Second Samuel, Chapter 18, beginning of verse number 1, the Bible reads: "And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds over them. And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us", "succour us" means "help us", "out of the city. And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by the hundreds and by thousands. And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom", so here we have the battle finally ensuing.
Of course, David and his men have fled from Jerusalem, and Absalom had taken over the city, he'd gone in to the concubines and the site of all Israel, and if you remember the good advice of Ahitophel was that if Absalom wanted to stay in power, he should have just pursued David immediately while they were weary, before they could get organized, and just wipe out him and his men, and it'd be over; but if you remember, David had a spy in there, Hushai, that gave bad advice. "Hey, let's wait. Let's get all the men together from Dan to Beersheba, and let's all go out after them," and that gave David time to regroup, and what we see here in this story is that David is dividing up his forces into three different groups with a different man as a captain of each of the three groups.
He's getting organized, he's got a good battle plan, and they're going to finally go to war, but he tells the captains, he says, "Deal gently with the young man Absalom, for my sake." Now, remember, Absalom is the enemy. He's the one who has rebelled and caused all of this, but yet David still loves him as a son. It's still his son, and his heart still yearns for him, so he says, "Just deal gently with him, for my sake." "Want to win the battle, but if you can, let's preserve his life, alive."
Now, it says, in verse number 6, "So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; and the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men," so just because of the wickedness of Absalom and this rebellion, twenty thousand people die; and David can say, "Oh, deal gently with Absalom, for my sake," but Absalom has occasioned the deaths of twenty thousand people. I mean, it's really a terrible thing here, and war is always a terrible thing. It's something that should be avoided whenever we can. The Bible teaches us that we should not go after [warfare 00:03:14] ... There are people today that think that warfare is something virtuous or good.
Now, go to James, chapter 4, if you would. A lot of Christians today are pro-war, and they get all stirred up about going to war at the drop of a hat, when really there are a lot of evil forces at work that want to take us to war all the time wrongfully.
Male: Right. Right.
Now look at what the Bible says about where war comes from, in James, chapter 4, in the New Testament. It says: "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts", so according to the Bible, the source of warfare is the lusts of man, and what is lust? Lust is covetousness. It's desiring something that does not belong to you, and if you look at the wars that are fought today, they have to do with people desiring money or desiring land or desiring resources. If you want to figure out what's behind it, follow the money, because that's what the Bible says here, that it comes from lust, and the Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil ...
... and of course, warfare is a great evil. The love of money is at the root of it. There are a lot of people who profit from and make a lot of money on warfare, and they sell the tanks, they sell the weapons, they sell the ammunition. They loan money to the different sides, because when countries go to war, they always go into debt. They always borrow money to do it, and there are plenty of bankers that are ready to loan out a bunch of money so that people can keep warring, and then they make a whole bunch of money in interest, so they have an agenda to foment warfare between different groups of people; and this is where the term "military-industrial complex" comes from. People who make money off of warfare and they want to keep the United States and other countries in a condition of perpetual warfare for financial gain, and lives are slaughtered in the process.
Twenty thousand here, twenty thousand there. People die in order for other people to become rich, and in this case, we have Absalom who just wants to have power. He has a lust for the wealth and power of being king, getting all the wives and the money and the fame and the glory, and because of his lust, twenty thousand people have died in this battle as a result of his sin and his wickedness.
Now, it says, in verse number 7, it says, "Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away."
Now, remember, the Bible had already told us how Absalom had very long hair, and of course, the Bible says it is a shame for a man to have long hair, but then a woman's hair is a glory unto her, and so, of course, in the New Testament, the Bible clearly teaches, in 1 Corinthians 11, it is a sin for a man to have long hair, and that's why it's ridiculous when people have pictures of Jesus with long hair. There's no such teaching in the Bible. Women are supposed to have long hair, men are supposed to have short hair; but if you remember, Absalom would let his hair grow very long. He would cut it once a year, but the rest of the time he would let his hair grow very long. Well, now, he's riding on the mule, and he's in this very thick forest, and his long pretty hair gets caught in the tree, and yanks him right out of the mule, and he's literally hanging from the tree by his hair.
