There is a just man who perish in his righteousness and a wicked man who prolongeth his life in wickedness (Eccl. 7: 15)
We may consider Judge Jephthah and captain Joab as two just men who perished in their righteousness.
During the period of Judges, Just Judge Jephthah, was famous for His might and also his nature of fulfilling vow though it hurt him. Due to his might, the elders of Gilead came to him for help in fighting against their enemy the Ammonites (Judges 11: 5). Jephthah accepted their call and made a vow to God that if God gives him victory over Ammonites, he would offer any thing that comes towards him from his house on his return from the war as burnt offering as it belongs to God! (Jud. 11: 30, 31) He made this vow as it came into his mouth unknowingly and he was surprised with great agony as his only daughter came from his house celebrating his victory over the Ammonites! With great agony cannot be expressed in words, he offered his daughter as burnt offering to God! (Jud. 11: 39). But his heart did not recover from the great agony and sorrow at all, till his end. God accounted him as Just person as he proved his righteousness in fulfilling his vow though it hurt him very badly, though he was a son of a harlot, who is unfit to enter in to the tabernacle of God (Jud. 11:1), (Duet. 23:2). Such a just and mighty man of valour, died after six years after his daughter’s death, due to unrecovered sorrow over his daughter’s matter! (Jud. 12: 7) As a New Testament saint, we have a great understanding and hope that Jephthah and his daughter are in New Heaven as they were the righteous, Old Testament saints and due to lack of such understanding, Jephthah was sorrowful till his early death.
Joab was an able and wise and victorious captain of King David throughout his life and he was one among the precious gems given to King David by God. He was a just person who always lived and strived hard for his king. Not only a captain, Joab was a near kinsman to King David and his mother was elder sister of King David (I Chr. 2: 13-17). As Joab was discussed earlier in this blog, it is only precisely explained here.
King David told his son King Solomon prior to his death to take action against captain Joab with two accusation only. 1. Joab killed Israeli captain Abner and 2. Israeli captain Amasa in the time of peace but shed the blood of war without the knowledge of King David (I Kin. 2:5). We understand that King David was made king over Judah and King Ishbosheth was ruling in Israel ordained by Abner the captain, after the death of King Saul. When Ishbosheth questioned some wrong deed of Abner, he was furious and sent letters and messengers to King David in order to make him king over whole Israel. Abner should have corrected himself or reconciled with the king, but toppling his kingship to King David was unrighteous deed. Really if Abner was righteous, he could have made David as king over whole Israel when King Saul and his three able sons died in the war against Philistines. When King David heard Abner’s advice, he placed a condition to bring back his wife Michal though she was remarried to Phaltiel and she lived with him about ten years and begat five sons and few daughters and these five sons were handed over to Gibeonites to be hanged to solve the issue of famine for three years (II Sam. 3: 12-16 & 21: 1-9). Abner did everything King David asked him to do and Abner came to King David and returned in peace. Then captain Joab returned to King David in Hebron and came to know about Abner’s visit! Captain Joab could not tolerate it because of high potential danger by Abner to King David, and enquired with King David about the purpose of his visit, but the King did not open his mouth as the secret deal about Michal may not be accepted by Joab. As king did not utter any word, the suspicion on Abner increased to Joab and for the safety of the king, Joab sent his men and called Abner from his way and killed him, because it was the duty of the captain to safeguard the king, from the enemy captain of Israel. It created a misunderstanding in King David’s mind and he never trusted him thereafter. So King David wanted to replace Joab with another captain and during the fight against Jerusalem, the King declared that whosoever enters Jerusalem through gutters and overcome blind and the lame and capture the city would be made the captain of the host and to his dis satisfaction, Joab did it and retained his captaincy, as Joab was a chosen gem by God to King David (I Sam.5:8).
In the case of Israeli captain Amasa, though Amasa was Joab’s cousin brother, (His mother’s younger sister’s son) and captain Amasa left King David and joined Absalom, the son of David when he became king of Israel without the knowledge of King David, and Amasa was elevated to the chief captain of the host of Israel. In the battle Joab killed Absalom, though he liked him much and favoured Absalom many times, but killed him in the battle though king David gave instructions to the captains to save Absalom, just because he came against King David and Joab could not tolerate it at all. After the death of Absalom, King David again wanted to replace Joab, and make Amasa as chief captain of King David’s host. When this news leaked out, captain Joab burned in his heart, for the reason, though Joab was misunderstood by King David, Joab did not join Absalom though Absalom was his friend or good associate, but remained with King David with faithfulness. But when the king wanted to replace a faithful captain with a traitor captain, Joab could not tolerate it and though there was no enmity between them and Amasa was his cousin brother, he could not but killed Abner due to a wrong decision of the king.
In both the killings, captain Joab cannot be condemned before righteousness. But alas a faithful and just and able captain faced a cruel death due to King David’s misunderstanding and counsel to King Solomon his son to kill Joab!
But wicked men lived long and we may refer two men, 1. King Manasseh the king of Judah and 2. King Jeroboam the great grandson of Jehu the king of Israel.
King Manasseh ruled for fifty five years in Jerusalem, the longest ruler in Judah (II kin. 21:1-16). He was born in the extended period of life of his father King Hezekiah and became king at the age of twelve years and did not learn anything from his father and misguided by the princes and became the worst sinner in the history of the kings ( (II kings 21: 1-16). But perhaps God was tolerating due to his righteous father King Hezekiah and God permitted Assyrian king to defeat Manasseh and carried him to Babylon and imprisoned him which made him to repent and turn towards God and God did a favour to him by bringing back to Jerusalem as king and he did many corrections of his past life and became righteous and finished his race (II Cho. 33: 1-20). Here the wicked King Manasseh lived long as wicked and repented from his wickedness at last and God’s expectation was fulfilled in his life.
The other wicked king lived long was Jeroboam the great grandson of King Jehu (Was captain earlier) and he ruled Israel, forty one years, the longest ruler in the history of Israeli kings. Here, due to their wicked ways God delivered them into the hands of Syrian kings and they brutally killed the people of Israel and God felt pity on them and King Jeroboam was sent as a savior and he did not repent from his wicked ways but God used him to protect His people from the Syrians (II Kings 23-28). Generally wicked kings die earlier as per king’s history but King Jeroboam the great grandson of King Jehu lived long as wicked king due to pity of God on the Israelites, suffered much in the hands of Syrian kings, who were protected by King Jeroboam due to the mercy of God.