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When Passion Goes Wrong

1 Kings 2:32-33 (KJV) And the Lord shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah. Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the Lord.

The kingdom principle of sowing and reaping demonstrate the double-edged sword representative of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12). It carries both benefits and consequences for the person who initiates an action. The sowing is represented by the actions of the individual and the reaping is represented by the outcome resulting from the individual’s actions. In much of the previous studies, we have seen this Kingdom principle played out on several occasions. Today’s narrative is no different than before as it represents the ending of one era and ushers in the beginning of a new one.

Understanding The Text

In today’s text, we move from Solomon’s removal of Abiathar from the priesthood (1 Kgs. 2:26-27) to the Joab narrative (vv. 28-35). As we know, Joab has been a part of the Davidic narrative from the days of David running from Saul to Saul’s death (1 Sam. 16-31). He is David’s most trusted warrior general and is revered by most within the Nation of Israel. In other words, he is the main fixture in David’s inner circle.

After David becomes king of Judah (2 Sam. 2:1-4), Saul’s son, Isa-bosheth becomes the king of Israel (vv. 8-10). During the short two year reign of Isa-bosheth, Israel and Judah continuously engage in battle with one another. Until one day, Abner (Israel’s general) suggests the sides pick their top warriors and allow them to decide the fate of both sides without the need for mass bloodshed, to which Joab agrees. After being routed by Judah, Abner was still being pursued by Joab’s brother, Asahel, to whom he said, “Turn aside to the right or to the left and go after someone else…” (v. 21). When Asahel refused, Abner (in an act of self-defense) turn and killed him. Upon learning of this Joab and his brother, Abishai, pursued after Abner until a truce was called by Abner in verse 26.

In the following chapter, Abner decides to help David consolidate the kingdom after being disrespected by Isa-bosheth (2 Sam. 3:6-10). Abner meets with David and establishes a treaty wherein Abner will meet with the elders of Israel to discuss making an alliance with David as king over birth Israel and Judah. Upon learning about this, Joab confronts David and, subsequently, has Abner brought to him. During the discussion, Joab pulls out a knife and kills Abner.

Later, in the Davidic narrative when Absalom usurps the kingdom from his father, he places Amasa in the position of “…captain of the host instead of Joab…” (2 Sam. 17:25). After Absalom is killed by Joab (18:14-15), David mourns for his son and later tells Amasa that he will continue in the role of captain in Joab’s stead (19:13). In the following chapter, during a revolt by the tribe of Benjamin, David issues an order to Amasa, which takes longer than expected and David decides to send Abishai to complete the task instead (20:4-6). Along the way, Joab met with Amasa and killed him in the same manner as he killed Abner.

In both instances, David was unaware of the actions until after they had occurred. Although he did not issue the order to execute either man, David would be perceived to be guilty because he was the king and, in most cases, executions of this magnitude would never occur without the king’s command. Therefore, the blood of these two innocent lives rested upon the house of David as long as Joab was alive and justice was not meted out. So upon his deathbed, David gave a charge to Solomon to bring Joab to justice for his crimes (1 Kgs. 2:5-6). To add to his former crimes, Joab was now also guilty of committing treason by assisting Adonijah with attempting to usurp the throne while David was still alive (1 Kgs. 1:7). Joab’s time to face justice had finally arrived.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)

Why Is This Important To Us?

This is important to us because it demonstrates to us by the example of how the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping works. It shows us the natural law of germination in effect as the seeds of Joab’s crimes were planted years before the actual fruit of his actions was seen. This was not a normal day at the office. This was, in fact, crimes that were punishable by death. In his zeal for advancing David’s kingdom, Joab engaged in activities that could have compromised the entire consolidation campaign and cost David the throne and perhaps even his life.

How do we translate this into our contemporary context? We can be so overly zealous for certain areas to the point of being blinded by our zeal. It does not mean we cannot be passionate about something. It does mean that we have to be careful to not allow ourselves to become so consumed by our passion for this thing that we cause others to become collateral damage as a result of our inability to see the larger picture.


Within the proper context, passion for something can be beautiful. When it is misplaced, it becomes a very dangerous weapon wherein it can potentially cause harm to others unawares. We have to make certain that we are well-grounded in the Word of God and under the influence and leadership of His Holy Spirit in every scenario. This is the only way by which we can advance the Kingdom agenda without causing further damage internally. We must let the Holy Spirit lead us at all times…not our emotions. If we allow our decisions to be based upon our emotional state, we risk causing harm to the overall agenda of God.

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