Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 10

Joab’s speech about religion

2 Samuel 10:12

Joab, the commander of Israel’s army, was not a holy man. When it suited his desires, he could act in a cruel and evil manner (3:26-30; 20:8-10). He understood war, ambition and power; usually, he seemed to care little about religion.

However, when his own life was in danger, religion mattered to him (1 Kings 2:28-34). Perhaps he saw it as something that brought good luck or safety. Especially in dangerous situations, he could speak as if he truly had a right relationship with God.

Joab’s words to his brother before the battle against Ammon show this. It is an impressive speech. He urges his brother, and the soldiers whom he led, to be brave. They were not fighting, selfishly, for their own benefit. They were there, in that battle, to defend the people in Israel, the only nation that served the true God. God has established a permanent relationship with Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37). So Joab boldly declared that the cities in Israel belonged to God. It was for God’s cities that Israel’s army was fighting.

Joab did not have God’s promise of success in battle, as David did in 1 Samuel 17:45-47. David was a prophet, a holy man who received messages from God (Acts 2:29-30). So Joab could only speak with confidence about the character of God. Joab did not know what would happen in the battle. However, God always does what is right and good (Deuteronomy 32:4). In this battle too, God would do what he considered to be right. Therefore, Israel’s men too must be careful to do what pleases him (God) during the battle.

Next part: The success of Joab's plan (2 Samuel 10:13-14)


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