Forgiveness is something I believe we all desire. I also believe forgiving is something we all can do more of. We try to teach our kids about it and we learn about it, however it can be difficult to put into practice.
Reading about King David at the time his son Absolom tried to steal the throne from him is a great place in the Bible to learn some practical tips about forgiveness.
As David was fleeing from Absolom, Shimei from Sauls clan approaches David and curses him and throws stones at him and his troops. He accuses David of being a murderer and stealing the throne from Saul. Putting a curse on the king is a sure fire way to be put to death. David chooses not to put him to death, and chooses to forgive him.
After Absolom was killed, David returned to the throne. Shimei was the first person to meet him at the gates asking for forgiveness for what he had done. David once again spares his life.
When David’s son Solomon became king, David warned him about Shimei. Solomon tells Shimei to build a house in Jerusalem and never leave the area…home detention of that day…however Shimei leaves a few years later chasing after some servants.
Solomon confronts Shimei about him leaving and not following his instructions, he was then put to death.
What can we learn about forgiveness from someone who was killed for his actions? Almost seems backwards.
I believe 4 lessons are learned here, 2 about how to forgive and 2 about how to be forgiven.
In part 1, lets look at how to forgive.
Lesson 1: Forgiveness is a choice
As the king, David had the power, authority, and the right to punish anyone who did what Shimei did. He chose instead to spare Shimei’s life and leave the situation to God.
When we follow God’s commands, we are able to give Him control and take the burden off of ourselves.
Colossians 3:13 NLT says:
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
God asks us to forgive others because He forgave us. This is a choice we have to make.
Lesson 2: Forgiveness does not mean you can be taken advantage of.
David spared Shimei’s life, however, he was wary of letting Shimei continue to abuse David’s belief in forgiving others. Shemei was the first to turn on David and the first to run back to him after Absolom was killed. David tells his son Solomon to keep an eye on Shimei for this very reason.
Just because you have forgiven someone, it does not mean you have to allow them to continue to hurt you. If a friend or family member steals from you, by all means, forgive them. However, it may be wise to not leave them alone in your house and allow them the opportunity to continue to steal from you.
Proverbs 22:3 HCSB says:
A sensible person sees danger and takes cover, but the inexperienced keep going and are punished.
Forgiving someone does not mean you can’t take sensible precautions to avoid them from hurting you again. Solomon did this by having Shimei move close by so he could keep an eye on him, knowing Shemei could turn on him and start a rebellion. A very sensible precaution from a wise king.
Now, Solomon gave Shimei a fair second chance and didn’t hold the mistake he made over his head.
Lets take these lessons and apply them to our lives. We have a choice to either forgive others or hold their mistakes over their heads. We also have the opportunity to be wise and protect ourselves from continued hurt.
Who do you need to forgive today?
Part 2 can be found here:Forgiveness Part 2