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Being Big Enough to Forgive
Scripture: Psalms 40:1-2, 12; 2 Samuel 16:5-12; 2 S...
Track 17 of 19 in the David: A Man After God's Heart series
Running time: 58 minutes, 28 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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I hope as we worked through the life of David I was able to not only share with you scripture but show you that it has tremendous value when it comes to shaping your own life. My desire is not have you come away with just biblical facts and knowledge, but to see David as a real person and then to see the comparisons and opportunities in your own life so that you emulate the qualities that made him a man after God’s own heart.

One of the qualities that always stayed with David was the quality of a forgiving spirit. You can say a lot about David faults; and he had many, but the most difficult quality to acquire is the natural ability to forgive. One would think that would be the easiest ability to develop and understand especially if you are a Christian. One of the essential qualities of God that we totally depend on is his total forgiveness for the things we did in the past and the assurance of the forgiveness on things we will do in the future. But we know from experience, developing the forgiving spirit is by far the hardest quality to acquire.

When you think of forgiveness, what images or ideas come to mind? What emotional feelings are involved with the concept of forgiveness? (From the viewpoint of the person doing the forgiving and the person receiving the forgiveness)

Forgiveness is not that stripe which says, "I will forgive, but not forget." It is not to bury the hatchet with the handle sticking out of the ground, so you can grasp it the minute you want it. Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899)

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the one who crushed it. Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Only one petition in the Lord's Prayer has any condition attached to it. It is the petition for forgiveness. Sir William Temple (1628-1699)

But man has his own way of forgiving that is not like the way God forgives. Instead of complete forgiveness, we opt for three other responses:

Conditional forgiveness: I will forgive IF… or I will forgive AS SOON AS… If you come back and make things right, I will forgive you. The picture of this kind of forgiveness is like the waiting tiger, swishing his tail. You make your move and I’ll determine whether it’s time to back away or pounce and eat you.

Partial Forgiveness: I forgive you but don’t expect me to forget. I forgive you but just get out of my life. There are a lot of people who are willing to forgive…just so we don’t have to see them again.

Delayed Forgiveness: I’ll forgive you but give me some time. Someday, sometime I’ll follow through, I’ll forgive you. This is the most common reaction of someone who has been deeply hurt…and has nursed that hurt over or many years.

Here is a fact we need to realize very quickly. It is a fact that is the difference between moving on in life with freedom or living a life in a personal prison. Forgiveness isn’t just about the other person; it is also about us.

True or false: As we practice the work of forgiveness we discover more and more that forgiveness and healing are one.

What does holding grudges, refusing to totally forgive do to a person over time?

Don't carry a grudge. While you're carrying the grudge the other guy's out dancing. Buddy Hackett

Resentment, David had a lot of reasons to be feeling resentment as he had to flee for his life from his own son Absalom. Here is the man David who just recently had everything in the world going for him. And in a few short years the high life slipped into the low life. One would say David was living in the low ebb of time. If anyone had the temptation to feel resentment, David was the man. David writes in Psalms 40 just how he was feeling during these hard years.

Psalm 40:1-2; 12 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.

David is in the “pit of destruction”. Have you ever felt like that? Of course we all have at some point in our lives. Can you imagine at that moment, right when you feel the lowest, right when you are at the place you are the most desperate, a friend comes along, puts an arm around you and then allows you to cry out all the depression, anger and deepest stress that is inside. How refreshing that would be. But that is not what happens to David.

Last week we talked about the sheltering trees, the real friends who come to our rescue when we are in danger of collapse. David runs into another man during his flight from Absalom. His name is Shimei. He was not a sheltering tree.

2 Samuel 16:5-8 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!”

Have you ever met a person like Shimei before? Describe for me what people like Shimei are like? When normally do these types of people show up? Be honest, what would you like to do with these types of people when they intersect your life? What would you expect your close friends to do? We all have close friends and we all have had times when we shared with our friends the evil others have done to us. What types of advice do you normally get from them when someone has really wronged you or done something evil against you? What would you expect?

2 Samuel 16:9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”

Does this sound familiar? Oh, we might not say things or do things like that today, but we do have other ways of acting out the same thoughts. In modern terms, what have your advisors recommended when you have been deeply hurt? Look at the insults Shimei threw out at David. Has David done anything to warrant these insults? Is he telling the truth and why would he use this time to hurl the insults at David? Basically, the insults thrown at David also contain 3 lies.

