2 Samuel 18:19-19:8
19 Then Zadok’s son Ahimaaz said, “Let me run to the king with the good news that the Lord has rescued him from his enemies.” 20 “No,” Joab told him, “it wouldn’t be good news to the king that his son is dead. You can be my messenger another time, but not today.” 21 Then Joab said to a man from Ethiopia, “Go tell the king what you have seen.” The man bowed and ran off. 22 But Ahimaaz continued to plead with Joab, “Whatever happens, please let me go, too.” “Why should you go, my son?” Joab replied. “There will be no reward for your news.” 23 “Yes, but let me go anyway,” he begged. Joab finally said, “All right, go ahead.” So Ahimaaz took the less demanding route by way of the plain and ran to Mahanaim ahead of the Ethiopian. 24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates of the town, the watchman climbed to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked, he saw a lone man running toward them. 25 He shouted the news down to David, and the king replied, “If he is alone, he has news.” As the messenger came closer, 26 the watchman saw another man running toward them. He shouted down, “Here comes another one!” The king replied, “He also will have news.” 27 “The first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok,” the watchman said. “He is a good man and comes with good news,” the king replied. 28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “Everything is all right!” He bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise to the Lord your God, who has handed over the rebels who dared to stand against my lord the king.” 29 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?” Ahimaaz replied, “When Joab told me to come, there was a lot of commotion. But I didn’t know what was happening.” 30 “Wait here,” the king told him. So Ahimaaz stepped aside. 31 Then the man from Ethiopia arrived and said, “I have good news for my lord the king. Today the Lord has rescued you from all those who rebelled against you.” 32 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?” And the Ethiopian replied, “May all of your enemies, my lord the king, both now and in the future, share the fate of that young man!” 33 The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.” 19 Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2 As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. 3 They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. 4 The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” 5 Then Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, “We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. 6 You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. 7 Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.” 8 So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate, and as the news spread throughout the town that he was there, everyone went to him. Meanwhile, the Israelites who had supported Absalom fled to their homes.
Talk about drama! A battle, the king’s son killed, messages to the king, diplomatic language, a king in mourning.
Like any parent, David’s heart still longed for his son, Absalom, despite the murder and betrayal he had been responsible for. It is such a tragic scene.
The truth was Absalom had been lost long before, and David’s actions in shutting himself away to mourn, rather than celebrating with his army, meant he was not giving honour where it was due. In the face of insurrection this could only fuel the precarious situation.
Thank God for Joab his commander. When I read about Joab’s reaction and confrontation of David, I am at first shocked at his seeming insensitivity. However Joab could think rationally when David could not, lost in his grief. Joab actually upheld David as king, as leader of Israel, by calling him to acknowledge his army and their loyalty.
Our church leaders are likewise to receive our support and encouragement in their dedication to serving the Lord. We are called to honour and uphold our pastors, who are the public face of our church on most occasions, and therefore visible targets for challenge and even attack. My role is “to have their back” – by honouring them, in the way I speak about them, by praying for them, and by serving them.
I am to be their Joab.
Dear Lord, I thank you for our leaders you have placed over us in our church, who you have called and who I honour. I pray you will give them wisdom, singularity of purpose, and strength to serve you. Amen
Written by Claire Moore