“So David and his men continued down the road, and Shimei kept pace with them on a nearby hillside, cursing as he went and throwing stones at David and tossing dust into the air. The King and all who were with him grew weary along the way, so they rested when they reached the Jordan River.” 2 Samuel 16:13-14
I have always been intrigued by the story of Shimei. (2 Samuel 16:5-14) What exactly is this story all about, and why is it recorded in the Bible? What can we learn from it?
The answer to questions like these is quickly answered regarding many Bible stories, but this one doesn’t seem straightforward. Many stories help us have faith and point to Jesus and the Good News, and some help us see our need to walk more closely with Jesus, but this one? What are we to learn?
This story seems to be a sort of a by-line that can we can quickly overlook. I don’t remember hearing this Bible story told too many times in church or Sunday School. I don’t recall memorizing any of these words to fall back on in hard times.
The story of Shimei is the kind of story that fascinates me!
What nugget of truth can we find here? Hmmm? Let’s do some digging.
David was a deposed king. That was not a good predicament for David. He and his son Absalom were struggling over who would be King. His son, Absalom, was winning at the moment. Once again, David was on the run. He had escaped from Jerusalem and had come to a town called Bahurim.
Shimei enters the picture in this little town. Now, Shimei is a Benjamite and is a relative of King Saul, and he is still fuming mad that Saul’s offspring lost the throne to David. He wished Saul’s family members possessed the throne.
Maybe Shimei was angry because the people did not hold Saul’s family in high esteem anymore. Perhaps this turn of events had lowered Shimei’s community importance. Maybe his social standing had declined, and his once high station in life deteriorated to a new low, Shimei became irritated. But for whatever reason, even after all this time, Shimei was good and mad! He was steaming, boiling over with rage! And he was determined David would not have a shred of dignity when David finished the day.
In Shimei’s mind, this deposed King should be humiliated, and that is what Shimei had in mind. Shimei was convinced that David’s humble situation resulted from what David had done to Saul and his family. Of course, we know this wasn’t true. Saul’s banishing from the throne was of his own making. But Shimei had the family honor to defend, and he was sure it needed to be safeguarded, even if it was in a cowardly and spineless way.
Shimei was not a very pleasant man, particularly when he was red-hot-angry. He was vicious, rude, and insulting. The confrontation with David was something he wanted from a distance! Not from close range. I think he wanted to be far enough away that he had a head start if fleeing was required. David and his men traveled on the road, and Shimei walked on the hillside opposite them.
So, from far away, we find Shimei slinging stones and dust and cursing David. The mighty men all around David wanted to make him stop. I mean, they had to endure the unpleasant attack as well!
But no! David instructed his men to let Shimei carry on cursing, stone-throwing, and kicking up dust. Everyone was getting extraordinarily weary, and the Scripture tells us when they got to the Jordan River, they stopped and refreshed themselves.
Commentaries give some insight into why David allowed Shimei to punish him and his traveling buddies with stones, dirt, and dust. Some say it was that David had bigger fish to fry, more important things to deal with, like the dilemma he had with Absalom. Some say that David didn’t fight back because he knew God would take care of the situation if needed. God always took care of David’s circumstances.
These analyses are most likely correct. But here is what I want to submit to you, by letting Shimei, his enemy throw stones and dust and lob curses, David was allowing the enemy to wear himself and his group down. The Scripture tells us they became very weary. Can you imagine how tired, exhausted, and fatigued they were? David’s group was slogging along and getting hit repeatedly by flying stones and debris. They had to dodge incoming shrapnel relentlessly, ducking to avoid another round of incoming projectiles. No wonder they were worn out! By allowing this enemy to degrade them continually, David was allowing exhaustion to set in.
Isn’t this what we do?
Scripture tells us we have an enemy that wants to zap our strength and make us weary. Often, the enemy can sling one small but insightful word at the perfect time. One that he sends our way at just the right moment: you are stupid, ugly, a failure, fat, not a Christian, no good, ignorant, a fake, etcetera, and then we take over from there.
Did you see that? We take over for him!
He has done his job, and he can go home. But we continue to pelt ourselves with stones of disgust and curses of failure. Unlike Shimei, who stayed to irritate David, our enemy can just whisper a word, and we continue the job for him. We willingly take his allegation, his indictment, and convict and condemn ourselves. Am I alone in this? Can I hear a, “Yes ma’am, I have been there, done that!”
But just like David and his crowd stopped and refreshed themselves, we must too.
What are the actions we must take to stop this sort of attack and find refreshment?
1.Realize where the attack is coming from; our enemy is looking to devour.
2. Spend time in the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit guide you to words of truth about your position in Christ.
3. Memorize those words of truth that speak to your specific baggage (The enemy focuses on a particular baggage wound. So, wise up to what that wound is in your life, this is one of your best defenses.)
4. Employ the words of truth from Scripture; say them out loud, so you hear them, and the enemy hears them too. He already knows the words but let him know that you understand them also!
5. Refresh yourself, maybe turn up the music. Worship music is such an excellent tool for this! Let it move you to worship. Focus on God, so you no longer hear the enemy’s accusations.
6. Journal the experience and the answer to the incident. The next time the enemy goes after this baggage, quickly make your way to the same journal and read how God freed you from it during prior attacks.
Before long, the enemy is going to be the weary one!
“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT