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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Dealing with "Shimei"

   I'm of the mind that anything we experience as humans can be related in some way to a story in the Bible. Because many stories are lesser known and thus obscure, careful study is a great blessing for putting your life in perspective.
   The experience that we may have from time to time is being criticized by a stranger.  They are not common in my life, but I vividly recall each rebuke of this kind.  It's an uncomfortable jolt when someone publicly contradicts you, calls you names in response to something you have written or finds fault with something you are doing.  It's especially hurtful when you feel that the comments are undeserved.
   The obscure story of Shimei was shared during a Sunday sermon at least twenty years ago, but it caught my attention by its strangeness.  You can find it in 2 Samuel 16: 5-14.  King David's son Absalom wants to usurp the throne of Israel, so the king decides to flee from Jerusalem.  He does not want a battle to occur in the city, where so many innocent people would be caught in the fighting.  He also does not want to hurt his own son, so David withdraws.  While he's hurrying away, a man named Shimei starts yelling curses at him and throwing rocks at David and his entourage.  He accuses David of shedding the blood of the household of Saul, the previous king.  In fact, though, David deliberately did not eliminate the line of his predecessor. His best friend Jonathan was of this family line, and David had promised to care for any of his descendants.
  What is David's response to Shimei's harsh rebuke?  One of his mighty men suggests Shimei should be silenced on the spot by beheading him, but David gives an emphatic "No."  He considers the possibility that God sent Shimei to give this curse.  Maybe there is something in Shimei's hostility that needs consideration, even beyond what Shimei as a man is trying to express.
   So yesterday, when a person I had never met before decided to vent his anger about something I was doing, I tried my best to listen without interrupting.  I thanked him for speaking to me directly and not behind my back.  I continued to see this person as a human being.  I was determined to see if there was any grain of truth in what he might be saying.   Although it was uncomfortable, I can accept the possibility that God can use an unlikely prophet to get my attention and examine my motives. Have I unwittingly been a hypocrite?  I'm still processing the interchange

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it interesting to have someone throw you for such a thought-loop? Fascinating to unpack these kinds of experiences....I know of these moments.