A Humble Heart = Jesus

I have just finished re-reading the story of David as told in 1 and 2 Samuel. As I was reading, this section in 2 Samuel 16 jumped out at me:

5When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. 6And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! 8The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

9Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 13So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. 14And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.

David is fleeing from his son Absalom whom he raised from birth. He’s raised him and provided for him his whole life and now finds himself running from the child he used to carry in his arms. He has been disrespected in a way few fathers could imagine; his flesh and blood wishes him dead so that he can be king. David and his men are in the wilderness headed toward the Jordan River for safety. He's probably had enough at this point. He’s weary as we can tell by verse 14 and he’s no doubt distraught about the future of not only his kingdom but also his life. Things are not going well.

Now here comes a man from the house of Saul, a man whom David had to flee as well, who wishes to curse him. David’s response astounds me. It’s miraculous. In the heat of his retreat from his son, Shimei throws stone and tosses this curse at him: “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

The men with David have the “rational” response to this man: “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.”

David has the gracious response: “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.”

Now, if you continue reading you will find that eventually David does have this man killed telling Solomon in 1 Kings 2: 8-9 “8And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” Solomon then tells Shimei to go into a house and not come out for if he does he will be killed. Well, he does and he is killed and it is counted to Solomon as wisdom.

For now, let’s look past David’s revenge on this man in his last days but instead focus on his response in this great time of despair. While his men want to do away with Shimei, David wants to heed his word as the word of God. It is an incredible thing to be able to listen to criticism in this way, in this hour or despair, and hear it as the word of God so that good may come of it.

Too often I find myself responding to even the slightest bit of criticism to either myself or those I respect and love the same way David’s men responded to Shimei. My initial reaction, while not as drastic as death, is to disregard that person as a “dead dog” who has no business making judgments on myself or the one I love. They clearly have faults of their own and no matter what, it is not right for them to say these things. I seek revenge on them instead of grace. I wish for their demise instead of thanking them for the words.

What I love about David’s response is the humbleness of his heart. He looks upon this man and does not rebuke him but rather his own men who are defending him. For a person to have anyone say something negative about them to their face and not blow a gasket is rare, even more so for a man of David’s position, the king of Israel. That’s what makes his reaction so amazing. He doesn’t rebuke Shimei but rather rebukes his own men for wanting to harm him.

It is difficult to ignore rebuke. Even if it is true, we are always offended by their words and not our actions. It is a God thing when we can look at those who curse us and say “Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to.It is even more amazing to do this for as long as David does: “So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan.”

We may arrive weary at the end by the hand of our critics with bad timing who show up when we’re already dealing with so much. Praise God for these people because often it is through rebuke that we are sanctified. It is through hardship that we grow. Just as God first rebuked us for our sin, he then saved us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Indeed we cannot be saved if our pride isn't hurt. We can't have Jesus if we can't accept criticism.