Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #183

#183 "Shimei Situations"
January 11, 2011
"So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt." (2 Samuel 16: 13)
What is your response when you feel that you've been wronged by another person? What do you do when you've been hurt SO very badly by someone else? Believe it or not, one option is to go to revenge advice web sites and type in your situation. Or...you can go to Revenge Products Inc., and buy products to get revenge on your ex or your enemy. Their ad boasts, "Check out our revenge products." You can buy anything from dartboard covers with your enemy's face on them, to voodoo dolls, and kitty pan liners. I found over 5 million hits for the word "revenge" on Google. It seems to me that getting revenge and retribution on those who have wronged us is the way to go. It's normal. It's common, it's accepted and even encouraged by our society. But is it God's way? Let's see.
2 Samuel 16: 5-14 tells the story of a man named Shimei. He may be very unfamiliar to you, but his story is a powerful one. My prayer today is that you will find comfort for today, or that you will tuck this message away for some future time when you encounter a "Shimei Situation" of your own.
The setting for the story takes place when King David is running from his own son, Absalom, who rebelled against him, had his own band of followers and was seeking his father's life. Aren't there just some times in our lives when it seems that everyone is against us?
As David and his men are approaching Bahurim, a town in Benjamin between Jerusalem and Jericho, beyond the Mount of Olives, on the way to Jericho, a man named Shimei is running along the ridge, along the hillside, opposite David, cursing and throwing stones and dirt at David and his men. He taunted David with false accusations. He accuses David of shedding blood in the household of Saul, which is something David had never done. Back in the day, David had been given ample opportunity to literally kill Saul, but he never did. And he never harmed any of Saul's family. False accusations. Have you ever been falsely accused? In the vernacular of our day, Shimei's  words would have sounded like this. "You are a good for nothing." Some folks I know would have used much stronger language.     
Ever had a Shimei of your own? Someone running right alongside of you in life, yelling curses, throwing stones, and flinging dirt your way? Maybe they tell you that you're a "good for nothing." Maybe they tell you that you'll never amount to anything or that you're too far gone. Maybe someone is accusing you falsely for things that you've never done. What do you do? What HAVE you done in this kind of a situation? What ARE we to do? King David was called "a man after God's own heart." What did he do in just this same situation?
Abishai, David's bodyguard, begged the king to let him decapitate Shimei, but David said no. It's pretty popular from the world view to get revenge when someone's done you wrong. Friends and family say, "Are you going to let them get away with that? You have every right to get back at them for what they did to you." Revenge is called "sweet" and paybacks are considered normal, right?
King David knew who the real "King" was. He knew that God was sovereign and in control. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, David believed that it was by God's permission that Shimei treated him in such a hateful manner. His friends didn't see it quite that way. God had said, "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm." (Psalm 105:15) David's men knew that cursing the King, the Lord's anointed, was a capital offense. As a result, Shimei deserved to die.
David, on the other hand, believed that if he did not return evil for evil, God would one day repay him for his obedience. He saw Shimei and the situation as an instrument of God and he believed that God would one day bring the vindication on Shimei that he deserved. God had said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay." (Deuteronomy 32: 35)
So...for now...Shimei could continue to curse and throw stones and shower David with dirt. Josephus says, "David went on his way without troubling himself with Shimei."
Oh my! That we could trust like that! That we could be so confident that God would repay our enemy that we could go on our way, "without troubling ourselves" with them. Most of the time, that's not what we do, is it? We get very troubled. We work ourselves into a frenzy. Our mind whirls. Our gut turns. We rehash the offense over and over and over again in our mind. We don't do a small amount of talking about the person, and what they did to us, to everyone who will lend an ear to our story. We walk around singing "another somebody done some somebody wrong song." For days.  For months. Sadly, maybe even for years.
Be so clear dear one, that I am not minimizing any pain or offense that has been done to you. Many of you have been wronged in the worst possible ways and hurt very, very deeply. Those wrongs may even be new and fresh today, and you're still reeling from the assault of your enemy. I do not shame you for the hurt that you feel. I understand. I've been hurt deeply too. God created us to have feelings and emotions, and those feelings get hurt sometimes. We suffer wounds of abuse and rejection, loneliness, false accusation and betrayal. Frankly, it hurts! I would be a hypocrite of the highest order if I told you that your wounds weren't deep and tender and didn't hurt very badly. But in order to grow and mature and move past those wounds in a healthy way, we have to learn what to do with that pain and become aware of what our Creator wants us to do.
