2 Samuel 18:16-33 When People Remember Us For The Sacrifices We Make
2 Samuel 18:16-33
16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes. 18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.
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.
The heap of stones at the bottom of the pit is probably what people remember of Absalom. His monument at King’s Valley has become a byword and an icon of misplaced loyalty for all of Israel. Today’s passage teaches us that true success is measured not by your wealth and power, but by how people remember you after you pass on.
I have no son to carry on my name – The sounding of the ram’s horn is signal that the battle is concluded and the rebels’ course crushed. Absalom has prior erected a monument of himself in his own honor. But at his death he was accorded with the memorial of the forgotten: They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it.
He is a good man and comes with good news – The king must be notified of the joyous news of victory and in the same breath, the demise of his son Absalom. Ahimaaz volunteers to take the news to David, but Joab forbids Ahimaaz to go. Knowing the delicacy of the situation, he wants to spare the young man should the news be badly received. Instead, Joab turns to a man from Ethiopia and commands him to take the message to the king. However, Ahimaaz pleads with Joab who later relents and gives him permission to go. Taking a short-cut, he outran the Ethiopian man. David sees Ahimaaz running towards them, he supposes that the message will be favorable as Ahimaaz is considered a good man. However, Ahimaaz could not give details of the circumstances surrounding Absalom and is asked to step aside while awaiting the second messenger to arrive. Ahimaaz probably doesn’t want to be the bearer of bad news, preferring to deliver the news of their victory and omitting the death of Absalom. In fact, Ahimaaz is aware of Absalom’s death when Joab replied, “it wouldn’t be good news to the king that his son is dead…” Here, the reader can observe Ahimaaz’s lack of integrity when he says to the king, “When Joab told me to come, there was a lot of commotion. But I didn’t know what was happening.” Firstly, Ahimaaz is virtually a self-appointed messenger. Secondly, he does know of Absalom’s death. It is most likely that Ahimaaz has planned to arrive ahead of the Ethiopian man so that he could deliver the good news and leave the second messenger to deliver the bad bit.
May all of your enemies, my lord the king, both now and in the future, share the fate of that young man! – The Ethiopian man’s reply is indirect and unconventional in drawing attention to the restoration of the nation while downplaying the personal tragedy of David. The king is overcome with sorrow at the news of Absalom’s death. It is easy to condemn the king for placing his personal loss above the stability of the kingdom. Nevertheless, the crisis and drama reveal the inner conflict of David as king and father.
How accomplished you are when you are alive is not important, but it is how people remember you when you pass on.
A person’s true success can be measured by how people remember him when he passes on. Absalom’s excessive personal vanity had driven him to the unusual – even for an Israelite – to erect a monument in honor of himself. His second monument, which is a heap of stones in a deep pit, basically sums up his life story. People do not remember how wealthy and powerful you are. But they do remember your contributions and selfless sacrifices towards them. Absalom is self-absorbed in honoring himself with no intention to compensate for his father’s shortcomings in administrating justice for the nation but to take advantage of it. Absalom’s life story teaches us to never promote ourselves or compare our popularity with others. Instead, we must focus on deepening our spiritual wisdom, in increasing our ministry effectiveness and skills and in giving more of ourselves for the benefit of others. In so doing, we will be remembered by God and by those we served.
We must beware of those who try to project a favorable image of themselves in order to further their personal agenda.
They want to be seen as obliging, helpful and a bearer of good tidings, but harboring a stealthy agenda of self-enrichment. Ahmaaz’s agenda is to associate himself with good tidings at the expense of others. Ahmaaz by his zeal manages to fool Joab and even the king: He is a good man and comes with good news. Such people are everywhere, in companies and in churches; they are willing to take on responsibilities, but only the responsibilities that ingratiate themselves to important people that could promote them. They want to be the bearer of good tidings, to be well liked rather than to do real work. Ahmaaz, is in fact redundant and a waste of time; after reporting the good news, he left the bad bit to the Ethiopian man. True contributors of any organization are not those who do much talking of good tidings, but those who do the hard and unpopular work. Therefore, as business and church leaders we must set the right culture for our organization by exalting those who work with diligence and with sincerity of heart.
- We must serve others from the compassion of our hearts: to talk less, to listen more and to serve without demanding anything in return. We must learn to derive satisfaction from the joys of those served by us. People cannot remember us for our many words, but by our sacrifices, we will be immortalized.
- We must give personal attention to honor those who work hard without demanding anything in return. Human instinct draws us towards those who bear good tidings with added flummery. But those who work silently with their hands are often given little acknowledgment and attention. Do something special to exalt these conscientious workers. For that is many times more meaningful than giving honor to those who have no lack of it.
Dear Lord, help me serve others with sincerity of heart. In doing so, I am serving you and showing gratitude for your love towards me. I do not seek the praises of men nor take joy in my own exaltation. Help me be a true contributor to the society and to make this world a better place. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.