The Reviling of Shimei
2 Samuel 16:5-13
And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei…

(References: 2 Samuel 19:16; 1 Kings 2:8, 9, 36-46.) On pursuing his flight until he reached the Benjamite village of Bahurim (2 Samuel 3:6), David was encountered by another man connected with the house of Saul, who, instead of bringing flatteries and presents, flung "grievous curses" and stones; and (from a safe distance) gave vent to the long repressed rage which, in common with other partisans of the fallen dynasty, he felt on account of David's exaltation (ver. 8). "Along the ridge he ran, throwing stones, as if for the adulterer's punishment, or when he came to a patch of dust on the dried hillside, taking up and scattering it over the royal party below, with the elaborate curses of which only Eastern partisans are fully masters - curses which David never forgot, and of which, according to Jewish tradition, every letter was significant" (Stanley). Abishai returned reviling for reviling, and wished to take instant vengeance. But David said, "Let him a one," etc.; presenting an instructive contrast to both. "He strikes the same string of nobleness as before." We have here -

I. AN INSTANCE OF RAILING ACCUSATION. "Out, out [of the kingdom], thou man of blood," etc.! The language and conduct of Shimei were:

1. Cruel. He rails against David in the day of his calamity, and has "no pity."

2. Cowardly. Fear had kept him silent all these years; but "he that smiled on David on his throne curseth him in his flight" (Hall). Seeing that he is not pursued, he is encouraged to continue his imprecations, and becomes more furious (ver. 13).

3. Malicious; imbued with personal hatred. "The ungodly are always selfish. They judge of others, not by the laws of impartial justice, but by the standard of self-interest. David was called a usurper, a man of Belial, a murderer; and why? Because he had made himself the slave of lust, and had cruelly slain the noble Uriah? No; because he had been elevated by God to the throne of Israel, and had thus marred the prospects of the ambitious Shimei" (C. Bradley).

4. Unfounded and unjust. "Every word of Shimei was a slander." His accusations of wickedness in general, and of "the blood of the house of Saul" in particular (2 Samuel 4:11; 2 Samuel 21:6), are the offspring of a wicked heart. "Shimei curses and stones at David, and barks like a live dog, though Abishai calls him a dead one. The only unjust act that ever David had done against the house of Saul he had newly done; that was, giving Mephibosheth's land; and here a man of the house of Saul is soon upon him" (Lightfoot).

5. Misinterpretive. (Ver. 8.) Whilst recognizing the judgment of God, he makes a wrong application of it. "We may here learn how falsely and wickedly men sometimes wrest the providence of God, to justify their unjust surmises and gratify their malignant passions" (Lindsay).

6. Criminal. He is guilty of high treason and blasphemy, and might justly suffer the penalty of the Law (Exodus 22:28; 2 Samuel 19:21; 1 Kings 21:13); and if David had put him to death at the time, he would not have been condemned for injustice.

7. Provocative of wrath. Surely no man might more reasonably feel resentment than David; no man was ever more strongly incited to inflict punishment; and nothing but "a spirit of meekness" could have restrained him. It is not improbable that Psalm 109. records "the very words of Shimei, and the curses which he threw out against David, and which, as they could not but make a deep impression on his memory, he here repeats and then condemns. They are directly contrary to that temper and disposition shown by David in the other parts of the psalm; and they run all along in the singular number, whereas David speaks of his enemies in the plural" (C. Peters, 'Sermons:' 1776; see 1 Samuel 22:18, 19; 1 Samuel 26:13-25; Expositor, 2:325).

O God of my praise, be not silent!
For a wicked mouth and a deceitful mouth have they opened against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue," etc.

(Psalm 109:1-5.)

"And they have requited me with evil for good,
And with hatred for my love (saying):
Set thou a wicked man over him,
And let an adversary stand at his right hand;
When he is judged, let him go forth guilty,
And let his prayer become sin," etc.

(Psalm 109:6-19.)

"This will be the reward of mine adversaries from Jehovah,
And of those who speak evil against my soul.
But thou, O Jehovah Lord, deal with me for thy Name's sake;
Because thy loving kindness is good, deliver thou me!
They curse, but thou blessest;
They arise and are ashamed, and thy servant is glad," etc.

(Psalm 109:20-31.)

