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No Point to Paybacks

Just words.

2 Samuel 19:16–23

And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king. Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good.

Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan. Then he said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart. For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.”

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?”

And David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?” Therefore the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king swore to him.

Shimei displays great courage in coming before the king to apologize. He simply decides to act like a grown-up, come what may. Still, he must have had his heart in his teeth when he did it.

To those of us who’ve been following David’s character development closely, what happens next is not surprising.

David is perfectly willing to let bygones be bygones.

Shimei did toss a few rocks while he was screaming at David, but basically what he did was just words.

And David listened, which is surprising. Shimei’s rant seemed designed to get David to write him off as a nut. Nothing Shimei said connected with anything David did wrong.

Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!” — 2 Samuel 16:7–8

This wasn’t about a legitimate complaint, like the death of Uriah, but about things like the death of Abner, or Ish-bosheth, or Saul and his sons. It was all nutty.

But, to his credit, David wasn’t hurt by Shimei’s words.

Shimei’s repentance is genuine, and David is genuinely pleased. There’s no point to paybacks.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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