David’s sin was revisited by his children. (2 Samuel 13) His son Amnon raped David’s daughter Tamar. David let it go. His son Absalom killed Amnon. David let it go.
Then Absalom rebelled and seized Jerusalem. David had to flee. So we come to 2 Samuel 16 where David and his soldiers were riding along. Shimei went up on the hill next to the road. He went along cursing David and throwing stones, dirt and filth at David and the soldiers.
One of the soldiers offered to “go over and take off his head.” David answered, “Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.” (2 Samuel 16:11)
This is not just about how sins seem to come back generation after generation. Because they do we are to fight against sin so our children and grandchildren will not have our sins visit them. That is one lesson.
This is also about life without consequences, which seems to be what so many want. David committed just about the perfect crime. He was rebuked, but didn’t lose his throne. He didn’t fight against the sins of his children. And life went on. He seemed to have passed right by the consequences.
But can we live in a world without consequences? Even if we could get away with something would that be good? Finally it all came back to David. But what if it hadn’t?
If there are no consequences, then your actions don’t matter – they make no lasting difference. Life just goes on. The world continues. But you have lost something.
If your actions don’t matter, then you don’t either. Then you would have no value, and there would be no purpose or reason to your existence. Can you endure living in such a world? (The book “Crime & Punishment” by Dostoyevski, and the movie “Gameshow” talk about this.)
David found that it was unendurable. A world without consequences would be a world without God. Those who believe we live in a world without consequences believe that there is nothing after this life, no heaven, no hell and no soul. A world without God could only end in death, darkness and nothing. To act as if there were no consequences, as if there is no God to see and look at the rightness or wrongness of our lives, is to take into our soul the idea that we are meaningless. That idea is poison to us. It would destroy us.
Given the choice, David finally has to welcome the abuse he was getting from Shimei. He must have his actions matter. Even if it means being pelted with filth. For him and for us the alternative is unthinkable. It is a perilous thing for a Christian to ignore the Commandments and live as if they do not matter any more. They are the Word of God and we have no connection with God except through His Word.
Because God does live, a life without God is a life without faith and that life can end only in being separated from God. David had looked at that world (Psalm 51); and it was horrible – unendurable. Because God does exist, a life of faith is a life of meaning and purpose.