18:20, "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 king's son is dead."
This morning, the concept of calling is becoming lost in our culture. Either people simply desire to be given everything without effort (one ditch), or they believe that they are entitled to do anything they please (another ditch). The fact of the matter is that we need to be up and working, but in some areas, we need to humbly admit we may not have the aptitude or more especially the calling for the assignment. There are men that can run circles around me in their aptitude and ability to do certain things (like work on old motors). In my experience, I have been able to pick up enough knowledge to do some things with old motors, but they have "a knack" for understanding how it all works and how to fix it, while my best growth and efforts pale in comparison to their aptitude and calling that capacity. However, there are other areas in which I am more given than these same men who outpace me in mechanics. Certain areas of endeavour are beyond us if we have not received the calling in that area. Truly, there is no area more pertinent to this discussion than the calling and sending of the gospel ministry, and we would like to look at this verse and passage through that lens this morning.
During this passage and occasion, David's servants have gone out to battle to fight with Absalom's forces as the king's son is trying to usurp the kingdom from his father. At the end of the battle (with the Lord fighting with David's servants), Joab thrusts three darts through Absalom's heart as he is suspended by his hair in a tree. After Absalom dies, Joab blows a trumpet to signify the end of the battle. While there is much typology that could be discussed in what just happened, our main thought today is about the runners that go forth to herald what just happened. It was customary in those days to send runners bearing messages or tidings to let people away from a scene of battle know how the battle went, was going, or had ended. On this day, we will see two runners - Ahimaaz and Cushi - but quickly notice that only one of them was truly sent. The other just got up and went.
Ahimaaz desires to run and herald King David on this magnanimous occasion in which the kingdom has been preserved and his enemies vanquished and subdued before him. Truly, the state of mind of a messenger would be high and lifted up knowing that he was bringing such good tidings as these. However, Joab determines to send another man named Cushi on this day as the tidings, while great in the sense that the kingdom is preserved, have a measure of blackness and are bittersweet to the king in that his son is dead. The man Cushi has a name that means "black." His very name depicts the type of message he is bringing. Today, sometimes the gospel minister's duty is no different. We may be bringing the greatest message that has ever been brought in that the kingdom is preserved, the enemy is destroyed, and the citizens are secure. However, there is a measure of bittersweet to the message when we think about the death of Christ that MUST needs have been
accomplished for these things to transpire.
Notice what happens as these men begin to approach where David is. When the watchman says that the first man looks like Ahimaaz (who actually outran Cushi even though he left later), David responds, "He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings." (Verse 27) Ahimaaz was known as a good man, and therefore his tidings were known to be good as well. This does not imply that Cushi was wicked, but as a blacker messenger, his tidings were not perceived as being good. The goodness under consideration is that of pleasant, glad, agreeable, benign, and happy. Ahimaaz was full of smiles, fun to be around, and a generally happy, pleasant fellow. Therefore, his demeanor made more for tidings of this nature.
It is this difference between Cushi and Ahimaaz that makes the situation so pertinent. Ahimaaz desired to run on this day for the great news he could tell the king. Notice that Joab does NOT tell him he will not run, not now or ever. Rather, he specifically says that Ahimaaz will run again, just not today. Today is not the day for pleasant, agreeable, glad, and happy tidings. Is there a measure of happiness involved with the land safe and secure? Certainly, and Ahimaaz is able to tell the king that when he arrives. He is able to give the pleasant aspects of what happened, but the information the king needed the most, he could not provide. Rather, he could only say that he saw a great tumult and did not know what it meant. (Verse 29) Cushi, however, who was truly sent to bring tidings spake unto the king all that his heart inquired about: the tumult that Ahimaaz saw, Cushi heralds as the death of Absalom. (Verse 32)
Now one might say, "That is all nice, but what is the point?" The point is that the Lord has given His messengers different personalities. None of these personalities are superior to the other, but each present their own advantages and drawbacks. Just like Paul and Barnabas were quite opposite (one rebuked to the face while the other was a brother of consolation)
However, what happens when a man decides to up and run anyway? Well, if he is truly a non-called messenger, all he will ever be able to say when he arrives is, "Tumult, tumult. I saw a great tumult." He may be able to give some correct information about what has happened, but the things that the flock truly needs and laid upon their heart will be things that he can only cry, "Tumult" in response to. It is for this reason that it is such a grave and sore injustice to ordain a man to run in this fashion without the calling to do so. Not only will the hearers be unjustly punished, but the man will be laden with a load he cannot bear no matter how much he tries to do so. But, notice again, that the language from our verse can apply to a man who is called but not sent on a particular occasion.
When men show up somewhere with the mentality, "I just have to preach," they generally end up like Ahimaaz. This does not mean they will never bring tidings again, but on that day, their message sounds more like a tumult than what the flock really needs to hear. At other times, men are used that have not been given a message with the thought of, "Well we just have to preach everybody." This is like putting forth a messenger that has delivered in the past but has nothing on this occasion just because he is a messenger. Brethren, a man may be called to preach, and he may preach very well, but that does not mean that he is supposed to be used every time you see him. There are occasions when the preacher went just because he could (and desired to run), and other occasions when the folks sent him just because he had run well in the past.
May our message be fitting for each occasion, and may we run when we have something to bring. Ahimaaz ran on a day he should not have, but he would run again. Just because today is not our day to run, as His messengers, we will run again. May we look to Him for the wisdom to know when to run, how to run, and above all, what manner in which to deliver the message He has given us. Truly, some days have blacker messages than others, while other days are full of radiant pleasantness. Let us seek wisdom to learn better how to deliver the ones we are weaker in so that our message will be more effective in giving the hearers those things that their heart stands in need of at that time. Most of all, may we never allow pride to get in the way as we labour and go about fulfilling this calling that only He has provided.