The small pebble pelted his left temple. David didn’t flinch. “Dog! You filthy, vile dog!” came the ridicule from the hillside that ran parallel to the road. David bowed his hooded head lower. Tears had not stopped flowing ever since their ascent upon the Mount of Olives. “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!” David heard the taunt so distantly as his mind imagined that young Absalom was now entering Jerusalem, a conqueror of his father’s throne.
The streets of Bahurim were scattered with onlookers. Faces betrayed the presence of many opinions. But a man from the household of Saul, Shimei, shared his opinion openly, “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 his kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” David’s conscience ached from the verbal blows. This was prime opportunity for Adversarial perspectives. He rubbed his forehead as he attempted to quickly dismiss the questions waging war within, “Did I hunt Saul? No, Saul hunted me. Did I usurp the throne? No, God promised it to me and I was willing to patiently wait. Did I take Saul’s life? No, Saul took his own. In all the opportunities I had to take it, I did not. O God I need your help! Keep my heart from unrighteous anger!”
Abishai, of David’s mighty men, whirled about to face David, swiftly drawing his sword, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over to take off his head.” Abishai’s eyes sparked with too much passion for the kill. David halted abruptly, placed his left hand on Abishai’s armed shoulder, and slowly scolded with his tone, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah?” he paused. Abishai lowered his sword. The king lifted his countenance and strengthened his stance. Even in bare feet, he was more regal of appearance than the greatest among men. All of the mighty men moved not a finger, waiting for the king to speak. Lifting his arm towards Shimei, he said, “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 Benjamite! Leave him alone,” David shouted, “And let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It 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.” David lowered his arm and inhaled a deep breath. He placed the fallen hood back over his head and started down the Bahurim road again. All of the mighty men said not a word as they resumed walking, fleeing from Absalom. Shimei continued to follow along on the hillside opposite David, cursing as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at David and his mighty men.
This is probably my favorite story in all of Scripture. I consider David’s heroism of heart in this one circumstance to far outshine the Epics of Biblical Tale we usually praise. I see a man on a cross here. A man unafraid of human judgment. A man willing to be tested and tried in the human arena. A man who trusted that his God would always make a right judgment of his life.
We live in a day and time when most individuals deeply fear judgment. Even in Christian circles, we are gun shy of the judgments imposed on us by brothers and sisters in the faith. We often preach, from our personal platforms, more about others not judging us than we are conscience of how much we judge others. We’re frightened. We’re touchy and terrified. But what if the judgments of man did not matter? What if we did not assume that man had this sort of power, authority or control over our temporal or eternal destiny? David was a human being just like you and I. And after years of maturity, he had dismissed his fear of human judgment. David gave that sort of power, authority and control to God. God would justly judge David… .and Shimei. God was able to take care of Shimei’s personal opinion. David would leave himself and Shimei to God.