Joab, the Military Statesman
1 Chronicles 11:6
And David said, Whoever smites the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief.

Though this man, Josh, is introduced to us before (2 Samuel 2:13, 26, etc.), yet, in order of time, this passage is his first appearance, and only here have we the account of his prowess in taking Jebus, and his part in the building of the city of David. He probably had been chief captain of David's band of outlaws, but on this occasion he gained the position of general of the national army, and he became subsequently the great military statesman of the kingdom, and the chief king's counsellor. Probably he may be regarded as the man who exercised most influence over the king, and the careful review of their relations produces a deep impression that the influence was seldom a good one. He became David's master, and under his bondage David vainly writhed and struggled in his later years.

I. JOAB HIMSELF. The incidents by which he is made known to us are mainly the following: -

1. Abner's killing of Asahel, Joab's brother (2 Samuel 2:12-32), filled Joab with purposes of revenge.

2. Joab treacherously slew Abner (2 Samuel 3:6-39), and David felt himself too weak to do more than denounce the murder; he dare not punish the murderer.

3. Joab took a leading part in the wars of the reign, especially distinguishing himself against the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10:6-14).

4. Joab connived at David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba, and so gained the power over him which he so humiliatingly used afterwards.

5. Joab was faithful in the time of Absalom's rebellion.

6. He directly and insultingly disobeyed his king and lord in slaying Absalom.

7. He showed his mastery and his control of the army by killing Amass, who had been appointed chief general in his stead.

8. He properly remonstrated with David against his self-willed scheme of taking a census.

9. But after David's death he took the part of Adonijah, and was condemned by Solomon. He was strictly a man of the world, brave, daring, manly, generous, and persevering, but masterful, impatient of what he thought David's hesitancy and weakness; a man who saw clearly an end to be aimed at, and was in no way particular about the choice of means by which to reach it. He was unscrupulous, having no quick sensitiveness of conscience to that which is wrong. He ordered his life by the rule of the expedient, not the rule of the right, and was heedless of the claims of others if they stood in his way. A man who was a type of a class still to be found in business and social spheres, who are all for self, and do not mind who they trample down as they go up. "His character was ambitious, daring, unscrupulous, yet with an occasional show of piety" (2 Samuel 10:12). Wordsworth says, "Joab is the personification of worldly policy and secular expediency, and temporal ambition eager for its own personal aggrandizement, and especially for the maintenance of its own political ascendancy, and practising on the weaknesses of princes for its own self-interests; but at last the victim of its own Machiavellian shrewdness."

II. JOAB'S INFLUENCE ON DAVID. Sometimes it was good. He skilfully aided in the restoration of the banished Absalom; and he properly roused the king from the excessive grief he felt at the death of his favourite son. Again and again, with statesmanlike genius, he enabled David promptly to seize the occasions that promised success; and he had religion enough, or insight enough, to see where David was wrong in the matter of the census. But, as a whole, Joab's influence was bad. His unscrupulousness led David into crimes, and his masterfulness prevented David from properly punishing crimes. When conflict came between state necessity and religious duty, Joab gained the victory for mere policy, and so made David act in ways that were unworthy of one who was only Jehovah's vicegerent. It is never good for us to come into the power of any fellow-man. We should be ever in God's lead, but refuse any fellow-man's bonds. And no undue influence exerted by a fellow-man can ever relieve our responsibility before God. Craft, guile, policy, are no forces of blessing in any human spheres. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief.

WEB: David said, "Whoever strikes the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain." Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and was made chief.

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