“And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the Lord, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good. Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the Lord, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?” —1 Kings 2: 42–43
We have in this chapter the setting forth of a kingdom like unto the kingdom of heaven. Solomon himself in some ways is a type of the king that is to be, the millennial king, rich in splendor, in buildings, in authority and might, all those things that go to show success and to show power. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to set up His millennial throne at Jerusalem, there to rule with a rod of iron, there will be a time of bloodshed, but after the nations are judged, it is no longer to be a time of strife, but a time of blessing, of peace, of affluence,—a time of joy and plenty.
This Millennial season is also a type of Jesus Christ setting up His kingdom in our hearts, overcoming our enemies and ruling in victory and in peace, reigning supreme over our flesh, dwelling in our hearts in such measure, in such blessing, in such glory that we are radiant with His presence. Before He can reign, enemies must be put out.
A Subtle Enemy
Aggressive enemies would very quickly have been put out of Solomon’s kingdom; but here is a man who has in his heart a subtle wickedness. Solomon has been lenient with him, and has said, “I will let you live if you will promise to stay inside of Jerusalem; but the day that you go out I will put you to death.” The king did not want Shimei to go outside and stir up an intrigue, but allowed him to remain in Jerusalem.
It is dangerous to compromise. David’s greatest danger came to him through his sons. One sat in the gate of the city, and there was no reason why he should not. He could have said, “My father is on the throne and I have a right to sit in the gate,” but he started a rebellion against his father. David had to let the army go out and pursue Absalom, and you remember how he died. Eli had some sons who were very close to him, and he did not judge them for their wrong-doing. He let his sons live in a worldly way that did not become the children of a priest, and God had to judge him and the sons.
The same lesson is taught in the story told by the prophet to King Ahab, how, while he was busy here and there, he had let the prisoner of war whom he was guarding slip away. When the king said any such man must die for his carelessness, the prophet informed him that he had voiced Ahab’s own punishment. God told Ahab to utterly destroy his enemy, he disobeyed, God held him to account for it and the judgment fell upon Ahab.
Now, if we are to have the blessing in our lives of Jesus reigning as king, He must have undisputed sway. There must be no compromise. By compromise I do not mean that you say, “I will lie a little, or steal a little,” I do not mean that kind of sin—I mean some little habit in your life, some peculiarity of disposition which you condone. God has told you of that little enemy time and time again, but you do not slay it utterly, do not sit in judgment of that particular part of your nature. Then God has to judge you as a Christian because of that.
Solomon said, “I do not want to kill this fellow. I will let him remain on a compromise, and say, ‘Old fellow, you can stay if you will stay within the bounds.’” Are you saying to something in your nature, “You can stay if you will stay within the bounds?” God has said that must be slain utterly, but you are allowing it to stay around and it is going to spoil your kingdom.
A Supreme Ruler
In the passage before us the foremost thought is, the kingdom is to be established and Solomon is to be supreme. If ever there was a supreme ruler it was Solomon. Everything was subdued before him. God showered him with all the outward blessings. God was always true to Solomon. He gave him great wealth, He gave him influence and wisdom, so that no man could surpass him in wisdom who lived before his time, or afterward. You must not consider the glory of Solomon from men’s side. God was true to Solomon, even if Solomon was not true to God.
If you examine a Christian’s life you will see things out of place and wrong, but if you look at that life for the Christian years, and look at God’s side of it, you would rejoice because you could see God’s grace was perfect. God never slipped once. Do not mix the things that God showered upon Solomon with what Solomon gave back to God.
God showered upon Solomon, but Solomon went wrong and was rotten at the end. He started out wonderfully well, and was an example of what God can do in the blessing and glory; but if God is to continue to reign in your life, everything contrary to His will must be put aside and the return shower of love and victory must be full.
Shimei had been untrue to David and would be untrue to Solomon. He was ungrateful for the mercy of God and had a sneer upon his lips and was a “knocker” all the time, saying, “O well, it isn’t like it used to be.”
Solomon probably said to himself, “I am a good sound man. I have been given this throne, it is mine, and God has been showering me with blessing. Here is a fellow like Shimei, a knocker, I have tried to be decent to him and let him live; but have told him if he ever left Jerusalem he would have to be put to death.” God was blessing Solomon, but Shimei had wickedness in his heart and should have been put aside.
When God is trying to pour out showers of grace, you must put out of your heart anything that savors of Shimei, in order that you may be established as a Christian. Jesus must have His throne-rights in your life and you are to be at peace with God and man. All the Shimei stuff must be routed. If you do not yield everything to Him, it will become an enemy to His kingdom in your life.
