Dealing with Difficult People

How to Reverse the Momentum of Unfair Treatment

The Shimei in Your Life

Do you have a Shimei in your life? You may not know who this is but chances are you do. Shimei is a minor character in the story of King David who represents the difficult people and circumstances that can get under our skin. Why does there always seem to be difficult people hanging around our lives?

Who is Shimei

Shimei showed up when David was fleeing from Absalom. David was once again on the run for his life. While suffering through this betrayal Shimei does his best to kick David while he’s down. Technically, he threw rocks at him while he was down, but you get the point. He was David’s difficult person of the moment (he seemed to have several).

David tried to take the high road with Saul, but this family member of the former king wasn’t satisfied. He falsely accused David of things he didn’t do and publically humiliated him. Shimei treated mistreated David. He never tried to hear David’s side of the story. He could only see the world through his own hurt and disappointment. He taunted David when he was most vulnerable even though David did everything he could to treat Saul and his family the best he could.

There’s Always a Shimei

Have you ever encountered someone like this? Some people are just determined to see the worse in us despite our best efforts. Most of us deal with difficult people at one point or another. It feels like they never give us a chance or even proactively try to turn others against us. Like Shimei, sometimes a previous hurt is clouding their perspective. This can be a tricky shadow to step out of once we are in it.

There always seems to be someone like this in our lives. They show up at school, work, church and sometimes in our family as well. If it is not a person, then it is a circumstance that can become a sort of thorn in the flesh. It can be a daily irritant. How do you respond in moments like this?

Praying for Shimei

I often pray that God would remove these kinds of people from my life. “Lord, help them find their next season as quickly and as far away from me as possible!” I have even prayed, “Lord, expose this wolf! Let their true character be known!”

At the time, I thought I was being generous with my prayers, but I sure hope there isn’t anyone out there praying for me like that! Of course, this is better than responding in the flesh and giving difficult people a piece of our minds. This is exactly what David’s men wanted to do. In fact, they wanted to kill Shimei. David wouldn’t let them though.

He wondered if God had allowed this burden into his life. Would God even turn Shemei’s cursing into a blessing?

The Blessing of Difficult People

I usually don’t have the emotional intelligence to respond the way David did when facing unfair treatment from difficult people. But maybe David was on to something. I have heard pearls are formed only after an irritant enters the oyster. Something painful things have to get under the skin of the oyster before something valuable is created. Is it possible God continues to allow Shimei’s in our lives to give us the opportunities to produce pearls of great value as well?

This is certainly what happened in the story of David and Shimei. David didn’t seek revenge when Shimei treated him unfairly. Then when he was on his way back to the throne, Shimei was there to greet him. Instead of throwing stones he brought 1,000 other men to welcome David home. God blessed David’s response to Shimei by not removing this one adversary but by giving him 1,001 advocates.

Pearls or Problems

Difficult people can produce pearls or problems in our lives. How we respond determines whether we will get rid of a problem or receive a multiplied blessing. We can’t avoid unfair treatment entirley. If it is not a person, then it will be a set of circumstances that are refining our character. Responding correctly does not always bring immediate results. We can’t control how others will react. What we can do is determine to see all the people God brings into our lives as pearls instead problems.


I’d love to hear from you. What do you see in this story? How can we better deal with the difficult people in our lives? What resources have helped you overcome unfair treatment? Leave a comment or send me a message on social media.