Difficulties are very interesting, especially extreme difficulties. Difficulties empower our enemies, known and unknown. They strengthen those who hate us, provide a platform for gleeful renunciation. When people think you’re finished they say horrible stuff about you, behind your back of course. But sometimes they say it to your face. This happened to David. When Absalom planned the coup against David not a few believed David was finished. Absalom had control of the army. What David had in the main was the brigade of guards – the Cherethites and Pelethites. Everything looked so hopeless. One guy definitely believed David was finished. His name is Shimei Gera. He openly cursed David as he fled the capital. It’s a bit understandable because he was from Saul’s tribe. Saul had played the ethnic card on a number of occasions. Shimei believed David stole the throne – “Get lost, get lost, you butcher, you hellhound! God has paid you back for all your dirty work in the family of Saul and for stealing his kingdom. God has given the kingdom to your son Absalom. Look at you now – ruined! And good riddance, you pathetic old man!” The guy followed David along the ridge of the hill alongside, cursing, throwing stones, kicking up dirt. You don’t do that unless you believe someone can’t make a comeback.
Contrast that with the loyalty of some friends. An advisor named Hushai risked limb and reputation to be at David’s service inside Absalom’s court. He was a double agent. And he proved most useful. He was able to buy time for David to escape. Then there was Ittai. He was an expatriate, newly arrived in Israel but he chose to risk it all and follow David. He took his entire family and followed David into exile. The pastors showed loyalty to David as well. Pastor Zadok and Pastor Abiathar decided to follow him with the Ark but David insisted the Ark be returned to Jerusalem. Their kids, Ahimaaz and Jonathan became spies for David. Those guys risked their lives. They would narrowly escape death. Then there was Shobi Nahash, another expatriate; and then Markir Ammiel, as well as Barzillai. These were millionaires. Between them they brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, butter, sheep, goats and cheese for David’s entourage. That’s like feeding a village. Barzillai was eighty years old at this time. That’s a huge political risk for a wealthy old man. His children would have become targets.
But here’s the thing about loyalty. It gets rewarded, and that’s a cosmic equation. None of those guys could ever imagine we’d be reading about them four thousand years down the line. They couldn’t have imagined there’ll be something called the Bible. Loyalty is rewarded. Unfortunately some people’s loyalty is no better than a politician’s. A politician’s loyalty is not worth two plies of toilet paper. It’s according to fortune. And talking about politicians that guy Shimei was a politician. As soon as David’s fortune changed Shimei was back. He came to beg. He will make a good African politician. “My Lord the king… (note the generous and sycophantic use of titles)…please forgive me. Forget the terrible thing your servant did when you left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. I know how much I sinned. That is why I have come here today, the very first person in Israel to greet my Lord the king.”
There are a lot of lessons to learn from this story. The first is that you have to accept the reality of the human condition. When you’re in power you’ll have many friends. The moment your fortune changes you’ll discover an inverse ratio. They’re gone! Then there’s the Shimei principle. When your fortune is restored those same people will be the first on your doorstep. Humans! One other thing we learn from this story is to stand by our friends when they’re in trouble. Loyalty is dutiful. If you don’t stand by your friend when he’s in trouble you can’t be a true friend. Adversity is the crucible of friendship. But people will rather judge than be loyal. It’s unfortunate and unchristian. How is judging your friend in the day of his calamity any useful? God is not going to come down from heaven. He uses agents. When your friend is in trouble you’re God’s agent to him. Because of your closeness you’re the shortest route to transmit compassion. Don’t stamp your friend’s heart into the dust by being disloyal, saying nasty things about his situation or engaging in what Germans call schadenfreude. In pidgin it means God don catch am! God is a God of compassion. Show loyalty to your friend in trouble, especially to those who were kind to you in YOUR time of trouble. Repay them with loyalty don’t be an ingrate. He that shows mercy will receive mercy.
But perhaps the biggest lesson is the picture of God that emerges. You see, what landed David in this mess was the judgment meted out to him for killing Uriah and taking his wife. But it’s the same God who restored David to the throne, and he ruined Absalom. 2 Samuel 17:14. The Greeks gave their gods portfolio names. If God were a Greek god he would definitely be called God of hopeless situations. He turned a hopeless situation around for David. I receive a fair amount of mail from people who can’t imagine God forgiving them for their sins, especially repeated sins. They feel so guilty they can’t pray, can’t go to church. Because they see their situation as hopeless they spiral into other sins. But was it not the same God who said WE should forgive people seventy times seven times a day? How much more him. No matter how much you sin never run away from God. Always go to him. God is more interested in relationship than in being Sango the god of thunder. Of course when you sin your conscience will trouble you. Satan won’t give you rest. There’s also the residual effect of sin even after we’ve asked for forgiveness. We’re less confident. But God says once we confess our sins everything is cool. And I think he has integrity.
You can’t imagine how loyal God is. This is someone who followed Joseph to jail. Genesis 39:23. David famously said even if he rented Airbnb in hell God would follow him there. Psalm 139:8. No matter the hopelessness of your situation God can turn it around, be it economic misfortune or a doctor’s diagnosis. It’s not just Sarah who defied gynecology. There are modern women who had only 1% chance of conceiving and they did. Don’t give up. If your child is giving you trouble don’t give up either. There’s a God who turns hopeless situations around. Would you like to meet him?
Please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org.When people think you’re finished they say horrible stuff about you. #Illuminare Click To Tweet Loyalty is rewarded. #Illuminare Click To Tweet A politician’s loyalty is not worth two plies of toilet paper. It’s according to fortune. #Illuminare Click To Tweet When you’re in power you’ll have many friends. The moment your fortune changes you’ll discover an inverse ratio. They’re gone! #Illuminare Click To Tweet Loyalty is dutiful. If you don’t stand by your friend when he’s in trouble you can’t be a true friend. #Illuminare Click To Tweet Adversity is the crucible of friendship. #Illuminare Click To Tweet People will rather judge than be loyal. It’s unfortunate and unchristian. #Illuminare Click To Tweet God is not going to come down from heaven. He uses agents. #Illuminare Click To Tweet When your friend is in trouble you’re God’s agent to him. #Illuminare Click To Tweet Show loyalty to your friend in trouble, especially to those who were kind to you in YOUR time of trouble. #Illuminare Click To Tweet Repay them with loyalty don’t be an ingrate. He that shows mercy will receive mercy. #Illuminare Click To Tweet No matter the hopelessness of your situation God can turn it around, be it economic misfortune or a doctor’s diagnosis. #Illuminare Click To Tweet Don’t give up. #Illuminare Click To Tweet There’s a God who turns hopeless situations around. Would you like to meet him? #Illuminare Click To Tweet