One of the lovely things about the kingdom of God is that we didn’t all come in the same way. Some of us, like Timothy, grew up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, never knowing a day when God was not our God. Others of us, like Rahab, came in after years of rebellion. No one deserves the mercy we find in Christ. And some among us were high-handed blasphemers before the Lord caused us to bow the knee.
God displays just this kind of mercy in 2 Samuel 19.
The Text – A Summary
David had turned a day of victory into a day of mourning given the death of his son, Absalom (v. 2). Confronted by Joab, David gathered himself and spoke encouraging words to his victorious army (v. 8). Panic struck Israel (v. 9). Would they have David back after anointing Absalom as their ruler (v. 10). They agree to bring David back as their king. But what does that mean for some of the leading character involved in Absalom’s rebellion? What does it mean for Shimei? A few chapters back, we saw Shimei throwing stones at David as he departed Jerusalem. David would not strike him down then. But perhaps he was willing to upon his return across the Jordan and back into Jerusalem.
Shimei went quickly to meet David, crossing over the Jordan River to meet the advancing king. Shimei fell down before the king (v. 17), and repented, asking for mercy (v. 19). Abishai wanted to put him to death. But David said, “Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?” Then King David swore to Shimei that he would not die (v. 23).
Mephibosheth the son of Saul too came to see David, testifying his allegiance to the king. And Barzillai the Gileadite, who had supplied David when he fled Absalom, saw David across the Jordan. David welcomed him to come live in Jerusalem. But Barzillai was 80 years old, and he asked David to take his servant Chimham in his place.
David’s return to Jerusalem resulted in tensions between Israel in the north and Judah in the south (v. 41).
Repentance and Mercy
Shimei was in the soup. He was a big man when the king was leaving Jerusalem. But now the chickens were coming home, as they say. Shimei may have cursed the king. But he was not beyond asking for mercy. And because he bent his neck, he got to keep his head.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the kind of King who good and kind to the undeserving. There are many Shimei’s in his kingdom. And this is encouragement to every God-curser out there to turn while you still can and find mercy bowing before the King.
The plain truth is that there is no time to wait. Today is the day of salvation. Shimei went to King David in haste (v. 16). He got to David before he crossed the Jordan and came back into the Promised Land. The fact that the Bible tells us that piece of the story is not without significance. The king was coming back to his land. We hear in Matthew 21:40 that the Lord of the vineyard will come to his vineyard and destroy the ungodly.
When that day comes, and Christ splits not the Jordan River but the heavens and returns, once he is through those heavens it will be too late. By the same token, once you return to the dust, it will be too late just the same. Psalm 95 says, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” You are promised no tomorrow.
But the King whom you have cursed is merciful. Bow before him like Shimei, and you to will not die.