Just before King David died, he summoned his son Solomon, who was to succeed him as king. David told Solomon that there were certain men he would have to deal with after he became king. Solomon was instructed to show kindness to those who had been faithful and loyal to David. But for those who had been disrespectful and disobedient, David instructed Solomon to deal with them as he saw fit.
There was one man in particular named Shimei who had hurled insults and threw rocks at David as he crossed the Jordan River while fleeing from Absalom. But after Absalom’s rebellion was put down and Absalom himself had been killed, Shimei changed his tune. He begged David for mercy as David and his people returned from their brief exile on the other side of the Jordan. David granted him mercy, but deep down inside, I think David believed Shimei’s attitude hadn’t really changed.
After David died, Solomon was anointed as king and one of his first acts as king was to summon Shimei, and the conversation between Solomon and Shimei is recorded in the second chapter of 1 Kings:
Then the king sent for Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but do not go anywhere else. The day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head.”
Shimei answered the king, “What you say is good. Your servant will do as my lord the king has said.” And Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.
But three years after this conversation took place, two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to the city of Gath, which was in Phillistine territory and well beyond the boundary Solomon had set. Shimei went out anyway and retrieved his slaves, but when Solomon found out Shimei had disobeyed his orders, he summoned Shimei once again. And Shimei paid for his disobedience with his life.
Because of the passage of time, Shimei probably figured Solomon had forgotten all about their earlier conversation. He may have felt that the disrespect he showed toward David really wasn’t such a big deal anymore, since so much time had passed. And because it had been so long and because David had since died, maybe Shimei figured no one really cared about what he said and did to David that day. What Shimei failed to understand was, there’s really no escaping the past, no matter how much time has passed.
For the unsaved person, believing all is well just because the passage of time has put distance between past sins and present day circumstances…..is a very deadly trap to fall into. The passage of time doesn’t erase past sins. It doesn’t diminish the seriousness of sin one bit, nor does it decrease the punishment that will eventually be required. Plenty of people did things in their youth that they aren’t proud of, things the Bible clearly calls sin, but because they did those things so long ago, they don’t think it’s a big deal anymore. “Time heals all wounds.” they say.
Well………………it is a big deal because God does not about forget unredeemed sin, no matter how long ago it was. All sin must be atoned for. They might say things like “Yes, I cheated, I stole, I lied, I did terrible things……………but that was in my youth. It was a long time ago, so it doesn’t matter now.” They dismiss their past sins, but they need to hear the truth because in God’s eyes, it does matter. Their sins must be paid for and they will pay with their eternal souls unless they accept the payment that was made on their behalf through the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.
There’s another side to this. I’ve talked to people who say that because of things they did long ago, there’s no way they can ask for God’s forgiveness. “It’s been too long. Too many years have gone by. I know I should have reached out to God and accepted Christ back then, but it’s too late now.” Just like the idea that the passage of time somehow diminishes the seriousness of sin, this too is a lie from Satan. The passage of time does not erase past sin, but it does not prevent forgiveness of sin either. No one should be fooled into believing that there’s no need to address past sins because they were committed long ago, nor should anyone be duped into believing that God can’t forgive those sins. God can reach back into the past much further than we can!
I said God does not forget unredeemed sin. For unrepentant sinners, their sins will not be forgotten, but for those who put their trust in Christ, God promises that He will remember their sins no more! So if you’ve never accepted Jesus Christ, do so today. If someone close to you does not know Jesus, reach out to them today. If you’re a Christian living with unconfessed sin, get right with Jesus today. Don’t let the time God has given you slip away!