Now Israel had fled, each to his tent. 9 And all the people were quarreling throughout the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king rescued us from the [i]hands of our enemies and saved us from the [j]hands of the Philistines, but now he has fled out of the land from Absalom. 10 However, Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now then, why are you silent about bringing the king back?”
11 Then King David sent word to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the word of all Israel has come to the king, even to his house? 12 You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? May God do so to me, and more so, if you will not be commander of the army [k]for me continually, in place of Joab.’” 14 So he turned the hearts of all the men of Judah as one man, so that they sent word to the king, saying, “Return, you and all your servants.” 15 The king then returned and came as far as the Jordan. And the men of Judah came to Gilgal in order to go to meet the king, to escort the king across the Jordan.
16 Then Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite who was from Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they rushed to the Jordan before the king. 18 Then they crossed the shallow places repeatedly to bring over the king’s household, and to do what was good in his sight. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king as he was about to cross the Jordan. 19 And he said to the king, “May my lord not consider me guilty, nor call to mind what your servant did wrong on the day when my lord the king went out from Jerusalem, so that the king would [l]take it to heart. 20 For your servant knows that I have sinned; so behold, I have come today, the first of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.” 21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah responded, “Should Shimei not be put to death for this, the fact that he cursed the Lord’s anointed?” 22 David then said, “What [m]is there between you and me, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be an adversary to me today? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? For do I not know that I am king over Israel today?” 23 So the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” The king also swore to him.
It’s an interesting dynamic here, to see David waiting for Israel to take him back as king. But when you remember that all of Israel had rallied behind Absalom, it’s not so surprising. David wanted to know that if he took back the kingdom, it would be at the request of his subjects. He was no tyrant, to take power by force.
So we see in his dealings with Shimei, who cursed David as he left for exile. While custom decreed that Shimei must die, David was not willing that anyone who received him back as king should die.
Not unlike our own King, who we have all disobeyed, and some have cursed repeatedly. He is not willing that any should die, not when there is a chance that we might return and put Him in His rightful place as King of our hearts.
While David showed incredible understanding and grace with Shimei, how much more so does God shower us with grace and mercy. We are undeserving of His favor, deserving of death instead. That God should look on us with favor and call us His children is beyond comprehension, but He does it anyway.