Day One Hundred Three, II Sam. 14-16, Ps. 3
In today’s reading, Absalom is allowed to return to Jerusalem (thanks to some more scheming on the part of our friend, Joab) but David says, “He must go to his own house; he must not see the face of the king.”
And they live that way for two years, not seeing each other, not speaking to each other. Absalom finally demands that he wants to see the king, and they seem to reconcile. But then Absalom goes out and forms a conspiracy. He politics among the people of Israel, so that they fall in love with him and are willing to follow him. After four years, he goes to Hebron and declares himself king there.
When David hears word of this, he leaves Jerusalem and goes into exile. It is during this time that I’ve heard one of the most powerful lessons I’ve ever heard on forgiveness. While David is fleeing, a man named Shimei, a Benjamite, a descendant of Saul, calls down curses on David and pelts him with stones. David’s men are ready to kill Shimei, but David’s response is remarkable. He says, “Let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.”
Later, we’ll also see that (spoiler alert!!!) when Absalom is dead and David returns to Jerusalem, we’ll find none other than Shimei first in line to say, “Long live the king!” as he begs for David’s forgiveness. And David grants it. David assures him he will not die for the way he treated him.
As my minister put it, if the story ended there, we’d have a lovely, feel-good lesson on forgiveness. For we’ve got David, a man after God’s own heart, who surely screwed up, but because of that, certainly no one knew the value of forgiveness like David! And here we’ve got a perfect example of David offering forgiveness to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Or do we? Rather, if you look up the end of the story, in I Kings 2:8-9, David is giving his final instructions to Solomon. Here, based on what David tells Solomon, you’ll find that, rather, we’ve got an example of a man who has experienced God’s unfathomable grace in his own life, yet he is still angered with, and still struggles with forgiving, his fellow man.
Am I talking to anyone here? Can anyone else relate?
I just ask, because I’m afraid I can…all too well.