2 Samuel 16:5-13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44   |   Sunday, October 12, 2014   |   Code: 2014-10-12-PJ

This morning I want to look at an obscure character who

plays a key role in a peculiar episode that took place during

the latter years of King David's reign in Israel. Second

Samuel 16. This little subplot in the life of King David has

always fascinated me, and it involves a seedy little man

whose name you might not even be familiar with: Shimei.

We meet him here for the first time in 2 Samuel 16, where he

shows up with a foul mouth and a bad temper, taunting and

insulting David. And even before this guy crawls out of the

woodwork, David is already at a low point emotionally. If

you are still turning there (2 Samuel 16), I want to explain

the historical background of this passage.

The incident described here occurred at the ultimate low

point in the history of David's reign as king. Here's what was

happening in Israel at the time: Saul has been dead and

David has been reigning as uncontested king in Israel for

about 30 years by now. His adultery with Bath-Sheba is at

least a decade in the past. David had repented of his sin and

received God's forgiveness. Some of you will remember

from our study of Psalm 51 (David's prayer of repentance)

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 2

that God forgave him for his sin with Bath-Sheba, but the

prophet Nathan told David that he would still suffer some of

the consequences of his sin. Nathan's prophecy, in 2 Samuel

12:11, was, "I will raise up evil against you out of your own

house." That prophecy was fulfilled in the rebellion of

David's beloved son Absalom. It was the most agonizing

heartache of David's life. He was publicly humiliated, but

more than that, his private grief over Absalom was filled to

the brim with the kind of utterly despondency that simply

cannot be expressed in wordsCone of those "groanings which

cannot be uttered."

Shimei's story is actually set against the backdrop of

David's dethronement and the agony of his personal anguish

over Absalom's rebellion. So let's just take a brief look at

Absalom's defiance against David. Absalom, despite the

intense love David had for him, nearly overthrew the

kingdom of Israel.

Absalom deliberately defied his father as openly as

possible. According to 2 Samuel 16:22, Absalom set up a

tent on the roof of the royal palace. And he would go there in

broad daylight with David's wives and concubines and defile

them so that all of Israel knew what was happening.

This was Absalom's way of openly declaring his utter

contempt for David's authority. And David knew the Lord

had permitted all of this to happen in chastisement for his sin

against Uriah and his adultery with Bath-Sheba. Back in

Cursed 3

chapter 12, verses 11-12, God had said this to David through

the mouth of the prophet Nathan: "Behold, I will raise up evil

against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives

before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie

with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly,

but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun."

If God forgave David, why did He permit this to happen?

For one thing, it was important for the vindication of public

justice. If God let David off scot-free after such a heinous

crime, God's own reputation would suffer. For another thing,

this is a vivid reminder that forgiveness does not necessarily

erase sin's consequences. And that is one of the main points

we learn from this whole account with Shimei. Sinful acts

have consequences, and although divine forgiveness

guarantees that the sinner will never face judgment for sin, it

is not a guarantee that we will escape the consequences of

our sin. A man whose sin destroys his marriage can find

forgiveness from God, but he may have to live the rest of his

life with the consequences of a broken marriage. A drunk

drive who causes an accident that costs him his leg can find

forgiveness for his sin in Christ, but that won't give him his

leg back. Sin's consequences often continue to afflict us even

after we have received God's full and free forgiveness. That

is the nature of sin. The thief on the cross was fully forgive

by Christ as he hung there, but that didn't win him any

reprieve for his crimes against Rome.

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 4

In this case, David sought and found pardon for his sin.

He was even permitted to remain on the throne. But the

consequences of his sinCin terms of its bad example on

David's own sons, and David's loss of respect among the

people of IsraelCwere inevitable consequences of David's

sin. He could not escape those consequences. They became a

burden David bore for the rest of his life.

And so it was that from the same rooftop where David

first lusted after Bath-Sheba, Absalom sinned against his

father. What David had done secretly, his own son did to him


That's why this was the absolute low point of the Davidic

reign. In effect, David was deposed. Absalom rallied evil

men to his side, and David was forced to flee Jerusalem. I

want you to see how this happened. Turn back a page to 2

Samuel 15.