Now, the verse that comes to mind here is where Jesus said, "Whosoever humbleth himself shall be exalted, but he that exalteth himself shall be abased." Can you imagine anything more stupid and humiliating than, you're going to take over, and you're going to be king, and you're going to rebel against ... and you're hanging by your hair from a tree. "Ah, get me down," so he looks like a fool, doesn't he?
By the way, if you're a man and you grow your hair long, you're going to look like a fool, just by that alone; but secondly, if you exalt yourself, if you lift up yourself, God says you'll be abased. He'll humble the proud of heart, the proud of spirit, and so when you start to feel yourself getting all arrogant and cocky and proud, just remember that God can take you down a notch, and God can publicly humiliate you, just in order to keep you humble, and he often does that; and so remember the words of Jesus that "whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased."
That's why the Bible says, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; strangers, and not thine own lips," and so here we see Absalom humiliated. He's in a very dangerous position, obviously; he's just a sitting duck, just hanging by his hair in a tree "between heaven and Earth," the Bible says.
Now, it says in verse 10, "And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak. And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle. And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me. Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee."
Now, here's what's going on. Basically, the guy comes and tells Joab, "Hey, I saw Absalom hanging from an oak," and he said, "Why didn’t you just kill him?" He says, "Well, you heard where David said to 'deal gently with Absalom for my sake,'" and basically Joab is promising that he would have given him a big reward. "I would have given you money, I would have given you this girdle," but he's a liar, because of the fact that the guy says to him at the end of verse 13, "thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me."
He's saying, "No, here's what would have happened. If I would have killed him, then, when David gets mad and says, 'Who killed Absalom?!' You would have been like, 'He did,'" and just based on Joab's life, that's what he would have done. Yeah, you look at the rest of the story and the rest of how Joab is; and it's funny, because when the guy points this out to him and says, "No, I wouldn’t take $1,000 from you, because of the fact that you yourself would have accused me, because you know that I'd be in trouble with David," and David would have probably put him to death or Joab would have killed him; and then instead of refuting what he says, he just says, "I may not tarry thus with thee," like, "I don’t have time to talk to you about this. I don’t have to sit here and go back and forth with you," but it's true, he's a liar.
Now, it's interesting, because in this passage, Joab actually pictures the devil. I'm just going to kind of get into the symbolism here of what's going on in this chapter, because look at the next verse. It says in verse 14, "Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him," so what's interesting about this passage, if you kind of look at the symbolism, the deeper meaning, besides just the surface meaning ... and when we read the Bible, we should always primarily focus on the main interpretation, but there are also other underlying, symbolic things, just because the Bible is so deep; but some similarities with the Devil.
First of all, the Devil's a liar. The Bible says he's a liar, and the father of it. He's the father of lies; and here we see Joab lying, of course, lying to this guy, "Oh, I would have rewarded you," and then, "No, you wouldn’t have. You would have accused me and gotten me arrested and killed," but he's a liar; but not only that, but if you remember in the Book of Revelation, the Bible talks about how Satan took basically one third of the angels with him. Do you remember that?
Basically it said that he took the third part of the stars in heaven, they were cast down with him, so if you understand that he's talking about the fact that one third of the angels rebelled with Satan and became the demons or the devils, the fallen angels, well, it's interesting here, because David's bands are divided into three parts, and Joab has one third part following him. Okay, so again, that's another symbolism of him representing the Devil. Not only that, but if you think of Absalom as being the unsaved person of this world, okay? The unsaved man, who is hanging in the balance, as it were, between heaven and hell, pictured by him, hanging there ... Hanging in the balance between heaven and hell.
God wants to show compassion on the loss. The Bible says that God commanded his love toward us, and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; so even though Absalom is rebelling and sinful and wicked, God basically wants to extend mercy unto him, but then, of course, the Devil wants to see him destroyed; and of course, when you see the darts, that makes you think of the Devil also, because that word "darts" is used in conjunction with the Devil in Ephesians 6 when it talks about having "the shield of faith, wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked", okay, referring to the devil; so these three darts, I think, are symbolic of the Devil, basically, attacking him.
