Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse does not come to rest. (Proverbs 26:2 NIV)

David and his loyal supporters were forced to leave Jerusalem during the rebellion of his son Absalom. They escaped by the east, through the wilderness. But as they crossed the Kidron Valley and headed up the Mount of Olives and moved east there came a tormentor, Shimei, who cursed David. Shimei had belonged to the house of Saul and had never accepted David as king, even though Samuel the prophet had anointed David.

One of David’s faithful warriors offered to go over and kill Shimei, but David told him not to. “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone…” (2 Sam 16:11). David was brokenhearted because it was his own son who was seeking his kingdom and his life. He must have felt like a failure as a father, perhaps even as a king, for Absalom had organised his rebellion under David’s nose. Yet David put his life in God’s hands.

In a short while the rebellion was defeated, Absalom was killed, and David was restored as king, and Shimei begged his forgiveness, which he received. The curses did not come to rest. David’s example here, his calmness under accusation and false condemnation, his willingness to entrust his life into God’s hands, is an example to us all. He had the character to consider that his accusers and his critics might have a point or two. But if it was undeserved, then God would not let it come to rest.

God’s people are often subject to false accusations – partly false or entirely false. I have known several men and women in my churches over the years who have endured scathing accusations that were entirely false. I have known several who were falsely accused of sexual misconduct, even molestation, dishonesty in money matters, or the abuse of authority, and other matters. Though most of these cases took some time for the truth to be brought out, in each case the undeserving curse or the false accusation did not rest on the person in the end. The witness to their integrity and to their character in the end won out.

We are wise to be careful with matters of personal conduct, to make sure we do the right thing and to make sure that we do not give people cause or excuse to make false accusations. I have often told my young staff members, “You cannot prevent people from shooting at you, but you do not need to buy their ammunition.” But none of us can be 100% sure that false accusations will not come, and we might suddenly be left friendless under a cloud of suspicion, at least for a while.

I believe the attitude that the proverb above and the example of David teaches us is that life should be lived before God, not before people. Walk daily with God and you will live confidently. This means that our greatest concern should be what God thinks of our thoughts, our attitudes, and our decisions and actions. God can help us in our daily life. He works behind the scenes in ways we do not know to protect his people, to provide for them, and to bless them. We should not be overly concerned about what others say, or what lies the rumour factories produce.

People are fickle, unpredictable, subject to rash judgments, and quick to believe the worst and find fault with good men and women. If our first goal in life is to please people, we will never achieve it and we will live in fear and insecurity. If our goal is please God, then everything else will fall into place. Christ said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

So do not worry about what others say about you. Kipling called “triumph and disaster,” or success and failure, “two imposters,” and certainly he was right. We should not make too much of either in our life, nor in the lives of others. Let us live our life for an audience of One – for God and for God alone.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

 

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It seems fitting to share this classic poem of Rudyard Kipling here:

“If”

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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