Absalom had cooked up a very clever conspiracy against

David. Here's how he turned the people against the king:

Verse 2 says Absalom used to rise early and stand in the road

next to the gate; and when anyone came to the king for

judgment, Absalom would engage the person in

conversation, find out the details of the case, and then say

(vv. 3-4), "'See, your claims are good and right, but there is no

man designated by the king to hear you.' Then Absalom would

say, 'Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a

Cursed 5

dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him


So he was deviously making people think David had lost

interest in justice. The poor and disenfranchised were

suffering, he claimed, and David was doing nothing about it.

The implication was that David didn't care about the people

of Israel. Absalom was also promising that he, Absalom,

would make sure justice would prevail, if only he could get

the authority to do it.

Finally, after several years of doing this behind David's

back, Absalom told David he needed to go to Hebron to pay

a vow. Hebron is a full day's journey south of Jerusalem, in

the hill country of Judah, So it put Absalom at a comfortable

distance from David's armies and the circle of men around

David who were loyal to the king. And from Hebron,

Absalom immediately launched an open campaigned to

overthrow David and take over the kingdom for himself.

Because of the long, quiet campaign he had waged to

undermine respect for David, Absalom was able to get a

sizable rebellion going in a remarkably short time.

Now let me be clear: Absalom's rebellion was an utterly

wicked plot. It was totally unjustifiable by any standard.

Absalom was himself a wicked man whom the Lord would

judge severely for this sin.

But still there's a sense in which all of this was a

consequence of David's sin with Bath-Sheba. David as

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 6

reaping what he had sowed. If he had not sinned, the people's

respect for him would not have been so precarious. But once

the incident with Bath-Sheba was uncovered, the people of

Israel evidently found it a little easier to believe the lies

Absalom was spreading about his own father.

Absalom's rebellion forced David to flee Jerusalem. Verse

12 says,

the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom

kept increasing.

13 And a messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of

the men of Israel have gone after Absalom."

14 Then David said to all his servants who were with him

at Jerusalem, "Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be

no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he

overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike

the city with the edge of the sword."

15 And the king's servants said to the king, "Behold, your

servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king


16 So the king went out, and all his household after him.

And the king left ten concubines to keep the house.

So David and his household and many of his loyal friends

fled Jerusalem. This would save the city from destruction in

a battle with Absalom. It would also give David time to

assemble a defense against the rebels.

Cursed 7

But it was a humiliating and heartbreaking moment for

David. He was distraught with grief that his own beloved son

would rebel this way. He was covered with shame for having

to flee his own city under such circumstances. He was in

mourning over the tragedy of the whole situation.

But most of all, David was burdened with the knowledge

that this was a consequence of his own sin. He instantly saw

the chastening hand of God in all of this. Verses 17-18

describe how hundreds of people were prepared to follow

David into exile. But David tried to send them back. Verse

19: "the king said to Ittai the Gittite, "Why do you also go with

us? Go back."

Verse 23: "And all the land wept aloud as all the people

passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the

people passed on toward the wilderness. And Abiathar came up,

and behold, Zadok came also with all the Levites, bearing the ark

of the covenant of God."

This time David was emphatic. Verse 25: "Then the king

said to Zadok, "Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find

favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me

see both it and his dwelling place." Every action David takes

here is an expression of humble penitence. Right away he

understood these events as a reproof from the hand of God.

His guilt was gone when the Lord forgave him years ago, but

he still felt the weight of responsibility for what he had done

and he humbly accepted the consequences. That's why he

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 8

tried to send his loyal followers away. He wasn't looking for

anyone to champion his cause or vindicate his name; he

wanted to be alone with his grief. He sent the ark back

because it seemed inappropriate to drag the symbol of God's

presence into this exile that he had brought upon himself.

Verse 30 says,"David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives,

weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all

the people who were with him covered their heads, and they

went up, weeping as they went." The head-covering, bare feet,

and weeping are all emblems of penitence.

That's the theme that permeates the context here: shame

and regret in the knowledge that David's sin had unleashed

all these troubles. David is not looking for anyone else to

blame, and he is not asking anyone else to risk anything in

his defense. He is fleeing his palace, all his possessions, and

the city he had built in utter disgrace and mourning. This was

the worst trouble he had ever faced, and for the first time, he

could not protest that he didn't deserve it. You'll remember

that as a younger man he had spent several years fleeing and

hiding from king Saul. But now he was on the run from his

own son. This must have been a moment of unimaginable

grief for him.

