In our study of 1 Kings chapter two, we look at the early days of Solomon's reign and the fact that our actions must line up with our words.
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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, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, 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 man on the throne of Israel."'
Before David died, he urged Solomon to stand up and be a man and he went on to explain what that means. He was speaking of being a man of God and following Him. David had messed up in his life but he was still known as a great man of God. He also reminded Solomon of the fact that God promised him that his family line would remain on the throne as long as they were faithful to Him. We see that he urges Solomon to walk faithfully with all his "heart and soul" and not just going through the motions and saying it. It seems like we need more fathers to explain this to their sons today. Many young men have gotten the idea that being a man is all about the size of your bank account, the number of women you can get, or your street reputation. For more on this, check out our Measure of a Man devotion.
'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 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.'
What had Joab done? He had supported Adonijah when he tried to make himself king. He had also killed Abner and Amasa because he did not want them to replace him as Israel's military commander. David urges Solomon to deal with him at the proper time.
'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.'
David keeps giving his final instructions to Solomon and, here, he remembers those who stood by him through the trials. Absalom had tried to take the throne from his father and David had fled. We, like King David, need to remember those who have helped us through the difficult times.
'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.'
Shimei had betrayed King David but his life had been spared due to David's oath to God. He instructs Solomon to make him pay. Evidently, there had not been a real change of heart on the part of Shimei but still David was a man of his word. This is a picture of the forgiveness that we are to extend to those who offend us as well as the fact that, in the end, God will repay them for their offenses.
Then David rested with his fathers 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.
In this passage, we see the legacy that David left to Solomon. First, we see that he established Jerusalem as the center of the kingdom. He reigned forty years and we are reminded that that number refers to the complete trials of establishing the kingdom. David had been a fighting man but now the kingdom was established and Solomon would inherit a time of relative peace. As parents, we must stop and ask ourselves what kind of legacy we will leave our kids. We may leave them an inheritance of wealth but, more importantly, we must also leave them a legacy of peace. That peace can only come through knowing Jesus Christ as their personal Lord & Savior. Are we, like David, fighting the spiritual battles required to bring them into that kingdom?
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.'
Upon David's death, Adonijah went to the king's mother and it seems like he had accepted the fact that Solomon was the king and even seemingly acknowledged that it was God's will. He made what appears to be a simple request and, not asking for much, Bathsheba agreed to ask her son on Adonijah's behalf. We recall, from chapter one, that Abishag was the girl that was to keep King David warm in his old age and Adonijah simply wanted her as a sort of inheritance.
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.'
What a beautiful picture we see here of the proper respect a son should have for his mother. We see this in the fact that he stood up, bowed down to her, & had a throne brought for her.
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!'
Solomon became angry at this insult but it is clear that Bathsheba had not known what she was asking. In this request, Solomon sees the fact that Adonijah had not given up his hopes of replacing him as king.
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 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.
As we have seen, Adonijah's talk was cheap and did not match his actions. Therefore, Solomon sentenced him to die in keeping with the words that he had said when he came down from the altar (see 1 Kings 1:52). This is a lesson for us as well in that, when we go to the altar for mercy, we must have a change of heart. This change of heart is known as repentance.
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.
Solomon spared Abiathar the priest but removed him from his office. He was remembered for the good things that he had done for King David. This was fulfilling the curse that was upon the house of Eli the unfaithful priest (see 1 Samuel 2:27).
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.
Solomon had dealt with the other two main conspirators and Joab heard about it. He ran to the altar to seek mercy just as Adonijah had done.
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.'
Why had Solomon allowed Adonijah to live when he plead for mercy but now ordered the death of Joab? As we saw in verse 6, David had told Solomon that he was to die.
Then the king commanded Benaiah, 'Do as he says. Strike him down and bury him, and so clear me and my father's house of the guilt of the innocent blood that Joab shed. The Lord will repay him for the blood he shed, because without the knowledge of my father David 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.'
Joab had killed two men in order to take their jobs as head of the army. He did this without the knowledge of the king and showed them no mercy. According to the law, the penalty for him was death. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, it is those who show mercy to others that receive mercy from God.
So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried on his own land in the desert. The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab's position and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the priest.
The sentence of the king was carried out and we see that Joab was buried in the desert. Throughout the Bible, the desert is associated with times of trials and testing. We see that Joab had failed his trial as he had appeared to be serving the king but was out for himself. We all go through trials (pass through the desert) but it is not good to be buried there. Like Joab, there are many today who will say they are serving the King of Kings but in reality are out for what they can get for themselves. As we see with Joab and Abiathar, they will be found out and will end up being buried in the desert.
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.
Shimei had been an enemy of David's but David had showed mercy on him by promising that he would not kill him for his betrayal. Solomon offered him a chance to live as long as he stayed in Jerusalem so that he could be watched. By handling it this way (with wisdom), Solomon would not be guilty of shedding the man's blood when required. It is much the same way with all men in that Jesus has offered us a refuge from sin in Him. If we refuse it, the blood guilt is on our own heads.
But three years later, two of Shimei's slaves ran off to Achish son of Maacah, 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.
We are reminded that throughout the Bible the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will and after three years Shimei left Jerusalem. We notice that he left because of his love for money and disobeyed the orders of King Solomon. This is a picture of the fact that many will reject the grace of God for the pursuit of earthly riches. Shimei forgot that the penalty for leaving was death and so he would not own the slaves anymore anyway. It is the same way with people today in that the devil will distract many people with wealth from this world and they forget that the things of this world are only temporary. In chasing wealth, they turn and run from the saving grace of Jesus Christ towards an eternity in hell.
When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and 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?'
King Solomon confronted Shimei with the fact that he had broken his oath to God. This oath was based on the principle of the Cities of Refuge which was given to Moses by God before Israel entered Canaan. These cities were a place where murderers could stay until they were put on trial. If they left the city at any time before their trial, they could be killed. This is a picture of the fact that our refuge is in Christ. He stood trial on our behalf and so we can now walk in freedom. We are no longer confined to a religious system such as the Cities of Refuge.
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 killed him. The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon's hands.
Shimei's talk was cheap in that he did not back it up with action. Solomon made it clear to him that the judgment that was coming to him was from God because of his treatment of God's chosen kings. He paid the penalty with his life and the last of the enemies of David and Solomon were dealt with. We are reminded that our walk with Jesus is more than just an idle promise. When we accept Him as our savior, we accept the fact that He has purchased our lives and we no longer belong to self but to Him. Our actions will bear witness as to whether our conversion was merely cheap emotional talk or if we truly know Him as our savior.