Chapter twenty relates to us how Joab ambitiously regained the position of chief military commander and incurred God’s wrath.
After Joab disobeyed King David by killing his son, David fired Joab and gave his job to Amasa (2 Sam. 18:12-14; 19:13).
Amasa had previously served as the commander in the insurgent army (2 Sam. 17:25).
When the two men met to chase down a new insurgent, Joab tricked Amasa and ran his sword through him.
“Joab said to Amasa: ‘Are you all right, my brother?’ Then with his right hand, Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to kiss him. Amasa was not on guard against the sword that was in Joab’s hand, and Joab stabbed him with it in the abdomen […]” (2 Sam. 20:9,10).
Thus, by the end of the story, we are told that “Joab was in charge of all the army of Israel,” (2 Sam. 20:23).
Joab allowed his zeal for his job as David’s right-hand man to turn into self-centered ambition.
This disproportionate ambition led him to commit at least two murders and participate in at least one other (2 Sam. 3:27; 11:16,17).
Eventually, Joab was held accountable for his evil deeds (1 Kings 2:31-33).
What we learn from this story is that while zeal for attaining greater privileges in God’s service is commendable, one should not allow that zeal to turn into selfish ambition.
An overly ambitious attitude could lead us to give priority to a personal agenda rather than to obeying God’s theocratic arrangements.
When we ignore God’s instructions handed to us through the congregation in order to protect our self-interests, we wind up hurting others and displeasing Jehovah (Heb. 13:17).