Because the fiery darts of the wicked have to do with the fact that the Devil wants to bring doubt in God's Word and cause people not to believe the Bible. The Bible says, of course, that "if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: whom the god of this world," talking about the Devil, "hath blinded the minds of them that believe not," so the Devil has blinded the minds of them that believe not. The Bible says, "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he that received seed by the way side", so we know that the Devil does have an agenda of trying to stop people from getting saved.
That's what he's doing. He blinds the minds of those that believe not. He wants to catch away the Word of God and take it out of their heart when they hear it. He wants to distract them. Also, the Bible says that the Devil will use religion, because of the fact that it says that the Devil himself is transformed into an angel of light, and that his ministers are transformed into ministers of light; so there are all kinds of false ministers that are the ministers of the Devil that basically preach of false Gospel in order to cause people to go to hell. I mean, that's the Devil's goal. That's his plan, to take as many people to hell with him as you can; and whether or not we can understand why he would desire to do that, that is what he does, and so that's what the Bible teaches; so that's just some of the kind of underlying symbolism in this passage.
When he says, "Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake," the Bible teaches that we should deal gently with those that are lost. The Bible says, "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth." The Bible says, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that" you be able to give an answer to every man; and when we go out soulwinning, our goal is to get people saved, and so, you don’t want to just go up to someone who's unsaved just guns a-blazing. It's better if you can be gentle and try to lead them through the Gospel and show them the Word of God, and try to get them saved gently for Christ's sake.
He said, "Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake." Even if they are bad people, it's like Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," a lot of people are just in ignorance, and so we want to gently bring them the Gospel and try to win them to Christ.
Now, there are some people that the Bible does teach should be rebuked sharply. For example, in Titus chapter 1, he talks about the "false teachers of the circumcision" who were teaching a lot of Jewish fables and preaching lies, and they were leading astray groups of people with false doctrine and heresy, and he said, "Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth," so the Bible says that there are times of rebuke, like a false prophet that would come to you; but here's the thing: your average unsaved person is not a false prophet.
Your average unsaved person is just deceived. They're just led astray in a false religion, and the Bible says, "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will", so the Bible's saying that a lot of these people are just victims of the Devil's deception, and we want to gently try to help them and lead them out of that deception, try to get their eyes open to the truth, because faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, and we need to shine the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, that they might be saved.
That's the goal; and we need to keep sight of that when we're out soulwinning, that the goal is to get people saved. That's why the Bible says, "Of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." That's why I'm against this kind of obnoxious bullhorning type of a soulwinning, if you can even call it "soulwinning." It's more like soul losing. They go out soul losing, where they go out and just scream at people about everything under the sun, except for the fact that salvation is by faith alone. We were out ...
It's funny, Miriam and I were walking through downtown Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, and there was this guy that was just angrily screaming on the corner, waving a Bible around, screaming, and we walked right by him, and I could not understand a word that this guy was even saying. He was just yelling and screaming, real angry, and preaching, but I couldn’t even figure out what the guy's saying. Okay?
Miriam, did you figure out what the guy said? Is Miriam here? Where is she? Oh, she's way back there. She's like, "I understood a little part of it." She had some part of it. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to tell me the little part she remembered, but this guy's just yelling. I guarantee that guy's not getting anybody saved. I mean, I was embarrassed by the guy, and I'm a Bible-believing Christian. I mean, whoa, what do people who are not Christians think of this Looney Tunes guy on the street corner, angrily screaming stuff that nobody even knows what he's talking about? It doesn’t make any sense; and you know what? It's not biblical, and people can sit there and say, "Oh, every preacher in the Bible's a street preacher."
Look, there's a difference between being outside and preaching to people, and being a street preacher. Because the difference in the Bible is that they're preaching to people who are listening. They're actually talking to specific people that are actually listening to them, okay? In the sense of, you walk up to somebody and start talking to them, or you have a group of people assembled, and you're talking to that group of people. This random yelling at cars that drive by, and screaming at people in downtown Phoenix, just making everyone uncomfortable, what's your goal? You just have to ... What is the goal?
