Jesus said that the servant is not above the master, and if our Master is Jesus, then we should expect to be both criticized and misunderstood. Perhaps criticism especially hurts for those in some kind of Christian service, but then again most everyone feels the sting from time to time.
Jesus was often criticized and misunderstood, and so was one of His most famous ancestors – King David. One notable occasion was from a coward named Shimei, who took advantage of a crisis in David’s life to make the king’s life even more miserable.
Shimei made several criticisms against David, all found in 2 Samuel 16:5-8. He continually cursed David, literally threw rocks at him, and accused him of being a bloodthirsty man who engineered the defeat of the house of Saul.
Shimei was wrong in all these accusations, but he was right in one thing – he said that it was the Lord who had brought all David’s present troubles upon him. This was true, but not for the reasons Shimei thought. God allowed David’s crisis as discipline and consequences after the scandal with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.
David’s friends – especially a military man named Abishai – wanted to cut off the head of Shimei. While that would have stopped the critical voice, it wasn’t right – and David said so. Ironically, if David were the bloodthirsty man Shimei said he was, Shimei would be dead. He let Shimei speak, and his reasons are a pattern for us when we are personally criticized.
David let Shimei speak because he saw the hand of God in every circumstance. David understood that God had a reason for allowing Shimei to curse and criticize the king the way that he did.
David let Shimei speak because he put the “Shimei problem” in perspective. David knew that his real problem was Absalom, not Shimei – and he did not lose this standpoint.
David let Shimei speak because he knew that God’s hand was on the future as well as the present. He said, “It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:12). David knew that if he did what was right in the present moment, God would take care of the future
There are times to fight back against personal criticism, but they are rare. We almost always think that attacking our critics is justified, but it rarely is. Jesus did defend His disciples and He did rebuke religious hypocrisy. Most of the time the criticism we face is personal, and we should follow the pattern of King David who endured public cursing and criticism. More importantly, the Son of David – Jesus Our Lord – endured silently, trusting His God and Father to justify Him.
Remember what Isaiah prophesied of Jesus: “And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Our sinless Savior was silent before His accusers. How much more should we who have sinned be humble in the face of personal criticism? Even if you are unjustly accused, remember that there are other things you could be accused of, but are not.
One of the great implications of the good news brought to us in Jesus Christ is that He is sinless and we are not. He justifies us and we do not justify ourselves. When we are personally criticized we face a great temptation to defend ourselves. It’s another opportunity to look to Jesus for justification and to rest in Him – loving our enemies and finding blessings even when others say evil things against us for the sake of Jesus (Matthew 5:11).