“Looking Up When Things Look Down”


And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, “See how my own son …seeks my life. How much more may this Benjamite. Let him alone and let him curse…It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will pay me with good for his cursing this day.” (2 Samuel 16:11b-12)

In the 16th chapter of 2 Samuel, King David is fleeing the city because his son, Absalom, has rebelled against him and taken the kingdom. As David and the large group traveling with him near the town of Bahurim, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, Shemei, comes out and curses David. Soon Shemei is hurling stones at David from the opposite hillside. David’s mighty men do not like this at all. One of them, Abishai, asks David if he can go over and “take off his (Shemei’s) head.”  David’s response is from such a different perspective than Abishai’s, it is worth taking a few moments to examine.

David looked at this situation from above:

David understood that anytime you are criticized, God has allowed it—“for so the Lord has ordered him (v11)”. God is not shocked by the angry people that threaten you and I. In fact, he has allowed them in our lives, for us to learn something. Unfortunately, as one writer said, “Most Christians had rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” Romans 5:4-5 tells us that we can glory in tribulation “knowing that tribulation produces patience: and patience, character; and character, hope. Now this hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.”

David looked about:

The insults of Shemei were nothing compared to the treason of his own son—“see how my own son…seeks my life (v11). David grasped the fact that all of this was happening as result of his poor example as a father and his sin with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 12:10). David also realized, Shemei was wrong about whom David was bloodthirsty towards, but he was not wrong about David having shed innocent blood. Paul wrote in Romans 7:18, “in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing.” Without submission to God, David was a bloodthirsty man.  Each of us, without submission to Jesus Christ, is no better than our critics say we are. If we really believed this of ourselves we would not be so quick to cut other people’s heads off when they insult us. We lose our grace when we forget who we are apart from Christ.


David looked ahead:

Since God had allowed this series of events in David’s life, his hope lay in what God may do in the future—“It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction…and repay me with good for this cursing this day (v12).” Our problem often lies in the reality that God may not do what I want him to do. What if the situation does not get better?  Know this, if you will remain faithful to the Lord in this life, it will be repaid to you in eternity.  Jesus said to the oppressed church in Philadelphia, “I will make them (those who afflict you) come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” No matter how hard it is, Jesus still loves you! And in heaven, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matt. 19:29-30).” The Apostle Paul, much mistreated by others throughout his life, wrote ”for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor.4:17).”


May the Holy Spirit grant you the ability to see your painful circumstance through the same lens that David saw his.  May your pain be overshadowed by the Presence of Jesus.


Pastor Mike



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