Tag Archives: Judgment

The Cursing Benjamite — Dale Barger

It is quite interesting to consider the events which God preserved in His inspired Word. When you reflect on the many possible events throughout history, no doubt there are many happenings that have been lost to the annuals of time. However, God saw fit to preserve certain events in explicit detail even to the conversations that transpired. These have been preserved so that Christians can learn how God expects us to conduct ourselves in this life.

One such peculiar event is the interaction between King David and Shimei (2 Sam. 16:5-13; 19:15-23). David had been driven from Jerusalem by the attempt of Absalom to usurp the throne. As he reached Bahurim he encountered Shimei, a relative of Saul, who confronted him with cursing and false accusations. This event provides many lessons to Christians who seek to serve God acceptably.

Lesson #1:  Recklessness in Anger. Shimei approached the king and his mighty men in an aggressive fashion (2 Sam 16:5-7). Casting stones and cursing the king in the presence of his mighty men is foolish indeed….especially when you reflect upon these battle tested men and their accomplishments (cf. 2 Sam 23:8-39). Abishai, mentioned in verse 18 of that passage, was noted for having slain 300 men with the spear. Abishai desired to execute Shimei for his cursing. Shimei endangered his own life by foolish actions in anger.

Anger causes one to act foolishly. The wise man stated, “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly…” (Prov. 14:17). Actions in anger are not what God desires to see of His children. James states, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). How dangerous do our actions become when we lash out in anger? One often does things that harm others, damages our relationships and damages our reputation as well as the reputation of others. If you were to reflect on your life, how many times have you acted righteously when you were angry? We say and do things in anger that is contrary to the will of God. This event displays for us the folly of anger.

Lesson #2: We Are Not Alone. During this confrontation, David was probably at a very low emotional state. He was driven from his home by his own son who sought his life (2 Sam. 16:11). David had also left some of his family as well as some of his servants behind at Jerusalem. David perhaps thought that there was no one left one his side. The words of Abishai prove that he was still loyal to David. He was willing to eliminate the threat of Shimei against his king.

As Christians, we sometimes feel that we are alone. It may be an emotional time for us when things aren’t going our way. We need to be reminded that we have the family of God, the body of Christ with us on our side. Paul speaks of the body being many members yet one body (1 Cor 12:14). He further speaks how that all members of the body rejoice and all suffer together (1 Cor 12:26-27). Other passages likewise speak of multiple pieces making up the whole body (c.f. Eph. 4:16). These verses encourage Christians to realize that we are not alone. We have those on our side to help us when we are low and to strengthen when we are weak.

Lesson #3: Do Not Retaliate. How hard must it have been for King David to leave his capital city! His own son was seeking to depose him. How emotional David must have felt! Yet, David did not allow his emotions to cause him to act hastily. He could have easily commanded his mighty men to eliminate Shimei, which Abishai was desirous to do. However, he felt that this may have been a punishment sent from God. Notice David’s words: “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” (2 Sam. 16:10). David was not going to stand and fight against God.  He realized the wastefulness of such an attempt. Had this cursing been from the Lord, David would have been fighting against God in retaliating against Shimei.

During the infancy of the Lord’s church conflict arose. As the council was seeking advice, a wise counselor told the Sanhedrin it was not possible to overthrow the work of God (Acts 5:34-39). If the church was a work of God they would be better not opposing the Lord.

David also was not going to retaliate against Shimei in hope that God would reward him (2 Sam 16:12). Even when things aren’t going our way it is never right to take our vengeance on others. Christian conduct demands a higher moral code. Paul taught, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:18-21). It may be a difficult thing to do; things may not be going well that day. However, David gives us a tremendous lesson in not seeking vengeance against our adversaries in this episode.

Lesson #4: Time for Humility. After David’s forces eliminated the threat of Absalom and even Absalom himself (cf. 2 Sam 18-1-17), David was called again to Jerusalem to sit on the throne. As David was returning, Shimei “hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David” (2 Sam 19:16). Shimei approached the king with a different attitude and conduct in this meeting than previously. He realized the danger his conduct had placed him in and now sought forgiveness for his treachery. The record indicates that Shimei “fell down before the king as he was come over Jordan” (2 Sam 19:18). He wanted David to know that he felt differently and desired forgiveness. Shimei confessed, “Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king” (2 Sam. 19:19-20).

The confession of sin can be a difficult thing to do for those guilty of such prideful and arrogant actions as this man. However, he humbled himself before the king and his life was spared at this moment. Abishai however,  continued to plead with David that he should be executed for his sin of cursing the Lord’s anointed (2 Sam. 19:21).

Lesson #5: Time for Judgment.  Shimei was not punished by David at this time. David would not have that joyous occasion marred by the execution of Shimei. However, Shimei was not guiltless and would eventually be held accountable for his wickedness. As David was instructing Solomon of affairs concerning his kingdom, David gave Solomon notice of dealing with Shimei (1 Kings 2:8-9). As Abishai had pointed out Shimei was guilty of cursing the Lord’s anointed, David. Punishment was therefore in order. Solomon would place Shimei under restrictions which he would eventually violate and lead to his punishment.

As Christians, we learn from this that there are consequences for our actions. This makes the earlier discussion in this study so important. Just because emotions are high does not excuse our deeds of foolishness. We must ever be cautious to live according to the law of God. We will stand before God to give account of even the idle words that have been said (cf. Matt. 12:36-37).  If one speaks against the Lord’s Anointed, Jesus (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38) and does not seek His forgiveness, he too will one day see punishment.

