When David was passing along the kingship mantle to his son Solomon, he told Solomon about some people. Of course, David begins his final words to his son with an admonition to follow the Lord. We would expect that from David. It would be the right and appropriate thing to do. But what comes next seems odd to me.
David told Solomon about three different people — actually two people and one family. David reminded Solomon about how Joab had killed two of his commanders and how Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, had cursed David. He told Solomon to deal with them according to his wisdom. In fact, of Shimei David said, “You shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” (1 Kings 2:9)
David, what were you thinking? What an awful legacy to leave your heir-to-the-throne son. [Cue the mob boss voiceover] “Take care of these guys. They caused me problems, and I ain’t never forgotten it. Get rid of ’em.”
One of the things I so love about God’s Word is that it doesn’t gloss over real-life situations. We see the good, the bad and the ugly. And this is one ugly situation.
Let’s rewind for a minute and play this scenario back differently. What if we rescript it so that David doesn’t hold the grudges? What if he had chosen to simply forgive? Would that make a difference in how the story plays out?
Of course it would! Instead of passing the baton that has the “get rid of ’em” instructions attached, he could have handed Solomon a clean slate. David still could have told of the family he wanted Solomon to take care of, the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, the family that had showed him kindness. But he certainly didn’t need to make Solomon into his henchman, his retaliator. Solomon should not even have been involved in those disputes. Yet he was, because David held a grudge. He refused to let it go and forgive.
Unforgiveness will definitely hurt the one who refuses to forgive. But it may also affect others if they’re dragged into that unforgiveness scenario. The better choice is to forgive.