If the goal is to get people saved, that is not the way to do it, because even if you talk to these people, they'll tell you that they hardly ever get anybody saved. They'll brag about how they did it every week for a year, and they had one saved or something. It's like, "What in the world?" Yeah, the whole world's going to hell, buddy. There's somebody dying every three seconds or something, and you're telling me that you got one person saved in the whole year? That's just not going to cut it. That's not the Book of ... I don’t see that in the Book. Show me the Book of Acts where they got one person saved in a year.
Well, and you know, look. "Well, but it's just all about that one soul. It's worth it for that one" ... You know what, it is worth it for that one soul, but it's a lot more worth it for a hundred souls ...
... or ten souls, and people go overboard with this value of one soul thing. Because guess what, if one soul has value, then two souls have double the value, buddy; and you know what? While you're letting the whole world go to hell, because you're just going to use a stupid, ineffective method that doesn’t work, and get one person saved every five years, if you're lucky, the whole world's perishing! That's not what God ordained. In the Book of Acts, they're actually getting the job done.
They're actually succeeding. You noticed that? They actually say, "Hey, we went to Asia Minor, and we got the Gospel to every person. Hey, we went here, we started a church, we went over here, we started another church. Went over here and preached the Gospel to all these people," and they're getting people saved, and the Lord's adding to the church daily such as should be saved, and people are being baptized, and they're succeeding.
That's what the Bible teaches. Men like Jeremiah, they traveled throughout the whole world and preached unto all nations. God told Jeremiah, "You're going to be a prophet to the nations," and he showed up in this country and went to their leaders and preached to them. He went to another country and preached to them. He went to every nation under heaven and preached unto them. He got something done. He achieved something, and this defeatist mentality of just failing and failing and failing is not biblical.
If you're failing over and over again, then you're doing something wrong, because God gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Male: Amen. Amen.
Not to say you're not going to have setbacks or that things aren't going to go wrong or you're not going to go through rough patches, but if you're just going years and years and years, failing, failing, failing, and people aren't getting saved, something's wrong. Time to change your course there, and do something else, because if you preach the Gospel, the Bible says, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him," and I'm not saying it's necessarily going to happen overnight, but I'm also not one that believes that you just go years and years and nobody gets saved.
Yeah, if you're not preaching the Gospel, if you're not soulwinning, then you'll go years and years, without having anybody saved; and so you have to remember that the goal of preaching the Gospel is to get people saved, not to just show how tough you are, how bold you are to just go out on a street corner and scream.
You know what? I can go out on a street corner and scream with the best of them. I know how to scream, but you know what? That just doesn't do anything for me. I can just think of better ways to have fun than that; and if I want to do something for the Lord, then I want to do something serious for the Lord, like actually going out and actually giving people the Gospel, and getting them saved. What actually works, which is one on one; and if you find me preaching to a group of people, it's going to be people that are actually listening to me; and if they're not listening, then I'm going to shake the dust off my feet and I'm going to go somewhere else ...
... and I'm going to find somebody who wants to listen to the Word of God, and I'm not going to cast my pearls before swine or just waste my time with people. "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine". It's like that verse just isn't in the Bible or something to people. "Hey, let's go down and preach at the gay pride parade!" What does the Bible call sodomites? Dogs.
Male: Right, yeah.
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, or cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." I don’t want to get rended by them. Keep me away from those people. Just, yeah, we need to just reevaluate. What is our goal? What do we want to do with soulwinning? We're trying to seek and to save that which is lost. That's the goal. Not to just go out and scream at people, and that's why the Bible teaches that gentleness, we should try to talk to people that are unsaved with gentleness, because we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived.
You got to remember that, and not just get angry at someone for lacking understanding, when we all have lacked understanding in the past. We want to just gently try to bring that person along; and of course, there's another story when somebody's a false prophet; but you know what? Most of your unsaved people are not false prophets, are they; and so we need to deal with them gently and want to give them the Gospel and get them to be saved; so here, Joab just slays Absalom.
