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How to handle the haters

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” 

Contrary to the childhood rhyme, words do hurt. Justified or not, unkind comments can leave us insecure and ineffective. 

In 2 Samuel 16, David’s son was plotting to overthrow him, so for his own safety, David fled the comfort of his throne. As David and his followers were traveling, Shimei, a member of Saul’s family, met them and showered them with mockery and curses. David’s reaction models a healthy response to unjust ridicule (2 Samuel 16: 10-14).

3 Things to Consider When Facing Unfair Criticism 

1. Keep things in perspective (2 Samuel 16:11-12)

In light of the fact that David’s own son was plotting to kill him, the taunts of a pesky stranger paled in comparison. Dwelling on hurtful words gives them more power than they have on their own. 

2. Fight the urge to respond (2 Samuel 16:14

Dealing with verbal abuse or hurtful comments can be exhausting. Lashing out in wounded response is never healthy. When David refused to retaliate, he was able to be refreshed.

3. Understand there may be a purpose to your suffering (2 Samuel 16:9-12)

Instead of fighting back like his friends suggested, David focused on God’s faithfulness. Though God doesn’t cause evil to happen to us, He occasionally allows it because He understands that the testing of our faith strengthens it over time (James 1:3). 


  • If you're the subject of hateful remarks, is there a reason for them? If you’ve offended the person, can you ask their forgiveness and restore the relationship?
  • If the hurtful words are simply out of spite, what can you take from David’s example and put into practice today? How can you handle the situation in a way that will show God’s presence in your life?

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