Introduction While some believers can be insensitive oafs, the other extreme exists within the church–those who are overly sensitive and (therefore) fragile. The upside is that such a person–possessing acute spiritual radar–can step into a room and almost smell a hurting person. For every dominant, bull-in-the-China-shop, type-A, driving personality we encounter in the church, my guess is that there are a dozen Overly Sensitive Christians (OSCs).
All Are Sensitive: An Example Most of us can endure a lot for a long period of time. Still, in reality, all of us are sensitive. This was brought home to me force-fully some years ago as I discovered it in Jon. A member of the congregation I was pastoring, he had previously given me little reason to believe that he cared about what others thought of him. For a living, Jon operated heavy earth-moving equipment and drove a commercial-sized truck. At church, he sat in the back row, arms folded across his chest as his body language screamed “You-haven’t-changed-my-life-yet-preacher.”
We lived on the same dirt road. So his large truck went up and down that road every day.
The man at the corner of our road was trying to grow grass near the road, but it kept getting run over by wide tires. One day Jon volunteered to me, “I know the man on the corner thinks I continue to run over his grass.” I was amazed for three reasons:
- He volunteered the statement, showing a sensitivity I had never seen in him before.
- Clearly he cared about what the neighbor at the corner thought of him.
- His statement implied strongly that he wasn’t the one running over the grass.
Even tough guys like Jon can be sensitive.
Biblical Case Study But Ahimaaz (II Samuel 18:19) was not a tough guy. Ahimaaz was a son of Zadok, who was a leader in David’s inner circle (II Samuel 8:15-18). Zadok had been with David through the strategic withdrawal from Jerusalem (II Samuel 15-17) which was forced by the king’s rebellious son, Absalom.
Ahimaaz loved King David. The young man was trusted to carry secret messages out to the countryside where the king was waiting for such military intelligence (II Samuel 15:27-28, 35-36). Zadok was loyal to David and he had passed that along to his son, Ahimaaz.
It is good to love others, be aware of others, serve others and be conscious of the dynamics of human relationships. Many of us could profit from being more aware, sensitive and thoughtful. But like any and every spiritual gift, sin can result in imbalance and a foolish use of time, energy and money.
You Know the Type Such was the case with Ahimaaz. He was too sensitive. Likely perfection prone. Nervous. Wanted to be liked to an excessive degree. Wanted everything “just right.” This believer gets worn out serving others as he / she drags their family members (people who are gifted and wired differently) along on forced marches.
First Appeal, vs. 19 David’s son, Absalom, rebelled and drove his father out of Jerusalem. Once the battle was over between Absalom and Joab (David’s general), and Absalom was dead, Ahimaaz wanted to run to David to cushion the news of the death of the king’s son. The part of the news he wanted to deliver was “. . . the Lord has delivered him [David] from his enemies” (II Samuel 18:19). But Absalom’s death would not be welcome news. He would not include that.
Joab refused to let Ahimaaz go. “You are not the man to carry the news that the king’s son is dead” (18:20). This verse actually says it was specifically because the king’s son was dead that he–Ahimaaz–was not to carry the news.
Knowing what was better for the nation than David did, (20,000 people died because of the ambitious, foolish, actions of Absalom2), Joab had actually killed Absalom himself (See II Samuel 18:9-15. In 19:1-7 we are given Joab’s explanation of his actions. He was right, but he was a hard, unsympathetic man). And he did not want a pro-David, anti-Joab messenger informing the king about how his son was killed.
Instead of Ahimaaz, Joab turned to one of his own loyalists, a Cushite – one whose ties to David were not as close as those of Ahimaaz (v. 21). The Cushite was dispatched to “… tell the king what you have seen,” which would include the news of Absalom’s death. This was carte blanche to share any and everything. The Cushite began his run (vs. 21).
We do not know how much time passed between verses 21 and 22.
- Three minutes?
- Five minutes?
- Ten minutes?
- Twenty minutes?
The text does not say. But it is reasonable to assume that Joab wanted the Cushite far enough ahead that Ahimaaz could not possibly get to the king first to put his slant on the news.
We identify with Ahimaaz because we have all wanted to speak to someone before someone else got to them first. We know that stress of delay.
1. While we would not be theologically correct to call Ahimaaz-the man used as an examples in these four articles-a Christian, the general purpose of these articles is to study an Old Testament believer and apply his experience to today’s Christian.
2. His stupidity is seen in that after taking Jerusalem, he then said to his counselors, “Well, what should we do now”(II Samuel 16:20)? He had not thought ahead.