Shame and guilt can be like ugly warts that won’t go away. They appear, begin to grow quickly and are difficult to get rid of. So often we don’t want to face the fall out of our actions so we remove ourselves from the situation entirely hoping that the memories will fade and take the shame and guilt with it. That’s why as I read 2 Samuel 16, it tugged at my heart. In this chapter we find King David running from his son Absalom who conspired to overthrow him (his own father). Fleeing quickly, David reaches a town where he ran into Shimei (a man from the house of Saul).
He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! 8 The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!” 2 Samuel 16:6-8
I don’t know about you, but I struggle enough with past sins without someone screaming them out in public at me as I walk by. Quickly, David’s loyal companion defends him and offers to cut off Shimei’s head to stop the cursing. However, David’s response is what caught my attention.
10 But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”
11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”
13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself. 2 Samuel 16:10-14
David defends Shimei and tells his men to allow him to continue cursing him. No secret service action needed. David understood he deserved this and no matter how difficult and shameful it must have been he allowed it to continue for miles as they traveled and Shimei followed them. Not only cursing at David, but throwing stones and dirt on him. Talk about free speech.
David was hopeful that if he allowed Shimei to follow the Lord’s instructions to curse David, that the Lord might look upon him with pity and bless David once again (v.12). David was strong enough to take the sticks and stones he had earned by sinning so grievously against God when he slept with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered. He understood he was paying the price for those sins and that God wasn’t finished with him yet. He didn’t allow shame and guilt to overwhelm and overcome the lesson he desired to learn from his past mistakes. He realized there were consequences, admitted his mistakes, took the condemnation BUT kept moving forward. With hope his anchor, he kept following God and trusting He would restore His covenant with him once again.
I have such adoration for the amount of trust and faith David had that God was still with Him, that He would eventually restore him and that God would not forsake him. So often in the heat of the battle the lights grow dim on hope, faith and trust because they are overshadowed by the guilt and shame. Let’s put it all out there in the light just like David, cleansing our hearts daily, turning it all over to God and trust in the restoration He desires for us.
Keep moving forward! We may end up dirty and bruised when we arrive at our destination, but God will restore, renew and refresh us when we arrive.