ďRUN WITHOUT TIDINGSĒ

Second Samuel 18.19-19.7

EXPOSITION:

1.   Turn in your Bible to Second Samuel chapter 11.  We begin reading at verse 1: 

1      And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

2      And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the kingís house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

3      And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

4      And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.

5      And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

 

2.   You are, no doubt, familiar with this tragedy in the life of Israelís greatest king.  And you are also most likely aware that David arranged the murder of Bathshebaís husband, Uriah, to protect himself from discovery upon learning that she was pregnant.  But had not Moses warned the people, ďand be sure your sin will find you outĒ?[1]

3.   And Davidís sin did find him out.  Confronted by the prophet Nathan with the despicable sin of adultery and the heinous crime of murdering Uriah the Hittite, one of his most faithful mighty men, it may be that it was at this time David was overwhelmed by a sense of his own sinfulness and was genuinely converted.

4.   And though God did respond to his plea to be purged of his sin, to have his iniquities blotted out, to be delivered from bloodguiltiness, and to have a clean heart created in him, there were complications and consequences arising from his great wickedness that he would have to face for the rest of his life.

5.   Read along with me the prophet Nathanís pronouncement against David that is found in Second Samuel 12.10-14:

10     Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

11     Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

12     For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

13     And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.  And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

14                Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

 

6.   Several old Puritans that Iíve consulted suggest that David was not converted when he committed adultery and murdered to cover it up.  And perhaps he wasnít.  Maybe his conversion came about after his adultery and the murder he arranged to cover his sin.  Though God is a God Who forgives, it must be remembered that He never promised to remove every aftermath of terrible sins that are committed, and they certainly were not removed in Davidís case.

7.   Despite his great pleadings on behalf of the newborn child . . . the child did die, as Nathan predicted.   But itís the other prediction that sets the stage for this morningís exposition, the prediction that God would raise up evil against David out of his own house.

8.   Sometime after this tragic episode one of Davidís sons, Amnon, actually raped his half sister, Tamar.  And what did David do in response to his sonís great sin?  He got angry, Second Samuel 13.21, but took no action.  It was another son, Absalom, who plotted revenge, eventually murdering his half brother Amnon for the rape of his full sister, Tamar.

9.   Absalom then ran away and continued in exile for quite some time.  Eventually he came back to Jerusalem.  But David wouldnít see him.  It seems that at each step in the lives of his children we see David making a mess of things as a father.  When it would be wise to do something he does nothing.  When itís time to do nothing he does something.  In the end, of course, he was a father who was feared by his enemies, who was loved by his countrymen, but who was despised by his own children.

10. All of which leads to a predictable rebellion.  Children are prone to rebellion in any case, but their revolts will be massive and violent against fathers who have embittered them and engendered their hatred, who have provoked them to wrath, as David had certainly by his example done.  Absalomís rebellion was well planned, was certainly well orchestrated, and led to a civil war that would have ended with his fatherís death had he succeeded.  But he did not succeed.  David was vanquished and Absalom was killed, and the civil war quickly ended.

11. Itís a strange little episode at the end of this civil war that I want to point out to you.  An episode thatís oftentimes overlooked, but which has its own tale to tell.  Please turn to Second Samuel 18.19.  Where we begin reading Absalom has been killed and buried.  David, being some distance away, is unaware of the events that have just transpired, and his commander, Joab, proceeds to inform David that his rebellious son is dead and his kingdom is safe. 

12. If you will stand we will read Second Samuel 18.19-32 together:

19     Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD hath avenged him of his enemies.

20     And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the kingís son is dead.

21     Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen.  And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran.

22     Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi.  And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?

23     But howsoever, said he, let me run.  And he said unto him, Run.  Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.

24     And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.

25     And the watchman cried, and told the king.  And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth.  And he came apace, and drew near.

26     And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone.  And the king said, He also bringeth tidings.

27     And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.

28     And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well.  And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.

29     And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe?  And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the kingís servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.

