Character In Crisis
Something interesting happens in times of crisis…true character is revealed. All pretense is put aside and the “true you” takes center stage. That’s never more evident than when David was temporarily disposed by his son, Absalom.
For nearly 25 years, Israel had been under David’s leadership. Now, Absalom supplanted his father and forced him to flee Jerusalem like a fugitive. Consistency and stability gave way to displacement and disorientation…it was crisis time. And the true colors of four characters are revealed in 2 Samuel 16.
Ziba (16:1-4). Fleeing Jerusalem, David meets Ziba along the way. Ziba looks like an ally at first by offering David provisions. But in reality, Ziba lies to David by telling him that Mephibosheth, whom David had shown special care and compassion towards, had turned against him.
Why did Ziba lie? About 22 years previously, David ordered Ziba and his family to take care of Mephibosheth, who was disabled. This probably wasn’t Ziba’s preferred lot in life, but when King David tells you to do something, you do it!
But now he has the chance to turn the tables and recover the years of sacrifice he lost for Mephibosheth’s sake. He lies to David about his master, and as he’d hoped, David grants him all of Mephibosheth’s possessions. But in lying, the truth about Ziba is revealed. He was dissatisfied with his place in life. He coveted something else, and was willing to hurt others to get it.
Shimei (16:5-8). David continues his flight, and now a man named Shimei comes out of the woodwork and starts hurling stones and curses at David. Not much is known about Shimei, but we do know that he was a descendant of Saul, whom David had displaced by God’s will.
Shimei must have seethed with resentment towards David for years. Rather than recognizing David as being God’s choice for the nation, Shimei focused on how his position was upset. His lineage was no longer in the place of power, and it festered and festered like a boil until crisis burst it open.
Abishai (16:9-10). One of David’s nephew’s who was accompanying him, Abishai, offers to go and kill Shimei. We can probably understand the offer, but it revealed a carnal character.
By “carnal”, we mean “natural”, “earthly”, “worldly”…we mean an attitude that only takes the natural realm into account. It’s sort of the perspective that we’re born with as we come into this place called earth…the standard our fallen world lives by, especially in times of crisis. But this carnal character contrasts with the character revealed in David.
David (16:11-12). Instead of accepting Abishai’s offer to kill Shimei, David tells him to hold-off. Why? Because David set his sights on the spiritual realities that Abishai couldn’t see.
David recognized that God was ultimately presiding over all that was unfolding in this time of crisis. Perhaps God was allowing this in order to teach David an important lesson. If so, he wanted to submit to it. Shimei was an unwelcome instrument, but David bowed beneath God’s hand holding the instrument.
Crisis revealed dissatisfaction in Ziba, resentment in Shimei, carnality in Abiahai, and spirituality in David. It showed who these people really were and you can take this to the bank; crisis will reveal who we really are, too. Which is a reason God allows crisis to occur in our lives…too reveal our true character.
What will it look like? Who will we resemble, Ziba, Shimei, Abishai, or David? Crisis will come, and when it does you will see the “true you”. But in the time leading up to crisis, we’re wise to submit to the Spirit’s work in making us more spiritually-centered, like David. Let’s yield to that process now, so we’ll be ready and unashamed when crisis comes.