Our text introduces us to this character Shimei. His story

is given to us in Scripture like a 3-act drama. He appears

three timesConce here, once in chapter 19, and finally in 1

Kings 2. I want to look at each of these three passages and

Cursed 9

piece Shimei's story together. It's a great object lesson about

forgiveness, true repentance, and the consequences of sin.


Starting with verse 5 we read this:

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man

of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was

Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed


6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of

King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were

on his right hand and on his left.

7 And Shimei said as he cursed, "Get out, get out, you

man of blood, you worthless man!

8 The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house

of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD

has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom.

See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood."

The reason for Shimei's hatred against David is clear. Verse

5 says he was "of the family of the house of Saul." Shimei lost

whatever status he had when the throne was taken from Saul,

ending any hope of a dynasty for that family. Saul's clan

tried to usurp David after Saul died, but that effort failed.

According to 2 Samuel 2:10, "Ish-bosheth, Saul's son [took

the throne and] reigned [for] two years. But the house of Judah

followed David." Ish-bosheth was beheaded by some men who

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 10

thought they were doing David a favor. But David was not

pleased and made Ish-bosheth's killers pay with their lives.

Nevertheless, Shimei blamed David, and that's what this

whole tirade is about. He is not only accusing David of

wrongfully usurping Saul's throne; he is suggesting that

David is to blame for Saul's death. That's what it means in

verse 8, when he suggests that "the blood of the house of Saul"

is on David's hands. Verse 8: "Your evil is on you, for you are a

man of blood." Twice he calls David a "man of blood," and he

also calls him "worthless," using a Hebrew word that means a

lot more than "worthless." It has connotations of deliberate

evil. The King James Version translates it "thou man of

Belial." It is a profound insult.

The reality was the opposite of what Shimei claimed. On

more than one occasion when David had opportunity to take

Saul's life he spared him. In the end, Saul took his own life,

and according to 1 Samuel 1:11-12, when he learned of

Saul's suicide, "David took hold of his clothes and tore them,

and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned

and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his

son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel,

because they had fallen by the sword."

So Shimei's charges were not only false; what he claimed

was the polar opposite of the truth. These were deliberate lies

and gross insults against David. Shimei was pouring vinegar

Cursed 11

in David's wounds. He was a coward and a scoundrel, and he

chose this moment in order to intensify David's pain.

When David did not lash back, Shimei was emboldened.

He turned up both the volume and the passion. The text says

"he cursed continually." That describes a steady stream of

profanity mixed with these insults. "He threw stones at David."

Abishai, one of David's nephews, was with David. Verse

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.'" I get that. Under slightly different

circumstances, even David might have approved that

suggestion. He had the legal power to do so. An insurrection

was underway that threatened the fabric of the kingdom, and

Shimei was inciting more rebellion. To berate the King of

Israel (God's anointed ruler over His people) was in the same

category as blasphemy against God. Moses' law (Exodus

22:28) says, "You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your

people." Ecclesiastes 10:20 adds this: "Even in your thoughts,

do not curse the king." That's a principle some evangelical

Americans need to bear in mind.

Anyway, look at David's response to Abishai in verse 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?'"

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 12

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."

This is actually a striking echo of an earlier incident, when

Saul was trying to Kill David. One night David and some of

his men sneaked into Saul's camp and fund Saul sound

asleep. Saul's spear was stuck in the ground next to his

pillow. Abishai was there that night, too, and in 1 Samuel

26:8 Abishai looks at Saul asleep and says to David, "God

has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me

pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear."

On that occasion, David (who was a man of solid

Calvinist conviction) said, "Do not destroy him, for who can

put out his hand against the LORD's anointed and be guiltless?

. . . the LORD will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he

will go down into battle and perish. The LORD forbid that I should

put out my hand against the LORD's anointed."

That was David at his most Christlike. His tendency was

to respond with grace in situations like this. Like Jesus,

"When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he

suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to

him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23). This, I think, is one of

Cursed 13

the main reasons God describes him as "a man after his own

heart." David was a merciful man.

