Concerned for the King's Glory (II Samuel 12:26-31)
Topic: II Samuel Passage: 2 Samuel 12:26–12:31
Crying for a King
Concerned with the King's Glory
II Samuel 12:26-31
(One Lord: No One Like You)
January 5th, 2014
I. Conflict in the Middle East
I don't know if you've heard recently about the conflict that's been going on between two neighboring countries in the Middle East. One of the countries has been attacking the capital city of the other country for some time now, and things are looking pretty grim for the city that's under siege. It appears the whole thing started when the leader of the one country reached out diplomatically to the new administration of the other country with official condolences, after country number two lost their long-time leader.
Well, it was well-known that the leader of the first country had a pretty good relationship with the leader of the second country, the leader who recently died. But like so many of the countries in that region, it is the son of that long-time leader who is now calling the shots, and his cabinet of his officials mistook this diplomatic gesture as some kind of nefarious political move. So do you know what they did (you may have heard about it)? They physically abused the visiting officials and then sent them home in shame.
Well, the first country was understandably not too happy about what happened. When the outrage of that first country became known in the region, the second country, fearing a major attack, went out and supplemented their army by hiring a bunch of mercenaries. So when the offending country put all of these troops on their common border with the offended country, country number one knew they had to act. Well, the first country won that border battle, but did not attack deeper into the country...until recently. I guess the first country was waiting until conditions were just right, and then they moved their forces in against the capital city.
So that's where things stand right now. Have you been watching CNN or Fox News? Have you been reading the newspaper, or checking some of the news websites? Well, if you were, you wouldn't find anything there about this conflict. Why? Because this conflict is currently taking place in the pages of Scripture.
II. The Passage: “Encamp Against the City and Take It” (8:26-40)
Turn with me to II Samuel 12. Let's look together at verses 26-31. This is what we read...
Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and took the royal city.  And Joab sent messengers to David and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the city of waters.  Now then gather the rest of the people together and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called by my name.”  So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah and fought against it and took it.  And he took the crown of their king from his head. The weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone, and it was placed on David's head. And he brought out the spoil of the city, a very great amount.  And he brought out the people who were in it and set them to labor with saws and iron picks and iron axes and made them toil at the brick kilns. And thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.
So in light of this passage, let's connect the dots. Country number one is Israel and David is their leader. Country number two is Ammon, and their leader is Hanun, the son of Nahash. And the capital city under seige is Rabbah. The back story we talked about a few minutes ago comes right out of II Samuel chapter 10. In fact, that story carries over into the opening verses of chapter 11. Flip back to 11, and look at verse 1. We read there that...
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
Now, as you may have noticed, verse 1 of chapter 11, could easily be 12:25. Or we might say, 12:26-31, could easily be numbered 11:2-7. They fit together perfectly. They tell the whole story of the battle against in Rabbah. In fact, if you looked at I Chronicles 20, verses 1-3, you find an abbreviated version of this same story: Joab goes. David stays. Joab fights. David comes. David claims victory and takes the spoils.
So what's the difference? In II Samuel there are fifty-one verses that separate 11:1 from 12:26, and those verses tell us the story of David and Bathsheba...and David and Uriah...and David and Nathan...and most importantly, David and Yahweh, the God of Israel.
But before we talk about the relationship between Israel's battle at Rabbah and David's battle with temptation, let me point out to you three things about our main passage, about 12:26-31.
First, notice the spoils of the victory. The author uses verse 30 to describe the large amount of spoil that was taken from the Ammonites after their defeat to Israel. Specifically, we're told about this massive crown of gold that weighed something like 75 pounds. Now, when it says that the crown was placed on David's head, I think we should picture some kind of ceremony that made it clear who was now in charge, rather than David wandering around Rabbah on a victory tour with this crown crushing his spine.
Second, notice the extent of the victory. Verse 31 tells us that David not only ransacked the capital city, but that he also made the Ammonites his forced laborers; and he did that in all the cities of the Ammonites, not just in Rabbah. So instead of insulting or resisting David's kingship and kingdom, the Ammonites are now under David's kingship, and they are being forced to advance his kingdom, to establish it in all its glory through this or that building project. But...
Third, and most important, notice the credit for the victory. In verses 27-29 (verses that are, interestingly, left out of the account in I Chronicles...in these verses) we read about Joab sending messengers to David in order to tell him about the imminent fall of Rabbah. You see, the title, “city of waters”, mentioned in verse 27 was probably an ancient way of describing the part of the city that housed and protected the water supply. So once Joab captures Rabbah's water supply (and turns it off), it won't be long before the city surrenders.
