2 Samuel 19:1-7 1 Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” 3 The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” 5 Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7 Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now.”
Joab is a pretty smart guy, isn’t he? He just gets leadership, which is probably why he was put in charge of the whole army of Israel in the first place. Today we pick up in 2 Samuel 19 where David’s son, Absalom has just been killed. Now I can understand that David was sad about his son. The problem is that his son just tried to steal the throne from him. He drove his father out of the land, slept with his sort-of-wives, and lifted himself up. But David’s men lured Absalom into a battle, in which he lost by just a hair. Literally, his hair led to his death.
So David is understandably sad about this death. But I can’t really get on board with him here. Neither could Joab. You see, David’s soldiers had just risked their own lives to restore the throne to their king. They fought long and hard and they won. Now their king is crying about it. What a confusing message that must have sent to them. “Didn’t you want us to win, David?” What was needed in this moment wasn’t sorrow; it was praise for those who fought.
I am so glad that Joab pulled David’s head out of the sand. I imagine David could have carried this weight of sorrow around with him for the rest of his reign, but he had someone to tell him to knock it off. Don’t we all need friends like that? We get stuck in the bottomless pit of self and we need someone to pull our head out of the sand sometimes. We need someone to tell us to get over it. I am thankful that I have people in my life that love me enough to calm me down and get me over it. They show me what is important and what isn’t. It doesn’t always feel good to hear it, but it certainly brings life.