He's not really the one that finally kills him. He puts the three darts in his heart, and then these ten young men, they all fall on him and slay him. Now, maybe all ten of them fall upon him, just that way the blame's not on one person, where it could be pointed to David as, "Hey, this guy did it."
By getting a lot of people involved in the sin, by getting ten people involved, then it's kind of like, "Nobody's going to tattle, because we're all involved. We all have blood on our hands," so they all get involved in the killing of Absalom; so it says in verse 16, "And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent. Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar".
Now, doesn’t this sound like a guy who exalts himself? "Hey, I think I'm going to build myself a giant monument in my own honor. I'm going to rear up a great pillar unto myself," and it says that he reared up "a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's Place." Well, isn't that so cool to have a place named after you, "Absalom's Place?"
Now, actually, that's ridiculous. Actually, you're a loser, and this is all that the world can do. They can't leave behind a spiritual heritage or legacy. All they can do is just rear up a pillar in honor of himself. It reminds me of these people that are really wealthy, and so they give all kinds of money to get their name on some plaque somewhere or some metal tree somewhere with their name engraved on it that they donated to some winery or some art gallery or some whatever the place.
You know what? I'd rather have children to carry my name on, and a legacy that's going to be here after I'm gone, than to just rear up some pillar; and here's the thing: whether or not you have physical children, we can all have spiritual children, because the Bible teaches that every time you win somebody to Christ, you have begotten them in the faith, so forget just, "Oh, well, I don’t have children," or whatever. No, if you win somebody to Christ, that is your spiritual son or daughter right there, and so what the Bible is showing us here is a man who basically exalts and praises himself, and the only thing he has left after he dies to leave behind as a legacy is a big pile of rocks, and a big pillar that's called "Absalom's Place"; and just stop and think about it.
When you pass by these metal trees, with all the names, do you really stop and read those names and even care about any of those people's names or who they are? I mean, think about it. I mean, you go to some place, and there's all these names engraved in stone of "This person donated $50,000," "This person donated $100,000." I mean, when you see that, do you really just see that and say, "Wow, Mr. John Smith, you are amazing. I wish you could sit ..." You don’t even care. It's just a bunch of meaningless names. "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." Okay. Look, "Only one life so soon has passed, and only what's done for Christ will last."
The legacy that we leave behind are the people that we win to Christ. It's the physical children that we have and bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That's our legacy, not our name engraved in stone somewhere; and even if they engrave it in stone, it's going to be permanent, it's all going to be burned up one day anyway. Even that which is permanent. Even the everlasting mountains and the perpetual hills will be laid low. At the Second Coming of Christ, it's all going to be destroyed anyway. That which is eternal, the Bible says, "are the things which are not seen," but that which is seen is temporal; so just stop and ask yourself: what are you living your life for? That which is temporal, or are you laying up "treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal"? "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
I'd rather have treasure in heaven that's going to last for eternity than an earthly monument of a giant pyramid or a giant obelisk, or a giant pillar, or all these different monuments that man makes for himself, thinking that somehow that's going to immortalize him. The great pyramids, but the people that made those pyramids, these kings for which they were made, are dead, and they're in hell ...
... and it doesn't really matter that they had that big pyramid. Most people probably cannot even name ... Who can name the men or the great pyramids? Come on, Khufu? Right? Khafre? Anyone? Hello, anybody out there? Yeah, well, you proved my point right now, nobody even knows, nobody cares. How many pyramids are there? How many of the great pyramids are there?
There's three of them, right; but how many people could really name those three ... Nobody cares; and even if we name their names, does that do them any good, when they’re in hell?
No, and so this is just a really sad picture of a guy who has a pillar and a pile of rocks to show, after he's done with his life, and the Bible says in verse number 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.' 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 king's son is dead.' Then said Joab to Cushi, 'Go tell the king what thou hast seen.' And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran. 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?' '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."
Here's what's going on, these two messengers, these two runners, Ahimaaz and Cushi: Ahimaaz says to Joab, "Hey, I want to bear the tidings, and I want to tell David the good news that we've won the battle," and Joab says, "No, you don't want to go run in and tell him, because the king's son is dead, and that's not what he wants to hear," he doesn't want to hear this negative message that Absalom has died, so he says, "Why don't you bring tidings another day?" Why? Because Joab likes Ahimaaz, and Joab doesn't want him to bring a negative message, because he doesn't want him to displease the king.
