«A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted» (Proverbs 12:16, NLT).
Shimei was a member of Saul’s family. He was a man full of resentment toward King David. For years he had despised the Hebrew monarch, constantly muttering against him. So on the day that Absalom went up against his father in the midst of a bloody revolution, Shimei celebrated the event. He enjoyed watching how the throne of David was staggering and hastened to encounter the king on the occasion of his escape from Jerusalem. «Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!» (2 Samuel 16:7, 8). Those who accompanied the king looked on with astonishment at the boldness of that man. «And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust» (2 Samuel 16:13). At last he could freely insult the one whom he hated so much! He expressed his deep resentment and hatred for David, mocking him in the midst of his own court.
The king did not react to Shimei’s insults. He allowed him to spew all his vileness and prevented his soldiers from attacking him. Did the ruler lose his authority by allowing such a type to insult him in public? No, rather, each one revealed his true character: «He had honored David upon his throne, but he cursed him in his humiliation. Base and selfish, he looked upon others as of the same character as himself, and, inspired by Satan, he wreaked his hatred upon him whom God had chastened. The spirit that leads man to triumph over, to revile or distress, one who is in affliction is the spirit of Satan»—Patriarchs and Prophets, ch. 72, p. 736.
David chose not to pay attention to the insults. Later, when Absalom’s rebellion was stifled, Shimei pleaded for mercy to the king, who gave him a conditional pardon.
The way we react to insults reveals our character. It’s not worth paying attention to vile people. Let them show what they are like. Don’t lose your dignity and keep your serenity at all times. Do not let an uncalled-for remark make you lose your good sense.