2 Samuel 12:26-31
And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.…
This event, which occurred after a two years' siege, between the fall of David and his repentance, presents several significant contrasts.
1. Material success associated with moral failure. His army victorious, his enterprise terminating in triumph; David himself overcome by temptation, and troubled with a guilty conscience. Worldly success and prosperity are no true measure of moral worth and inward peace and happiness.
2. Praiseworthy conduct displayed by an unworthy character. Having captured the lower city, Joab, before attacking the citadel, "sent messengers," etc. (ver. 27). The politic general may have wished to escape the envy and secure the favour of the king; apparently, however, his conduct exhibited consideration for the honour of his master, modesty, and humility. Even the worst men have some good qualities, and often perform excellent actions. "It is possible for a man to be faithful to some one person, and perfidious to others. I do not find Joab other than firm and loyal to David in the midst of all his private falsehoods" (Hall).
3. A disastrous end following a presumptuous beginning. (Ver. 29.) In this city the great conflict was commenced, wantonly, proudly, and contemptuously (2 Samuel 10:1-4). On the king (slain in battle) and the people a terrible retribution fell; and their confidence in Moloch (Malcom)was disappointed.
4. Excessive severity practised by a generous minded ruler (ver. 31); not sanctioned by God; but expressive of David's present temper (2 Samuel 11:22-27), and demanded by the excitement of popular indignation.
(1) The cruel conduct of the Ammonites (l 1 Samuel 11:2; Amos 1:8);
(2) the common practices of the age;
(3) an intense zeal against idolatry;
(4) the strong conviction of being an appointed instrument of executing Divine vengeance (Psalm 149:7); - may palliate the culpability, though they cannot justify the procedure of David; which, in the light of truth and righteousness, must be condemned and regarded as a blot upon his great renown. This proceeds on the assumption of the correctness of the explanation usually given of the text, which is by no means certain (see critical Commentaries). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.