David's response when Abishai wanted to strike Saul dead

reminds me of that incident in Luke 9:54 when James and

John wanted to call down fire from heaven against an entire

village of Samaritans. And I also think of Peter in

Gethsemane, amputating the ear of the high priest's servant.

David's response here in our passage is strikingly similar

to what Jesus said on that occasion (John 18:11): "Jesus said

to Peter, 'Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup

that the Father has given me?'"

There's difference, though. Jesus was about to bear the

sins of others. David's response here is driven by a deep

conviction of his own sin. Knowing that his own sin had

unleashed these events, he chose to bear Shimei's mockery

with grace and self-control. David he knew very well that he

was not blameless. He was profoundly conscious of the fact

that Absalom's rebellion was the aftermath of his own sin

with Bath-Sheba. He was innocent of the blood of Saul, but

he was not innocent of the blood of Uriah (Bath-sheba's

husband). David's guilt before God had been washed

completely clean, "whiter than snow." But now the earthly

consequences of that decade-old sin had caught up with him.

So David showed forgiveness to this wicked man who

deserved no forgiveness whatsoever.

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 14

Sincere sorrow over our sins has a way of making us

behave in a Christlike fashion. Here David consciously

quieted any anger he might have felt, because, first of all, he

knew he deserved a rebuke like this.

Second, he saw the hand of divine Providence in placing

Shimei there at this moment. Verse 10: "He is cursing

because the LORD has said to him, 'Curse David.'" Verse 11: "!

Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him

to." Here is the practical aspect of Calvinist conviction at

work. David saw the sovereign, providential hand of God in

his circumstancesCeven in an odious situation like this.

Understand what David was saying. He was not

suggesting God was in any way responsible for Shimei's sin.

As a sin, it was unjustifiable, wicked, and completely evil.

David is not implying that God condoned or concurred with

or approved of Shimei's evil intentions and wicked behavior.

As a sin it was a violation of the divine will.

However, as a rebuke, Shimei's curse was an affliction

from the hand of the Lord. God permitted it; He used it as a

chastening and a reminder, to humble David and to call back

to mind what a great wickedness David himself had been

forgiven for. David had in effect murdered Uriah. What

David did was far worse than what he suffered. And the pain

of this suffering evoked gratitude for the Lord's great mercy.

Plus, David's sin was a terribly poor example to his

children, and it called David's character into question in the

Cursed 15

eyes of the whole nation. In that sense, David's sin

contributed to Absalom's delinquency.

Furthermore, from David's perspective, if Absalom, his

own son, was trying to kill David and usurp the throne, what

was it to David if a two-bit scoundrel like Shimei merely

insulted him? Look at verse 11: "Behold, my own son seeks

my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite!"

Tribulation works what? Patience (Romans 5:3; James

1:3). An so David shows a tremendous amount of patience to

Shimei. He chose to overlook the insult. He unilaterally and

unconditionally forgave. He simply turned the other cheek.

This was a godly response.

And even though when David walked away, Shimei

followed along and continued to curse and throw dirt, David

still refused to punish. Verse 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


Let me say this about forgiveness: There are times when

the right thing to do with an offense is simply to refuse to

take notice of it. Turn the other cheek. Bear the offense


Love dictates that this is the way we ought to treat the vast

majority of offenses against us. First Corinthians 13:5 says,

Love "does not take into account a wrong suffered." Love " is

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 16

not irritable or resentful." "Love bears all things, believes all

things, hopes all things, endures all things" (v. 7).

Listen to 1 Peter 4:8: "Love covers a multitude of sins."

You know what the most loving response to most personal

offenses is? Simply refuse to take offense. Bear the wrong.

Turn the other cheek. Overlook the wrong you have suffered.

Cover the sin. Forgive unconditionally.

That is what David did here. It is the most Christlike

response to a personal slight, even an intentional one like


David just walked away. Verse 14: "And the king, and all

the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan."

That was the end of the episode.

Now we move to Scene 2. Turn over to chapter 19.


David was ultimately victorious over Absalom's rebellion.

Even the victory was sad for David, because it cost him his

beloved son. The nation was now in a state of disarray. It's

interesting to note that David did not return immediately to

Jerusalem. In fact, he waited until he was invited by the

people to return. And 2 Samuel 19:14 says David sent a

message to the elders of Judah that "swayed the heart of all the

men of Judah as one man, so that they sent word to the king,

'Return, both you and all your servants.'"

