“God will always seem slower than we expect, especially when we’re going through unfair treatment!” —Charles R. Swindoll
In our day, everyone is ready to proclaim offence at one thing or another. Some are offended by certain words, while others are distressed by particular behaviours. Whatever the infraction, it had become almost faddish to exclaim, “I’m offended!”
But what if someone hurts us? And what if the mistreatment comes when we’re already down? Because we’ve all gone through such harsh experiences, we should have no trouble understanding how David felt when he went through the misery of being pummelled with stones and cursed in public. Through this ugly scene found in 2 Samuel 16:5–14, we can learn much about how to endure mistreatment.
By this time David was king but his sin led him on a downward spiral. When Shimei, a member of Saul’s clan, heard David was nearby, he took advantage of the opportunity to unleash some pent-up anger, calling David a butcher and a hellhound while hurtling stones at him (16:5–8 MSG).
David had every reason to take offence. His men thought so too. Abishai, a man in David’s travelling party, responded by asking David if he could cut off Shimei’s head.
But David wasn’t offended. Instead, he told Abishai to back off and allow Shimei to continue saying, “Don’t bother with him; let him curse; he’s preaching GOD’s word to me. And who knows, maybe GOD will see the trouble I’m in today and exchange the curses for something good” (v. 12).
Here are four practical suggestions for those times when someone or something delivers a kick while you’re down.
- First, ask God to give you a tougher hide. We need not be so sensitive
- Second, remember God is ever aware even if He is silent. God is altogether sovereign
- Third, rely on God’s grace when you deal with people like Shimei. God gives to us from His abundance of goodness and grace
- Fourth, find comfort by resting in God’s mercy. When attacks come, we need somewhere to rest. We find an oasis in God’s mercy
David’s response to a harsh critic provides a way forward for us as believers living in a culture that loves taking offence. It shows us how absorbing the hits of foolish people trumps reacting or retaliating.