David now has choices. He is faced with all sorts of options in the face of this insulting attack. Ask yourself, If you were David, what choices would you be facing and which choice would you most likely chose?

The sons of Zeruiah were notorious in scripture to be guys with very short fuses. They were very loyal to David but they were also quick to react to any response. Maybe that is why David had them around him and relied on them for friendship and protection. But they also were men who could give David bad advice at times. This was one of those moments. We can see here the depth of growth David had since the time he was confronted by a similar situation. The man Nabal did far less of an insult toward David way back in our earlier studies of David. At that time David was willing to wipe out Nabal’s entire household and would have done so had it not been for the wise reaction of Nabal’s wife Abigail that stopped David.

2 Samuel 16:10-12 But the king said, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.”

What is wrong with our society today that we are so thin skinned? Have you ever witnessed a period of time in this countries history where people get offended so easily anymore? What are the things today that people can say that get us so riled up and at each others throat? Is there a place in our Christian lives for thin skin? What type of skin does the Christian life demand? Rhinoceros skin!

If we want to be affective for God in this world, we can expect to get punched around and punched around. If your spiritual skin is so delicate that you come up crying every time you get a pin prick, then you will fail in your mission as a Christian. Christianity is a tough business and it isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires toughness of spirit. There are thousands of Shimeis out there just ready and waiting to tear you down if you let them. The best weapon against them is forgiveness.

When you forgive you in no way change the past-but you sure do change the future. Bernard Meltzer

Do you agree with this statement? Think back in your past to the times when you were insulted, offended, rudely treated, spit upon by someone’s actions against you, how would forgiveness change the future for you?

Let’s jump ahead a little in our story. Absalom is now dead and David’s throne has been restored to him. Absalom’s brutal death was not the way David wanted the story to end but it did and David was dealing with it. He is in the process of moving his things back over the Jordon River towards Jerusalem. David is looking forward to being back in the palace and his coronation ceremony. Everyone is in a good mode including David. He went from his lowest time in life back to the mountaintop. Wouldn’t you know it, Shimei shows up.

2 Samuel 19:16-20 Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king and said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. For I your servant knows that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.”

Do you have any idea what the three hardest words in the English language are to say? I have sinned? Where have we heard these words before? A few years earlier David said the same words to Nathan the prophet when he sinned with Bathsheba. Forgiveness comes easier when we times in our own past when we failed and were forgiven.

The worst sin toward other fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. George Bernard Shaw

Can someone tell me what “indifference” means. The best definition I heard was RAGE controlled. How is indifference worse that hate?

2 Samuel 19:21-23 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the LORD’S anointed.” David replied, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? This day you have become my adversaries! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Do I not know that today I am king over Israel?” So the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king promised him on oath.

We can learn a very valuable lesson from David’s forgiveness of a reptile like Shimei. How did David do that? First he kept his vertical focus clear. He looked at the situation from God’s perspective. Second, David was very much aware of his own failure. Because David didn’t let his emotions cloud his clear judgment, he was able to forgive and forget.

Let’s close by looking at some sound advice on how we can help ourselves forgive others:

1. Cultivate a thicker layer of skin. We need to ask God for help in not being so sensitive, so thin-skinned about what happens to us or is said to us that offends us. Ask God for Rhino skin. This helps us not lose our balance. There is nothing worse when the slightest bump knocks us to the floor. Be tough and if you do get knocked down, quickly get up and continue on. Don’t be a Christian wimp.

2. We can try to understand where the offender is coming from. This requires a lot of grace but Jesus gives us a lot of grace also when we mess up. Do you know why God gives us grace; it prevents rash and emotional reactions. This helps us not to make the situation more complicated than it already is. Putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes (grace) helps us to be objective about their reaction.

3. We need to remember the time when we needed forgiveness and apply the same emotion. We pardon to the degree that we love.

4. We need to verbalize our forgiveness. Say it, don’t just think it. Spoken words of forgiveness and graciousness are wonderfully therapeutic to the offender.

Too often we respond in the wrong way, we use silence, resentment, grudge, indifference, even use the verbal back-stabbing. Unfortunately in most situations, that is the common most used weapon. All of these tactics don’t work nor do they please God.

Our forgiveness from God is dependent on our willingness to forgive. If we don’t forgive others, how can God forgive us?