Cursed 17

So David prepared to enter Jerusalem. He camped at the

edge of the Jordan in Gilgal. Verse 15 says all the men of

Judah came there to conduct him across. This would have

been a huge throng of people. They were preparing to usher

David into Jerusalem in victory.

Now put yourself in Shimei's shoes for a moment. David

will have to pass through Shimei's village again on his way

back to Jerusalem. The last time he came through he was

discouraged and depressed. It seemed then as if all Israel was

against him, and Shimei added to David's shame by pelting

him with rocks and dust and insults.

But this time, David is returning as a conqueror. All Israel

is celebrating his victory and acknowledging his right to rule.

Shimei, who had been bold and arrogant when David was on

his way out, must have been trembling with fright now that

David was on his way back.

So Shimei came to David to seek peace. He traveled to the

Jordan where David was camped. Verse 16 says,

Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, from Bahurim,

hurried to come down with the men of Judah to meet King


17 And with him were a thousand men from Benjamin.

[Benjamin was Saul's tribe, so these were men from

Shimei's clan. They all had much at stake because of

Shimei's rebellion.] And Ziba the servant of the house of

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 18

Saul, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, rushed

down to the Jordan before the king,

18 and they crossed the ford to bring over the king's

household and to do his pleasure. And Shimei the son of

Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross

the Jordan,

19 and said to the king, "Let not my lord hold me guilty or

remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord

the king left Jerusalem. Do not let the king take it to heart.

20 For your servant knows that I have sinned. Therefore,

behold, I have come this day, the first of all the house of

Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king."

That's a pretty good repentance speech. This is the right way

to ask for forgiveness. He admitted he had sinned. The

offense was public; so was his submission to David. he fell

on his face to show his humility. He acknowledged that he

deserved the king's wrath, and he asked David not to impute

the iniquity to him. In other words, he wanted forgiveness.

As good as his performance is, however, this was most

likely not genuine repentance. Shimei was acting only in his

own self-interests. His repentance was verbal only. You can

be pretty sure that if David had been defeated by Absalom,

Shimei would have boasted about what he had done. But

now that David was returning in triumph, Shimei saw the

wisdom of trying to make peace.

Cursed 19

Remember how when Shimei was cursing David, Abishai

wanted to put him to death? Here again Abishai points out

that justice might be best served by Shimei's execution.

Verse 21: "Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, 'Shall not

Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD's


David's reply was very similar to his earlier rebuke of

Abishai. Verse 22: "But David said, 'What have I to do with you,

you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary

to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I

not know that I am this day king over Israel?'"

David is still showing grace. He had already extended

forgiveness to Shimei, and he was not about to revoke that

demonstration of mercy in the midst of his victory. Verse 23:

"And the king said to Shimei, 'You shall not die.' And the king

gave him his oath." Having already shown mercy, even

without any expression of repentance from Shimei, David

now formally affirmed his forgiveness.

This was a conscious, deliberate choice David was

making to overlook Shimei's offense. David would not

punish him. He would not hold the sin against him. He gave

him his word as king, and he affirmed it with an oath. This

was a day of celebration, not retribution.

Shimei benefitted greatly from David's gracious

forgiveness. He could have been put to death. Open

disrespect against a king was a crime punishable by death in

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 20

every known culture of the time. In Shimei's case, the sin

also involved blasphemy against God, for David was the

rightful king God had anointed over Israel.

This brings up an important point about forgiveness.

Human forgiveness can forgive human offenses. But when I

forgive you for an offense you commit against me, that does

not necessarily absolve you of sin against God. If your

transgression includes an offense against God, you will still

have to answer to Him for it. I can choose to overlook an

offense, but I cannot grant absolution for your soul. Only

God can do that, because in the person of His Son, Jesus

Christ, he has paid in full for the sins of all who will truly

repent and trust Christ as savior.

