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DAVID AND SHIMEI.
2 Sam. xvi. 10.
“ And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of
Zeruiah ? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so ?”
It was a strange history which the services of the day led me to consider in my last discourse: the fearful fall of an eminent saint of God into gross and aggravated sin. By God's grace, however, this man, David, repented and was forgiven: and hence the fallen may learn not to despair. Through the corruption of man's heart, however, the record of these things has often been abused, and is like enough to be abused again. This will not be the case with us, if we honestly attend to what remains of David's history; to which therefore let us look, for that caution and instruction in righteousness, which is so much needed by the best of us; and then I think it will be made clear to us, that God hates sin in none more than in his own elect; that if we have sinned wilfully, though our souls should be saved, our sin is sure, in some way or other, to find us out in this world ; that God will vindicate his own honour where his servants have betrayed it; and that the child of God who has given occasion to the Lord's enemies to blaspheme may go mourning all
his days long, notwithstanding that he may not be left altogether without spiritual consolations, and though he may accept the punishment of his iniquity in all humility, and by means of it grow in grace. So that there is nothing in David's history to diminish the dread of sin, but quite the contrary,
The child which Uriah's wife had borne unto David died'. That was the first rebuke which the adulterer received after his repentance. But the word had gone forth from the Lord besides, “I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house?” And it soon
?. began to be awfully verified; nor was the curse withdrawn till David's dying day. The next chapter records the rape of Tamar, his daughter, by her halfbrother Amnon; the murder of that same Amnon by another of David's sons, Tamar's full-brother Absalom? Then we have the weak consent of David to permit this Absalom, who had fled to Geshur, and might much better have been suffered to remain there, to return to Jerusalem'. And then immediately follows an account of the base return by which that worthless spoiled child repaid his father's kindness. The first thing he did was to steal away from David the hearts of the men of Israel by fair speeches and lying courtesies; and then he proceeded to open rebellion against him; upon the hearing of which David was constrained to flee, taking with him the few friends who remained faithful to his cause".
I mean, however, to confine myself now to one passage in the history, which records a special insult and act of ill-usage which David met with, and the manner in which he behaved under the provocation given him.
It is thus related in the words which immediately precede my text.
“ When king David,” in the course of his flight from Absalom,“ came to Baburim, behold, thence
1 2 Sam. xi. 19. 2 2 Sam. xii. 11. 3 2 Sam. xiii. 2 Sam. xiv.
5 2 Sam. xv.
came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David : and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: the Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.”
As nothing could well be more irritating and trying than these bitter and malicious taunts, so neither could any thing be more unjust. It is hard to bear insults in any fallen fortunes, especially when they come from people so truly contemptible as this Shimei was, whose subsequent behaviour shows, that, had David been in prosperous circumstances, he would have been as zealous in flattering him as he was now in exulting over his distress. For when Absalom's rebellion was crushed, Shimei was the first to make abject submission to the king”. And though now it might not seem unnatural, Shimei being what he was in character, and a member of Saul's family, that his spleen and ill-will should manifest themselves against him who had superseded Saul in the kingdom, there yet really was not, and Shimei might have known it, any thing in David's behaviour towards Saul with which he might fairly be reproached. God called David to the throne upon Saul's default, which David had nothing at all to do with; and David did nothing to possess himself of the supreme authority as long as God permitted Saul to hold it. On the contrary, he was a great friend and helper to him, and
him, and very forbearing and tender of him, rendering him good for
6 2 Sam. xvi. 5—8.
2 Sam. xix. 16–20.
evil when he had opportunity of revenge, and was indeed earnestly and speciously urged to seize it. Therefore it was most injurious to represent David's misfortunes as a judgment upon him for his treatment of Saul, and to call him a man of blood, and a man of Belial, when indeed he had shown such conscientious loyalty and such forbearing pity and mercy. Stung, therefore, as David must have been at this time, and wounded in the tenderest points, it would not have been very wonderful if he had instantly resented Shimei's most malicious and aggravating attack. Most persons would have done so. And there were former periods of David's life when he would not have put up with the affront, as we shall see presently that he did, in this case, with patience and humility.
But David had learnt by this time, that there are two ways of looking at injuries received; and that what is very evil and blameable as done by man, may be permitted by God in perfect righteousness, and even in exceeding love. Shimei having vented his malice,
6 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king ? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so ? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? Let him alone, and let him curse: for the Lord hath bidden him. It
It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day. And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves
there 8 ;" that is, at Bahurim, whither they were proceeding when all this took place.
So the passage ends. I need dwell no further upon the behaviour of Shimei; he could curse the king, it seemed, with impunity, and so he persisted in it as long as the opportunity lasted. There is no reason to suppose that he ever repented; and by an infatuated act of presumption of his own, he delivered himself into the hands of the avenger of blood at last; and so, though David spared him after Absalom's defeat, he got the righteous recompense of his wickedness in the end, which
will find recorded in the second chapter of the First Book of Kings,
But, look we now to David himself, and to God's dealings with him by Shimei's instrumentality. The Lord, it will be found, is holy in all his works. David, it will appear, had become a changed man, through God's blessing upon his afflictions; and the narrative is for instruction in righteousness to us all.
David had been tried with honour and praise of men, with success, and prosperity, and wealth, and power. The Lord had taken him from the sheepfold
, to rule his people Israel; had delivered him out of the hand of Saul; had given him his master's house; had recognized him as better than he; and was willing to have stood by him, and to have done more for him. And though David's behaviour had exhibited some infirmity and some sinful impetuosity, he had, in the main, toiled up-hill to greatness in a manner highly creditable to himself, and had exhibited, through grace, not only admirable courage and much discretion, but also high integrity, a noble faith, and a lovely spirit of charity. But when he arrived at the pinnacle of his fortunes, he had most awfully forgotten himself and his Divine Master too. And then it was no more befitting that he should abide longer in prosperity, than that fallen Adam should continue to