30     And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here.  And he turned aside, and stood still.

31     And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.

32     And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe?  And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee0  hurt, be as that young man is.

 

13. We have two runners racing toward the king.  One is named Ahimaaz who, for some reason, was not given a message by Joab, Davidís commander.  The other runner, Cushi, is given a message, a very important message.  So, off goes the one, dispatched by Joab, and then off goes the other one, with no message, running a marathon some five hundred years before the more famous Marathon run on the Greek peninsula.

14. Allow me to draw a couple of applications from this amusing little episode that parallels the Christian life in so many ways.  As were these men, you, Christian, are in what the Bible in several places describes as a race.

15. From Hebrews 12.1, where we are urged to run the race with patience, we can surmise that the race we are entered into is not a sprint that is run in a few moments, or even a few hours or days or months.  No, ours is a marathon that is run over the course of years, in most cases.

16. This being true, it is to be expected, then, that proper training and endurance would be required to accomplish the task of running a lifelong race such as this.  Perhaps this explains Paulís comments in First Corinthians 9.24-27:  

24     Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.

25     And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

26     I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27     But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.

 

17. Itís not physical conditioning that Paul refers to there, but spiritual conditioning.  How can we be sure of that?  Itís rather simple.  In First Timothy 4.8 he reminds Timothy that bodily exercise is of little spiritual benefit.  So, weíre talking about the requirements for spiritual stamina here, not physical stamina.  You see, Christian, in this race God expects, God demands, God commands, that you last to the end.  The outward man, you see, perishes, but the inward man is renewed day by day, Second Corinthians 4.16.

18. So, you are in a race, and itís a race that will last you a lifetime.  That makes it a marathon for which spiritual conditioning is required to persevere, and for which Godís strength and supply will be provided through prayer, Bible study, service, fellowship with other Christians, and preaching.

19. What is your goal in this race called the Christian life?  Paul told the Galatians of his concern about running in vain, in Galatians 2.2.  We learn from First Corinthians 9.24 and following that the prize is gained, not by reaching the finish line first, but by finishing the race.  So, Christians are not competing against anyone in this race.  Our concern should be, as with Paul, to be careful not to run and accomplish nothing.  And he pointed out to the Galatians that in the past they had run well themselves, Galatians 5.7, though they werenít doing so well at the time of his writing.

20. So important is running this race called the Christian life that Paul told the Philippians, while he was in a Roman prison, that his sole concern was to make sure when he had gotten to heaven he would be assured that he had not run in vain, to make sure that he had not run without accomplishing anything.  Thatís in Philippians 2.16.

21. So, if you run the race without concern for who finishes first, and you run the race with an eye to making sure you donít run in vain, you wonít run and accomplish nothing, what exactly is it you are supposed to do in this race?  Making sure we donít try to take these running the race metaphors farther than they were intended to be taken, think back to our two marathon runners who are racing toward David.

22. One of them, Ahimaaz, was generating a lot of heat but no light.  He was demonstrating a great deal of zeal, but to no end.  He exhibited a great deal of activity but without promise of productivity.  Cushi, on the other hand, was generating just as much heat.  He was demonstrating just as much zeal.  But his activity resulted in productivity.  How so?  My friends, Cushi carried the message.  Ahimaaz did everything Cushi did, but it was all in vain because he carried no message.

23. Christian?  Seen a certain way, your life is a prolonged race.  In this race you have been entered in, and from which there is no exit except for those who are not genuinely converted, it will be required of you to demonstrate staying power, to exert tremendous effort, and to expend yourself . . . to what end?  To convey the message.

24. Whatís the message?  The message is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What kind of Christian are you?  Are you Ahimaaz, who is very active and energetic and faithful to do this and do that as you run the race, but with no message, with no witness, with no gospel?  Or are you Cushi, the carrier of the message?  He didnít win the race.  He didnít get there first.  But the other guy didnít matter because it was Cushi who had the message.

