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Lesson 12 • Third Week

Chastisement Of An Unfaithful Servant

Background Reading:                       Devotional Reading:

1 Kings 1:15-21, 41-43; 2:1­               Matthew 24:45-51 6, 28-34

"And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the in­nocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father."
1 Kings 2:31, KJV

"The king said to him, 'Do as he has spoken and fall upon him and bury him, that you may remove from me and from my father's house the blood which Joab shed without cause."'
1 Kings 2:31, NASB

Imprecation — A curse; malediction.
Maneuver — To manipulate or manage with skill or adroitness.
Sanctuary — Immunity afforded by refuge in a church or other sacred place.

When King David was aged and bedridden, a conflict over succession loomed large. His son, Adonijah, younger brother of Absalom, coveted the throne and made preparations to take control in his father's infirmity. Like his deceased brother, he amassed a militia and sought out political advisors. Joab was one former servant of David's with which the prince conferred. Joab probably knew that the king preferred another of his sons, but he believed he knew better. This arrogance would be the straw that broke the camel's back.


The quick actions of the prophet Nathan and Queen Bathsheba thwarted the machinations of Adonijah. They reminded the king of his earlier promise to make Solomon his successor, informed him of Adonijah's intent to steal the leadership, and compelled him to have Solomon anointed immediately. While Adonijah was hosting a banquet to win the elders of Judah to his cause, the shofar sounded and a cry went out, "God save King Solomon." The banquet came to an abrupt end, and the conspirators all scattered.

Shortly afterward, David met privily with Solomon to counsel him about taking rule of Israel. His first recommendation to the new king was to have Joab killed! In prosecuting the case, David didn't mention his support of Adonijah in the aborted coup. David listed Joab's two most egregious sins: the murders of Ab­ner (2 Samuel 3:27) and Amasa (2 Sam. 20:10). The treachery against Abner and Amasa had been identical: in both cases Joab approached the men as a friend, but stabbed them to death; in both cases, he was motivated by selfish desire. Upon Abner's demise David had publicly made imprecations against Joab (2 Sam. 3:29). Now he wanted his son to be the instrument to bring divine judgment.

Solomon was spurred into taking action against his enemies after David died. Adonijah maneuvered to wed the last consort of King David, and his half-broth­er perceived it might be another gambit to wrest away the crown (1 Kings 2:22). Solomon had the prince killed, and then had co-conspirator Abiathar, the priest, forced out of his office. Joab heard of these events, fled to the taberna­cle, and "caught hold on the horns of the altar" (1 Kings 2:28). With this act he sought sanctuary and appealed for mercy from King Solomon. He found none. Because he would not come out from before the altar, Solomon had him struck down right there.


Our Lord shared a parable about an evil servant who, because his master tar­ried, began to abuse his fellow servants in the household (Matthew 24:48,49). This is applicable to Joab, who imagined no repercussions for exercising his will against his peers, Abner and Amasa. In Joab's case, the proverbial "return of the master" came on a day he least suspected it. He died cowering in fear and unable to find absolution.

We who served the Lord are admonished by Joab's example. We must render service with sincerity. Whatever authority has been trusted to us must not be bused. We must renounce grievances and jealousies that superimpose our own will over the Master's. We must work cooperatively with our fellow labor­ers. As much as it lies with us, we should live peaceably with all men.


What did David counsel his son to do about Joab?
Where did Joab flee to when he feared reprisal from Solomon?
Should David have dealt with Joab in his lifetime?
How should we deal with a treacherous co-worker, colleague or church goer? Why shouldn't we follow Solomon's example.

Essential Thought- "The wicked servant will face his punishment eventually."