2 Samuel 19; 20

The Loving Rebuke of a Friend.

“Now go out there and congratulate the troops, for I swear by the LORD that if you don’t, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than you have ever been.” ­– 2 Samuel 19:7 NLT

These two chapters read like a television soap opera. There are so many plots and sub-plots it’s difficult to follow what is even going on. There are stories of deception, jealousy, murder and betrayal. David is returning to Jerusalem after the death of his rebellious son, Absalom. But rather than rejoicing with his successful troops, David is in mourning. He is weeping over the loss of Absalom. And his response is having a negative impact on his troops. Instead of seeing their king celebrate their victory and his triumphal return to power, they are watching him mope about as if he had lost everything. Once again, David’s leadership skills and decision-making abilities come into question. And the only one who is willing to confront him about it is his good friend Joab.

Joab gets fed up with David’s behavior and boldly challenges him. He is willing to risk all in order to issue a wake-up call to David. His words are difficult, but are filled with love and truth. He is concerned for David and his kingdom. He knows that if David continues down the path he is going, he will lose the loyalty of his army and things will be worse off than when Absalom took over his throne. Sometimes the hardest people to confront are the ones who are in authority. We act as if we don’t have the right to tell them the truth and we fear possible reprisals. But Joab was willing to lose everything. He knew that this was a critical time in David’s reign. Things were unstable. David was not acting rationally. So Joab intervened and said what needed to be said – out of love. There comes a time in each of our lives when we have to be the bearer of truth to one we love. Joab loved David enough to tell him the truth. Just as Nathan loved David enough to confront him about his sin with Bathsheba.

Joab’s words were a wake-up call for David. They shook him out of his lethargy and caused him to take appropriate action. The people of Israel needed a bold, decisive leader at this juncture of their history. Things were volatile. The nation was a powder keg of emotion and the last thing they needed was an emotion-driven king who could not lead effectively. So Joab’s words were timely. His rebuke was lovingly appropriate. He said what needed to be said and risked everything to do it. Would we be willing to do the same thing for a friend?

Father, most of us fear confrontation. We run from it. And yet there are times when we need to step up and speak up. We need to be Joab to the Davids in our lives. We need to boldly confront out of love. Help us to recognize those occasions and to obediently listen to Your Spirit’s leading. May we listen to Your promptings and take the risk to say what needs to be said. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men