Then Joab came to the king in his house and said, “Today you have shamed the faces of all of your servants who saved your life today, as well as the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hated you and hating those who love you. You have shown today that commanders and servants are nothing to you. I know that if Absalom were alive instead today and all of us were dead, then this would be right in your eyes. Now go out and speak reassuringly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord that if you do not go out, no man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than any calamity that has come against you from your youth until now.”2 Samuel 19:5–7 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
David is the man after God’s own heart. Yet throughout the accounts of his adventurous life, it is easy to see his shortcomings.
In the text above, David is mourning his son Absalom. Absalom had treacherously usurped the kingship from his father. David seems to do something wrong, and compound wrongs on to that. This was a day of victory for Israel, but the mourning from the king looks like histrionics.
Enter brave Joab.
Joab courageously confronted the king with a different perspective to get his eyes drawn off of his own belly button. He wanted the king to know how his mourning dishonored the work of his servants in defeating the king’s and the nation’s enemy.
Joab did not mince words. He spoke plainly.
And it was enough to move David.
So the king arose and took his seat in the gate, and the people were all told, “The king is sitting in the gate.” So all the people came before the king, but the children of Israel had fled, each to his tent.2 Samuel 19:8 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
The lesson here is two-fold.
First, from David’s perspective… Life sucks. It brings all sorts of troubles. This wasn’t a one-off occurrence, but the culmination of years of shenanigans from David’s children. They brought him a fair share of despair.
Consequently, our focus tends to draw inward in those moments. All of us have a tendency to think of only ourselves and our sorrow.
I’m not saying to not have sorrow or to mourn. There are seasons for those things. But I am certain there are others that rely on us. Yes, take time to mourn. But no amount of mourning is going to fix what happened. A prolonged season of it may also hinder a celebration of the good that is worked. Remember how God works all things for good to those who love Him.
Don’t become so bogged down in self-introspection that we don’t see the real world of people that surround and support us.
Second, when we serve others like Joab, we see the reality from a different perspective… We may have to have a frank conversation with our leaders.
As any of us may find ourselves in a leadership role, when something like this happens we need to be careful to not take offense. Sure, the words used might be frank and seemingly brutal.
Joab served the king. He didn’t want to harm the king. He wanted David to have a balanced view. And to do that will require humility from all parties involved.
In closing, be like David a man after God’s own heart. Also, be like Joab, not unwilling to correct an injustice when it is in our ability to do so.