This morning, while reading through 2 Samuel, I found myself bored. I’ve read it before, time and again, but this time I was being “forced” to read it once more for the Radical Experiment Read the Bible in a Year assignment (See: Radical by David Platt; http://www.radicalthebook.com/movement.html). I’ve failed miserably in the challenge this year, lagging terribly in my reading consistency. 2 Samuel was assigned to be read during the month of March. It’s now August. Need I say more? But this morning, the Lord decided that it was time for me to wake up. It was time for me to see the words I was reading and to be challenged. And so I was.
In 2 Samuel 16:5-14, King David and his mighty men are approached on the road by a man named Shimei as he comes toward them cursing continually. He attacked them by throwing stones and more violently, throwing words, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man.” While the appropriate response may have been to take off his head as recommended by Abishai, one of the mighty men, David adopted a different approach. He asked, “If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ (16:10). David goes onto explain that it should not surprise he and his men that this man curses him, for his own son, his own blood, Absalom, was seeking his life. If the curses of this man were from the Lord, then David should not question it. If the curses of this man were from wrong doing, then the Lord would repay David with good at a later time.
What an awesome reminder to each of us as we consider the curses and criticisms that are hurled our way throughout any given day. Often times our initial reaction, my initial reaction, is to want to cut off his head like Abishai (or like the Queen of Hearts shouting “Off With His Head” to any poor soul who dared to even look in her direction). As people insult me at work or throughout the community, I want to lash back. On Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest. I find ways to lash back at individuals–some I don’t even know–when I feel as though they have intentionally insulted me.
Author Lysa TerKeurst, in her recent devotional on Proverbs 31 Ministries titled “When I Want to Be Mean,” states
“I don’t know who made up the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can’t ever hurt me.” Either they had nerves of steel or they lived on a deserted island with no other people. Because not only do words hurt me, but they make me want to fight back and be mean, too.”
I’m with Lysa on this one. I want to fight back. I want to be mean.
But David provides for us a better way. If such words are the leading of the Lord and the speaking of the Holy Spirit through another person, then who are we to question. Rather we should seek the Lord for discernment and ask him to reveal to us the lessons we must learn. If however, the words are not from the Lord, we should not be surprised by the evils and negativity in the world around us. Rather, we should ignore such insults and trust that the Lord will bring us good and comfort in moments to come.
And we are further encouraged in James 1:19-20, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If we are truly seeking the righteousness of God, then anger and lashing out are not an option.
David spared the life of Shimei that day. As the King of Israel, it was within his right to take off his head. But David chose the more righteous path. He did not become angry. He did not fight back.
Lord God, teach me to be patient and kind in my response to those who would seek to curse or insult me. Remind me that you are still sovereign in all things and that you will see good come of such words. For I will either learn a lesson through the speaking of your Holy Spirit or I will find comfort and confidence in your arms. Thank you Lord for giving me the example of David and Shimei. May I rest in your righteousness and reject the need to “take off” someone’s head. In Jesus Name, Amen.