Bible Readings for September 9th
Sadly, we have only just begun to read here in 2 Samuel 3 about the murders Joab commits. In fact, Joab will be a thorn in David’s side throughout his reign, so that David will instruct his son Solomon to execute Joab as one of his first official acts when Solomon becomes the next king of Israel (1 Kgs. 2:5–6). Joab’s first murder here in 2 Samuel 3, though, establishes the besetting patterns that Joab—and David—will fall into again and again.
Joab had been one of David’s most trusted military leaders, along with his brother Asahel, while Abner had been the commander of Saul’s army (2 Sam. 2:8). After Saul’s death, Abner installed Ish-bosheth as king over Israel (2 Sam. 2:8–10), drawing both sides into a bloody conflict (2 Sam. 2:12–17). When Abner flees the battle in defeat, Joab’s swift-footed brother Asahel pursues him, and Abner kills Asahel to protect himself (2 Sam. 2:23). But, when Ish-bosheth accuses Abner of going into Saul’s former concubine (which would have been a claim to Saul’s throne), Abner rejects Ish-bosheth and joins forces with David (2 Sam. 3:6–11).
David joyfully embraces Abner, but Joab refuses to forgive him for the death of his brother—even in spite of the fact that Abner had tried to warn Asahel to break off his pursuit because he did not want to kill Asahel (2 Sam. 2:22). When Joab treacherously murders Abner, David distances himself from what Joab has done, but David does not punish Joab (2 Sam. 3:37), and David’s passivity sets the tone for the relationship between David and Joab for the rest of their lives. Joab will murder whenever he sees fit—even murdering David’s own son Absalom (2 Sam. 18:14)—but David will never hold Joab accountable.
It is not only Joab, however, whom David refuses to discipline. David will also fail to discipline his own children when they rape and murder, and even when they attempt to murder David himself (2 Sam. 13–18). While some sins of David are more glaring (e.g., adultery and murder in 2 Samuel 11), it is David’s failure to discipline that causes the most trouble during his reign.
Right from the beginning of the history of David’s reign as king, then, we are already seeing warnings not to put too much trust in David. He is the anointed king who follows after God’s own heart, but he will not be the one to destroy God’s enemies forever or to bring lasting peace to God’s people. So, while David’s many successes foreshadow who Jesus will be, we should also see that David’s failures foreshadow what Jesus will not be, so that Jesus will succeed where David has failed.
David may be a messiah, but he is not the Messiah.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.