Introduction: Do you have power or authority over others? If so, God
cares about how you use your power over others. Most power over
others arises in the family, political or the employment context.
Our government, our parents or our employer can do a great deal to
benefit or harm our life. In Ephesians 6:9 God reminds those in
power about the use of their authority. He tells them to respect
those under their authority and refrain from threatening them. Why?
Because God is Lord over everyone, and He is just. Our lesson this
week looks at a military leader/ politician who has a great deal of
power over others. Lets jump into our study and find out what
lessons the Bible teaches us about the use of power and authority!

  1. A Tale of Two Generals

    1. Read 2 Samuel 3:17-18. God’s people were divided into two
      nations – Israel and Judah. David was King over Judah.
      His general was Joab. Ish-Bosheth was King over Israel
      and his general was Abner. What has Abner decided to do?
      (Switch sides! He now decides to support David.)

      1. What reasons does he give for this change in his
        allegiance? (David is the choice of both the elders
        of Israel and God.)

    2. Read 2 Samuel 3:19-21. How important is Abner to this
      deal? (Abner is the deal-maker. He is obviously more
      powerful than King Ish-Bosheth.)

    3. Read 2 Samuel 3:22-25. Would you accept Joab’s statements
      as being true?

      1. What do you think motivated Joab’s statements? (2
        Samuel 2 reports that Abner killed Joab’s brother in
        battle. Joab does not like Abner for that reason.
        But, I suspect that the most compelling reason is
        that in a consolidated kingdom, Joab views Abner as
        a rival to his position as top general.)

    4. Read 2 Samuel 3:26-27. Have you heard of this kind of
      approach in the workplace? (By deceit, you gain promotion
      by stabbing your rival in the back. Here, the stabbing is
      in the front and it is a real knife!)

      1. What would you say if you were David? (Joab is
        interfering with the deal to consolidate the two
        kingdoms under David. This murder is not in David’s
        best interest.)

      2. Joab says he is avenging the death of his brother.
        Read 2 Samuel 2:22-23. Is this proper revenge? (No.
        Abner tried not to kill Joab’s brother. Instead of
        challenging Abner to a fair fight, Joab uses a trick
        to murder him.)

    1. Read 2 Samuel 3:28-29. What do you think of King David’s
      reaction? (Weak, to say the least. David sounds like an
      outsider who has no authority over the situation. David
      must depend to a great deal on Joab.)

      1. Read 2 Samuel 3:38-39. Who are the “sons of
        Zeruiah?” ( 2 Samuel 2:18 tells us that Joab was a
        son of Zeruiah. David admits that he, the King, is
        too weak to stand up to his own general!)

        1. On whom does David depend for justice? (God.)

  1. The Replacement

    1. Read 2 Samuel 8:14-18. Through military conquest, blessed
      by God, King David consolidates his power and territory.
      Joab remains David’s general. In this time of relative
      prosperity, David has the affair with Bathsheba that we
      studied two weeks ago. You will recall that Joab helps
      David kill Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. What authority
      does this give Joab over David?

    2. Read 2 Samuel 13:1-2 and 2 Samuel 13:12-14. This lust for
      his half-sister ends in Amnon raping Tamar. What should
      King David do about this? (Read Deuteronomy 22:28-29.
      Amnon should pay a fine and then marry Tamar.)

      1. Read 2 Samuel 13:15-17. Is Tamar insisting on her
        right to marriage? (Yes. Tamar did not agree to the
        rape, she suggested marriage instead. However, once
        raped, she has the right to insist on marrying the
        guy – who is next in line to be king.)

    3. Read 2 Samuel 13:21. What does King David do about this
      terrible crime among his own children? (He gets mad, but
      does nothing.)

      1. Why? (David likely feels he has lost his moral

    4. Read 2 Samuel 13:28-29. Why does Absalom kill Amnon?
      (Read 2 Samuel 13:32-34. Absalom imposes his own
      penalty. Then he flees the country.)