We have been born into a spiritual kingdom, and are to walk with God as spiritual beings, alive from the dead, seeking those things that are above. We have no right to touch the flesh life nor to walk in it. “Mortify your members which are upon the earth,” the Word says, that ye might walk in the fullness of God without the condemnation of the Spirit of God, and live as a spiritual man.
Sticky Fly Paper Stuff
In order to get to that place all these Shimei things must be put away, for if a root of bitterness springs up it defiles many, just as a politician influences a whole ward. Your toes get stamped on, you tell someone, she tells another, and before you get back home on Sunday fifty people know it, and are daubed with it like sticky fly-paper, and try to wipe it off on someone else,—gossiping, passing along a root of bitterness, and it defiles many. It spoils an hour you ought to have had with the Lord, spoils a good sermon that ought to have lifted you.
When I was in a meeting in New York I saw two men in my audience sitting with a man I had met on the train. He had asked me what I thought of some business he was in, and I had told him what I thought of a man who called himself Christian and yet engaged in that business. A root of bitterness came in his heart. After every remark I made he poked the man next to him. His two companions came to the next service without him, and once or twice a little smile found its way into their faces, and a little of the sermon got into their hearts; but their ears were full of my train companion’s “tar.” At the night services one of the fellows broke, and God got the blessing to his heart. The other sat stiff and straight. As I was going out they took me by the hand, and one of them said, “Mr. Rader, I want you to forgive me. The first time I heard you preach I despised the ground you walked on, this fellow was telling me—.”
“O let it go, that’s all right,” I interrupted.
“But, Mr. Rader, I do not believe it.”
“I don’t care that about it,” I said, “did the Lord bless you?”
“Yes, but He came pretty near not getting it to me because of that fellow.”
You can defile a man’s soul and keep him from being saved by a little bit of gossip. I preached a sermon in an eastern city one night from one of the Psalms. There was a man sitting in front of me, a high official in the Church. I did not know his name, his business or anything about his life, but when I got through preaching he walked right out of the door with his head straight up. Someone asked his wife, “What is the matter with Brother So-and-So?” Well, everybody knew I was skinning him alive and putting salt in the wounds every time I opened my mouth. I didn’t know it. It was God’s sermon. Then the gossip began passing back and forth, “Who told Brother Rader about it?” instead of shutting their mouths and letting God work. They took old Shimei and stuck a ring on his hand and said, “Walk among us Shimei and pass all the tar you please.”
I preached against the hardest opposition I ever preached against. Nobody said a word to me about it, and I was “up against it” in the revival meeting. His boy went home and he and some other boy friends were sitting around the table. The father said, “I know that man’s wife, and they have taken this evangelist and told him everything about me. This is a scheme to get me out of the Church and get another crowd in.” The boys sat there, two of them were not Christians at all. One had been in the meeting and had come near going forward. As he had gone home on the street-car with his brother he had said, “I’ll tell you, Ned, every day that guy is in town I’m going to hear him.” The next day the father poured the tar in his ears and I never saw him again for six weeks.
That man filled his whole family and others. I could see them gathering in little groups gossiping. Nobody was saved and there was not much blessing. I went before God, and when breakfast came I sat it on the shelf, lunch and supper followed breakfast, and I still cried to God. That night I refused to go into the pulpit, telling the preacher “Something is wrong, and I don’t know what it is, and I am praying and it has to come out. I have been preaching against a stone wall, and God will have to break it.” We had a Saturday night service the next night, and that fellow came in and sat in the front. God helped me to preach, God broke him up, and he sat there with the glare on his face. Afterward the pastor introduced him to me and I said, “How do you do? What did you say the name was?”
“You know my name,” he ejaculated.
“I beg your pardon, sir,” I replied. “I never met you in my life.”
“You don’t know my name?” he persisted.
“I do not know who you are, and do not know your name. Why are you so excited about it?”
“Don’t you know anything about me?” he asked again.
“Not a thing on Earth,” I assured him.
“Didn’t anybody in this church tell you about me and my business? Didn’t you know when you preached that first night that you were preaching against me?”
“Brother, I didn’t know anything about you on Earth.”
I never heard a big man cry like that fellow. He dove down the aisle and I think it was one-thirty before he left. He sent out for everybody and asked their forgiveness, and it took him about a week to clean that Shimei tar up. It is hard to get fly-paper off of some clothes; it is hard to pull “tar” out of the ears into which you have put it; but God knows how to take it out if you confess it. He went around confessing his sin, and the blessing came like a deluge, the lovely water of God, because he took Shimei, the “tar merchant,” and put him to death.
