Can we truly UNDERSTAND the GREATNESS of God’s MERCY? "Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan. 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. 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.'…Therefore the king said to Shimei, 'You shall not die.' And the king swore to him." (2 Sam 19:18-20, 23)
Shimei is one of the characters in the Bible who does not evoke any sympathy for figuratively trying to ‘kick a man when he is down’. When King David was fleeing from Jerusalem on account of the rebellion of his son Absalom, Shimei had met with him at Bahurim. During this encounter, not only did Shimei curse continuously at David but he threw stones at the king and at his servants accompanying him. He also called David names like “bloodthirsty man” and “rogue” as he accused David of committing evil by shedding the innocent blood of King Saul and his family. He concluded in his diatribe that due to David’s crimes, God had now delivered his kingdom to his son Absalom (see 16:5-8).
We should not be surprised that Shimei chose to make such a vitriolic verbal assault at King David since he was a kinsman of Saul and may have held David responsible for the deaths of both Abner and Ishbosheth (3:21, 26, 28; 4:7-9, 12). As a resident of Bahurim, moreover, Shimei may have been upset by David’s treatment of Michal, Saul’s daughter, for it was there that her second husband was ordered to cease following her as she was being taken back to David (3:16). Shimei is correct that divine retribution plays a part in David’s distress, but it is not because of any injustice to the house of Saul. Rather, it was the result of David’s sin against Uriah and Bathsheba (12:11).
Now, after the death of Absalom, while David was returning back to Jerusalem to regain his kingdom, he encountered a delegation of Benjamites, members of Saul’s own household (19:16–20). Among them was Shimei, the same man who had stoned and reviled David earlier. During this encounter, Shimei fell down before King David and remorsefully admitted to him that he had been wrong to curse the king during his flight from Absalom. Shimei’s confession showed genuine repentance and godly sorrow as he added no excuse, self-justification, or explanation. Amazingly, David promised him amnesty, a merciful act that clearly had at least some political overtones. But David did not forget Shimei’s curses. He later ordered Solomon to deal ruthlessly with the foulmouthed Benjamite Shimei (1 Kings. 2:8, 9).
David’s treatment of Shimei showed that he was a merciful king having himself received mercy from God through the following prayer that he had made to God after committing adultery and murder: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions" (Psalms 51:1). Similarly, when Shimei admitted his wrong and pleaded for forgiveness, David graciously pardoned him and swore that he would not die. In doing so, David mirrored God’s mercy toward sinners who confess their sins to Him!
Let us understand clearly that mercy originates from God (2 Tim. 1:2), and our Lord Jesus is abundantly merciful (1 Tim. 1:2). God's mercy is evident in his providence towards all humans (Matt. 5:4-5) and His long-suffering towards everyone (2 Peter 3:9). God’s mercy is further demonstrated by allowing His only begotten Son to die for us on the cross of Calvary (1 Peter 1:18-19; Rom. 5:6-10). "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children" (Ps. 103:17).
Now God requires that we show mercy (Micah 6:8), and we imitate God’s mercy in our lives (Luke 6:36). When we show mercy to others, we will be rewarded by God one day (Matt. 5:7). Let’s understand the greatness of God’s mercy upon our lives today!
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." (Col. 3:12-13)