Psalm 119:31 is a challenging verse, “I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame!”
The entirety of Psalm 119 is a love song to God’s Word. It’s David’s Magnum Opus, a masterpiece in which every brush stroke paints a picture of David’s desire to obey.
But even the “man after God’s own heart” fell short. This is where verse 31 really hits home.
Following David’s great sin of stealing a man’s wife and then having the man himself murdered, David repented and, as verse 29 reveals, asked God to remove the false way from him. He cast himself on the mercy of God and was restored and revived. Though his sin was removed, the ramifications for that sin was still present.
The same can be true for us. Just because we choose God’s ways doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences from the past. We must be willing to humbly endure those consequences and continue trusting in God’s way.
What did this look like for David? In 2 Samuel 12, we read the story of Nathan confronting David about his sin. A part of this confrontation included Nathan, the prophet, describing some future consequences that would result from David’s sin.
Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.
‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’”
Now, if we fast forward to chapter 16, we see that this pronouncement did indeed happen.
Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your advice. What shall we do?”
Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.”
So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
David’s sin had serious repercussions. And it happened just as the prophet Nathan had predicted. But how did David handle it? Looking at a snapshot moment between these two stories, we see the humble response of a man after God’s own heart.
As Absolom marched on Jerusalem, David and his royal court fled. And as David approached the city of Bahurim, a man named Shimei from Saul’s household came out to meet him. Why is this significant? Because it was Saul who David had replaced as king. And now, with David running and his throne in jeopardy, Shimei was ready to capitalize on the moment.
When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came.
He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left.
Thus Shimei said when he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow!
“The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
David was King. He was forgiven by God himself. But David didn’t stand on this status in the face of Shimei’s hate-filled rebuke and abuse. Instead, he submitted to the situation with humility.
“Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him.”
“Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
None of us have lived a spotless life. Because of this, the consequences of our sins will inevitably rise to harass us. What should our response be when times of shame come?
We should be a people after God’s heart, and like David, look for the good in the situation instead of languishing in self-pity or stewing in anger. We should cling to God’s testimonies and rely on the only one capable of forever removing our shame.