Thursday 27 January 2022

Bible Book:
2 Samuel

Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, 'Let me run, and carry tidings to the king...' (v. 19)

2 Samuel 18:19-23 Thursday 27 January 2022

Psalm 66


Yesterday’s Bible passage told how King David’s forces ensured that a rebellion against the king, led by his son Absalom, was put down. Now it was time to carry the news of victory to the king.  However, in order to ensure the victory, David’s commander, Joab, had ruthlessly killed David’s son Absalom, despite David’s instructions to deal gently with him, and news of personal loss would accompany the news of military success. Whoever acted as the messenger might well bear the brunt of David’s grief and anger, and could even be putting his own life in danger. So when Ahimaaz volunteered for the job, Joab did his best to dissuade him, and sent a Cushite instead.

We can only guess at why Ahimaaz would want to take on such a task. Did he not know the full situation when he made his offer? And when it was made clear to him, did he think that he could give his information with compassion, or that his status would protect him from the king’s wrath? It’s easier to see Joab’s motives, which still resonate all too clearly in our own society, and especially on this, Holocaust Memorial Day. A task that was seen as unsuitable, and probably potentially too dangerous, for a named and valued individual from a known family was passed to a nameless foreigner. 'We' have names, and are to be shielded from harm; 'they' are identified only by race or group, or at worst only by numbers, and are expendable. We don’t know what happened to the Cushite after he delivered his message. We do know, however, that as soon as people lose their names, they begin to lose their humanity and their right to be treated with dignity, and are in danger of becoming part of the statistics of tragedies such as the one we remember today.

To Ponder:

  • I work in Japan, where it is normal for sales assistants, bank and public office staff, train conductors, and others  dealing with the public, to wear name badges. Does it make any difference to the way you interact with others if you know their names? And would it make any difference to your own behaviour if everyone you were dealing with could readily identify you by name?
  • Are there any groups that you are tempted to think of as 'them'?


Loving God, who calls each person by name, help us to recognise and treat all other people as your children, named and unique individuals. Amen.

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