Why do people yell each other? Why are people violently confronting each other so much? Have you witnessed someone yell at a person over wearing/not wearing a mask? Maybe you’ve seen instances of this on social media, maybe you’ve seen the violence that can ensue over these confrontations. Should we try to stop it? Is it wrong? Where in the Bible does this issue possibly happen? One place sticks out like a sore thumb. We’re going to be talking about King David and his encounter with someone who is violent, who yells at him, and who does the very things you see all over the world today.
When we’re in a time of affliction
We find ourselves in 2 Samuel 16, where King David has fled Jerusalem because his son Absalom has forcefully taken his place, and David fears for his life. He travels for a while with his servants, until he encounters a man:
Then King David reached Bahurim. There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached. He threw stones at David and all of King David’s servants, as well as all the people and the soldiers who were on his right and on his left. As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave! Leave! You man of bloodshed, you wicked man! The Lord has punished you for all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule. Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!” – 2 Samuel 16:5-8
Shimei, a Benjamite, obviously doesn’t like the man who replaced Saul. He’s yelling, he’s angry, he’s violent and throwing dirt and stones at everyone, he’s impossible to deal with. Have you encountered someone like this lately? Have you seen anyone on social media that’s acting like this? Wild with accusations, cannot be reasoned with, full of unwarranted aggression? What do you want to do when you see something like this? Abishai has the answer:
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!” – 2 Samuel 16:9
You probably want to get rid of the person somehow, just remove them from the situation. Probably not kill them like Abishai, but in the end you don’t want them to be a problem anymore. When you’re faced with aggression, a lot of times you might want to retaliate, or face the accuser, try to reason with them. They certainly have your attention and aren’t going away any time soon, right? It’s probably best to face them head on like Abishai.
But the king said, “What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!,’ who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’” – 2 Samuel 16:10
What an intriguing response. David isn’t going to be distracted by the situation, but acknowledges what’s really going on. God has sent Shimei to yell and curse for a reason, and it’s no one’s place to question that.
Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son, my very own flesh and blood, is trying to take my life. So also now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone so that he can curse, for the Lord has spoken to him. Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction and this day grant me good in place of his curse.” – 2 Samuel 16:11-12
David was certainly facing affliction in this time, great pain and sorrow, fear of being killed, traveling in secret. But his response is to let the man be, because God is at work.
So David and his men went on their way. But Shimei kept going along the side of the hill opposite him, yelling curses as he threw stones and dirt at them. The king and all the people who were with him arrived exhausted at their destination, where David refreshed himself. – 2 Samuel 16:13-14
Are you afflicted?
Has someone accused you of something? Did they yell and scream at you? Have you seen this happen to other people? It’s happening everywhere, if you pay attention. David was afflicted, facing many difficulties and fears, betrayal and threats. And today, the whole world is afflicted.
There’s no escaping the affects of Covid, the aggression, the accusations, the anger, and the violence. But out of all these, there’s a Shimei somewhere near you. Maybe they’re not accusing you, but someone you know. What should you do? We saw what David did, he chose to leave the man alone because it was God who sent him. Don’t you think it’s the same God who’s sending this person in your life too?
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Psalm 119:71
The world has been thrust into sickness and fear so that we can turn to God. Shimei was a sign to David that God had afflicted him, to turn his eyes away from his lost throne and back to God.
It’s not your job
I know you want to confront the Shimei in your life, you want to reason with them, to convince them otherwise, or maybe you want to ignore them altogether. Don’t do it. You’ll fail, and it’ll only get worse. Even ignoring them isn’t going to solve the problem, David had to deal with Shimei following his group for a while. Let’s look at Jesus’ example of how confrontation doesn’t help:
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. – Luke 22:47-50
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” – Matthew 26:52-54
These things happen because it’s God at work, not us. Put your sword back in its place. Justice will come, and the aggressors, the violent, the accusers, and the Shimeis in your life will be gone. All you have to do is start praying to God, because the whole world is afflicted, and that includes you.
O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. – Psalm 12:17-18