I cannot grant you forgiveness for a sin against God. Luke

5:21: "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" We don't believe

in a priestly forgiveness of sins. No mere human can absolve

another person of sin before God. And forgiveness before

God requires a perfect sacrificeCpayment made in blood, for

"without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins"

(Hebrews 9:22). That's why Christ died: to be that perfect


Slights and personal insults can be forgiven at the human

level, but the sin in such actions must be dealt with before

God. If not, He will demand full justice. That is precisely

what happened to Shimei. His story does not end here. We

move to scene 3.

Cursed 21


Years have elapsed. David is on his deathbed. And he is

tying up some loose ends before he dies. He summons

Solomon to his bedside. Solomon will become king after

David dies. So David gives him a final charge (v. 2):

I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and

show yourself a man,

3 and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in

his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments,

his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of

Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and

wherever you turn,

4 that the LORD may establish his word that he spoke

concerning me, saying, "If your sons pay close attention

to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their

heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on

the throne of Israel."

David then hands Solomon several unfinished duties. There

are some people whose offenses need to be punished, and

others whose good deeds need to be rewarded.

One of the people David names is Shimei. Verse 8:

And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the

Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous

curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he

came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 22

the LORD, saying, "I will not put you to death with the


9 Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a

wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and

you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.

This passage troubled me when I read it for the first time.

This was literally David's last request. Verse 10 (the very

next verse) goes on to say, "Then David slept with his fathers

and was buried in the city of David."

Now, doesn't this seem incongruous? David had sworn to

Shimei that Shimei would not be killed for cursing David.

David had forgiven the offense. Shimei had even expressed

repentance and received a formal grant of forgiveness from


And notice that David had not forgotten his promise.

Verse 8: "I swore to him by the LORD, saying, 'I will not put you

to death with the sword.'"

Yet he orders Solomon to make sure Shimei does not die

a natural death. What is this? Is David reneging on his oath,

right here on his deathbed?

Not at all. David kept his promise to Shimei. He did not

kill him. He let him live. And this order to Solomon for

Shimei to be killed has nothing whatsoever to do with

personal retribution. Don't get the idea David is using

Solomon to get personal revenge against Shimei.

Cursed 23

But as king in Israel, David was responsible to make

certain that no one blasphemed God openly. David could

forgive Shimei's personal offense against him, but both

public justice and divine law still had a claim on him. David

could overlook the personal transgression; but a public act of

overt hostility to God still demanded to be punished.

So until Shimei sought God's forgiveness for his

blasphemy, Shimei stood in danger of divine judgment. As a

mere man, David could forgive a personal slight. But as king

over Israel, he could not allow someone to blaspheme

Jehovah and get off scot-free. Shimei needed to be punished,

not for the sake of David's glory, but for God's.

There's a parallel here with David's own situation. God

forgave David for his sin with Bath-Sheba. But he did not

remove all the consequences, lest God's own honor be sullied

among the Gentiles.

Notice the words of David's promise (verse 8): "I will not

put you to death with the sword." David had give Shimei many

more years than the scoundrel deserved. He had permitted

him to live when Shimei should have been punished. David

had fulfilled his promise in every sense, and evidently none

of it had any beneficial effect on Shimei's character, and

David could see that. So having sworn to Shimei that he

would not kill him, David hands the responsibility off to


2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 24

None of this was motivated by a desire for personal

revenge, but by a zeal for the glory of God and the purity of

the nation. David had done what he promised to do, but now

on his deathbed, he could not neglect his kingly duties any

longer. In fact, it seems to me that David purposely waited

until his last breath before ordering that Shimei should be

punished after he was gone. This way, no one could say that

David did it to preserve his own honor or to satisfy his own

thirst for retribution.

Solomon dealt with the situation wisely. He honored

David's forgiveness of the cursing incident, and he devised a

way whereby Shimei might prove whether his heart was now

right before God.

Verse 36:

[Solomon] sent and summoned Shimei and said to him,

"Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and

do not go out from there to any place whatever.

37 For on the day you go out and cross the brook Kidron,

know for certain that you shall die. Your blood shall be on

your own head."

38 And Shimei said to the king, "What you say is good; as

my lord the king has said, so will your servant do." So

Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.

As long as Shimei kept his promise, he would be OK. He

could live within Jerusalem and move around to his heart's

delight. But if he ever left the cityCif he even crossed the

Cursed 25

Kidron valleyChe would forfeit his life. Look what


It happened at the end of three years that two of Shimei's

servants ran away to Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath.