He wants him to be in the king's, you know, pleasure, so he doesn't want him to tell him a negative message; so then he tells this other guy, Cushi, "You go run, you go tell him the news, tell him everything you've seen today," so then Ahimaaz says "Well, I want to go run with him anyway," and Joab says, "Why do you want to run since you don't have any tidings, right? You don't have anything to say. Because I've just finished telling you that you don't want to tell the king this negative message, so you don't have anything to say," "Well, let me just do it anyway, let me just run with him anyway." "Okay, fine, go ahead and go run with him, with no message, okay," and then he outruns Cushi, he gets there first, okay?
Now, let's finish this up, and then I'll kind of explain to you some of the symbolism here of what this is showing us; so it says "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. 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. And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, 'Behold another man runneth alone.' And the king said, 'He also bringeth tidings.'"
Now, these men would run with tidings, or messages. Now, why would they run, why would they not ride on horseback? Because a lot of people would think, "Hey, if you want to send a message from point A to point B, you put him on a horse." Well, this is before they had a telephone or any ... I mean, the only way they're going to get the message is through human means, and so the reason that they ran was that, number 1, if you were on rough terrain, a human being can cover rougher terrain than what a horse can cover, and remember, the area was a very wooded area, and you have all these trees there ... You can't ... Look what Absalom did, when he's trying to get through on a mule, he gets caught in the trees and everything, so it's going to be a lot faster on foot, because you can be more nimble and agile.
A human being is smaller than a horse, but not only that, a human being can actually outrun a horse on very long distances. Now, on short distances, a horse is going to win, of course, a horse is much faster than a human being, but over long distances, a human being has more endurance than a horse if that human being is in good shape, as obviously these men are, because that's what they do, they're runners. That's their whole job, that's their whole task is to be able to run messages to different places, so this is actually the most efficient way to bring the message is just by running on foot, so that's what these guys were doing.
Now, it says here in verse number 28 ... or look at verse 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 ..." he just recognizes his running style, apparently, he says, "And the king said, 'He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.' 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.' And the king said, 'Is the young man Absalom safe?' And Ahimaaz answered, 'When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.'"
Now he's a liar, that's not true. He knows that the king's son is dead, so he brings the good news, "We won the battle, everything's great, they've been defeated," but then he says, "Well, what happened to Absalom?" "Oh, you know, there was a bit of a commotion, I don't really know what happened to him," so he withholds the negative part of the message, and only brings the positive part of the message. "And the king said unto him, 'Turn aside, and stand here.' And he turned aside, and stood still. 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.' 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.'"
Meaning, he's dead. "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!'" Now, what is this picture, and what's God trying to show us here with this story? Well, in the Bible, preachers often are represented by runners. Now, the reason why preachers are represented as runners in the Bible is because they are bringing a message, and they're bringing tidings.
The Bible says, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things", so those who preach the Gospel are symbolized by people who bring glad tidings of good things, running. "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel". It's talking about somebody running, on foot, and bringing the good news; so, when God talks about his prophets throughout the Bible, He'll often refer to them as runners, and he'll even say of some prophets, He says, "I did not send them, yet they ran," he says.
"I didn't send them, but they ran anyway." Okay, so there are false prophets, prophets that God did not send, that are running, but not because they've been told to run, not because God has sent them to run, and not because they're bringing the truthful message, but rather, they are running for the same reason that Ahimaaz is running here, for their own glory. Why is Ahimaaz running here? Is it because he's delivering important information that needs to get to David? No, because Cushi is already bringing the message. Cushi's already bringing all the tidings that David needs.
No, Ahimaaz is running for one reason: for his own personal glory, and for his own aggrandizement, so that he can get there, and he's the fastest runner, and he's going to get there, and he gets to tell the positive news, and be the good guy ... Oh, "He's a good man," it says at the end of verse 27. "He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings." Well, listen, you could be a good man, and come with bad tidings, if it's the truth.
