One of the sorrows in our society is road rage, where angry motorists hurl vulgar gestures or make physical threats toward other motorists. SafeMotorist.com reports that:
· 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.
· Half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive behavior, such as horn honking, rude gesticulations, or tailgating admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves.
· Over a seven year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage.
An incident happened in 2 Samuel 16, where a comparison to our modern road rage might be made. King David was having a bad day. On top of all the problems he had to resolve as king, his own son Absalom had stirred an insurrection against him. Escaping confrontation, David took his household on a road trip that crossed through the Kidron Valley.
While leading the retreat, David encountered the belligerent Shimei. Not only did Shimei belittle the king, he began to shout vulgarities at David, kick up dust, and throw stones! Though David’s bodyguards wanted to kill Shimei, David showed mercy.
But years later, when David was on his deathbed (1 Kings 2:8), he instructed Solomon to deal with Shimei. Solomon gave Shimei reasonable conditions under which he could remain alive. But because Shimei was so recalcitrant, he stubbornly violated Solomon’s directive and was executed by Benaiah (1 Kings 2:46).
Like drivers who commit road rage, Shimei made a dangerous situation worse. People like Shimei scorn authority, jeer at mercy, and reject wisdom. And that kind of response makes a miserable society.
In many ways, America has taken on the identity of Shimei. We are quick to ridicule others, even as we commit similar offences ourselves. And voicing obscenities has become epidemic. You even see profanity in the comment section of Christian online articles. Is there no shame?
As a pastor, I have received criticism. Sometimes it was an unsigned letter in the mail, or a terse email. Occasionally, someone lurked in the shadows after a service, waiting to confront me on an issue that bothered them. Rarely did they follow the Biblical guidelines that Jesus taught for resolving issues (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15-16).
Further, we learn in James 1:19-20, that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. When we do speak, we should only speak in love (Ephesians 3:15). And finally, resolve the issues by freely forgiving the offense (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32).
Jesus said in Matthew 6:14 NIV, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” These are sobering words. We cannot continue to shout profanities, kick up dust, and throw rocks, and expect the blessing of God to be in our lives.
Shimei was wrong and met his fate. Let us learn from him and do better.