Proverbs & Rebukes: Whom Should You Not Rebuke? (Part 1)
November 15, 2019
November 15, 2019
Years ago, someone challenged me to start reading 1 chapter of Proverbs every day. I took them up on that challenge, and I have been doing this now for several years.
When you first come to the book of Proverbs, you may think it’s a little bit scattered or unorganized. The subject keeps changing so quickly! But a careful, persistent, disciplined reader will begin to pick up on themes. One such theme is rebuke. A key principle in Proverbs deals with whom you should NOT rebuke. There are some types of people that Proverbs say, “Do not rebuke them.”
So, here’s the first of two blog posts on who NOT to rebuke.
You should not rebuke a mocker.
Proverbs 15:12 says, A mocker doesn’t love one who corrects him; he will not consult the wise.
The Bible is full of stories of rebuke. Rebukes spoken. Rebukes received. Rebukes deserved. Rebukes undeserved.
One fascinating rebuke story tells the conflict of David vs. Shimei. Found in 2 Samuel 16, King David had been on the throne of Israel for many years, but now he is running from his own son Absalom. Absalom is leading a rebellion with his tens of thousands of troops. They are chasing David with the intention of killing him. David and a small band of loyal followers are leaving Jerusalem because they do not want the coming battle to take place in the city.
At this low point in David’s life, one of King Saul’s relatives shows up, and he is not going to encourage him on the way. His name is Shimei. I can see Shimei walking along the ridge overlooking the narrow valley where David and his followers are fleeing. Shimei mocks David, “The Lord is paying you back, you man of blood! All the terrible things that happened to Saul and his family are your fault and now it’s your turn!”
Shimei rebukes David. He curses him. He throws rocks at him! The Scriptures say that he kicked up the dust. He was being terribly disrespectful to God’s anointed. How did David respond to this rebuke? Did he rebuke him?
One of David’s relatives was with him, his cousin Abishai. Abishai is angry. I can relate to Abishai because I believe if I had been there, I would have been just as mad as Abishai. He says, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the King? David, let me go over and “gently” separate his head from his body!” Abishai is rightly angry. Who is Shimei that he would curse the Lord’s anointed? I agree with him. Shimei did deserve to die for this treason. How does David respond?
David responds with a rebuke of his own. But it is not to Shimei, it’s to Abishai! David tells Abishai, “Cool your jets. Calm down. Let the Lord sort this out.” David recognized the sovereignty of God and acknowledges the possibility that maybe God sent Shimei to curse him. David does not respond to the mocker. He doesn’t waste his words or his attention. He does rebuke his cousin Abishai. Why? Because unlike Shimei, Abishai has the character to learn from this situation. David knew that there was a good possibility that Abishai would listen to the rebuke and learn.
Put yourself in David’s sandals; would you have been more likely to rebuke Shimei or Abishai? The next time you feel ready to rebuke, take a moment and remember the story of David and Shimei.
Kevin is a Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.