zeruiah?" ( 2 Samuel 2:18 tells us that Joab was a son of Zeruiah. David admits that he, the King, is too weak to stand up to his own general!)

        1. On whom does David depend for justice? (God.)

  1. The Replacement

    1. Read 2 Samuel 8:14-18. Through military conquest, blessed by God, King David consolidates his power and territory. Joab remains David's general. In this time of relative prosperity, David has the affair with Bathsheba that we studied two weeks ago. You will recall that Joab helps David kill Uriah, Bathsheba's husband. What authority does this give Joab over David?

    2. Read 2 Samuel 13:1-2 and 2 Samuel 13:12-14. This lust for his half-sister ends in Amnon raping Tamar. What should King David do about this? (Read Deuteronomy 22:28-29. Amnon should pay a fine and then marry Tamar.)

      1. Read 2 Samuel 13:15-17. Is Tamar insisting on her right to marriage? (Yes. Tamar did not agree to the rape, she suggested marriage instead. However, once raped, she has the right to insist on marrying the guy - who is next in line to be king.)

    3. Read 2 Samuel 13:21. What does King David do about this terrible crime among his own children? (He gets mad, but does nothing.)

      1. Why? (David likely feels he has lost his moral authority.)

    4. Read 2 Samuel 13:28-29. Why does Absalom kill Amnon? (Read 2 Samuel 13:32-34. Absalom imposes his own penalty. Then he flees the country.)

      1. Do you think Absalom did what was right?

    5. Read 2 Samuel 13:38-14:3. King David longs for his son, Absalom, and General Joab gets a woman from Tekoa to approach David about allowing Absalom to return.

    6. Read 2 Samuel 14:19-21. We won't get into what the woman said to convince the king, but David believes that Joab is behind this plot to bring Absalom home. Why would Joab do such a thing? Why would he care? (Read 2 Samuel 14:22. It appears that Joab does this to curry favor with David.)

    7. It turns out that bringing Absalom back was not such a good idea. Read 2 Samuel 15:10-13. Why does Absalom rebel against his father? (Perhaps he thinks David is weak because of age and his failure to deal with his own family.)

    8. Read 2 Samuel 18:1-5. David decides to fight back. Why would David want to spare Absalom, the leader of the rebellion?

    9. Read 2 Samuel 18:9. What trips up the new King? (It appears that when the new king was alone, he happened upon David's soldiers. I suppose Absalom turned his mule around and started riding as fast as he could - only to get his head caught in a tree!)

      1. What would you do if you came across the leader of the rebellion?

    10. Read 2 Samuel 18:10-13. What is the young man's view of the honesty and integrity of Joab? (If he killed Absalom at Joab's request, he believed that Joab would deny any involvement. The young man would then suffer King David's wrath.)

      1. Is there any doubt that Joab understands King David's command about not harming Absalom?

    11. Read 2 Samuel 18:14-17. How do you explain Joab's actions? (Read 2 Samuel 17:25. Joab knew how much Absalom meant to David, but Absalom had chosen Amasa over Joab. Every time we see Joab assert his authority, it is to benefit Joab.)

    12. Read 2 Samuel 19:11-13. What has King David finally decided with regard to the authority of General Joab? (David has had enough of Joab's self-dealing. He promises to turn Joab's authority over to Amasa, who was Absalom's general.)

  2. Rebellion Again

    1. No sooner had Absalom's rebellion been put down, then another rebel named Sheba claimed authority over Israel. Read 2 Samuel 20:2 and 2 Samuel 20:4-5. How is General Amasa doing in his new post? (He is a little slow to his new job.)

    2. Read 2 Samuel 20:6-7. What is the result of General Amasa's slowness? (Recall that Abishai is Joab's brother. King David turns not to Joab, but to Joab's brother - who had previously ( 2 Samuel 18:1-2) been a top commander for David. Abishai is ready to march and David sends him out to do battle against Sheba.)

    3. Read 2 Samuel 20:8-10. When Joab killed Abner, a potential rival, he had an excuse. What excuse does Joab have for this murder? (None.)

    4. Joab and his brother, Abishai, take over David's troops and put down the rebellion of Sheba. Read 2 Samuel 20:23. What are we to conclude? That abuse of authority and treachery are the way to retain authority?

  3. Justice

    1. Read 1 Kings 2:1, 5-6. David has some deathbed instructions to King Solomon. Why did David not take care of Joab himself? (David fails (again) to assert his proper authority. Perhaps a trial of Joab would result the revelation of David's order regarding Uriah's death.)

    2. We studied last week how Abiathar the priest, when he was an old man, conspired with Joab to make Adonijah the new king while David was still alive. King David intervened and declared Solomon king. Read 1 Kings 2:27-34. Has Joab finally received what he deserved?

    3. Friend, how will you use your authority? To benefit others or to benefit yourself? Will you allow injustice to prevail by not acting? Why not commit today to use your authority to benefit others?

  4. Next week: Rizpah: The Influence of Faithfulness.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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