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Joab captures Rabbah!
During all these events, the siege of Rabbah, the Ammonite capital (Ezekiel 25:5),6 had been continuing. David had taken Jebus and made it his capital city, renaming it Jerusalem. He had built his palace and given thought to building a temple (a plan God significantly revised). He had subjected most of Israel's neighbouring nations. He had done battle with the Ammonites and prevailed, but he had not yet completely defeated them. The Ammonites retreated to the royal city of Rabbah, and as the time for war (spring) approached, David sent all Israel, led by Joab, to besiege the city and to bring about its surrender. David chose to avoid the rigours of camping in the open field, outside the city and remained in Jerusalem. This fact is presented by the writer as the mistake that made David susceptible to the sin of adultery. Far from trying to hide the sins of its heroes, the Bible presents the facts as they are so that we may learn from these examples how to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
Rabbah was being attacked when Uriah was killed and the remainder of chapter 12 describes its finish. We see that God was very gracious in giving David this great success against his enemies, despite the horrendous sin he had been guilty of just at the time that he was engaged in this war, and the wicked use he had made of the sword of Ammon in the murder of Uriah. God might have allowed the sword of Ammon to be an oppressing plague against David and his kingdom, as He allowed oppression in the days of the Judges, yet He breaks it and makes David's sword victorious even before he has repented, so that this goodness of God might lead him to repentance. It was for good reason that David confessed that God: 'dealt not with him according to his sins' (Ps. 103:102).
This incident gives us an indication of Joab's integrity. He was a valiant man, a man of war. He knew everything David had done, and would use it to his advantage later on. Nevertheless, he was a man of integrity and knew his position in the political/military structure of the kingdom. He was now about to capture Rabbah, the capital city of the Ammonites, after a long siege which began in 2 Samuel 11:1. This is another excellent example of how long siege warfare could take and, when Joab knew the city was his, we read (2 Samuel 12:27-282): Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters. Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it. lest I take the city, and it be called after my name. Joab showed himself to be a faithful servant who sought his master's honour and left an example to the servants of the Lord Jesus, to consider his honour above their own in every thing they do (Isaiah 26:82): 'Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to Thy name, and to the remembrance of Thee.'
Joab had brought the city to its knees and all that remained was the triumphal entry by the victor into the city. Joab did not want to do that in case the people worshipped him as the hero and even name the city after him. David gathered his forces and went to Rabbah, the city of waters, the royal city in which the Ammonite palace was found, where he marched triumphantly into the city. He took the crown of gold from the head of their king and had it placed on his head which Samuel anointed so many years before, So, King David got the glory of the victory. Joab's example of integrity shows us that, regardless of all his faults, he was a man of honour in the true military sense. This is a fine example for us today, for the New Testament tells us to 'honour one another' (Romans 12:10) as Joab's example of integrity shows us.
David has been criticized by the worthy commentator Matthew Henry for his subsequent actions for being: 'too haughty and too severe upon this occasion, and neither so humble nor so tender as he should have been . . . He seems to have been too fond of the crown of the king of Ammon, v. 30. Because it was of extraordinary value, by reason of the precious stones with which it was set, David would have it set upon his head, though it would have been better to have cast it at God's feet, and at this time to have put his own mouth in the dust, under guilt. The heart that is truly humbled for sin is dead to worldly glory and looks upon it with a holy contempt. . .' 7
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