O that old tongue stuff creates bitterness and defiles many. “Behold what a great fire a little spark kindleth.” It does not take long to start something. Every one of us needs to watch his tongue and put it before God in the awful days in which we are living. Now if your throne is to be established you have to get after Shimei. If you are to have a revival in your own heart you have to get after Shimei. It may be your tongue, it may be something else. It may be a common ordinary root of bitterness in your heart.
Not long ago we were discussing a missionary in a certain place, and they said, “Yes, he is a fine fellow, brilliant, preaches well.” One dear man of God spoke up and said, “Well, brother, I tried to keep that man in my house for four weeks, and the dear fellow is very, very angular.” That was a nice way to put it,—“angular.” We found out everything about that candidate was good excepting that nobody could live with him. Outside of that he was fine. There were fourteen people at the mission station, not counting the native workers, where this man would have been placed as soon as he could have learned the language. I do not know how many corners there are on you that God would love to knock off so you can live with people and love people. It is not easy for us to love people. Most of us pride ourselves on our “picking” folks who fit into our natures. In many churches they pull in folks just like themselves; but that is not Christian loving. Christian loving is not considering how other people fit you, but how you fit other people. The new life is what Jesus described to the woman at the well as “Water springing up.” I thank God for every bit of criticism that comes my way showing where I am offensive to others; not only because I want to be a blessing to them, but that they might not see me, but the Christ who lives within.
It will pay for you to watch your personality and your disposition. I was talking to a man the other day and he said, “Well, Rader, I am naturally cold.” Yes, but it is not what you are that should impress others; you are trying to exhibit Jesus and He is not cold. If you represent Him as cold how can you get others to come to Him?
Paul could have been very classical, could have exhibited his personality, his old training, his exceptional talents to the cultured people among whom he went; but he said, “I was with you in weakness and in fear…that the power of God might be seen.” If the kingdom is to be thoroughly established, if Jesus is to rule and reign in your heart, you will constantly have to be as wise as Solomon and look after this Shimei business.
If your tongue is cut loose for Jesus and you are really interceding, whether you are experienced in personal work or not, you may speak a few words to some sinner and God will use them. O how beautiful are the feet of the men and women who bring good tidings! How beautiful is the spirit of brotherly love. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one toward another.” I thank God that is true, and when a revival starts they can always sing, “Makes me love everybody.” It knocks the angles off, kills Shimei, establishes the kingdom, knocks out the things that are stealing your spiritual life and your enthusiasm.
Establishing The Kingdom
If Solomon had allowed Shimei to get away with that violation of parole, to go in and out, communicating with the people outside, he would have surrendered his right to his authority. Solomon was a wise king, and God placed this story here that we might see how Solomon’s kingdom was established, that it might be an example to us.
I want an established Christian life where my heart is fixed and does not change, is not in today and out tomorrow. If I am to have that experience of victory and walking with the Lord within as king of my heart, Jesus must attend to the Shimei business. I must say, “By Thy grace I will have nothing to do with that. Put an end to Shimei.” I have watched thousands of people who have been converted, and you come back in a year and find they have not grown a bit. What is the matter? Shimei has sucked the life-blood out of them,—they let one Shimei live, and another and another, and the first thing you know they are torn to pieces, they never go on into spirituality.
The Lodge Question
You know the position our church takes on lodges. There is no more excuse for a Christian man belonging to a lodge than for a man to have two wives. When we are married to Jesus Christ and are brothers together in Him, there isn’t any order on Earth or any degrees you could take that would come within a million worlds of the brotherhood in Christ Jesus. The men of the world may need it. They say it is splendid for them, but no Christian needs a lodge. It will suck his spirituality every time.
When I was in Syracuse sitting at the table in a hotel a young man sent his card over to me. I walked over to another table, and he said, “Mr. Rader, I am a Christian. I heard you preach, and I wish you would tell me something.” He went on and told me how God had touched his life, and then said, “You didn’t say anything about lodges, but God began to talk to me about separating from different things that were outside of Jesus. Not long ago I went down to the lodge, and had to call a fellow ‘Worshipful Master.’ Then I walked out into another room and someone told me that man was a Christian Scientist. (Think of a Christian born in the blood of Jesus Christ, calling a Christian Scientist ‘Worshipful Master!’ I am no lodge fighter; but I am a member of a brotherhood through the blood of Jesus Christ that nothing on Earth can duplicate. There is only one method of salvation for men, of obtaining eternal life, and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. If men will only find that out they will not try to pattern after Christianity and accept a substitute, when they may have the real thing). When that happened,” the young man continued, “I walked out. I wrote them a respectful letter explaining my position.”
