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…
There are peculiar bitterness and moral peril in troubles which spring from, or are mingled with, human malevolence. Such was David's affliction at this time. Absalom's unnatural conduct, Ahitbophel's faithlessness, and Shimei's cursing rendered his misfortunes much harder to bear than similar misfortunes coming from the ordinary vicissitudes of human life.
I. SHIMEI'S CURSING. A striking picture here: David, in the midst of his people and servants, including his famous "Ironsides," marching along the ravine; and from a town on the heights, this fierce Benjamite rushing forth, cursing and throwing stones as he comes; and then moving along the ridge which overlooked the line of march, keeping pace with the king and his company, vomiting forth his rage in bitter taunts and reproaches, and casting down stones and dust; his fury increased by the calmness with which those below marched on, heedless of his impotent rage. It was an outburst of feelings long pent up which dared not express themselves until David seemed to have fallen from his throne beyond recovery. Shimei was a relative of Saul, and chose to regard David as the author of that king's downfall, and of the humiliation of his house, and chargeable with all the bloodshed that had accompanied these changes. And now, in his view, the Divine retribution has at length visited David for his usurpation of the throne, and the "bloody" measures by which he had reached it; and he triumphs over the fallen monarch with bitter resentment and scorn, and unmeasured invective, unsoftened by the spectacle of humiliation and grief which presented itself to his view. In his passion, like most angry people, he is not scrupulous in adherence to the truth. David was not guilty of wantonly shedding blood to reach the throne; he had spared Saul again and again when he might have slain him; and he had punished with death one who professed to have killed him, and others who had treacherously murdered his son. Nor was it nearer the truth to call David a "man of Belial" (a worthless, wicked man). But Shimei cursed the more freely because that was the only way by which he could vent his malice: he was powerless to do anything else. Yet he showed some courage, or at least recklessness, in so freely reviling one who, though fallen, was surrounded by brave warriors, any one of whom could so easily have effectually silenced him (as Abishai desired to do), if permitted by their king. Violent anger is, however, often as regardless of prudence as of truth. Its courage is as that of a maniac.
II. DAVID'S MEEK ENDURANCE OF IT. He doubtless felt it to be annoying and humiliating to be thus bespattered in the presence of his friends, and trampled on so savagely by so contemptible a foe. To be falsely charged with crimes he had carefully avoided was no small addition to his already too heavy affliction. A very natural and justifiable resentment would prompt him to permit the swift punishment that Abishai begged to be allowed to inflict. But he restrained such feelings, and meekly endured the insults heaped upon him. His words reveal the secret of his meekness
1. He recognized the infliction as from God. With the freedom which the sacred writers employ when speaking even of human wickedness as it fulfils Divine purposes, he declares that God had bidden Shimei to curse him (ver. 10), and no one must forbid him. Besides his general faith in God as universal and rightful Ruler, just and good, the memory of his own ill desert doubtless aided him, and the conviction that God was chastising him for his sins. Contrition prompted and nourished submission. He no longer saw in Shimei the cruel and vindictive slanderer, but the rod in the hand of his righteous yet merciful God. To his tormentor he would not have submitted, but to his heavenly Guide and Friend he could and would. And evermore the best remedy for impatience and resentment under afflictions and provocations is the recognition of our Father in heaven as ordering and appointing all; and the exercise towards him of confidence and love, humility and self-surrender. Thus Job discerned, behind and above Sabeans and Chaldeans, lightnings and tempest; and would have discerned behind and above Satan, if he could have known him as his accuser and the prompter and mediate cause of his calamities, - the Lord; and therefore could say, "The Lord gave," etc. (Job 1:21). Thus also One who was greater than Job or David could say, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11).
2. The thought of the greater trouble of his son's conduct helped to reconcile him to the lesser trouble of Shimei's. (Ver. 11.) What was chiefly burdening and paining his heart is shown in these words. The ravings of "this Benjamite" was a small matter in comparison.
3. The hope that God would regard him with pity soothed him. (Ver. 12.) He felt that he was in a condition fitted to awaken the Divine compassion, and hoped it would be exercised towards him. In like manner, we may yet more confidently be assured that be who chastises pities us, as a father the children he is correcting (Psalm 103:13).
4. He trusted that God would render him good in place of the evil he was suffering. (Ver. 12.) Not that he thought he deserved it, or that his sufferings gave him a claim on God for it; but, confiding in the mercy which had pardoned him, he could hope for it. Shimei might curse, but if God would bless (Psalm 109:28), all would be well. So may we be sure that all that God appoints us to endure from men or from circumstances and events, he will cause to issue in a thousandfold more of blessing, if we trust and serve him, and resign ourselves to his will (see further in homily on 2 Samuel 15:25, 26). In conclusion:
1. In Shimei we see an example to be carefully avoided. Let any who permit themselves outbursts of passionate anger and railing, see here what a repulsive spectacle they present to others, and how sad a spectacle to him whom they call their Master. Let all give heed to St. Paul's injunctions in Ephesians 4:31, 32
2. In David's meek endurance we see an example to be closely imitated; yea, by Christians exceeded. For we have a still better Example, corresponding to a higher Law than David knew (see 1 Peter 2:23; Matthew 5:44, 45; 1 Peter 3:9). - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.