An Early Pharisee
2 Samuel 19:21-23
Verse 21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the Lord’s anointed.”
Though the king and his people were happy to be accepted back to Jerusalem and the king was in a forgiving mood to the people who had been backing his son and then again to Shimei, there were those who were not as forgiving. One of David’s long time warriors couldn’t understand this mercy the king insisted on showing. Abishai had been there when Shimei had thrown the rocks and called out curses to David. In fact, Abishai had been the one who wanted to defend the king by cutting off Shimei’s head.
David and Abishai went way back. Abishai, being Joab’s brother, had been a part of David’s fighting men as the king ran from Saul. Abishai had even volunteered for a special mission. While Saul and his men were sleeping out in the open, David asked who was willing to sneak out among them with him. Abishai said he would go with the future king and they walked among all the sleeping soldiers and right up to the sleeping King Saul (1 Samuel 26:6-12).
Abishai’s whispered suggestion to David as they approached the sleeping king shows us he hadn’t matured much from those days of David being on the run. He wasn’t diplomatic as he was ready to kill whoever he felt was in David’s way. While this shows his great loyalty to David it also reveals how much his misunderstood the character of David as the man after God’s own heart.
In our reading today he is wanting to kill the man who had just repented in a very formal way in front of the king and his entire entourage. Shimei wasn’t asking to be placed in a place of honor in the kingdom, he was merely telling the king he understood he wasn’t worthy of the king’s forgiveness but that was all he was requesting. The king was willing to forgive but Abishai couldn’t let go of what had happened on their trip out of the city.
Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, Abishai couldn’t get past the past offenses and he couldn’t understand why forgiveness was more valuable than justice. We can easily fall into this trap as well. When someone wrongs us we often find it hard to forgive them and move past the hurt. We don’t understand our King’s command for us to forgive multiple times and not hold on to the offense. The irony is how we desire God’s mercy and grace instead of His judgment which we deserve.
Making It Personal
Who do you struggle to forgive even though they have apologized? Why do you have a hard time forgiving them? Do you desire God’s forgiveness for your sins?
Making It Personal Kids
Do you have someone you find hard to forgive? Why is it hard to forgive them? Does knowing Jesus forgives your sins help you know you need to forgive others?
Father, thank You for this reminder that we should be as willing to forgive others as You are to forgive us. Give us forgiving hearts. In Jesus’ name, amen.