What Seems Good

A man named Joab was head over Israel’s army.  He sent several of his best fighting men out to meet the Syrians in battle and placed many others under the command of his brother, Abishai, to fight against the Ammonites.  Here, surrounded on all sides, Joab met with his brother and said,

“If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you.  Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him.” – 2 Samuel 2:11-12

“May the LORD do what seems good to him.”

This is one of the most terrifying statements in all of Scripture.

This is purely speculation, but in this moment, I think Joab evinced an extraordinarily high view of God.  Joab said nothing about certainty.  There was no sure claim that God would spare them or their city.  As a subject to King David, whose obedience to God’s Law was unparalleled in the time of Israel’s kings, Joab would have known the covenants the LORD made with Israel.  But he would have also had clear knowledge of the harshness with which God dealt with the previous king, Saul (1 Sam. 16:14; 31).  Even so, Joab knew that the noble and right thing to do in that situation was to “be courageous” on behalf of the people he was defending.  These cities belonged to God and, as Joab saw it, God could do with them as he wished.

For Joab to proclaim to Abishai, “…may the LORD do what seems good to him” is an astonishing thing.  It showed profound faith that his sovereign God would absolutely accomplish what was good – good to God, not necessarily Joab.

This is a virtue I want to emulate: to know that my standard for good and God’s standard for good are two very different things.  Having this knowledge will help me see that all I have, I do not deserve.

The Lord doing what seems good to him is, at first, the worst possible news for bad people.  What seems good to the Lord is for justice to be served and, in regards to all of us, justice would be for us to absorb the cost for offending an infinitely holy God.

But thank God it also seems good to him to offer salvation through the atoning work of Christ, who saw that it was good for him to absorb that cost for us.  It seems good to the Lord to give us what we do not deserve – the assurance that if our sins have been placed on Jesus, then we will never have to experience the cost of offending an infinitely holy God.

So, may the Lord do what seems good to him.


About Collin Damon Welch
Collin worked in the film/TV industry for a while. Now he's pursuing ministry. He and his incomparably beautiful wife Nicole live in Chicago.

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