His young Christian life was becoming established. He had fallen on Shimei, and when he had sealed up that letter he knew he was detached and a little more the Lord’s than ever before. There are young men in business. The Bible says, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” A young man came to me the other day and said, “Mr. Rader, I have a chance to go into business. It is a good proposition, and I think I will take it.” After outlining the proposition he said, “You have been in business. Don’t that sound like a good proposition?” “Yes,” I admitted, “but I have been praying while you have been talking, and looking at it from the angle of God’s Word. Are you going into business with that man? Is he a Christian?” “No,” he admitted. “Then ring the bell and pull down the curtain as far as God blessing the business is concerned,” I advised, “because He says, ‘Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’ You may have to work for an unbeliever, but you are not ‘yoked.’”
People sometimes ask, “Why do you not marry more people?” I would if there were more who married in the Lord. I am a Christian minister, and I want to know dead sure for myself whether he is a Christian and she is a Christian, and whether they really want Jesus to marry them, whether they are equally joined together. I do not want to be a party to any other tying-up business, a believer with an unbeliever. O the unhappy homes that have come from that, when,—if two believers had prayed their way through and asked God’s blessing upon their engagement and married in the Lord they would have been in the will of God. But they will not slay Shimei. There is a certain path which God has laid out for your life, but Shimei has to be slain if you are to be established in that path.
For once in your life God must deal with you on your ambitions,—what you desired—what Shimei would do if he got a chance to cut loose. He turned his back on the mercy of Solomon and the law he had laid down. His heart never was with Solomon. There are things in your heart that never have been with Jesus. Jesus gives you a little raise, lifts you up a little bit, your ambition begins to stir and you change in your friendships and in a thousand other things when you get a chance to cut loose; but some time in your life you must choose to go the humble way, take up your cross, deny yourself, deal with Shimei, and if you do, the kingdom will be established and there will come the fullness of the Holy Ghost, steadiness of life and peace and joy.
A Dictatorial Disposition
What are you going to do with Shimei? I do not know who he is for you, or whether God has brought him out and shown him to you, but something is keeping the kingdom from being established in your life. Is it your angular personality? Would you be willing to change your personality a little bit? “Well, when I have anything to say to anybody I say it to them.” Now, come off your high horse; wouldn’t you give that up and keep your mouth shut? You are defending something of Shimei’s. Why not dare to say “Yes” to Jesus and give a kind answer that turns away wrath. “I’m not going to let anyone pick on me.” They picked on your Master; they spit on Him. Wouldn’t you let Him humiliate you and get His hands on Shimei and cast him out?
I know a young fellow who went to pieces simply on the question of clothes. He wasn’t willing to buy a suit that cost him a little less money than he had been accustomed to spend for one, and wear it until it was shiny, in order to pay his debts. I have asked him, “Wouldn’t it be a lot better to have a patch on your elbow and pay the other man what you owe him?” “But a fellow has to look right.” “Is that so? I think a fellow ought to pay his debts for Jesus’ sake if he can, and do without something.” He wouldn’t do it, and he is not established in the kingdom.
Personalities are the most interesting things in the world to talk about, and for this reason the devil can use gossip a little better than anything else. It almost seems right sometimes to tell what we know about this one or that one, but before God there isn’t anything I would rather be than a man with a tongue that never speaks evil of any man. Let us deliver over this Shimei and say, “Lord, give me a tongue controlled by the Holy Ghost, a heart filled with His love.”
I knew Dr. Simpson for a good many years, and never heard him say one careless word about another. I said to him once, “Dr. Simpson, I would rather have that kind of a tongue than anything I know of.” He said, “Don’t give me any credit. I have suffered so much from other folk’s tongues that I asked Jesus to keep me from hurting anyone.” I do not know anything under heaven that can make a man or woman suffer like somebody’s tongue. Oh how it can cut and bruise, and spoil confidence, and wring hearts.
Who is your Shimei? Do you love money so much that God cannot get you to give it systematically? If God were to give you His vision of what you ought to do with it could you be faithful to it?
We could go on with so many things that Shimei does; but can’t we let him be put to death, and say to the Lord, “Lord, I give up to Thee completely; I yield my heart to Thee and ask Thee to put all that is contrary to Thee out of my life.” Here goes Shimei! Amen.