25. My friend, your life as a professing Christian is utterly wasted if you are Ahimaaz, running the race without a message.  But if you are Cushi you are not running in vain, your life is not a waste, and when you cross the finish line you will be rewarded.  But you are a Cushi only if you carry the message as you run the race.

26. Brother Isenberger comes now to lead us in a song before this morningís sermon to the lost.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1.   During my exposition I likened the running of Ahimaaz and the running of Cushi to Christians running the race of the Christian life.  In that race itís not so much the winning of the race thatís important as is the finishing of the race, the being faithful to the end.

2.   Let me now, during the sermon, make an entirely different application of this portion of Scripture.  Instead of showing the parallels that exist between the race Ahimaaz and Cushi ran and the Christian life, I want to speak directly to you here today who are not converted.

3.   Let us suppose that Ahimaaz was one kind of preacher while Cushi was another kind of preacher.  Let us suppose that you are like David.  And let us suppose the Christian that is sitting beside you or behind you is represented in our text by Davidís general, Joab.

4.   With your Bible still turned to Second Samuel 18.28, stand and read through Second Samuel 19.7:

28     And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well.  And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.

29     And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe?  And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the kingís servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.

30     And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here.  And he turned aside, and stood still.

31     And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.

32     And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

33     And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!

1      And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom.

2      And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.

3      And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.

4      But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!

5      And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;

6      In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends.  For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.

7                Now0  therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.

 

5.   Four types of characters to quickly examine before we adjourn for the day: 

 

1A.   First, THERE IS THAT CHARACTER WHO IS MUCH LIKE AHIMAAZ

1B.      This is the contemporary preacher who likes to run without tidings.  He occupies a church office, prepares and delivers what some people call sermons, but has the same effect on his listeners that Ahimaaz had on David.

2B.      Remember, Ahimaaz said to David, ďAll is well.Ē  And, indeed, all was well.  What Ahimaaz said was true, but it wasnít the truth David needed to hear at that hour.  At that hour the king needed full disclosure.  He needed to be told the complete truth, not just the good part, not just the enjoyable part, not just the pleasant part.

3B.      This is the preacher who tells everyone that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that Jesus rose again from the dead for them, and that Jesus is coming again someday.  Now, all of these things are true, but these things are not the full truth that sinners need to hear in this day and in this hour.

4B.      God deliver us from positive message preachers who preach nothing that offends, who preach nothing that troubles the soul, who preach nothing that stirs anguish in the hearts of the damned, who will not tell sinners that God is angry with them, who will not tells sinners that most sinners donít get saved, that most sinners to Hell.

5B.      And God deliver us from preachers who insist on picking green fruit, who will not patiently wait out the sometimes (to us) slow working of the Holy Spirit, who will not suffer deep sin to be exposed before they insist on praying a quick prayer with the lost so no one will get mad, so no one will be offended, and so no one will get converted!

 

2A.   Second, THERE IS THAT CHARACTER LIKE CUSHI

1B.      While there are a great many Ahimaaz-type preachers in the world, there are very few Cushi-type preachers.  The Cushi preacher is the preacher who runs with tidings, who carries the complete message, who tells the whole truth, who deals with the unpleasant but necessary realities that not all so-called Christians are converted and not all sinners who know they are lost really want to be converted.

2B.    Let me tell you something, as a man who strives to be a Cushi-type preacher.  Yes, itís true that Jesus died for sins, that He was buried, and that He rose the third day.  But what good will that do you, wicked and self satisfied sinner? 

3B.      You who refuse to humble yourself before God, who refuse to turn from your wicked ways, who will not give up your idolatry of self worship.  And why will you not turn from sin to Christ?  Because youíve not been made to face the truth about yourself from a faithful messenger.

4B.      You want only the good news, but itís the bad news that will prepare you to receive the good news.  You only want to hear that which edifies, but itís the message which razes and destroys the false and the deceptive which will prepare your wicked heart and deluded mind to hear the glorious news that Jesus saves.