      1. Do you think Absalom did what was right?

    5. Read 2 Samuel 13:38-14:3. King David longs for his son,
      Absalom, and General Joab gets a woman from Tekoa to
      approach David about allowing Absalom to return.

    6. Read 2 Samuel 14:19-21. We won’t get into what the woman
      said to convince the king, but David believes that Joab
      is behind this plot to bring Absalom home. Why would Joab
      do such a thing? Why would he care? (Read 2 Samuel
      14:22. It appears that Joab does this to curry favor with

    7. It turns out that bringing Absalom back was not such a
      good idea. Read 2 Samuel 15:10-13. Why does Absalom rebel
      against his father? (Perhaps he thinks David is weak
      because of age and his failure to deal with his own

    8. Read 2 Samuel 18:1-5. David decides to fight back. Why
      would David want to spare Absalom, the leader of the

    9. Read 2 Samuel 18:9. What trips up the new King? (It
      appears that when the new king was alone, he happened
      upon David’s soldiers. I suppose Absalom turned his mule
      around and started riding as fast as he could – only to
      get his head caught in a tree!)

      1. What would you do if you came across the leader of
        the rebellion?

    10. Read 2 Samuel 18:10-13. What is the young man’s view of
      the honesty and integrity of Joab? (If he killed Absalom
      at Joab’s request, he believed that Joab would deny any
      involvement. The young man would then suffer King David’s

      1. Is there any doubt that Joab understands King
        David’s command about not harming Absalom?

    11. Read 2 Samuel 18:14-17. How do you explain Joab’s
      actions? (Read 2 Samuel 17:25. Joab knew how much Absalom
      meant to David, but Absalom had chosen Amasa over Joab.
      Every time we see Joab assert his authority, it is to
      benefit Joab.)

    12. Read 2 Samuel 19:11-13. What has King David finally
      decided with regard to the authority of General Joab?
      (David has had enough of Joab’s self-dealing. He promises
      to turn Joab’s authority over to Amasa, who was Absalom’s

  2. Rebellion Again

    1. No sooner had Absalom’s rebellion been put down, then
      another rebel named Sheba claimed authority over Israel.
      Read 2 Samuel 20:2 and 2 Samuel 20:4-5. How is General
      Amasa doing in his new post? (He is a little slow to his
      new job.)

    2. Read 2 Samuel 20:6-7. What is the result of General
      Amasa’s slowness? (Recall that Abishai is Joab’s brother.
      King David turns not to Joab, but to Joab’s brother – who
      had previously ( 2 Samuel 18:1-2) been a top commander for
      David. Abishai is ready to march and David sends him out
      to do battle against Sheba.)

    3. Read 2 Samuel 20:8-10. When Joab killed Abner, a
      potential rival, he had an excuse. What excuse does Joab
      have for this murder? (None.)

    4. Joab and his brother, Abishai, take over David’s troops
      and put down the rebellion of Sheba. Read 2 Samuel 20:23.
      What are we to conclude? That abuse of authority and
      treachery are the way to retain authority?

  3. Justice

    1. Read 1 Kings 2:1, 5-6. David has some deathbed
      instructions to King Solomon. Why did David not take care
      of Joab himself? (David fails (again) to assert his
      proper authority. Perhaps a trial of Joab would result
      the revelation of David’s order regarding Uriah’s death.)

    2. We studied last week how Abiathar the priest, when he was
      an old man, conspired with Joab to make Adonijah the new
      king while David was still alive. King David intervened
      and declared Solomon king. Read 1 Kings 2:27-34. Has Joab
      finally received what he deserved?

    3. Friend, how will you use your authority? To benefit
      others or to benefit yourself? Will you allow injustice
      to prevail by not acting? Why not commit today to use
      your authority to benefit others?

  4. Next week: Rizpah: The Influence of Faithfulness.