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Joab: David's Weak Strongman

Joab: David's Weak Strongman | November 20, 2010 Order Info

Scripture: 2 Samuel 2:17-23; 3:23-27; 11:15-25; 20:7-11 and 1 Kings 1.

This week a pre-trial hearing was held for Army Major Nidal Hasan. Dr. Hasan is the Army psychiatrist identified by more than a dozen witnesses as the uniformed man who stood near a crowded waiting area at the Fort Hood, Texas Army base and randomly opened fire on innocent people in harm’s way.

The rampage lasted 10 minutes leaving 13 people dead and 32 wounded. A civilian police officer is credited with saving more lives when he wounded Hasan who is now paralyzed.

Witnesses report hearing the gunman yell  “Allahu akbar,”, which means in the Arabic-language “God is great." At the hearing, Major Hasan gave only two words in his defense, “yes” and “no” and declined to offer any statement.

Our Bible story this week involves a military setting. Joab, the commander of King David’s Army, is the central character. He, too, believed that God is great. In fact he may have had a better understanding of God than most of the leaders of his day yet he never allowed that knowledge to be integrated into his daily living. By his actions we realize he had a violent streak in his character. While he believed in God he didn’t consult God when faced with moral decisions or dilemmas.

Other key characters are Asahel and Abner. Asahel is Joab’s youngest brother. He was the commander of the fourth division of David’s army. Abner was the seasoned general of Saul’s army who decided to cross-over and join David’s army after being accused by Saul of sleeping with one of Saul’s concubines.

Like psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, Joab was a man of few words rather he was a master manipulator. He had “control issues” like many of us today. As you study and discuss these Bible passages, note how many times the only person Joab is really concerned about  is himself!

One key scenario in our lesson is found during a battle. Asahel chases Abner. Abner repeatedly asks him to stop. Asahel continues to pursue Abner until, in self-defense, Abner kills Asahel.1 Fast forward to verses 22-27. Joab is afraid that Abner may take his place as the army commander and accuses him of spying on David. In a moment of jealous revenge, Joab does the unthinkable. Just as Abner struck Asahel in the belly and killed him, Joab strikes Abner in the belly and kills him. Like the 13 who died by the gun of Hasan, Abner was killed in peacetime. Asahel died in a battle.2

Joab doesn’t stop there as the lesson explains. What we don’t want to miss is our connection today to these passages. The hunger for power, prestige, influence and self-promotion are not only found in Scripture and world news today but unfortunately abounds around and in each of us. We must be daily dependant on Jesus to help us with our behavior and actions.


1. 2 Samuel 2:17-23.
2. Adapted from Andrews Study Bible, scholars comments, 2 Samuel 25-27.

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