1 Kings 2:28-35
"28 When the news came to Joab—for Joab had supported Adonijah although he had not supported Absalom—Joab fled to the tent of the Lord and caught hold of the horns of the altar. 29 And when it was told King Solomon, “Joab has fled to the tent of the Lord, and behold, he is beside the altar,” Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go, strike him down.”30 So Benaiah came to the tent of the Lord and said to him, “The king commands, ‘Come out.’” But he said, “No, I will die here.” Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” 31 The king replied to him, “Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him, and thus take away from me and from my father's house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. 32 The Lord will bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men more righteous and better than himself, Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the Lord forevermore.”34 Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and struck him down and put him to death. And he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. 35 The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar."
We wish we could transcribe the whole of Dr Alexander Whyte's remarkable character-study of Joab for today's comment. He describes the captain of the host as having risen 'on the stepping-stones of murdered men to the shining top of power and honour, only to fall under the sword of a too-slow justice, an outlaw from the love and pity of all men'. This aptly characterises the evil genius of David's reign and the source of many of his sorrows. It may be that David did not see clearly enough until latterly - and too late - the danger that Joab repre- sented to the interests of his kingdom; it may even be that David, only too aware of all this, had rendered himself morally unable to deal with him as he ought by the shameful crime against Uriah in which he had invited Joab's connivance (2 Samuel 11:14). Did Joab have some hold upon the king, that he could thereafter treat him so insolently? At all events, Solomon made no hesitation in bringing him to justice. He could see how unthinkable it was that such a man should be allowed to continue unchecked. Joab cut an incongruous figure in his last extremity, clinging to the horns of the altar which during his lifetime he seems to have despised. True, there is mercy with the Lord for the vilest offenders, and even Joab might have found mercy had he come in true penitence, but God refuses to be used as a convenience in the way that men sometimes use lucky charms. This is something that should be remembered in times of national crisis when churches are suddenly filled with unfamiliar faces and voices are raised in prayer that will presently be taking God's Name in vain again when the emergency is over. What kind of God do men imagine Him to be, who is expected to be taken in by this kind of exhibition? There is such a thing as insulting the divine majesty, and God does not hold them guiltless who do so.