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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.