For some people, the holiday season means getting together with family, friends and acquaintances in close quarters. This should be a pleasant time, but often there are often tensions that seem to arise only at certain times of year. For others, this season provides relief from workplace situations, followed by the dread of having to return to the office, store or factory. So this is very timely.
This was a submitted piece. I am grateful to Kim for responding to our request; she had never written this type of article before and I hope this won’t be her last.
David & Joab – Difficult People in Our Lives
by Kim Rogerson
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
After David fled from King Saul, men came to David and he became their leader (1 Sam. 22:2). David and his men performed daring exploits while in exile that earned David the title “warrior” and his men “mighty men” (1 Kings 5:3; 2 Sam. 23:8). There were “the Three” and “the Thirty” (2 Sam. 23:8 & 24).
Interestingly enough, one of “the Thirty” is Asahel, son of Zeruiah, who is David’s sister (1 Chron. 2:17 & 11:26). Asahel is a commander in David’s army who is in charge in the fourth month (1 Chron. 27:7). He is also a marathon runner who chases Abner, the commander of Israel’s army, until Abner kills him (2 Sam. 2:18-23).
Another of the “mighty men” is Asahel’s brother, Abishai, who is said to be “chief of the Three” (2 Sam. 23:18). Abishai saves David’s life from a Philistine who is a descendant of Rapha – apparently a giant! – after having sworn to kill David. During battle David becomes exhausted, so Abishai kills the giant (2 Sam. 21:15-17). Another time Abishai kills 300 men with his spear (1 Chron. 11:20).
Joab, brother to Asahel and Abishai, is NOT named among the “mighty men”. He becomes a commander in David’s army when he leads the attack on the Jebusites to take Jerusalem (1 Chron. 11:6). However, Joab causes problems for David politically.
After King Saul dies, David is made King over Judah in Hebron. A civil war ensues between the House of Saul and the House of David. After seven years of war, Abner, commander of Israel’s army, decides to support David instead of Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth. Abner promotes David’s cause to the elders of Israel and finds them willing to make David king (2 Sam. 3:17-18). Abner is on his way to make final preparations for David’s coronation when Joab sends a message to bring him back to Hebron, without David’s knowledge. Joab lures Abner into a doorway and kills him because of his grudge against Abner for killing his brother, Asahel. This does not look good to the elders of Israel. David proves he has had nothing to do with Abner’s death and makes Joab join the mourners for Abner (2 Sam. 3:31). David does not punish Joab by putting him to death, but is vocal that Joab will be repaid for his evil deeds (2 Sam. 3:39).
What do I get from this? There are times when difficult people will cause problems. Like Joab, they react without thinking of the consequences. Their own feelings prevent them from seeing the “big picture” and they will take matters into their own hands. They will not listen to wisdom or rebukes because they know better, instead opposing and actively undermining what should be supported whole-heartedly. What do we do? We can learn from David who shows forbearance.
Difficult people can impact our lives for good. They have a major part in making us lean on God’s wisdom instead of our own. Sometimes all we can do is commend them to God and ask for forbearance, leaving their evil deeds for God to repay – and He will (Rom. 12:19).