And when it was told Shimei, "Behold, your servants are

in Gath,"

40 Shimei arose and saddled a donkey and went to Gath to

Achish to seek his servants. Shimei went and brought his

servants from Gath.

See how easily he broke his word! Remember that parable

Jesus told about the servant who was forgiven a massive

debt, but then he went out and found a fellow servant who

owed him money, and grabbed him by the neck and had him

thrown in prison till he could pay? That's pretty much what

happened here. Shimei, who had been forgiven so much, was

furious when one of his slaves ran away, and he tracked him

down all the way to Gath, in the land of the Philistines.

That's a long way from Jerusalem, 27Ca long day's journey.

So it wasn't as if he just put one toe over the line.

Solomon heard about it, too. Verse 41:

when Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from

Jerusalem to Gath and returned,

42 the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him,

"Did I not make you swear by the LORD and solemnly warn

you, saying, 'Know for certain that on the day you go out

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 26

and go to any place whatever, you shall die'? And you said

to me, 'What you say is good; I will obey.'

43 Why then have you not kept your oath to the LORD and

the commandment with which I commanded you?"

44 The king also said to Shimei, "You know in your own

heart all the harm that you did to David my father. So the

LORD will bring back your harm on your own head.

45 But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of

David shall be established before the LORD forever."

46 Then the king commanded Benaiah the son of

Jehoiada, and he went out and struck him down, and he

died. So the kingdom was established in the hand of


Solomon states the whole issue in just a few words in verse

44. Heres how the King James version says it: "Thou knowest

all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to." Shimei's heart

was never cleansed of the wickedness He had committed

against God.

Here's the ironic thing: God is, if anything, more willing

to forgive than David was. Psalm 86:5: "You, O Lord, are good

and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon

you." Nehemiah 9:17: "You are a God ready to forgive, gracious

and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."

Isaiah 55:7: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the

unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he

may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will

Cursed 27

abundantly pardon." Micah 7:18-19: "Who is a God like you,

pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the

remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever,

because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have

compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will

cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."

Shimei had all those years of opportunity, because of

David's forgiveness, when he might have sought God's

forgiveness, too. He could have turned at any time to God

and sought forgiveness. But he did not. So in the end he

suffered the due penalty of his sins.

That is the way with most sinners. We care a great deal

what men think, but we trouble ourselves too little with what

God thinks. Shimei would go all the way to the banks of the

Jordan to seek David's pardon, but he would not even enter

his own closet to repent before God.

And judgment finally caught up with him. This man,

whose life had been extended for many years because of the

goodness of David, squandered all those years presuming on

the goodness of God. He settled accounts with David, but he

had never settled accounts with God. So in the end, judgment

caught up with him.

Second Corinthians 6:2: "Behold, now is the favorable time;

behold, now is the day of salvation." Hebrews 3:7-8: "Today, if

you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

2 Samuel 16:5 -13; 19:16-23; 2 Kings 2:8-44 28

David and Shimei make a stark contrast. David had

received God's forgiveness for his sin when he repented the

moment his sin was exposed. But he bore the earthly

consequences for that sin for the rest of his life.

Shimei, on the other hand, had sought and received

earthly forgiveness. He was released by David from the

immediate consequences of his sin, but he was bound by

God to eternal judgment for that sin, as long as Shimei

remained unrepentant before God. And he dragged that guilt

and his enmity against God with him all his life, until finally

it destroyed him.

This is an occasion for self-examination for all of us.

What kind of forgiveness have you sought for your sins?

Have you looked for an earthly, temporal release from your

sin's consequences, or have you gone to God to be cleansed

of the eternal guilt?

Are there notable sins in your past that you have never

taken to God and sought His forgiveness and full cleansing?

If so, those sins might be weighing you down right now,

accumulating consequences which will one day overwhelm

you and destroy you the way Shimei was destroyed.

If you are a Christian and have trusted Christ as Lord and

Savior, thank GodCHe has borne the weight of your guilt

and removed your sin (all of it) as far from you as the east is

from the west. There may be remaining consequences that

you cannot escape, but the good news is that God promises

Cursed 29

grace to sustain you through that as well. James 4:6: "He

gives more grace. Therefore it says, 'God opposes the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.'"