King David and Commander Joab

Effective Even If Imperfect


Every person has positive and negative qualities. A person’s positives make him/her more attractive as a potential ally whereas negatives make a person less attractive. Increase and strengthen your positives to make yourself more acceptable, but decrease and weaken your negatives to reduce the chance that people may have to “hold their nose” in order to ally with you. Also, to assess another person for an alliance, such as employment, partnership, marriage, and the like, evaluate both the positives and negatives. A person does not have to be perfect in order to be effective. This bible study provides an example of a person that was effective over a lengthy period despite apparent imperfections.

David’s Long Standing Commander Joab

The study examines the relationship between King David and the chief commander of his army for more than forty years. Joab was effective as David’s chief commander. He led several military victories for David and counseled him successfully on two occasions when David needed advice. On the flip side, David was uncomfortable with Joab, because he appeared more loyal to his personal interest than to his master and murdered two people in cold blood that were potential competitors for his position. Despite the discomfort, David retained Joab as his chief commander for the entire forty years of his reign as king of Israel and Judah.

Why David Retained Joab Long

It is possible that David retained Joab as commander for so long because he liked his effectiveness. Also, David might have grown excessively dependent on Joab and could not summon up courage to detach from him. In either case, Joab’s effectiveness as army commander appears to have played a major role in David keeping him for so long despite strong reasons to get rid of him. His discomfort with Joab was not light either. Before David died, he told Solomon, his son and successor as king of Israel, to deal with Joab “according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace” [1 Kings 2:6].


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