All About The Joabs in Your Life!


May, 2003

Dear Ministry Partner,

There probably has been an ambitious "Joab" in your life who has eventually given you problems, but you may have not realized that you were letting him (or her) stay in that place of causing harm and pain. This is deep truth, but well worth digging into the eternal principles of success from the Word of God.

Joab was the commander of David's army. Joab was a man who could "get the job done". He was very results oriented, and appeared to be a great "help" to King David. Joab got his place in leadership by getting something done that King David wanted — a way into the city of Jebus (later named Jerusalem) to conquer it militarily and take it from the Jebusites (1st Chron. 11:4-6). David had stated that whoever found a way to enter the city and was the first in would be the new commander of David's army. This was a mistake on David's part (not exactly being led by the Spirit), but it was a great chance for an opportunist like Joab. Driven by his selfish ambition, Joab was the first into the city which gave him what he was wanting — power and authority.

Once Joab had his new position, he would do anything to keep his power, authority, position, and prestige — he would even kill for it. He killed Abner (2nd Samuel 3:30) and Amasa (2nd Samuel 20:10) when they appeared to be a threat to his position. (Abner and Amasa were described as "righteous" men in 1st Kings 2:32.) Over the years, this kind of ruthless behavior by Joab slowly ceased to be distasteful to King David — so much so that David sent Uriah the Hittite to Joab with instructions to "take care of him" after David's adulterous affair with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba (2nd Samuel 11:14-17). David knew what kind of man Joab was — but still used him to lead his army. The fact that Joab's strategy to kill Uriah caused "some of the servants of David" to also be killed didn't bother Joab at all. They were just collateral damage. Joab was only looking out for "number one." And Joab knew getting Uriah killed would give him more leverage with the King in holding the position as commander of the army.

However, Joab's tendency to kill those who got in his way eventually got out of hand and harmed David. (David played with fire by keeping Joab around, and eventually got burned.) And even though Joab's aggressiveness seemed useful to David, it resulted in Joab killing one of David's own sons — Absalom — in one of the saddest events in David's life. You know the story about how Absalom led a rebellion against David, and David left Jerusalem. When the two armies clashed, David gave specific instructions to not kill Absalom. David knew Absalom's life better than anyone, and perhaps Absalom could still be redeemed. But when Joab came upon Absalom hanging with his hair caught in the tree limbs, Joab immediately killed him — even after being reminded of the King's instructions by those standing around. (Joab's actions were very consistent — Absalom represented a threat to Joab's position.)

By this time, Joab had too much "dirt" on David for the King to punish him, and Joab and David both knew it. Therefore David had become unable to control Joab, and Joab remained the army's commander for the rest of David's life. It wasn't until after David's death, when Solomon had become King, that Joab was put to death for all his evil deeds (1st Kings 2:28-34). David knew Joab deserved death, and implied such to Solomon when David was about to die (1st Kings 2:5-6).

Perhaps you have known some "Joabs" — either male or female versions. They are people of selfish ambition, "users" of others. Perhaps you have been a victim of their greed for position or authority in the workplace, or school, or church, or even in your family line. Or perhaps you have a "Joab" working for you, or under your authority in your family or some other social setting. Joabs can seem very useful. They may be very technically proficient in their line of work or vocation, or perhaps have great skills in manipulating other people's behavior. They may make you look good if they report to you, or solve your problems. But Joabs have some of the following characteristics:

1. they put self ahead of others,

2. they are motivated by selfish ambition, not compassion or obedience to God,

3. they use or destroy other people (usually leaving a trail of the hurt/wounded behind them),

4. they use manipulation, cunning, smooth speech, or intimidation to influence others,

5. they use conspiracy and deception to get ahead,

6. they either corrupt the innocent, or else hurt them,

7. they reward loyalty to themselves by others, rather than loyalty to God,

8. they explain away their behavior, and justify it, or rationalize it,

9. they reproduce "after their own kind" resulting in even more "Joabs", and

10. they are often Christians, sometimes even in Kingdom positions.

Examples like Joab in the Bible were given to demonstrate timeless principles that you and I can apply to our lives today. First of all, we want to make sure that we have not let any of those same characteristics creep unnoticed into our own lives. (Many times unforgiveness towards a "Joab" will open us up to influence from the same spirits to cause us to be a Joab!)

Also, we need to live a sin-free life so a Joab does not have the ability to find something to use against us (like he did with David and Uriah). And if you recognize a "Joab" around you, you want to try to end any relationship with him or her "lest you learn his ways" (Prov. 22:25). The Bible says, "bad company corrupts good morals" (1st Cor.15:33). We are to shun the appearance of evil, and that includes Joabs if possible.

If you are in a place of authority over a Joab, and let him or her remain in that condition and position of influence, you "share in his or her sins" (Rev.18:4). Joabs must be dealt with firmly and intelligently, because they will not give up position or authority willingly. Some leaders become "co-dependant" on Joabs, because the Joab will do the "dirty work" — being the hatchet man or woman for the leader.

Sometimes we find a Joab over us — and therefore are not really in a position to make a change (much like the soldiers in Israel's army in the days of King David). This is one of the most difficult situations in life. You might be a wife where the husband is a Joab. You might be a son or daughter where the parent is a Joab. You might have a job where your boss is a Joab. In these situations, first of all we have to "walk in love" (Eph. 5:2). It can seem unbearable, but the Bible gives us some exhortation to "Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings... if anyone suffers as a Christian... let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God... what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good." (1st Peter 4:13-19). This last verse is not saying it is God's will for you to suffer under a Joab, but rather if you find yourself suffering — commit it to God and do good (not planning revenge). But also pray!

The main thing God has made available to us in dealing with difficult problems like a Joab is prayer! There are many different kinds of prayer, and prayer changes situations. As my dad once said, "Life is difficult." We need God's help to deal with those "Joabs" we come in contact with. And the Word of God contains many principles to help us overcome.

Avoiding the Joabs,

Dale & Judi Leander

P.S. — All things are possible with God! Your break-through may be our teaching series on prayer!


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