“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 1:6
Do you ever feel like taking things into your own hands? Not only have I felt this way but I have also felt justified in doing so. I call this “acting Joab-ish.” If you’re not familiar with Joab you’ll at least remember that he was the commander of the army of Israel during David’s reign and the one who withdrew troops at David’s command so that Uriah the Hittite, husband of Bathsheba, would be killed.
Joab’s autobiography would be called, ‘I did it My Way.’ He acted as if he had no regard for David’s authority or God’s will. The accounts in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings portray Joab as a man controlled by self-righteousness and jealousy. He never considered whether or not the actions he took aligned with God’s Word or the King’s will.
The list of Joab’s most violent deeds include, but are not limited to:
- The murder of Abner in secret as an act of revenge. (David cursed Joab when he found out.) 2 Samuel 3
- Ensuring Uriah died in battle after King David sent orders to do so. 2 Samuel 11
- Murdering Absalom, disobeying the direct order of King David. 2 Samuel 18
- Murdering Amasa in order to regain his position as commander of the army. 2 Samuel 20
Surprisingly, the only time Joab obeyed is when it didn’t interfere with his own agenda. He did not trust his king to judge rightly and lived by his own rules. Ironically, there are times I find myself arguing Joab’s position. After all, Absalom was usurping the throne. Come on! Give the guy a break!
In the same way I argue my own position. “Really God? That’s not the way I would do it.” or better yet, “Okay, let me try this first and I’ll get back to you.”
Thankfully, God doesn’t give us a break when we run a marathon of willful rebellion, making a mess of our lives and relationships while tripping people along the way. “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent..” Revelation 3:19. The interesting thing about Joab is that he was never really disciplined until the end of David’s life. That’s when the judgment came and he was “terminated.”
“Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace.” 1 Kings 2:5-6
Therefore, it’s a blessing to be disciplined when we are acting in our own strength. It is a sure sign that we belong to God and are His precious child. He is faithful to make us aware of disobedience by shining light into the dark, cluttered closet of self-will. Also, please remember, just because something looks like it aligns with God’s will doesn’t mean it is God’s will for you. Be discerning and pray about everything. There are many good things, even fulfilling things, that we can do but our motivation may be self-serving. For example, something you choose to do may be motivated by the sense of value and approval you receive rather than by His prompting by the Holy Spirit for His glory. Therefore, rest in His plan for you even if it is resting! Trust in His perfect plan even if it means risk. Above all, love like you mean it by walking in obedience and surrender to Christ alone.