1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 3) – The Curious Case of Shimei: What He Teaches Us

Posted: October 17, 2018 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 3 of 3)
Solomon Establishes His Rule

Normally, in my blog posts, my typical writing pattern is to share a personal story from my own life, someone I know, or current events as a set up for the Scripture passage, then share the Scripture passage, and after the passage share some life application for the meaning of the passage. However, today is going to be a little different. Today, it’s going to be a character analysis of one of the Bible’s bad guys – Shimei – and what we can learn from him. No personal stories just analyzing this dude, Shimei.

Sometimes, the Bible is just raw and real and we often just jump over such passages because they present uncomfortable truths. When you follow the Bible sequentially and not topically, you run across passages that present uncomfortable topics. In this passage, to do it justice, you have to deal with Shimei. The Biblical account of Shimei, son of Gera, is a brief one but he appears more than once and you think, “Oh yeah, I remember this guy!” What is God trying to teach us through this guy? He is mentioned, briefly, in four different places in the story of David and Solomon. Therefore, he is a character that needs to be analyzed.

Shimei was of the same family as King Saul and evidently opposed the accession of David to the throne of Israel. We first meet him on one of the darkest days in King David’s life. David’s son, Absalom, has gained the upper hand in his bid to replace his father on the throne. David and his entourage flee Jerusalem in disarray. Adding to the humiliation of the hour is a young Benjamite running parallel to the road, cursing David and pelting him with dirt and stones.

In 2 Samuel 16:9-12, we read that David’s reaction was this:

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[b] 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[c] and will bless me because of these curses today.”

In this 2 Samuel account, we as Christ followers admire David for his forgiveness of those who curse you. He shows great humility. We know that at this time in his life, David was overcome with guilt for his sins. He was so overcome with guilt that he failed his children and he failed his kingdom. Why, then, does David tell Solomon to deal with Shimei? It seems, though, that Shimei was a thoroughly despicable man, however, and that he persisted in his opposition to David. On his deathbed, David charged Solomon with the task of executing Shimei: “Do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood” (1 Kings 2:9). The only reason Shimei was still alive was that David was honoring his oath to allow him to live that he made in 2 Samuel. Solomon showed Shimei mercy, giving him one final chance: as long as Shimei remained in Jerusalem, he would live (verses 36–37). Shimei agreed to the pact, but three years later he left the city. When King Solomon found out, he called for Shimei and told him, “You know in your heart all the wrong you did to my father David. Now the Lord will repay you for your wrongdoing” (verse 44). Shimei was then executed (verse 46).

Then, how do we relate this story to our lives in the 21st century? I think we can relate to this story in three ways.

First, we must be willing to accept criticism even when we don’t want to hear it. David demonstrates that to us in 2 Samuel and he carries that restraint through the remainder of his life. Sometimes, there may be more truth in our enemies’ words than in the counsel of our friends. Perhaps their eyes are sharper than our friends’ eyes, or our friends may be aware of our weakness and unwilling to tell us. Love is quick to note our faults, but sometimes slow to point them out and correct them. Charles Spurgeon once said,

“Get your friend to tell you your faults, or better still, welcome an enemy who will watch you keenly and sting you savagely. What a blessing such an irritating critic will be to a wise man. What an intolerable nuisance to a fool.”

We should search our hearts to see if the criticism is true before dismissing it or treating it with disdain. Before we reject harsh comments, we should go to the Lord in prayer about what has been said and ask the Holy Spirit to illumine our hearts about the truth of what has been said.

The second thing that we can learn from this account of Shimei is that we must trust the Lord and He will reveal intentions of others in His timing. Here, Shimei, ultimately shows Solomon that he really doesn’t care what Solomon ordered him to do. Ultimately, he held David and his descendants in great contempt. He acted one way toward the Davidic dynasty in public but his real feelings are ultimately displayed when he ignores the command of King Solomon. It took three years for his true feelings to come out. Solomon shows great restraint for three years but ultimately Shimei real feelings are exposed. He had total disregard for the Davidic dynasty. In this, we must learn to trust the Lord and He will reveal what needs to be revealed.

The third thing is about how Shimei let his disdain for David and his descendants consume him and it ultimately cost him dearly. First, it imprisoned him in Jerusalem and then ultimately cost him his life. Let us take this point to heart as much as the first two. Let us be ones who seek reconciliation rather than continued conflict. It is all about losing our pride and saying that we must take steps toward each other rather than continuing a conflict to preserve our pride.

From David and Solomon, we learn three valuable lessons. With that in mind, let us re-read this passage one more time before we move on to the next passage:

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.

22 “How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”

23 Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. 24 The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” 25 So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” 27 So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.

28 Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. 29 When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31 “Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 The Lord will repay him[a] for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.

36 The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. 37 On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. 42 So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. 45 But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” 46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.

So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.

In this passage and by reference to the previous reference to Shimei in 2 Samuel 16, we learn that:

(1) take heed of the harsh words of another. Is there truth in it? Is there something that we can learn from the searing words of others. David showed restraint because he felt as though God had a purpose in the harsh words of Shimei. May we have the humility of David to examine ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit to see our flaws as being pointed out by the harsh words of another.

(2) We must have patience and trust the Lord. We must understand that there may be some nugget of wisdom from God in the harsh words of someone who opposes us and we must take that to heart. We must also have patience and allow the Lord to shed light on the intentions of others and trust Him to show us how to deal with people who oppose us. Ask Him to shed light on why the person opposes us and help us to bridge that gap – which leads to the final lesson of this passage – see (3) below.

(3)  Shimei failed in his relationship with someone he did not like and eventually he suffered grave consequences. Thus what about us as Christians. Do we desire reconciliation? Each of us often will have differences, but how do we deal with them. Even as Shimei was, we all will be called into account when we go before the throne of God for what we did, said, or had in the secret recesses of our hearts and minds. In the Old and New Testament, God tells us through the biblical authors to always seek reconciliation and to disdain pride. Thus, we are commanded more than once to put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. Put away all malice. Let us not forget the lesson of Shimei. Be forgiving as you have been forgiven. Trust the Lord with it all.

Amen and Amen.

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