2 Samuel 16:5-14
Shimei Curses David

This passage today so easily could be transported today’s world. This problem is not limited to ancient Israel some 3,000 years ago. It is oh so timely. Today, our nation is Shimei and David. Since the elections of Obama and Trump, I have never seen our country so polarized. And, particularly, since Trump was elected and the fact that social media has become so firmly entrenched as part of our lives, we have seen this polarization reach new heights. Lack of journalistic integrity has come to be part of the American landscape.

There was once a time in our land that journalism was a science as well as an art. The news media had standards of proof that were self-imposed. Every claim made in an article in a newspaper or an investigative piece on television had to be corroborated. When we watch the movie, All The President’s Men, or even deeper, read the book by the same name, we see how difficult it was for Woodward and Bernstein to investigate and publish articles about what became “the Watergate scandal”. Sources making claims had to be corroborated from multiple sources before anything got published. It was the standard of journalism. Verify. Verify and then verify again. It was similar to what police detectives must do in their significant capital cases. They must investigate, verify, follow leads, and get to the truth. Accusations must be verified and verified again.

Today, we have social media posts where people of certain positions vilify their opposition with facts presented that are often not corroborated or only present a portion of the information. Political spin is the name of the game today. My version of the truth is what matters. The ends justify the means is what matters. Truth is no longer an absolute. Good news articles in years past would present all points of view on a subject and allow the reader to make their own judgments. Even if the journalist was pro one way or the other, they were required to present all views on a subject as simply the understood part of journalistic standards of behavior. With social media, it is only required that you have an opinion and good photoshop skills. And it is not just those who create social media viral feeds but it is us as consumers of social media that are to blame as well. We see and believe what we see on social media far too easily. We see what supports our opinion and take it as gospel. We see what is in opposition to our opinion and call it fake news.

We were once a nation where compromise was part of the political landscape. The very foundation of our country was a compromise. Just look at how our legislative body in was constructed. There were those states that were already becoming more populous than others so there was fear by the smaller (typically Southern) states that the larger states would impose their will upon the smaller states with impunity. Thus, the equal bodies of the Senate (with two representatives from each state regardless of size) and the House of Representatives (with the size of each state’s delegation dependent upon the population of each state). It was a compromise to ensure that the smaller populated states did not get trampled upon. Throughout American history, landmark legislation was often made through compromises among competing interests of the representatives and senators. Our nation became a great power through compromise – people getting some of what they want but not all, assigning priorities for the nation as to the order of things that were to be accomplished through the competition of needs in Congress, and so on. Although people back then were as passionate about their positions as people are today, they respected results as part of the American system.

The cries of “Not My President” that we hear today are simply not of the American spirit of compromise. We have become a nation that wants to quit the game if we do not get our way. Politics has become gridlocked because we cannot any longer fathom that someone can have a different opinion from us. We would rather shut the government down to prove a point that reach an understanding with our enemies. We think our truth is the only truth. It is a product of the culture in which we live today. Because we live in a relativistic society, truth is no longer absolute. My truth is my truth and I have a right to believe it. Conservatives and liberals vilify each other as being Satan’s children because we no longer see truth as absolute. We can only see the rightness of our position and do whatever it takes to support that position. Even if supporting that position includes creating news stories based on half-truths and distorted factual evidence. Truth is relative to my own needs. My truth is my truth and your truth is your truth. Truth is a possession of individuals now rather than something that is independent of us and owned by God. Rather than pray for our enemies, we would rather see them as completely out of touch with reality – my reality.

Responding to social media posts based on half-truth and distorted factual evidence is a losing game. We have become so relativistic in today’s world that we can no longer see another person’s point of view. Thus, social media arguments about the truth of a situation can go on ad nauseum because admitting that “hey you may have a point there” is no longer a value. Thus, descending into the fray of social media misinformation is a fruitless endeavor even though it may make your blood boil by what you see and read.

That is what I thought about this morning as I read through this passage, 2 Samuel 16:5-14. How this Shimei dude is like the world in which we live today. He was firmly convinced that what he was saying was true without even knowing the real facts nor caring what the real facts were. He simply did not like David because he was not Saul. So, in that way, he is very modern. He could fit right into our world today. Let’s read the passage now:

5 As King David came to Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them. It was Shimei son of Gera, from the same clan as Saul’s family. 6 He threw stones at the king and the king’s officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded him. 7 “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!” he shouted at David. 8 “The Lord is paying you back for all the bloodshed in Saul’s clan. You stole his throne, and now the Lord has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, for you are a murderer!”

9 “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?” Abishai son of Zeruiah demanded. “Let me go over and cut off his head!”

10 “No!” the king said. “Who asked your opinion, you sons of Zeruiah! If the Lord has told him to curse me, who are you to stop him?”

11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son is trying to kill me. Doesn’t this relative of Saul[a] have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. 12 And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged[b] and will bless me because of these curses today.” 13 So David and his men continued down the road, and Shimei kept pace with them on a nearby hillside, cursing and throwing stones and dirt at David.

14 The king and all who were with him grew weary along the way, so they rested when they reached the Jordan River.[c]

In this passage, we see that Shimei kept up a steady tirade against David. Although his curses were unjustified because David had no part in Saul’s death, David and his followers tolerated the abuse. Maintaining composure in the face of unjustified criticism can be a trying experience and an emotional drain. However, if you can’t stop criticism, it best just to ignore it. Remember that God knows what you are enduring and He will vindicate you, if you are right.

What we need to be doing today is praying for our enemies and praying for the resurrection of absolute truth. We must pray that people will learn to admit when they are wrong. We must pray that we can admit when we are wrong. We must pray that we do not endanger the gospel message by descending into pointless arguments that cannot be won. We must pray that we discern what are the hills to die on. We must pray to have discernment as to whether it is personal pride that is offended or the gospel message that is offended before we respond to things. We must respond in ways that leave us opportunities to demonstrate the love of Jesus to others. Help us oh Lord, to pray en masse for the end of moral relativism and the return of our nation to a godly pursuit of God’s absolute truths and moral absolutes. Help us oh Lord to become a less polarized nation by dropping our dogged senses of pride. May we see truth as your ownership and that truth is independent of each of us and not something that WE own. Help us oh Lord to remember that we are here to please you and not honor ourselves and denigrate others. We are all here to give you glory and not ourselves.

Amen and Amen.

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