Wednesday, September 7, 2011

adding insult to injury

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. And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.
2 Samuel 16:13-14

David is now so humbled by the events surrounding him that he just keeps taking further humiliation without resistance. There are three major humiliations added to his exile in this chapter. The first one is when David is told that Mephibosheth has stayed behind in Jerusalem in that hopes that Israel will anoint him as king as the last survivor of the house of Saul. All the years of faithful care of Jonathan's crippled son have been for nothing. This is a high insult. Sometimes the people to whom we extend the most grace become the least respectful of it.

The final humiliation in this chapter comes when David's own counselor, Ahithophel, advises David's son, Absalom, to publically shame his father. Absalom pitches a tent on the palace roof and there publically beds the king's harem that David left behind to care for the palace. This was the symbol of Absalom's seizure of the throne and the life of his father and was an atrocious form of disrespect not only for his father's kingship, but for all respect for him whatsoever.

But sandwiched in between these episodes is a third humiiation at the hands of a strange little character named Shimei. This previously unknown Benjamite runs alongside the hillside above the road from Jerusalem to the Jordan valley, hurling curses as he pelts David and his retinue with dust and stones. David instructs his bodyguard to let this man keep up his taunting. He sees the actions as perhaps from the hand of God. The 21 mile hike out of Jerusalem is punctuated with the jabberings of this angry Benjamite.

David is completely humbled by his current situation. He has lost the throne and virtually all dignity among the people of Israel. And the humiliation is accepted, mostly without comment. David believes God is working in all this. David seems to be at his best when running for his life, just as he did many years ago under the persecution of Saul. He is in a position of trust again, and that is something that will make the difference for him.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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