II. AN EXAMPLE OF PATIENCE AND FORBEARANCE. "Let him curse," etc. (vers. 10-12). The manner in which David endured it was:

1. Uncomplaining. He does not retaliate; does not even vindicate himself; but is silent (1 Samuel 10:26, 27; Isaiah 53:5; Luke 23:9). "When Shimei railed on him, he held his peace, and, though he had many armed men about him, yet did he not retort aught savouring of revenge, yea, repelled with the high courage of a patient spirit the instigation of the son of Gera. He went, therefore, as one dumb and humbled to the dust; he went as one mute and not moved at all .... Consider not what is rendered by others, keep thou thy place, preserve thou the simplicity and purity of thine own heart. Answer thou not the angry man according to his anger, nor the unwise man according to his indiscretion; one fault quickly provoketh another. If thou strikest two flints together, cloth not fire break forth?" (Ambrose, 'De Officiis').

2. Repressive of resentment, not only in himself, but also in others. "Answer him not" (Isaiah 36:21; Isaiah 37:3, 4).

3. Self-accusing. Although guiltless of the crimes imputed to him, he feels himself guilty of others not less heinous. "Conscience in that hour had her own tale to tell, of the Almighty Disposer of events, who speaks to us by the reproaches of men as well as by his own blessings. Had he not merited from God, if not from men, whatever disaster could befall the murderer of Uriah? David feels within him that destitution of the Divine presence of which the absence of the ark is but an outward type" (R. Williams).

"Pure from the blood of Saul in vain,
He dares not to the charge reply;
Uriah's doth the charge maintain,
Uriah's cloth against him cry.

Let Shimei curse: the rod he bears
For sins which mercy had forgiven;
And in the wrongs of men reveres
The awful righteousness of Heaven."

(C. Wesley.)

4. Reverential; looking devoutly (as others did not) beyond Shimei to the All-seeing, All-holy, and Almighty One, by whom he was permitted to be an instrument of retribution, and even employed as such, although not thereby exonerated from guilt (2 Samuel 19:18-20). "Abishai looked only to the stone (as it were), an instrument; but David looked higher, to the hand that was the supreme caster, and chastiser of him, as all the godly do (Genesis 1:20; Job 1:21); which is the ground of their patience under sufferings (Guild). His vision of the supreme Judge fills him with holy awe and lowly penitence; his conscious offences against God make him reluctant to punish offences against himself; his dependence upon mercy disposes him to show mercy (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 6:14, 15; Romans 12:19-21).

5. Submissive; humbly accepting the chastisement of God; and deeming this to be his proper business now, rather than seeking to execute justice on another (Micah 7:9). "Behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good to him" (2 Samuel 15:26). "The ways of Providence interlace, not only in capacity, but in retribution; one thing is set over against another. Yet the payment comes, not in the manner nor at the time we might expect, it seems not in the connection we think due; but it comes, like doom. Call Absalom thankless, Shimei brutal, etc. All these things read half a riddle, unless we own that God, in whose counsels these are all as instruments in the hand of a man of war, is just. He gave us wine, let us take also the gall from his hands. If it is not due to us now, nor for this, it was for something else at some other time."

6. Palliative. "Behold, my son seeketh my life," etc. (ver. 11). He makes light of present wrongs by comparing them with other and greater. "It is the advantage of great crosses that they swallow up the less."

7. Hopeful. "It may be that Jehovah will look upon my guilt [tears]," etc. (ver. 12). "This consciousness of guilt also excited the assurance that the Lord would look upon his sin. When God looks upon the guilt of a humble sinner he will also, as a just and merciful God, avert the evil and change the suffering into a blessing. David founded upon this the hope that the Lord would repay him with good for the curses with which Shimei pursued him' (Keil). "Ziba's gifts did more harm than Shimei's curses; for those betrayed him into an act of injustice, but these proved his patience" (T. Fuller). They also had the effect of making him more humble, pure, prayerful, and filling him with new confidence and joy in God (Psalm 109:30, 31). "A curse is like a cloud, it passes." "All things work together for good," etc.

"Lord, I adore thy righteous will;
Through every instrument of ill
My Father's goodness see;
Accept the complicated wrong
Of Shimei's hand and Shimei's tongue
As kind rebukes from thee."

(C. Wesley.)


1. The best of men have been maligned; of the Son of God himself it was said, "He hath a devil." Can we expect to escape insult and provocation?

2. The maledictions of the wicked can do us no harm unless we suffer ourselves to imbibe their spirit. "No man is ever really hurt by any one but himself" (Chrysostom).

3. When reviled of men, instead of considering how little we have deserved their displeasure, we should rather consider how much we have deserved the displeasure of God.

4. We should also consider how little, in comparison with God, do we endure at their hands!

5. "Bless, and curse not" (Proverbs 25:21, 22; Proverbs 16:32).

6. Imitate "the meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:1).

7. So what is meant for evil will turn to good. - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence 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.

WEB: When king David came to Bahurim, behold, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera. He came out, and cursed still as he came.

The Forbearance of David Towards Shimei
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