Some days it feels like “Incoming! Take cover!” is the clarion call in our lives. We are battle worn and weary, yet have no choice but to go on, one step at a time. “When will it end?” we wonder. “When will peace and tranquility come again? When will the infighting and division stop? How do we navigate through it?” The impact of an insecure world brings a challenge to our equilibrium. Where is our point of balance in it all? How do we find our sea legs in an unending storm?
2 Samuel 16:5-14 records a portion of King David’s experience when his son Absalom conspired to overthrow him to claim the throne of Israel. David chose to lead his family, and those of his kingdom who were loyal, out of Jerusalem, leaving behind a select number of his household and priesthood. He had purpose in those choices, endeavoring to honor God, protect his people, yet move to safer ground. Even as “a man after God’s own heart,” he was fraught with challenges, seemingly every step of the way. Bone weary, sick at heart at his own son’s endeavor to overthrow him, David’s responsibility was to lead his people, even so.
I wonder in amazement at the pertinence Biblical accounts have for today. Historical events, they are recorded to give us insight for our own daily challenges. As we view our conundrums, they provide templates as we search for our way through, to see clearly the path we should go with the wisdom and lessons our forefathers learned so long ago. Wisdom and lessons to bless and preserve us.
Enter Shimei. For some reason the encounter with this man, with his clod throwing, dust kicking, and cursing at David, during David’s weary march, has been deemed important for our insight. Perhaps more poignant, as David trusted in God’s purposes, was his response to Shimei’s relentless attacks. Though David’s servants proposed killing the abrasive man, David replied in 2 Samuel 16:11-12 (NKJV):
11 And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”
This response amazes me! Yes, David recognized that Shimei was a Benjamite, a member of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, and ultimately one of God’s people. Yet he was clearly offensive! When clods are being thrown at me, whether physical or verbal, I want to return fire, NOW! How is it that in some instances in Scripture fighting back is appropriate, other times not? It causes me to wonder. Might it have something to do with a greater picture than I can see? Do I need to reign in my fight or flight response and consider what my tormentor (also a creation of God, and perhaps a fellow countryman) is doing, and why? As I desire to become a more godly person this story of Shimei gives me pause. As does David’s response. Even under fire one can tune their heart towards peace.