I mean, does it make you a bad person because you bring bad news? If it's true? Oh, but he's so good, because he brings good news, good tidings all the time. Now, here's the thing: the Gospel's good news, but you know what? There's also some bad news. There's the bad news that you're a sinner, there's the bad news that you're going to hell, there's the bad news that God's angry with the wicked every day ...
... and then there's the good news of salvation through Jesus, the gift of God's eternal life, but you see, one of the marks of a false prophet, a preacher that God did not send, yet they ran, is that they only want to deliver the positive side of the message, and they want to withhold the negative side of the message, isn't that exactly what this guy's doing ...
... so, Ahimaaz is picturing the positive-only preacher, the Joel Osteen of this world.
The one who comes and tells you a lot of positive things, and the ... Look, are the positive things that Ahimaaz told, are they true?
Yeah; so, the problem with most preachers is not what they say. It's what they don't say that's the problem.
See, a lot of preachers will get up and say a lot of great things about loving your neighbour, and Jesus loves you, and there are a lot of true, great things, and they might even be a great motivational speaker, or a life coach that ... You might even listen to things that they say and get improvement in your personal life by following their plan for being healthy and exercising, or eating a better diet, or working hard at your job, or being nice to your spouse, or being nice to your parents or, what ... I mean obviously, a lot of positive things flow out of the mouths of a lot of these TV-type preachers, but the problem is what they won't say. Because God sent them to preach the whole counsel, and God's message is, "Hey, if you're not going the bring the whole message, then just don't even run ...
Male: Right. Amen.
... don't even go, if you don't have all the tidings, if you don't want to bring the message.
"I don't want to bring bad news," then don't run, but if you're going to run, you need to bring the right message, and that message involves a positive side, and a negative side. Now, the faithful messenger, Cushi, does he show up with just 100% negative? All doom and gloom? No, he does have good tidings, he does have a positive message to bring, but he faithfully brings both good and bad news, but he just tells the truth, okay, and he even tries to soften the blow of the bad news, he tries to put it in a nice light, but he faithfully delivers the bad news; and, you know what, if you're going to be a real preacher of God's Word, you have to deliver the bad news and the good news; and when you hear a preacher where everything's always positive all the time, and it's just sweetness and light, unicorns, rainbows, and four-leaf clovers, that tells you that that guy was not sent by the Lord.
The Bible even talks about that, where preachers are rebuked, like in the Book of Jeremiah, he rebukes a false teacher, and he says, "Well, every prophet that's ever come before always preached negative," you know, and he said, "The prophet of peace ... We'll believe it when we see it." Because all the previous prophets have all preached doom and destruction. Why? Because it's the truth ...
... and he was pointing out, Jeremiah was pointing out, that a sign of a false prophet is when they say, "Peace, Peace" when there is no peace, and they want to bring a positive-only message and just ignore the negative information, kind of sweep it under the rug ... and what's the motive? I mean, I've often wondered, why be a pastor, if you're not going to preach the word of God faithfully, if you're not excited about getting people saved, if you don't care about having integrity, if you're not going to preach the whole word of God, then what's the point ... but you know what? The answer's in this passage.
The point is, for your own personal glory. You're going to preach what people want, because if you preach what people want to hear, people are going to lift you up and glorify you. I mean, Joel Osteen's a pretty popular guy. He's glorified. I mean, I can't even count how many doors I've knocked where people say: "Well, I don't go to church, but I do listen to Joel Osteen. I love that guy. Such a great message, so positive," and you know what? Joel Osteen is welcome on all kinds of TV shows, he's welcome with world leaders, and people, they're very comfortable with him.
He's a very popular guy, and you know what? I'm sure he probably enjoys being a multimillionaire, and he probably enjoys having hundreds of thousands or probably millions ... I bet you he has millions of people who look up to him as being a great man of God. I'm sure that feels good for his ego, to be lifted up and to be loved of all men, and praised and to be hobnobbing with the important people of this world and with members of Congress, or with stars and movie stars and politicians ...