But notice the main point of Joab's message. Verse 28: “Now then gather the rest of the people together [specifically, the rest of the army] and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called by my name.”
Now think about this for a minute. What does that one verse tell us about Joab? I think it tells us that even though Joab has been doing the 'heavy lifting', even though Joab has been living in a tent, and dealing with soldiers, and living under threat, and facing the carnage of war, everyday, even though he has been the man in the trenches, he is vitally concerned about the king's glory. He knows David must get the credit for this victory.
Joab is no Abner. Remember him from earlier in this book? Abner was Saul's general, and once Saul died, Abner tried to exalt Saul's son as the new king against David. But when he wasn't feeling the love anymore from Saul's son, he decided to switch sides over to David. And even in the books of I and II Kings, we read about commanders who killed and took the throne from the king who was over them.
But Joab is fiercely loyal to David. If you recall, David is Joab's uncle. And even though he has a nasty temper, Joab has been and will be (especially in the next section of the book), Joab will be an anchor for David. But as we see in verse 28, Joab is not interested in being declared the conqueror of Rabbah. He wants David to come and do the honors...and get the honor. He is not interested in building a name for himself. He is concerned with the king, with God's king getting the glory.
III. Whose Glory Are You Concerned About?
Now this is where we need to think very carefully about what God might be showing us this morning. How might God want to speak to YOU this morning through this very brief account about Joab and David and Rabbah?
I think if we come back to that question of the relationship between this passage (including 11:1) and the rest of chapters 11 and 12, I think we are pointed back to yet another chapter: II Samuel 7. You see, the fact that, unlilke Saul, David was NOT rejected for his horrible sins against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, the fact that he was not removed from the throne because of the adultery and murder, this should have us asking “why”.
Additionally, what we’ve seen this morning should only make that question more crucial. The emphasis on the kind of victory that was accomplished at Rabbah is really an emphasis on the kind of victory that God himself gives to His king and to His people. But why is God continuing to give a guy like David this kind of success? Again, the answer is found in II Samuel. Turn back to II Samuel 7 and let’s refresh our memories. Look at verses 12-16:
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,  but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
You see, because of God’s mercy, because of God’s abundant grace, He gave David and David’s family this promise. And we can be sure of this: God’s plan to establish David's throne for all eternity will not be derailed, even by David’s sin. That’s what the ‘bookends’ of the battle and victory over Rabbah declare.
When God’s people sin, there is mercy and restoration possible because of God’s covenant promises. And because of God’s grace, established on His gracious promises, God does not fail to fight for His people and give them the victory. Isn’t this what we’ve been given through Jesus Christ, the son of David who fulfills God’s promise to David’s family. Romans 8
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:31, 32, 35, 37)
Do you know God’s victory in your life? Do you know the victory of His grace in your life? You can. And if you do, then like Joab, you and I should be passionately concerned about the King's glory. Just listen to how the Apostle Paul continues to help us understand living for the glory of our King…
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay [that is, we live out this new life in the weakness of frailty of these bodies], to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (II Corinthians 4:7)
Yes, and I will rejoice,  for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance [Paul was writing from prison],  as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:19-21)
Aren’t those amazing verses? Aren’t those verses we need to hear? I think if all of us are honest with ourselves, we know that too often we drift back to that default setting of living our lives with a passionate concern for…our own glory. Too often we are more than happy to “take the city” and have it “called by my name”. Do you know what I mean?
Sin craves the credit, doesn’t it? Sin wants the recognition. Sin aspires for acknowledgement. Sin goes after personal glory. Sin is excited to be exalted. Sin salivates over being the center of attention…to be esteemed…to be honored…to be made much of. Even in the work we say we do for God, how often are we like some of the Pharisees, who wanted to be seen doing righteous things…who wanted to be praised for their righteousness?
This morning God wants us to take our cue from Joab. He wants us, not to send messengers to the king, but to send prayers to His throne. Prayer that are filled with that word “lest”.
“O God, help me to name the name of Jesus, lest others think I am living by my own strength.”
“O God, help me to always give thanks to you, lest others think what I have is somehow a result of my own efforts.”
“O God, help me to always give you the glory, lest others think there is some good in me, some greatness in me, some wisdom in me, some strength in me, that does not come from you.”
Is that what our prayers sound like? Do people here God’s praise on our lips? Do they know we are thankful people? Do they hear the name of Jesus in our conversations? If not, why not? We have to hold on to the covenant promises that come through David’s Son, through the One who reigns on David’s throne: Jesus Christ.
Be conquered by Him. Be a conqueror through Him. And always, always, always let Him come and take the credit. Because in the end, it all comes from Him. Living with Romans 11:36 burned into your hearts:
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.