The Race Where No Reward is Given
2 Samuel 18:19-23
Reverend Dr. Philip Lee’s sermon from the 2nd Lord’s Day Service on December 15, 2019
Run a course that has the reward of God
Before the Apostle Paul died, he said, “I have fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). The Apostle Paul said that life was all about finishing the race. If after we raced so hard and there was no reward, how vain everything would be? In our main text, we see a man name Ahimaaz who ran very hard to reach David to bring him news of victory in the war. But Joab the General forbid Ahimaaz from running after David, but Ahimaaz insisted that he go (2 Sam 18:19-22). Joab said to Ahimaaz, “Why would you run since you will have no reward for going?” “For this reward will be in vain.” Therefore we must run the course that has the reward of God at the end. Ahimaaz is the son of Zadok, who was a high priest at that time (2 Sam 18:22). Through today’s text, let us examine why Ahimaaz was not able to receive a reward.
We must run the race with a clear message
Ahimaaz ran with all of his diligence, but he did not have a clear message. This is why Ahimaaz did not receive a reward when he came before Kind David. Absalom betrayed his father David and brought on a revolt against his father and Absalom conquered Jerusalem. But because God’s help was with David, Absalom was killed by General Joab. David had already asked his servants, not to kill his son Absalom but Joab with human thoughts ended up killing Absalom by piercing him with a sword as he was hanging by his hair from a tree. King David’s Army was victorious and Absalom’s army was completely defeated. It was at this time that Ahimaaz tells Joab, “Let me go and tell the king that his army has won! But General Joab said to him that the king’s son died and therefore if you deliver this message this is not going to be any benefit to you, so please don’t go.” In place of Ahimaaz, Joab sent a Cushite to go and report to the king on what he has seen. So, the Cushite left to deliver this news to the king. Still, Ahimaaz insisted that he go and said to Joab the General, “Please send me” (2 Sam 18:22). So Joab said to Ahimaaz go. Because Ahimaaz was an Israelite and knew the terrain, he was able to reach King David first even though the Cushite started out before him (2 Sam 18:23). After reaching King David, Ahimaaz gave a report of victory. However, David was not interested in the news of winning but asked about the young man Absalom. Ahimaaz reported that he only witnessed a tumult and did not know what happened to Absalom. King David responded to Ahimaaz and said, “Turn aside and stand here (2 Sam 18:30). Here, Ahimaaz was not recognized by the king for the news he delivered. This teaches us that we must run our course that is acceptable and acknowledged by God. Secondly, Ahimaaz did not have a clear message to deliver. David clearly wanted to know about the welfare of Absalom from Ahimaaz, but he was unable to deliver this news and delivered and empty message instead. This teaches us that when we share the Word of Redemptive History, we must have a clear message with content and be recognized by God. As Ahimaaz was running to deliver a report to the king, the king replied and said, “Ahimaaz is a good man and comes with good news.” Thus King David was expecting “good news” that Absalom was alive, but Ahimaaz had no news about Absalom and was not recognized.
Why did Ahimaaz not receive the award?
Ahimaaz was only thinking about his own success and his own honor. This is why he did not receive recognition from the king. Ahimaaz had this high aspiration and ambition which is a success-driven mindset so that he can be manifested with honor. Ahimaaz wanted to receive honor from David. This is why Ahimaaz insisted to Joab that he deliver the report to David. Even after Joab sent the Cushite, Ahimaaz still insisted that he go when most would have given up. Ahimaaz was determined to run and did not care what happened (2 Sam 18:23). He only sought after his own interest (Phil 2:21).
Ahimaaz did not fathom the heart of the Lord
Ahimaaz did not understand the king’s heart and he was pushed aside by the king after delivering the news (2 Sam 18:30). The king was very disappointed. Regardless of the course of the battle, King David asked about the welfare of his son Absalom. Truly, Ahimaaz did not understand the king’s heart. Secondly, Ahimaaz realized later the heart of the king, but it was too late (2 Sam 18:29). Ahimaaz already knew that Absalom died, but he did not have the courage to tell the king. When the Cushite arrived, he honestly reported that Absalom died and the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber and wept (2 Sam 18:32-33). David’s heart was broken over the fact that Absalom died. He knew Absalom had to die because of his past sin. Here, David reflected upon his own sin and he wept with repenting tears before God. This heart of David shows the heart of Jesus. David’s own son betrayed him and he died. Yet, King David loved his son to the end, no matter what. That is the heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus’s disciples followed Him for three years. They understood so many mysteries and revelations of God. Nevertheless, they all fled and betrayed Jesus when Jesus was arrested. Jesus saw all of that, yet He loved His people to the very end (John 13:1). Likewise, we must have the heart to forgive others to the very end (Phil 2:5).
Conclusion: When we stand before God, what’s more important than speed is the truth. Ahimaaz was faster than the Cushite, but in the end, Ahimaaz ended up lying to the king and covered up the truth about King David’s son Absalom. The Cushite was a man who did not have a name and arrived after Ahimaaz, but he had a clear, honest, and upright message. Even if we have to be slower than other people, we must truly live a life that is upright before God (Psa 15:1-2; Psa 11:7). For the remaining years of our lives, let us have a clear message of our redemptive history through the cross so that we will live not to manifest our names but truly magnify the name of our father God so that we may receive recognition from our father in the end.