5B.      ďOh, pastor, I think you should be more constructive.Ē  Nonsense.  Any construction worker will tell you that you must first clear the land and level it before you can build on it.  There are things that need to be knocked down before other things can be built up.

6B.      ďOh, but I know that I am a sinner.Ē  No you donít.  Not really.  If you can eat your meals with a full appetite, if you can sleep at night without nightmares and tears, if you can move normally through life and function regularly, then you are still the same wicked and self righteous braggart youíve always been, and you need someone like me to tell you that youíre going to Hell if you continue on like you are.

7B.      You donít need the new evangelical Ahimaaz, the charismatic Ahimaaz, the pentecostal Ahimaaz, or even the fundamental Baptist version of Ahimaaz.  You need a Cushi, a runner with the whole message, the bad as well as the good, if you want to get saved.

 

3A.   Third, THERE IS THAT CHARACTER LIKE DAVID

1B.      Youíre like David.  Thereís been a war and the battleís been won, but youíre unhappy about some of the details.  David was unhappy that Absalom was killed.  But what was the alternative?  Had Absalom not been killed David would have been killed.

2B.      Thereís been an age long rebellion led by Satan against God, but Jesus has won the decisive victory that defeated the enemy once and for all.  You, however, donít like hearing the bad news that you are a sinner deserving Hell.  You are offended when you hear that you are offensive to God.  And you donít like hearing negative details about the personal sins you commit when people think youíre doing something else.

3B.    But hold on a second!  What do you expect?  Is Jesus to suffer and bleed and die for sins that you commit, yet you expect to be able to continue committing those same sins without rebuke?  You want the messenger to bring you only good sounding news without declaring to you the whole counsel of Godís Word?

4B.      You want the Ahimaaz and not the Cushi?  But remember, it was Cushi who was commissioned.  It was Cushi who was actually dispatched.  So, if you are like David you are wrong.  If you feel like you should decide what message the messenger carries to you then you are wrong.  If you opt for something less than the whole counsel of Godís Word, then you are wrong.

5B.      And if you donít change your attitude youíll pay dearly for being wrong.  Mark my words.

 

4A.   Finally, THERE IS THAT CHARACTER LIKE JOAB

1B.    I hope David thanked God for Joab, since without Joab he would have continued in grievous error by mourning Absalom, and perhaps losing his kingdom even after he had won the civil war.  Why was David indebted to Joab?  Joab had the courage to strongly rebuke David when he was wrong.  David didnít want to hear the bad news, the necessary news.  But he needed to, and Joab strongly rebuked him and showed him the need to.  Thank God David listened.

2B.      Thatís like so many Christians here today.  They look at you and can tell that you are not receiving the Word of God well.  You donít like bad news, and you think you should be able to order up a nicer buffet of spiritual food to choose from.  So, what will the Christians do?

3B.    If they know you well, like Joab knew David, they will deal with you about your unwillingness to receive the truth.  They will rebuke you when you miss church and when you storm out of the auditorium with a stubborn refusal to tend to your soul.  ďAre you coming to church tonight?  You know, you really ought to come.  Why didnít you talk to the pastor after church?  Is that a spirit of pride and rebellion youíre exhibiting?Ē

4B.      Because he knew David so well, Joab strongly but wisely dealt with David, who simply didnít want to hear what he very much needed to hear, and who didnít want to respond in the way he very much needed to respond.  The seasoned Christian will do likewise with the person he knows well.

 

CONCLUSION:

1.   Ahimaaz, the runner with no message, he ran without tidings.  Cushi ran with tidings, the bad news as well as the good.  David, who didnít want to hear the unpleasant truth.  And Joab, who rebuked him and thereby saved his kingdom.

2.   What do you want, an Ahimaaz or a Cushi?  And what are you, a David in need of Joab to rebuke you and tell you how much you need to hear and respond to even that which is unpleasant truth?  Weíll see.


[1] Numbers 32.23

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