Summary: The tragedy of the church today is that we have only proclaimed a partial message. The proclamation of salvation without repentance is a tragedy because it is a mockery to the cross. But the proclamation of salvation without the Holy Spirit is the greates
King David was one of the most perplexing paradoxes of biblical history.
• He has been called the highest star in the Old Testament.
• He has provided our most beautiful scriptures in the Psalms.
• He was the greatest King of Israel.
• His life was such a paragon of all the virtues of leadership that he became a prototype of the Messiah in Jewish
understanding. Yet, it was this same David who yielded to the passions of the flesh, who committed adultery and who amassed deceit upon deceit to try to cover up his treachery.
We have many pictures of David in Scripture. This pathetic picture painted of David in our text for tonight comes long after his double sin of adultery and murder, although it was directly tied to it. With the stories of David’s sin and deceit no doubt part of the common court gossip when he grew up, Absalom overheard the whispered tales of his father’s guile from an early age. Thus, it is not difficult to understand why the growing disrespect Absalom had for his father exploded into rebellion and eventually motivated him to attempt to put his father out of power and gain the throne himself.
Absalom almost succeeded. The times had been difficult for David, but now the tide began to turn. A growing number of the people began to align themselves once more with David, and led by his talented general Joab, the forces of David had almost succeeded in recovering the kingdom of Israel.
The climatic battle was still to be fought. David’s troops, led by Joab, were to meet those of Absalom in the woods of Ephraim. David remained in the city, on the promise of his advisors that they would send him immediate word when the battle was over. David’s forces proved supreme that day, and despite his repeated warnings, Absalom, his rebellious son, was killed. The battle was over. The victory had been won. Absalom was dead.
Now word had to be sent to the king. The Bible says in 2 Samuel 18:19, that Ahimaaz asked Joab if he could take the message to the king. Verse 21 tells us that Cushi was sent instead. Ahimaaz persisted in his request in verse 22, however, and a few moments later, in verse 23, he was sent with the message as well.
I can imagine Ahimaaz as he stretched out his long legs and swiftly swept across the plains to the city. I can see him as he gave everything he had so he could reach the city first. He passed Cushi and came to the city first where King David was sitting out between two gates. Ahimaaz came and knelt before David and cried in an exalted voice in verse 28, “The victory has been won and you are king once more.”
But David, wanting to know about his prodigal son, asked in verse 29, “What about Absalom? Is he safe?” Ahimaaz said that he had seen a crowd but he did not know anything about Absalom. Remember, he had been there when Absalom had been killed. He had been there even after Cushi, but because he was afraid of the reaction of the king, he was afraid to deliver the full message.
As soon as Ahimaaz rose, Cushi came panting into the king’s presence. He, too, knelt at the feet of David. He, too, proclaimed the note of victory. Again, David asked about his son. Cushi, in verse 32, knowing of David’s love for his son and yet feeling an overwhelming urge to deliver the whole message said, “The king’s son is dead.”
Ahimaaz had run with all his might. He had come in first because of his zeal, but when he arrived in the city he did not deliver the full message. He delivered the message of victory, but he did not deliver the message of judgment. He told David his armies had won the battle, but he did not tell him the price that had to be paid for that victory ... the death of his precious son. Ahimaaz refused to deliver the whole truth.
That is happening in our churches today. This failure to deliver the full message to the world today is what one writer has recently called “the evangelical dilemma.” Many of our churches are growing, and people are being saved. The problem is that the conversions do not stick. The fruit does not remain. Six months later there is nothing to be seen for all the aggressive evangelism, and the children baptized in yesteryear are not actively involved in the life of the church today.
Many different reasons may be suggested for this curious phenomenon, but I believe that at the heart of the problem is a failure on the part of the Christian church to proclaim to the world the full message—in other words, The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth. We proclaim the message of victory but often fail to explain the price which must be paid for that victory. We present the challenge but do not mention the power that is available to meet that challenge.