2 Samuel 16:5-14 (CEB)
Shimei curses David
5 When King David came to Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei; he was Gera’s son. He was cursing as he came out.6 He threw rocks at David and at all of King David’s servants, even though the entire army and all the warriors were on either side of him.
7 This is what Shimei said as he cursed David: “Get out of here! Get out of here! You are a murderer! You are despicable! 8 The Lord has paid you back for all the blood of Saul’s family, in whose place you rule, and the Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You are in this trouble because you are a murderer!”
9 Zeruiah’s son Abishai said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my master the king? Let me go over and cut his head off!”
10 But the king said, “My problems aren’t yours, you sons of Zeruiah. If he is cursing because the Lord told him to curse David, then who is to question, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
11 Then David addressed Abishai and all his servants: “Listen! My own son, one of my very own children, wants me dead. This Benjaminite can only feel the same—only more! Leave him alone. And let him curse, because the Lord told him to. 12 Perhaps the Lord will see my distress; perhaps the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing today.”
13 So David and his men kept walking, while Shimei went along on the hillside next to him, cursing as he went, throwing rocks and dirt at him. 14 The king and all the people who were with him reached the Jordan River exhausted, and he rested there.
This is one of those stories in the bible that we tend to quickly pass over and move on. Maybe because of the drama surrounding this text we miss this golden nugget. King David has fled Jerusalem with a small army because his son, Absalom, wants to kill him. I’ve never had to flee for my life, but I imagine it’s a little stressful. In the midst of this flight, David and Co. are accosted by Shimei, a descendant of Saul, Israel’s first king. David had actually spared Saul’s life, but later Saul ends up dead and David becomes king.
Now imagine yourself in David’s sandals for a moment, under extreme stress and duress. Someone comes along and curses and insults you and you know it’s mostly false. Yet he understands the seed of this man’s anger at the loss of a family member, that also brought about the loss of privilege and authority. Now, you have an army and this one man has rocks and dirt. What do you do? What did David do? David showed compassion to this man and hoped that God would then show him compassion.
When I am stressed, I am usually anything but compassionate. I bet I’m not alone. Life is full of stress. Can we learn to show compassion in our darkest moments and days? David did. Jesus did. Jesus forgave the folks who put him on the cross and the thief being crucified next to him. This is the life that God is calling us to. Compassion is easy when life is going well for us. Can we show compassion when we are down and out.
Prayer: Lord, today will be full of plenty of things that bring stress and fear. Help us move beyond ourselves to take on your ways of love and compassion no matter what the situation. Amen.