I’ve been reading through the Old Testament historical books lately. Specifically, I’m following the Kings of Israel and Judah in a harmony of 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, and 1&2 Chronicles. This allows me to read through the Bible chronologically and compare the different accounts to see as many details as possible.
These two men have occupied my attention throughout much of this reading. I thought about making just one post expressing the concepts I’ve grappled with, but it was too intimidating. Additionally, I have a tendency to “overpost” when it comes to things about the Bible. Overposting is when I don’t write my blogs short enough for someone who forgets to take his ADD pills that day. So this blog will summarize (I hope) what I’ll be getting myself into. Future blogs will deal with specific traits or historical moments that pull my attention.
David was the King of Judah (the lower kingdom of Israel) and after about 7 years, the King of Israel and Judah (upper and lower Israel) for about 33 more years. Overall, he reigned from about 1000 B.C. to 960.
Joab was King David’s military commander. If you want to understand his position in an American context, King David was the Commander and Chief and Joab was the Secretary of Defense. But Joab also handled the nuts and bolts of battle. Imagine Robert Gates (you know, the guy who replaced Donald Rumsfeld) wearing battle fatigues, fighting in Iraq, and kicking major butt, and you have a good parallel to Joab.
Why is it fascinating to do this comparison? Perhaps because Scripture gives no military commander more attention than Joab. There are many lessons we learn from observing the actions and character traits of such a prominent (yet oft ignorned) figure in Israelite history.
Furthermore, David receives more attention from Scripture than any other King (unless you count Jesus, of course). David wrote many of the Psalms, he is continually referenced in other parts of the Hebrew Bible, and he is commonly mentioned in the New Testament. In short, David is a significant icon in the Bible, if not the significant icon apart from Christ.
As we examine these men side by side, we’ll see each man’s unique traits more clearly. Here are some of the distinctives of both men that we’ll look at in blogs to come:
Both were both valiant fighters on behalf of Israel, and, ultimately, the LORD. David (1 Sam 17:45, 1 Sam 18:5-7, 2 Sam 8:1-6) and Joab (2 Sam 10:12, 2 Sam 20:10, 2 Sam 24:3, 1 Chr 11:6) demonstrated a consistent passion to fight for God.
Neither man was without sin, or errors in judgment. David committed adultery with a top soldier’s wife; he then killed the soldier as part of the cover-up. Joab went overboard in his desire to defend, killing people whom David commanded him to spare. David took a census of Israel which undercut his trust in God’s provision (which Joab rightly opposed). Joab wrongly followed Adonijah’s sinful attempt to become king (which David soon rectified, thanks to Nathan and Bathsheba).
As he orchestrates this period of history for his glory, God uses both of these men to unite and protect Israel. The Bible is never just about people, but it does use people as parts of a larger picture that tells us about the nature of God. As I examine these elements of the picture, I expect to uncover a lot about God and gain some wisdom about life in the process. I hope you do too.