King David was a peace loving man, but he had much trouble in his life. There is not always an explanation when trouble comes into the believer’s life. Few believers go through this life without some trouble. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world, you shall have tribulation (trouble): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. Nevertheless, God never sends trouble for no purpose, but always with a view to sanctification in the case of the believer. It may have an element of chastisement in it, it may not, and the question often the believer has when being tried is, ‘Is this chastisement, or is it not?’
In the case of David in 2 Samuel 16, he knew very well that the trouble he was experiencing was chastisement at the hand of God. Did this make the trial easier to bear? No; in fact it made it much harder to bear because he knew the explanation.
David had grievously sinned against God in committing adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite, while the latter was away with the army defending his country. Then, when David found out that Bathsheba had conceived he tried to cover up his sin, but it did not work. He then arranged the death of Uriah in battle, and took his widow, Bathsheba, to be his wife, so that people would think that the child was his.
But he could not hide his sin from God. God sent Nathan the prophet with a message for David. Firstly, that he had seriously sinned against God; secondly, that he would never be free from battles and bloodshed; thirdly, that one of his own family would rise up against him, and that he would have to flee from him; fourthly that God had forgiven his sin; fifthly that the child would die. All this was, in due time, painfully fulfilled for him.
We are presently dealing with the fulfillment of the third of these promises. Absolom, David’s son, led a rebellion against his own father with a view to usurping the throne. David was forced to flee with a few faithful men. We have a description of part of that very sad scene in 2 Samuel 16:5-13. One of Absolom’s men, Shimei by name, came and threw stones and insults at David. One of David’s men offered to go after him and kill him, but David’s response was, No. He turned down the offer and commanded that Shimei be left to continue cursing David, and he gives the reason, “Let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David”, (verse 10). This was a very strange thing to say, until we join it up to the sentence pronounced on David through Nathan the prophet in chapter 12. Then we realise that David was in the depths with conviction of sin. It was all a reminder to him of his grievous sin, and God’s sentence upon him for that sin. God was using a wicked man to be His ‘hand’ in his chastisement. How exceedingly painful! One of the many lessons that we learn from this whole story is the very important one: God sometimes uses wicked men to achieve His purposes in the sanctification of His people. So, our respose to the wicked when they assault and abuse us, must not be revenge, but an acceptance that they may be ‘the hand of God’. We must always in such situations, ask the question, ‘Is God in this?’ We may have to wait for the answer, but in due time it will come. In the believer’s life, nothing is for nothing.