The Judas of the Old Testament

1 Kings 2:5-6

In the life of the man who was the Judas of the Old Testament, there’s a warning for everyone. Outwardly, he was a man among men formidable. He would have gone to the top in any profession. If you ever needed a man on your side, you would have wanted him.

He had daring, strength, courage and cunning. A formidable warrior. Right after David was crowned king, he conquered a stronghold no one had ever been able to conquer. He became King David’s commander-in-chief—his right-hand man.  

Outwardly he seemedloyal to David. He spent his life serving David, yet he never truly loved him.

Who am I talking about?  Joab. And at the last, he ended up under the judgment and wrath of David. It’s a tragic story.

The only thing sadder would be for a modern-day Christian to work in the church, admire Jesus, respect Jesus, fight for Jesus, serve Jesus, then die and go to hell under the wrath of Jesus. Some will.

You may be like him, so pay close attention to someone who was loyal but lost.

David is an Old Testament type—a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both David and Jesus are of the tribe of Judah. Both were God’s anointed king. Both were first rejected, then enthroned. Several of the Psalms David wrote (Psalm 22, for example) apply to David but are prophetic of Jesus, the coming Messiah.


If you were to ask anybody back then, “Who is David’s right-hand man?”  all would have answered, “Joab’s the man.” He was loyal to David, but he never really opened his heart to David.

  • Joab had family loyalty. He was David’s nephew Joab knew from his mother’s knee that his uncle was destined to be king. He was raised to love and honor David—just like many raised in church are taught that Jesus is King. But is that church upbringing enough?
  • Joab had fundamental loyalty.
    • Joab knew David was the nation’s God-anointed savior. He believed the right things.
    • He knew David was sovereign. David’s kingship was God-ordained and fought for it.
    • He knew David was sufficient. He had been around David enough to know how remarkable David was, who had single-handedly united the twelve tribes of Israel, bringing peace, prosperity and unity. David was the embodiment of all of Israel’s ideals:  shepherd and soldier, king and prophet, musician and poet, diplomat and administrator, friend and hero. What more could you want?
  • He had fighting loyalty. On the battlefield risking his life, Joab was David’s most courageous soldier.

But something was missing—there was a fatal flaw. Joab was lost! Somehow he never really gave his heart to David. He fought for David, yet he never surrendered to David.

Throughout the story, Joab never had the mind of David. In direct opposition to what David wanted, Joab stabbed to death a man (Abner) David had just forgiven.

He’s like many who occupy church pews. As children they were raised to have family loyalty. They’ve heard so much Bible, they have fundamental loyalty. They’ve worked so hard for the Lord they have fighting loyalty. Yet they’ve never really been saved. They’re going to die and go to hell because there’s something missing in their relationship with the King of kings.


Then why would David, at the end of his life, tell his son Solomon to make sure to bring judgment upon Joab? What happened?

In all the biblical record, you can never find a place where Joab truly from his heart loved David, and in the end, he led an insurrection against him.

Joab loved the kingdom without loving the king. He loved the power but not the Person. He loved the glory but not God’s anointed. Joab never really had the heartbeat of the King.

Joab disdained David’s mind.

Repeatedly, Joab went around the king’s back and murdered those David had forgiven.  When David extended forgiveness to Abner, a former enemy, Joab sneaked this man off and stabbed him in the back! Joab represents those who claim to know and love the Lord Jesus, yet never have the mind of Christ, never deal properly with those Jesus has forgiven. They cannot understand someone who’s been forgiven and made right with God. They bear resentments and grudges. If you’re knifing those Jesus loves, you haven’t been saved. He did not have the mind of David.

Joab distressed David’s heart.  

David wanted to forgive Absalom, his rebellious son. David loved him so much he would have died for him, just as Jesus died for us. What a picture of the love of God. After David commanded Joab to “deal gently” with Absalom, Joab stabbed Absalom three times in the heart.

The acid test of being a Christian is not whether you’re loyal. It’s Do you love as Jesus loves? Joab could not handle those David had forgiven and wanted to forgive. He could not love as Jesus or David loved.

I want to ask, no matter if you’ve joined the church, sing in the choir, or work in missions: Do you love those Jesus loves—the lost, the rebels? If not, you’re in Joab’s crowd, and you’re going to receive the wrath of Jesus.

Joab disobeyed David’s will.

It was David’s sovereign will that Solomon become king after him, but in the endJoab fought to install someone else on David’s throne—while David was still alive. Joab was like so many who say, “Yes, I belong to Jesus Christ, but I know my rights. I have my own desires.” He never really brought his will under the kingship of David.

Some of you are going to be just like Joab. You’re going to receive the judgment of the Lord Jesus Christ because outwardly you’re loyal, but inwardly you’re lost. You have never truly given your heart to Jesus Christ.

You’re not saved by the doctrine you can rattle off or by serving or fighting. As a matter of fact, a lot of Joabs have wrecked a lot of churches in the name of their king, but they’ve never had the heart of their king. They don’t deal with other people as Jesus would. They don’t forgive as Jesus forgives. They never seek rebels as Jesus seeks rebels. They know nothing about the sovereign will of our great God.

Do you have the heart of Jesus Christ? Do you love like Jesus? Do you have the mind of Christ? Are you submitted to the will of Christ? You may be outwardly loyal, but inwardly lost—religious but lost. These are the least likely to realize they need to be saved.

Jesus gave this solemn warning: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out demons, and in Thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity; I never knew you.’” (Matthew 7:22)

What a tragedy—Joab fought alongside David, then received David’s wrath. A greater tragedy would be for you to be a busy beaver in church, only to hear the Lord say one day, “Depart…I never knew you.”

Many are going to die and go to hell surrounded by baptismal certificates, church offering receipts, and Sunday school attendance awards because they never received Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.

Are you sure you’re saved? Does God’s Spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God? I’m not trying to make you doubt it, but 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Wherefore, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.”

“Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

When I’m trying to discern if someone is a Christian, I look for a genuine love for Jesus. Do you have the mind of Christ? Do you have the heart of Christ? Are you submitted to the will of Christ? Do you want His will rather than your own? If so, you can say you’re saved. If not, you have no right to.

If you want to be saved, pray a prayer like this: 

“Dear God, I’m a sinner.  I’m lost. I need to be saved, and I want to be saved. Lord Jesus, You died for me. Come into my heart, forgive my sin, and save me. Save me. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for what You’re doing in my heart. Amen.”

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