These lessons and a host of others can be gleaned from this episode between King David and Shimei. One thing is certain.  Mankind still faces the same struggles. We still fight the same urges. We still possess the same spirit as those who lived hundreds and thousands of years before our time. It is no wonder why God chose to preserve events such as this for our learning, “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4) and learn to live acceptably unto Him. 

Dale is a 2009 graduate of the Tri-Cities School of Preaching in Elizabethton, TN.  He preaches for the Wheeler Hill Church of Christ in Pikeville, TN.  Dale and his wife Lydia have three daughters.

 

 

Advertisements

Editor’s Page, January/February 2013 Issue – David R. Pharr

[Acts] connects the evangelistic example and gospel teaching of the Savior to the daily practice of every saint…While every book of the Bible contains a portion of God’s blueprint for the church, Acts is the detailed diagram that connects various parts of the scheme – the saving of men’s souls through the spread of the gospel.

Don Iverson, Commentary on Acts

Does the Bible teach that there will be an actual Judgment Day?

Paul declared that all men are commanded to repent, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30f).  Jesus often spoke of a “day of judgment.”  Various texts speak of the final Judgment as “that day.”  The day of judgment will be at the “last day” (Jn. 12:48).  This will be when Christ comes “in his glory, and all his holy angels with him.”  His coming for judgment will be his coming with his angels to take vengeance against those that “know not God, and obey not the gospel” (2 Thess. 1:7ff), which is at the same time that he comes “to be glorified in his saints” (2 Thess. 1:9).

Will every person, the saved and the unsaved, come before Christ in the Judgment?

The Bible is clear that there will be a final day of judgment in which we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).  Before King Jesus will be gathered all nations (Matt. 25:31f), including all the dead, small and great (Rev. 20:11f).  The day has been appointed (Acts 17:31), and our being there is as certain as death (Heb. 9:27).  Everyone, the living and the dead, will be there to answer for their deeds (1 Pet. 4:5).  In the words of Paul, this will be “in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16; cf. 2 Tim. 4:1).

Does this mean that one’s final destiny will not be determined until the day of Judgment?

It is a mistake to conceive of the judgment as for the purpose of determining guilt or innocence.  The judgment will not be a trial in which cases must be argued before a verdict can be determined.  It is only in this life that men and women have opportunity to change their status before the Judge.  “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.”  One’s status will be according to “the things done in his body, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10), “according to their works” (Rev. 20:12).  People may protest their guilt (Matt. 25:37ff) and argue their own merits (Matt. 7:22f), but God has a definite and perfect record.

Salvation is by grace, not merit (Eph. 2:8f).  We can know we are saved in faithfulness to the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-2).  John wrote that we can “know that we know him” by keeping his commandments (1 John 2:3).  We cannot know that our obedience is perfect, but we can know whether we are walking in the light and whether we confess our sin (1 John 1:7, 9).  We cannot know that we will never fall, but we can know whether we are keeping God’s commandments (1 John 1:3; Phil. 2:12).

If no one’s status cannot be changed at the judgment, what is the purpose of the day of Judgment?

The day of judgment will not be an occasion for convincing the Judge, but it will be the occasion for convincing sinners.  “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14f, emphasis added).  There will be exoneration, vindication, of the justice of God.  Even the condemned will have to acknowledge that the Judge of all the earth is right (cf. Gen. 18:25).  Some in their sin might now argue, “God wouldn’t condemn me for what I’m doing,” but in that day all unrighteousness has its reward (2 Pet. 2:13).

Numerous passages show it equally certain that there will be a gracious reward for the righteous.  “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” (Matt. 25:34).  “And whatsoever ye, do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Col. 3:24ff).

The fairness of divine justice is forcefully defined in Romans 2:6-11, which tells that God “will render to every man according to his deeds:  To them who by patient continuance in well doing see for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.”

Some say there will be several different judgment days with different classes of people judged on different occasions.  Is this true?

Not only do we have Jesus saying “all nations” would be before him (Matt. 25:31), we also find several occasions when he indicated that people living during the time of his ministry would be at the judgment with people who had lived centuries before them.  Tyre and Sidon had been destroyed around three centuries before, but they would be at the judgment with Chorazin and Bethsaida (Matt. 11:21).  Other texts show Sodom (about 2,000 B.C.) in judgment with Capernaum (Matt. 11:23f); people who heard Jonah (about 850 B.C.) in judgment with Jesus’ generation (Matt. 12:41); and the Queen of the South (around 1,000 B.C.) in judgment with the people of Jesus’ day.  After citing these points Roy H. Lanier, Sr. made the following observation:

“Surely no one will argue that these individuals, or these people of these particular cities of those generations will be in that judgment with generation or particular people to whom Jesus talked, but that no other individuals or cities of those generations will be in that judgment.  We have found five generations of five different nations, scattered over a period of nearly two thousand years, who are to be in the judgment, ‘in the day of judgment,’ together.  Who can show with any show of reason that all the nations from Sodom to Jesus will not be in that same judgment?  But if all the nations and generations from Sodom to Jesus will be in the judgment, ‘in the day of judgment,’ will not all nations of all times be in that judgment?  And if all nations of all times are in that judgment, that will include the nations living at the time of the coming of Jesus.  So we are forced to conclude that Jesus included all nations of all times when He said [‘Before him would be gathered all nations.’]”  (Twenty Years of the Problem Page, p. 99).