This is a good illustration. First and Second Samuel take a good deal of concentration to keep up. After all they chronicle the kings during tumultuous times. Absalom revolted against his father, King David, and tried to take the kingdom from him. He caused a lot of trouble and was killed. Chapter 20 is shortly after his death. Amasa is not well-known but teaches a lesson we can apply to our daily lives. It shows how the devil works in the heart of a believer. We need to stay ahead of the devil.
Joab was pursuing Sheba because he was trying to continue what Absalom had started and divide the kingdom of Israel. Joab was qualified and good at his job of General in Israel’s army. He was merciless and heartless. Militarily he did a good job. Amasa had been enlisted by David to go after Sheba as well. To Joab, Amasa was only in the way. In his mind there could be only one general in David’s army and it was him, not Amasa.
II Samuel 20: 5So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him. 8 When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out. 9 And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri. 12 And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still. 13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
Art thou in health, my brother? How slick of Joab. He had a strategic mind. He studied his enemies, those of Israel as well as those he considerable personal enemies. He came across as a friend and when the other person let down his guard he stabbed him in the back. There is no more cowardly person than one who does things like that. You’d think you’d not see anything like this in church, but the devil wants to destroy Christians and Christianity, so he goes after us through deception.
Amasa was commissioned by the King to gather the troops. He had three days to rally the people. He was energetic in carrying out the command. Joab was a man who played both sides. He warmed up to David when needed but also warmed up to Absalom. That’s what the devil does. He wants to be our best friend. He won’t come to us with fangs and pitchforks. He’s most effective with slick, deceiving ways of friendship. We’re exposed to wickedness all around us. Mass communications makes it easy to connect. There can be good in that but there can be bad. The devil uses people to get to us. He uses trends and fashions and media. He’ll use anyway and anyone he can to get to us. You cannot trust him. David knew he couldn’t trust Joab. When Solomon took over for David he knew the pretend friends of his father had to be dealt with. Joab grabbed the horns of the altar thinking that would help him.
The devil knows his day is coming. He works to keep the lost unsaved and to get the saved out of the way. Once Joab gutted Amasa he pushed him aside. If we slowdown in any aspect of our Christian life—Bible reading, praying, or going to church—the devil’s Joab will be there to rub up against us. All Joab needed was a moment of guard that was let down. He was a skilled warrior. The devil is just like that. I’ve heard Christians say they are devil proof. We can’t claim that! We’re not above the devil touching us. If we let down our guard, he’ll gut us and kick us aside.
Amasa slowed down. Joab caught up. Don’t slow down. Don’t trust what the world says. Don’t trust how the devil uses people. The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things, so don’t even trust yourself. Amasa thought he was in a safe place. When he stopped, his sword fell to the ground. He should have felt it but he didn’t. Too many are laying down their swords—the Word of God. When you do that you expose yourself to Satan. If we hold the Word high and practice it and pattern our life and church by it, we can overcome the devil. Amasa didn’t realize it. Many are Christians in name only because they have put down the Sword. Pick it up now.
You cannot trust anything or anyone that’s not of God. No part of this world is neutral. It’s either for or against God. Against God means for the devil. There are so many Joab’s pretending to belong to the King’s side that we need to watch our p’s and q’s.
Instead of looking mean, Joab said art thou in health, my brother? It doesn’t have to happen to us. The devil will warm up to you, ask you how you are and get you to relax. Don’t. How far ahead of the devil are you? It doesn’t have to happen to us. If you stay close to the Lord he’ll help. Each of us is facing a new week and new problems. The devil works through surprising ways to get to us. God will give discernment and help in dealing with him. Turn to him.