Studying the life of David helps us to see that he is a real man with real struggles, who went through some real issues. At HRBC we have been studying David on Wednesday nights for nearly a year and it has been a great opportunity to see that we can learn from his life and grow to become more of a man, or woman, after God’s own heart. One of the qualities of David that we should have a desire to emulate is a forgiving spirit.
What does it mean to have a forgiving spirit?
This quality is probably one of the hardest to acquire and instead of fully forgiving most people opt for one of three different responses:
1. Conditional Forgiveness
“I will forgive you if…” “I will forgive you as soon as…” “If you own up to your part of the problem, then I will forgive you.” Most of us take the wait and see attitude instead of the complete forgiveness.
2. Partial Forgiveness
“I forgive you, but don’t expect me to forget.” Or, “I’ll forgive you, just get you out of my life.” Or, “I’ll forgive you until that happens again.” There are a lot of people we are willing to forgive…just so we don’t have to see them again.
3. Delayed Forgiveness
“I’ll forgive you, but just give me some time. Someday, sometime I’ll follow through, I’ll forgive you.” This is a common reaction by someone who has been deeply hurt, and has nursed that hurt over the years.
Most of us would rather sit on the judgment seat than the mercy seat. We would rather watch the person who wronged us live an uncomfortable life and squirm than smile in relief. However, the lack of forgiveness leads the person holding back that forgiveness down a path of misery….offense to resentment to hatred to grudge to revenge. In order to stop the cycle, you must deal with forgiveness at the offense level.
David went through an extremely difficult time when his son, Absalom, exercised a mutany and took over the kingdom. David was definitely at a low in his life. A time that can be compare to when Saul was pursuing him to take his life. Pastor and author, Chuck Swindoll, wrote in his book entitled David that perhaps this might be when David wrote this text…
Psalm 40:1-2, 12
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. 2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps
12 For innumerable evils have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; They are more than the hairs of my head; Therefore my heart fails me.
And while David is down in the dumps, a man named Shimei shows up and takes advantage of him.
2 Samuel 16:5-8
5 Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! 8 The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!”
Someone comes to David’s defense…2 Samuel 16:9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”
There is always someone like that around to boost your ego….”You don’t have to take that!” “Stand up and take up for yourself!” “Don’t let them walk all over you!” “You should do this…or that!” Sound familiar?
2 Samuel 16:10-12
10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ” 11 And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”
Here is a truth we can learn here in the midst of David’s pain: If you hope to be used by God, you must have thick skin. You must not take attacks personally.
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Evil thoughts and evil actions do not originate from humans, but humans choose to promote these things. If you truly approach situations this way then you will begin to see people with the eyes of Christ. How easy is this to do? This is very difficult, but when you are called into a leadership position, if your love for people does not overshadow your need for total agreement, or your need for total acceptance, and if you don’t have thick skin then you will not last long in that role. You have to ask yourself, “Am I going to be and remain offended, or not? Am I big enough to forgive, or will I reduce myself to their size and sling rocks back at them?”
Jumping ahead in the story we again see Shimei after Absalom’s death and David is moving back to Jerusalem to take his rightful place on the throne of Israel.
2 Samuel 19:16-23
16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hastened and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king. 18 Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good.Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan. 19 Then he said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart. 20 For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.” 21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?” 22 And David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?” 23 Therefore the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king swore to him.
Shimei said the three hardest words in the English language, “I have sinned.” David must have remembered that it wasn’t that long ago that he said those same words before Nathan the prophet and before God while facing his own sin of adultery and murder. When you get in those situations can you remember…but for the grace of God there go I? When was the last time you were in Shimei’s shoes? 100% in the wrong. You said something, or did something that offended someone and you know you were completely wrong. Coming to that individual to ask for an apology is not an easy thing to do. In fact, usually, we just ignore our wrongs and hope they go away. And then there is Abishi again. “This man kicked you and treated you wrong when you didn’t deserve it. Why not give him what he deserves?” But, David shows us how a Man after God’s own heart deals with someone who is asking forgiveness.
Here’s how David did it…
- He kept his vertical focus clear.
- He was aware of his own failure….the humbled forgiven make good forgivers.
The proud have a hard time forgiving. Those who have never recognized their own failures have a tough time tolerating, understanding, and forgiving the failure of others.
Here is how we can cultivate forgiveness in our own lives…
1. Cultivate a thicker layer of skin.
We can do this by depending upon the Armor of God (Ephesians 6)
2. Try to understand where the offender is coming from.
Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes and you will find out just how many stones are in their shoes. What did Christ say as they were crucifying Him? (Luke 23:34)
3. We should recall times in our lives when we have required forgiveness and apply the same emotion.
4. We need to verbalize our forgiveness.
Say it, don’t just think it.
Our typical human response to offense is to try all the wrong things: silence, resentment, grudge, indifference, even plotting a way to maneuver and manipulate to get our offender in a vulnerable spot so we can twist the verbal knife, once we plunged it in. None of this pleases God…nor does it work!