David went on his way without troubling himself with Shimei. The passage reads, "David and his men continued along the road and arrived at their destination." It says that they arrived "exhausted", but golly-geez, they arrived!
It can be so exhausting when your Shimei is running right alongside of you. You feel the pain and sting of the curses. You get some bruises from the stones. But if you do as David did, and "not trouble yourself with Shimei", and continue along the road, you may arrive dirty and exhausted, but you will arrive.
We can stay stuck in our bitterness. We can stay stuck in unforgiveness and in seeking the perfect revenge, or we can arrive at the God-given destination for our lives. Revenge will only be like drinking poison yourself, and hoping that your enemy will die. We only hurt ourselves and keep ourselves away from our destinies and the appointments and plans that God has for our lives. And He does have a destiny, an appointment and a plan for each and every one of us. Don't trouble yourself with Shimei! Continue along on your way and arrive at your destination!
Looks like the end of the Shimei situation, doesn't it? I thought so too when I first read the passage. Later I found that this wasn't the end by a long shot! It would be great if you would read 2 Samuel 19: 16-23.
After Absalom's death, the people of Judah invited David to come and rule over them, and they sent a delegation to the Jordan River to meet him and to help him cross the waters. Lo and behold, who was part of that welcoming committee? None other than Shimei himself!
I think that he had to do some pretty quick thinking because David was on his way and would surely remember the day that Shimei disrespected him, and exhibited such despicable behavior. Surely David would punish him. We see Shimei hit the floor and beg the king for forgiveness.
In his own words, he says: "For I your servant (all of a sudden he's David's servant?), know that I have sinned (ya think!), but today I have come here as the first of the house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king (aren't I wonderful? See how I've changed?)" He's pouring it on pretty thick to save his skin. Again, Abishai wants Shimei's head, but again, David grants him mercy and vows that Shimei shall not die. It's interesting that his forefather Joseph had acted in just the same way after being thrown into a pit by his brothers. There came a day when the brothers needed Joseph's mercy and he gave it freely saying, "You intended to harm me,  but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them."  (Genesis 50: 20-21)
There may come a day when YOUR Shimei, your own enemy, may come to you and sincerely ask for your forgiveness or your help. Will you show them mercy and grace, or will you exact your own brand of revenge and cut off their head?
Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as if she had never heard of the incident. "Don't you remember it?" her friend asked. "No", came Clara's reply. "I distinctly remember forgetting it." Shake it off and move on.
I encourage you to read 1 Kings 2: 8-9, 36-46 to find out the end of Shimei at the hands of Solomon, the king's son. It took years, but there was an end to Shimei. That can be hard to swallow.
Delayed justice is not denied justice. God says that it is His job to avenge and repay. Your Shimei may think that he is secure when he doesn't get immediate punishment for what he did you. He threw stones and dirt and cursed you up and down. He falsely accused you. And nothing happened. Instead you showed restraint, or mercy or forgiveness or kindness and chose not to get revenge. He's feeling pretty secure right about now, so let him! Don't trouble yourself with Shimei. Continue on the road with your eyes fixed on Christ. You may be dirty and exhausted but stay focused. You will arrive at your intended destination. Somewhere in God's perfect sovereignty, He allowed your situation, your mistreatment, and the wrong that was done to you. Nothing touches you without first going through the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.
Get ready! One day your Shimei may come to you and fall at your feet and sincerely beg you for mercy. When that happens, give it to him. He may ask for your help. Give it to him. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, graciously and freely.
Always remember that your God is a just God. He will repay. In His own way. In His own time. Trust Him completely for that. Jesus Himself was falsely accused. They beat Him, spit on Him, pulled out His beard, mocked Him and finally, nailed Him to a cross, and left Him to die. He never, ever, not once, did anything wrong. What did Jesus do? Some of His last words were, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." He had been betrayed by Judas in the garden, but He called him "friend."
Joseph forgave his brothers and showed them mercy. David didn't trouble himself with Shimei and he didn't seek revenge. Jesus suffered at the hands of those who treated Him unfairly and He asked His Father to forgive them. Ask your Father to forgive your Shimei. You forgive him too. Remember that God says, "Vengeance is mine. I will repay." Let Him do it.
Living the Word along with you,                 
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