1 Kings 2


‘When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth,’ he said. ‘So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’ 1 Kings 2:1-4

David’s Charge To Solomon

Just before David passes away, he charges Solomon to live in obedience to God’s will, Exodus 20:1-17, which in turn would encourage Solomon to live a holy life, Exodus 30:21 / Leviticus 10:13-15.

The laws are those cases which aren’t defined in the law, but cases which were guided by wisdom from God’s Word, Exodus 21:1-Exodus 23:5. The regulations would be any principle that would give witness to the wisdom that came from God, Psalm 19:7 / Psalm 119:88.

If Solomon follows God’s way and is obedient to Him, then God promises that his descendants will continue to reign on the throne.

In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, we find two things prophesied, firstly, the Messiah would reign on David’s throne forever. Secondly, David’s dynasty would continue. We also notice that the promise of the Messiah was unconditional but the continuation of David’s dynasty was conditional.

‘Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace. ‘But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom. ‘And remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD: ‘I will not put you to death by the sword.’ But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.’ 1 Kings 2:5-9

During David’s reign as king of Israel, he failed to carry out some judgements, here he asks Solomon to carry out those judgments for him. One possible reason David didn’t carry these judgments out was because of the guilt he carried after ordering Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband to be killed in the battleground, 2 Samuel 11:14-16.

Joab had earlier murdered Abner, 2 Samuel 3:27, and he also murdered Amasa, 2 Samuel 20:8-10. It’s clear that David felt he was responsible for the safety of these two men whom Joab had murdered and so, he judges that Joab should be put to death and asks Solomon to judge him according to the crimes he’s committed.

There was a time when Barzillai had helped David out during the rebellion of Absalom, 2 Samuel 17:27-29. Barzillai is now dead but David wants Solomon to bring his sons to eat with Solomon to show that he can show kindness to them because of the help their father gave David.

There was a time when Shimei had shown great contempt towards David, 2 Samuel 16:5-13, but during that time David didn’t punish him for his crime, 2 Samuel 19:18-23. David here asks Solomon to pass judgment upon Shimei for his total disrespect for David as king.

Some commentators believe that David was completely right in passing these judgments on Joab and Shimei because the law says that murderers must be put to death, Genesis 9:6 / Numbers 35:33.

Concerning Shimei, some believe his execution is justified because the king had no power to forgive him of his offence in blaspheming the Lord’s anointed, Leviticus 24:14-23, and that, David on his death bed then realised that he was a law-breaker in forgiving Shimei.

With regard to David’s forgiveness of Shimei, David’s remembrance of his oath to Shimei doesn’t correspond with what David was reported to have said in 1 Samuel 19:23, where we find David saying to Shimei, ‘you will not die’. It appears that David changed his mind on his death bed.

Other commentators believe that David was completely unjustified by his actions here, they point out that David himself had received forgiveness for murdering Uriah, who was innocent, 2 Samuel 12:13, but here David refuses to extend that same forgiveness to Joab, for committing the same crime.

The Death Of David

‘Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.’ 1 Kings 2:10-12

When David died, he left behind a great legacy in Israel, he was the only king who recognised his own weaknesses, whilst trying to live to please God completely. All the way through the Scriptures, including the New Testament, time and time again king David is mentioned and referred to as one who keeps the Lord’s commands, 1 Kings 15:5 / Acts 13:22.

After David passed away, the throne went to Solomon and he became Israel’s new king, 1 Chronicles 28:6. Now his rule is firmly established which means all of Israel recognised and accepted him as their new king, 1 Chronicles 29:26-28. However, unlike David who left a great legacy, Solomon would leave a legacy of idolatry which set the example for all the other kings who would follow after him.

Solomon’s Throne Established

‘Now Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. Bathsheba asked him, ‘Do you come peacefully?’ He answered, ‘Yes, peacefully.’ Then he added, ‘I have something to say to you.’ ‘You may say it,’ she replied. ‘As you know,’ he said, ‘the kingdom was mine. All Israel looked to me as their king. But things changed, and the kingdom has gone to my brother; for it has come to him from the LORD. Now I have one request to make of you. Do not refuse me.’ ‘You may make it,’ she said. So he continued, ‘Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.’ ‘Very well,’ Bathsheba replied, ‘I will speak to the king for you.’ When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand. ‘I have one small request to make of you,’ she said. ‘Do not refuse me.’ The king replied, ‘Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you.’ So she said, ‘Let Abishag the Shunammite be given in marriage to your brother Adonijah.’ King Solomon answered his mother, “Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him—after all, he is my older brother—yes, for him and for Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah!’ Then King Solomon swore by the LORD: ‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request! And now, as surely as the LORD lives—he who has established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as he promised—Adonijah shall be put to death today!’ So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.’ 1 Kings 2:13-25

Adonijah goes to Bathsheba and requests that Solomon gives him Abishag the Shunammite to be his wife. He possibly does this for one or two reasons, firstly, he may have been very naive and ignorant of the political implications of his request, perhaps being blinded by a passionate infatuation with the beautiful Abishag, secondly, he may be working together with Abiathar and Joab, who were involved in a conspiracy to take the throne away from Solomon.

