Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself. 2 Samuel 16:9-14.
As David flees Jerusalem, all sorts of mischief take place that accompanies a transition of power in ancient times. A man named Ziba brings provisions for David while telling a lie about his master, Mephibosheth, claiming he is also after David’s throne. Ziba says this to gain favor and David awards him Mephibosheth’s property on the spot. Mephibosheth is actually loyal to David, even though he is grandson of the last king, Saul. Meanwhile, another one of Saul’s relatives hurls rocks at David and curses him. David declines his man’s offer to behead the offender because God may be using the man to punish him.
This extreme caution during a tumultuous time says as much about his guilty conscience as it does about his pious concern for making a grave mistake at this time. It is interesting that he does not call for the Ephod and seek a word from God, but presumes his own guilt. Yet, he is open to God vindicating him.
We often have the same ambivalence. We forget how God has restored us and fear that He may be settling scores with us still. We doubt the authority He has given us and fear using it. We don’t ask God because we fear the answer.
Fear is what made Adam hide from God. Fear is what made Abram give his wife to Abimelech, and to Pharoah. Fear is what made the entire army back down to Goliath. David is having a crisis of faith here, yet God will restore him again.