SSS*- Week #12-
Working in a retail setting definitely comes with its fair share of interesting interactions with people. If you or anyone close to you works in a retail setting or serves the public in any capacity, perhaps you can relate. I have been lied to, lied on, ignored, cut-off, and yes, cursed smooth out!! Turns out, some people don’t like being told, “Looks like you have a deductible to meet and your medication is now $125 instead of your usual $25,” or “I’m sorry, we don’t have that in stock,” or “One moment please . . . I’ll be right with you as soon as I finish helping the TEN people who were clearly here before you.” Or, “no, sir, I can’t give you one puff from your asthma inhaler until you get paid on the 15th.”
In my first couple of years on the job, these unfavorable encounters would really get under my skin. I’d come home and vent for hours to my husband and to about 10 of my closest friends. After 12 years in the field, followed by reading what happened to David in 2 Samuel chapter 16, I have a new outlook regarding these situations.
Yes, David himself got a taste of what it’s like to be called outside of one’s name! As David, the King of Israel, fled from Jerusalem and approached Bahurim, a man named Shimei came and cursed him. Shimei was from the same clan as Saul’s family and evidently had some issues with the way David attained the throne.
Let’s first consider Shimei’s tirade itself. In this prolonged outburst of bitterness, Shimei calls David a “murderer” and a “scoundrel.” He suggests David’s current problems are because “the Lord has repaid [him] for all the blood [he] shed in the household of Saul . . .” If there were one thing David was not guilty of, it was of taking Saul’s life! Twice David spared Saul’s life despite the fact that Saul sought his! When Saul and his sons were killed by the Philistines, David and his men were many miles off. When they heard about it, they lamented it! That being said, Shimei’s accusations were a bit unfounded. Clearly the trigger for Shimei’s tirade was not his concern for David’s character. Yes, David was a murderer. He had Uriah killed. But that was not what Shimei was bothered by. He was only bothered with the actions of David that directly affected him. When David succeeded Saul, Shimei simultaneously lost all hopes of being promoted himself.
Now, what about the timing?! I think it is interesting that Shimei chose this time in David’s reign to attack him in this way. David is fleeing for his life. His own son is out to kill him. Now, Shimei comes along to pour salt on David’s wounds? Why did Shimei not voice his disdain for David during David’s most prosperous and powerful times as Israel’s king? Why kick a man while he is down? Perhaps Shimei was so evil he found pleasure adding affliction to David’s current grief.
Already grief-stricken by Absalom’s rebellion and now afflicted by this Benjamite’s insults, surely David is going to enact his right as king and take Shimei’s life! Not so much. Instead, while David’s men are geared up and ready to defend their king for the insults and wrong being done towards him, David says, “leave him alone.”
What a twist!
In the face of abuse, insults, resentment, and contempt David displayed patience, humility, submission, and restraint. He did this by focusing on two main ideas. First of all, David’s own son was out to kill him. That being the case, he was already dealing with a mess! David’s other troubles had taught him how to handle more trouble. Matthew Henry put it this way: “The more we bear, the better we should be to bear still more; what tries our patience should improve it.” Secondly, David reasoned that some way somehow God would bring some good out of this bad situation. Clinging to this hope brought David enough comfort to keep moving forward “while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, [still] cursing as he went . . .”
Whether or not you spend 40 hours a week dealing directly with the public or not, we all interact with people in some capacity. With that reality comes the likelihood of an experience like that of David in these passages. In other words, the tirades of others will come. The timing will never be perfect. Yet, these moments will always create an opportunity to add a God honoring twist to the outcome. We can choose to respond to the resentment of others with humility and patience. Be comforted in those moments knowing that the same Lord who allowed David to reach his destination where he was refreshed will also guide us all the way to our destination and refresh us as well.