Earlier Solomon showed mercy to Adonijah, 1 Kings 1:51-53, but Adonijah now acts in arrogance with his request to have Abishag as his wife. By doing this he was trying to squeeze himself into becoming king because Abishag was a part of David’s harem.

This may appear strange to us today but during these days, it was customary, if someone took ownership of a king’s harem, this meant they were claiming authority to be king, 2 Samuel 3:6-11 / 2 Samuel 16:20-23.

Solomon was a bit wiser than Bathsheba at this point, he knows exactly what Adonijah is up to and he knows that Adonijah deserves to be put to death for treason. Solomon doesn’t waste any time in ordering the execution of Adonijah, who apparently was waiting near the throne for an answer.

‘To Abiathar the priest the king said, ‘Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the ark of the Sovereign LORD before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships.’ So Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the LORD, fulfilling the word the LORD had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli.’ 1 Kings 2:26-27

Abiathar was of the priestly lineage of Ithamar and was a loyal priest during David’s reign. He was shown mercy by Solomon, who sends him away to Anathoth, which was a city for the Levites, Joshua 21:8 / Joshua 21:18 / Jeremiah 1:1. His exile meant the end of the lineage of Eli’s heritage from being high priests in Israel, 1 Samuel 2:27-36.

‘When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the LORD and took hold of the horns of the altar. King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the tent of the LORD and was beside the altar. Then Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada, ‘Go, strike him down!’ So Benaiah entered the tent of the LORD and said to Joab, ‘The king says, ‘Come out!’ But he answered, ‘No, I will die here.’ Benaiah reported to the king, ‘This is how Joab answered me.’ Then the king commanded Benaiah, ‘Do as he says. Strike him down and bury him, and so clear me and my whole family of the guilt of the innocent blood that Joab shed. The LORD will repay him for the blood he shed, because without my father David knowing it he attacked two men and killed them with the sword. Both of them—Abner son of Ner, commander of Israel’s army, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of Judah’s army—were better men and more upright than he. May the guilt of their blood rest on the head of Joab and his descendants forever. But on David and his descendants, his house and his throne, may there be the LORD’s peace forever.’ So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried at his home out in the country.’ 1 Kings 2:28-34

Before David died, he gave specific instructions to Solomon to carry out some judgments on certain individuals, 1 Kings 2:5-9. In these verses, we read about how Solomon carried out those judgments, which will let all of Israel know that Solomon has begun his reign as king.

Solomon passes judgment upon Joab because of his murderous actions in the past, he had murdered Abner, 2 Samuel 3:27, and he also murdered Amasa, 2 Samuel 20:8-10. If Solomon didn’t punish Joab, then David’s guilt for not having him put to death would be passed on to Solomon.

Joab clings on to ‘the horns of the altar’, thinking this action would bring him mercy, but just like Adonijah, 1 Kings 1:52, he was shown no mercy but put to death.

‘The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab’s position and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the priest.’ 1 Kings 2:35

Whenever there’s a change of reign, this usually means some people will lose their leadership jobs and others will be promoted. Here we find Solomon changing his military leader and changing the high priesthood. Benaiah replaced Joab as the commander of the military and Zadok replaced Abiathar as a priest, 2 Samuel 20:25.

‘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 later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maakah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, ‘Your slaves are in Gath.’ At this, he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slaves. So Shimei went away and brought the slaves back from Gath. When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and had returned, the king summoned Shimei and said to him, ‘Did I not make you swear by the LORD and warn you, ‘On the day you leave to go anywhere else, you can be sure you will die’? At that time you said to me, ‘What you say is good. I will obey.’ Why then did you not keep your oath to the LORD and obey the command I gave you?’ The king also said to Shimei, ‘You know in your heart all the wrong you did to my father David. Now the LORD will repay you for your wrongdoing. But King Solomon will be blessed, and David’s throne will remain secure before the LORD forever.’ Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and he died. The kingdom was now established in Solomon’s hands.’ 1 Kings 2:36-46

The only reason Shimei was still alive was because David felt guilty about reaping what Nathan, the prophet told him would happen because he killed Uriah, 2 Samuel 12:1-14. When David was on the run from Absalom, it was Shimei who cursed David, 2 Samuel 16:5.

When he cursed David, he was living in Bahurim, but here he is in Jerusalem, under house arrest away from his family. The good news is that as long as Shimei remained in Jerusalem he would be safe from the penalty of death, the bad news is that he didn’t stay there, he went and tracked down two of his slaves. As a result of his disobedience, and because of his past sins, Solomon had him put to death.

Solomon’s reign is now established because he exercised wise judgments on those who committed murderous sins and his authority is now recognised by everyone in Israel. Although Israel rejoiced in having a new king, the beginning of Solomon’s reign was a world apart from how David began his reign, 1 Samuel 11:11-15.

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