A messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom.” Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, “Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword.” But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went.
When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out whose name was Shimei son of Gera; he came out cursing. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. Shimei shouted while he cursed, “Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel! The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood.”
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on my distress, and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”
So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s first reading, one of David’s enemies is screaming at the mighty warrior king. The aggrieved man–Shimei–seems almost inconsequential as David’s assistant requests to immediately kill him. Given the standards of the ancient world, David should have surely ordered Shimei tortured and killed. Instead David shows mercy, and even seeks God’s presence in the struggle. Not only does David resist the temptation toward “just” retribution, but he also realizes that it is during times of trial that we can really become aware of God’s presence in our lives.
It is easy to wish away such difficult times of struggle in our lives, if we pause to become aware of God’s presence, we find solace, and even strength. Like David, we are invited to forgive, to let go of our need to protect our egos, and then to become aware of how God is working in our lives, most often through other people.
—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
Lord, grant us the strength we need in those times when we need it, the freedom to forgive when forgiveness is needed, and the awareness of your presence in our lives at all time. Amen
—The Jesuit Prayer team