“So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar” (I Kings 34-35).
Joab met his end and Abiathar was removed from his position. Now Zadok alone, who had apparently been serving alongside Abiathar already, is priest.
And remember back when David was running from Absalom? Shemei was the guy who ran alongside them, cursing David and throwing rocks – see Second Samuel 16:5-14; he was also a relative of Saul. It was time to deal with this potential danger to Solomon’s rule.
So how did Shemei’s situation turn out? Solomon was a man of his word:
“The king also said to Shimei, ‘You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head.’ Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him. So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip” (I Kings 2:44, 46).
Shemei had known better than to leave Jerusalem – he’d been clearly warned: “Don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head’” (I Kings 2:36b-37).
But what had Shemei done? Obeyed for a while and then gotten over it: “But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem” (I Kings 2:39-40).
Solomon did exactly what he’d told Shemei he would do. Even though Shemei’s actions deserved death years before, Solomon showed him unwarranted mercy in simply allowing him to live; and the only thing that would change that would be if Shemei broke Solomon’s decree and left Jerusalem. Which he did.
People today are a lot like Shemei. Non-Christians and even Christians often mistake the Lord’s patience for a free pass. Oh, as Christians we may start out believing we’d better do things God’s way; but as time passes, we pick up “little” or “big” bad habits; then when nothing bad happens to us, after a while, we, like Shemei, begin to think it’s actually okay to do these things.
But it isn’t. And there will be a reckoning. In His great mercy, a Holy God gave His Only Son to free us from the bondage of sin; and any person who has accepted that covering is insulting the very blood of Jesus every time he behaves in any way contrary to how the Bible says we should.
Or to put it even more graphically, it’s spitting in the face of Jesus. When you know you shouldn’t lie and you do it anyway. When you gossip. When you bellyache. When you cheat.
If every time you or I started to do something wrong, we would picture ourselves spitting into the very face of Jesus, I don’t think we’d do it, do you?
Shemei got over the awesomeness of Solomon's mercy. May we never get over the awesomeness of God's.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates