FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Predicting “75 percent of you” will be “fired or at least severely attacked,” Paige Patterson advised Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students on “how to handle personal criticism in a day when there’s plenty of it.”
Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina, spoke on “The Curse of a Dead Dog,” discussing King David’s reaction to personal criticism, in an April 10 chapel at Southwestern’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus.
While fleeing for his life from his rebellious son, Absalom, King David was confronted by a man named Shemei who was cursing David and casting stones at him. David restrained one of his “mighty men,” Abishai, who wanted to cut off Shemei’s head, calling him a “dead dog.”
David refused, noting, “If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?'” (2 Samuel 16:10, NIV). Patterson noted David did not claim that he knew the will of God in all situations.
“Be very, very careful about saying that something is the will of God,” Patterson stressed. “It is far better to say that as best you can tell from prayer and Bible study this is God’s will. Otherwise you will have to answer at the judgment if you wrongly declared something to be God’s will that wasn’t.”
Paterson then asked, “What is it that David knows that enables him to have that sort of attitude as opposed to that of Shemei’s?”
He pointed out four simple truths from David’s statement (“It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today,” 2 Samuel 16:12) that show what David knew about his God that made it possible:
1) God is a god of justice.
“When we suffer injustice, and we are improperly treated, and we are called upon to suffer for Christ’s sake … rejoice. We have a just God and sooner or later he will set the record straight if you leave it to him,” Patterson said.
2) God is a merciful God.
“David is absolutely not guilty of the blood of the house of Saul, but he is absolutely guilty of the blood of Uriah the Hittite, and he knows it only too painfully well. In general, we are all guilty before God — even if we are not guilty of the particular things we are accused of — and in need of God’s grace and mercy.”
3) God is a god of omniscience.
“God ‘looked’ upon David’s affliction. God knows where you are, who you are and what you’re walking through.”
4) God is a god of omnipotence.
“David also knew that God has the power to do something about the situation and would look upon his affliction in mercy and requite him for the suffering he endured,” Patterson said. “Our adversities are God’s universities. In the sorrow and the frustration of the moment (of criticism), we have the opportunity to shine forever for Christ.