I mean, I guarantee you that the mayor of ... Where is he, Houston? Is that where he is?
I'm sure that the mayor of Houston will pretty much give him whatever he wants as far as, you know, if he needs a building permit or whatever. I'm sure the mayor of Houston will come and have lunch with him whenever he wants. I'm sure that the Governor of Texas is probably on a first-name [basis 00:43:30], because he's such a powerful person, because he has a huge church, I think probably the biggest church in America, okay; and he has all of his TV and Radio ministry and everything ...
Look, it's for the glory of it; but see, the true preacher of God's Word, because he's not in it for the glory, will preach negative if it's true. He'll preach negative and positive, both, and he's going to be hated and execrated of the world. Jesus said, "If they hated Me, they'll hate you." "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you." He said, "If the world hate you, know that it hated Me before it hated you." He warned all the disciples that they were going to be persecuted, and the Bible says, "Yeah, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" ...
Male: That's right.
... so, that's the test, right there, of your motives: if your motives are for the truth, then you're not going to hold back and just try to be popular and grow and be buddies with everybody. You know, that's a sign of a false teacher, and that's what we see here; so here's the thing: One guy is a great runner.
He's fast, he gets there on time, he delivers, but it's not the right message. The other guy's a little slower, but at least he shows up and gives the right message; and that's kind of a picture of zeal, and knowledge. The Bible says of the Israelites that they had "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."
Ideally we want to make zeal and knowledge. We want to run fast and want to bring the right message ...
... but you know what? If I had to choose between the 2, I'd rather slow down and get the message right, than to just, "Oh, man, we're going, we're doing so much, we're going so fast", and you got the wrong message.
Slow down and get the message right. Slow down and read your Bible, guys, and actually figure out what it says, and get the message right. Teach the right doctrine than to just, "Oh, man, we're so excited, we got to read" ... and this false pre-tribulation rapture doctrine, where it's like, "Jesus can come back tomorrow, so we just got to go on, get everybody saved and you know" ...
Whoa, there, tiger. We're going to be here for a few more years. Slow down. Get the message right, and I'm not ... I don’t want to slow you down too much, I just want to slow you down just enough so you get the right message, and not just come running in so fast, "Ahhhh! Okay, what are the tidings?" "There was a great tumult, I don’t really know what happened."
Well, that's just not going to cut it. You need to know the right ... You need to know the message in order to be an effective messenger for God. There are a lot of deeper, symbolic things kind of going on under the surface in this story, different parallel ... and here's what's funny, because always when you talk about these type of symbolic things, people will say, "Hey, you got that wrong. Actually, this person represents this and this," but here's the ... usually, it's all of the above, because the Bible's so deep, there's a lot of symbolic meaning, just layer upon layer.
I mean, earlier in the passage, Joab represents the Devil, slaying Absalom, but at this point, he's sending the messengers, and we could liken that to God sending out his messengers, and God's telling the guy, "Hey, don’t go if you don’t have the message," but then you could look at it another way, where he's the one who's saying, "Hey, hold back the negative," so there's a lot of different symbolism, and layer upon ...
That's what's so great about the Bible. The Bible has so many lessons in it, you can read it 100 times, and you'll learn new things every time, and at different stages in your life, different things that you need to hear at that stage, you know, God will open those things up to you, but the truths are timeless, and the story here has so much great teaching; but the surface meaning of the story is just that, basically, Absalom is defeated in battle, and David wins a great victory, he gets his throne back, but it's a bittersweet victory, because he's sad about the fact that his son was killed.
He would have rather seen his son basically repent and get right and basically submit himself unto David as king, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, he was just too late for him.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank You so much for Your Word, Lord. Please just help us to learn the lessons from this chapter, Lord, help us to be runners, Lord. Help us not to just walk through life; so many people today, so many Christians are apathetic and lazy, Lord. I pray that our church would be a church that runs, not a church that just goes at a snail's pace, but, Lord, help us to get the message right. Help us not to trim the message to be positive only, but help us to run as fast as we can, Lord, and get the right message out to the ... not to one person or two people, but to the masses, Lord; and in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.