2 Samuel 20: 1-22
Joav, David’s commander in chief over the army, was brilliant at military strategy and at times was sympathetic, courageous and caring. At other times he was disobedient, arrogant, disrespectful, deceitful and heartless. Why would David keep someone like him close by?
It seems that it was because of Joav’s fierce loyalty to King David. No one understood David like Joav. Yet no one caused him more grief and agony. At times Joav acted without asking permission because he knew ahead of time that David would not agree to his plan. He was the epitome of the slogan: It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
One of the tragic aspects of Joav’s loyalty was that he became too familiar with the king. When David lay dying, Joav assumed that David wanted Adonijah to become king after him so when Adonijah made a move to take the throne, Joav supported him. All the while, David knew Solomon would become the next king of Israel but Joav never asked. He assumed.
When David heard about Adonijah’s attempt, he abdicated and made Solomon king in his place. Joav’s error in judgment resulted in his execution and because Adonijah continued to be a threat to his half-brother, Solomon eventually put him to death as well. (I Kings 2:25)
But what were some of the good things about Joav?
He was a fearless soldier who couragously captures Jerusalem (I Chronicles 11:4-9) He was fiercely loyal to David. When David and Absalom were not on speaking terms, it was Joav who interceded for a reconciliation between father and son. When David fled Jerusalem, Joav stayed wit him and it was under his command that David’s army defeated that of Absalom. When David isolated himself after Absalom’s death, it was Joav that reasoned with him, challenging him to return to his troops who’d sought so valiantly on his behalf. He was ruthless, yet very useful to David.
Unable to forget that Joav had killed his beloved Absalom, however, David demoted him and appointed Amasa as his commander in chief instead. Setting out for Jerusalem he encountered a troublemaker by the name of Sheba, son of a Benjamite, who cried out ‘We have no share in David, no part in Jesse’s son….so all the man of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba…but the man of Judah stayed by their King all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
David realized something had to be done quickly and as Amasa was delaying, he turned to Abishai and said, ‘Now Sheba, son of Bicri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.’ Now Joav’s men and the Kerethites and the Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under tha command of Abishai. They marked out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bicri. While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. (vs. 6-8) Seeing an opportunity to be rid of his rival, Joav stepped forward and killed Amasa without hesitation.
In time, Joav and Abishai tracked Sheba to Abel Beth Maacah and immediately surrounded the city. When a woman from the city appealed for mercy, Joav demanded the handover of Sheba. The people of the city beheaded Sheba and threw his head over the wall to Joav. Then Joav returned in triumph to Jerusalem confident that in light of his victory, David would ignore the fact that he had murdered Amasa without authority to do so. David, in fact, rewarded him by giving him his old job back: commander in chief of the army.
Yet in the end, because of his over-familiarity with the king and his penchant for making decisions without due respect to authority, he was executed for the ‘sin’ of assuming what the King wanted and acting on that assumption.
Assumptions can be deadly and often are. They ruin relationships, divide families, cause misunderstandings and conflicts that may last for generations. They are MOST deadly when we make assumptions about those in authority over us.
What is an assumption? We make an assumption when we think we know more than we actually do.
Assumptions usually include a judgment of someone else. You may assume that someone is angry at you because they passed you by without a word of acknowledgment. Yet it could well be that something is going on in their lives that has so preoccupied their minds, they literally didn’t even see you! But if you hold on to your assumption, your mind will conjure up all sorts of hurt feelings, maybe some anger and certainly an ill feeling toward that person. All because YOU assumed.…..but your assumption was not grounded in truth.
This is why the Bible teaches us to refrain form judging others; why we are reminded that we rarely know what is going on in another person’s heart or mind, what battles they may be facing in their personal life, what struggles are wearing them down. Instead of judging, we are called to be compassionate, to selflessly pray for the one who ignored you and maintain a positive attitude towards them. You can be pretty well sure that 99% of the time you assume you know what’s going on, you’re going to be wrong.
Have you made assumptions about others – perhaps someone in your family or circle of friends – based on your observation? If so, repent. Keep in mind that we see others through our own filters, not as they really are. Learn to give the benefit of the doubt – always!! Be generous with graciousness for someday you, too will desire that others are gracious towards you.