Amasa was one of David’s mighty men. Perhaps Amasa’s primary role in scripture is simply that he was an upright, capable warrior who fell prey to the jealous schemes of another.
We first read of this nephew of David when Absalom chose him to replace another nephew (Joab) as head of Israel’s army during Absalom’s rebellion against his father. Yet while Amasa’s loyalty to Absalom might have seemed a black mark against his character, David clearly considered Amasa worthy enough to continue in his leadership role when David returned to power.
Soon after this, another rebellion broke out in the north under the leadership of a man named Sheba—and David dispatched two other nephews, Abishai and Joab, to lead his men into battle against him.
Amasa met up with them a bit later, and Joab, apparently out of jealousy, drew him close as though he were going to kiss him—but killed him instead. Then he and Abishai continued on to put down the rebellion.
Later David would instruct his son Solomon to pay back Joab for his wicked slaying of Amasa and another commander (1 Kings 2:5).
It’s tempting to ask why God would allow a great man like Amasa to fall prey to the wickedness of someone like Joab. Ultimately we are never told why, but we can take heart in Jesus’ words in the New Testament:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul… . Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father… . So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28–31).