Shimei and the dangers of kicking a man when he’s down

King David’s son Absalom attempted a coup against him. King David had to leave Jerusalem because Absalom got the upper hand. As he and little band of dispirited supporters were fleeing Jerusalem, 2 Samuel reports the following:

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shime-i, the son of Gera; and as he came he cursed continually. 6 And he threw stones at David, and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 And Shime-i said as he cursed, “Begone, begone, you man of blood, you worthless fellow! 8 The Lord has avenged upon you all the blood 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. See, your ruin is on you; for you are a man of blood.”

One particularly confident person in the comments box on Gerard Serafin’s blog has decided to try out for the role of Shimei. He’s already appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. “Accused=guilty” for this guy.

The trouble is, accused doesn’t equal guilty. Yes, it’s possible that a man who has given every evidence of being devout, pious and orthodox for years is, in fact, lying when he flatly denies that he has ever abused anybody. It’s possible that a Cardinal who has seen fit to perform human sacrifice by throwing to the press the names of those “accused, with no substantiation of charges” is more trustworthy in this case. But generally speaking, I tend to trust more the person who has shown himself to be consistently devout and pious and good over that of a man who performs human sacrifice in order to save his precious ass.

Giving the benefit of the doubt never hurt anybody. Being in a huge rush to condemn can be, shall we say, an all-fired source of trouble when we stand before the pearly gates. It’s a huge doubt as to whether Gerard ever really did anything. There is no doubt at all that flinging to the wolves people who have been merely accused–not tried, not guilty, just accused–is absolutely reprehensible. Don’t add to it by imitating Shimei. You may find that the King, the Son of David, coming back to his throne someday and remembering you and the way you kicked him when he was down. “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of my brethren, you have done it to me.” Be afraid. Be very afraid.