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David had lots of children. And things didn’t always go well with some of his children. Some of this was because of his sin against Uriah. Remember how as discipline for that, God had said that someone in David’s own household would rise up against him? And that there would always be fighting in David’s household?
Well, David had a grown-up son named Absalom. And Absalom was not respectful of his dad at all. Absalom started trying to take over the kingdom from his father, King David.
Because of this, it started to get dangerous for David to stay in his palace in Jerusalem. David and his household and servants had to make a run for it and get out of Jerusalem.
As they were traveling on the road from the city, a mean little bully named Shimei saw them. Do you know what he did? He started throwing rocks at David. He yelled, “Ha! Get out of here! You’re a murderer. You’re worthless! Get out of here! I’m glad this is happening to you. You are a murderer, and you deserve this.”
One of David’s men, Abishai, got very upset about this. He said, “Who does that guy think he is? He can’t talk to you that way! You’re the king! Let me go kill him.”
Now David could have easily gotten offended and emotional about this little bully throwing rocks and dirt all over him. He could have thought, “Yeah, I’m the anointed king. He can’t treat me like that. He shouldn’t touch God’s Anointed — which is ME now!”
But David didn’t do that. Instead he said to Abishai, “You (and your brother) aren’t like me at all. You don’t think like I think. Leave the guy alone. Let him curse me, for the Lord has told him to.”
David knew that this was part of his discipline from God. David had murdered someone — Uriah. And God said this trouble in his own household was part of his discipline for what he had done to Uriah. So even though Shimei was very wrong to be throwing rocks like this, David was probably thinking, “Let him yell. He doesn’t know all the details or have all the facts right, but it doesn’t matter because in this case, this is God’s discipline.” David took the tough situation as a chance to know God better and be humble.
David and his men kept going on their journey while Shimei kept going along the hill beside them yelling, throwing rocks, and showering dirt all over them.
When they finally got to where they were going, David and everyone with him were exhausted from the bully’s pummeling.
Can you imagine being the king surrounded by soldiers on your right and your left and a little guy pummeling you with rocks from a cliff? Well, it happened. And there are still lots of rock-throwing bullies in the world, even now. These days though, the “rocks” people “throw” are often mean or hateful or unkind words.
Never be someone who “throws” mean words out of your mouth. And, if someone is bullying you, don’t be mean back. Later on this big story Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. Do that instead.
Did you know that bullies are usually people who feel “little” in their lives. And somehow, by being mean, they feel “bigger.” This little guy throwing rocks at King David used this moment to feel like “big stuff” up on that hill, but on the inside, he was really just a weak “little” person… and David understood that.
In some ways, the more important you are, the more bullies want to pick on you. Don’t worry about it. Most of the time you just need to ignore them and go about your business, even if it feels a bit exhausting.
Quite a while later God settled things with David’s son, Absalom. David’s men won the battle and Absalom was killed (David’s commanding officer, Joab, killed Absalom, even though David asked him not to). After this King David headed back to Jerusalem.
As David crossed the river to go back to his city, guess who came running toward him? Shimei!
Do you think Shimei is going to throw more rocks at the king?! Not this time. Shimei isn’t feeling like he is “big stuff” now that King David is on his way back to the palace. So this time, Shimei threw himself flat on the ground in front of King David. “Please! Please forget everything I said to you, my king! I was so wrong last time I saw you, and this time I wanted to be the first man to welcome you into the city.”
David’s men were still feeling pretty doubtful Shimei was truly sorry. (I’m a little doubtful of his sincerity myself. Things didn’t turn out the way Shimei thought they would, so he probably just figured he was about to be in big trouble now that David was back in charge, instead of Absalom.)
Shimei had said terrible things about God’s anointed king! Once again, one of David’s men was particularly upset. Guess who? Abishai — the same soldier who way back in the beginning wanted to kill Saul… the same soldier David told, “Anyone who hurts the king God picked would be guilty and in deep trouble with God!” The same soldier who wanted to kill Shimei when he was throwing rocks earlier.
Abishai asked David, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death? After all, he cursed the Lord’s Anointed — you!”
But, David wouldn’t hear of it. “Enough already!! Why do you not get it, Abishai? You sons of my sister are so unlike me that you’re like my enemies today. God has just brought me back home today and made me king again.”
Then King David turned to Shimei and said, “I won’t hurt you, I promise.”
Doing good and forgiving people EVEN when they hurt you is something God notices. We can’t always control how people treat us, but we CAN control how we treat them.
Later God did bring judgment on Shimei for being hateful to God’s Chosen King David — because God is a God of justice.