9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 13 So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. 14 And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.2 Samuel 16:9-14 ESV
David’s life seems to fall into three phases as I read through Scripture. The first phase, through young adulthood, shows his heart for God, his time of growing and learning to rest in His strength, and his patience as he waits for his reign to begin. These are not easy years, but they are years of growing in wisdom and faith and he relies heavily on God through every challenge. Then he enjoys years of great success. David becomes king and has many children, especially many sons, he seems victorious on every battlefield, and the people love him as Israel is united under his crown. Finally, he begins to reap the consequences of bad choices and falls prey to an occasional tendency to be a people-pleaser.
This final phase is where we find him today. Conflict in his home and around it, and curses from a member of the house of Saul, his long time adversaries.
Do you remember who Abishai is? He is David’s nephew. Joab, Asahel, and Abishai were David’s nephews and were some of his strongest supporters for many years. This might or might not be accurate historically, but I always picture them having a sweet relationship from David at a young age. It wouldn’t surprise me if David was the fun uncle growing up, the one they always clamored to sit by at family holidays and climbed all over every chance they got. Might be a stretch, but it helps me make sense of their passionate allegiance to him as he becomes king.
So, it was only natural for Abishai to want to go chop off Shimei’s head when he was threatening his beloved uncle, King David. David stops him, distancing himself from these harsh remarks. Abishai has much more to learn from his uncle’s wisdom. David considers that these curses might actually be given out of obedience to God!
I don’t think that has ever been my thinking when I was the object of an attack or criticism — maybe God told them to be mean to me!
Despite the challenges to his reign, David shows his heart is still chasing hard after God and he is still trusting God to fight his battles.
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,Psalm 3:1-4 ESV
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill.
These were not easy days for David, but he continually cried out to God for strength and protection. Spiritual growth and learning never end. After years of seeing God come to his aid, he again lays it all out to Him in prayer. He chooses to follow. Faithfulness, determination, perseverance. David’s life was not easy, but it was continually surrendered and re-surrendered to His God and King.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
Psalm 63:3,7-8 ESV
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
And God was right there. Not even a breath away. Lifting David’s head, satisfying, helping, protecting.
7 For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Romans 1:7 ESV
David lived by faith, and in doing so he lived out what that should look like for me.
What living by faith is not — seeking man’s praise, experiencing a smooth journey, having no enemies, a one time decision.
What living by faith is — chasing hard after God daily, being genuine in prayer, trusting God when His plan is not evident, letting challenges and accusers push me closer to God, and coming to God for every need, including refreshment when the road is hard.
Lord, help me to keep my heart solely for You. Show me where I might be holding something back from You today. Help me to make each step by faith and trust Your plan when the waters are choppy, when adversaries speak out, when the way seems less clear. Help me to live by faith. In Jesus name, amen.