1 Kings 2


David’s Final Instructions to Solomon

      • When David’s time to die drew near, he gave this command to his son Solomon:

        • I’m about to go the way all of the earth must go. Have courage, be a man, and keep your obligation to Yahweh, your God. Walk in His ways, obey His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies as are written in the law of Moses. Do this so that you will be successful in everything you do and wherever you go, and so that Yahweh will fulfill the promise He made to me: ‘If your descendants are careful to walk faithfully before Me with all of their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”

            • David’s parting words to Solomon echo God’s words to Joshua upon his ‘succession’ to leadership of Israel after Moses’ death (Josh 1:6-9). This injunction begins by using the language of warriorship before moving on immediately to define the framework within which this strength must be exercised (obedience to God, in accordance with the Law of Moses). Particularly in view here (as in Joshua) is the law code of Deuteronomy, as the language of 1 Kings 2:3-4 indicates (Deut. 4:29; 6:2; 8:6; 9:5; 11:1; 29:9).” (ESV Study Bible)

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “When Paul urged Christians to be courageous (literally be men) and strong (1 Cor 16:13), he used the same words as the Greek OT uses for the charges by Moses, Joshua, Hezekiah, and the Lord. An interesting parallel is found in the account of Bishop Polycarp’s martyrdom. As he was led into the stadium facing execution, Polycarp heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Be strong, Polycarp, be a man!’ (Martyrdom of Polycarp 9:1).”

        • The promise that David is referring to is the Davidic covenant from 2 Sam 7:11-16. The problem is that back in 2 Sam it seems quite clear that this covenant is unconditional. However, this passage seems to indicate with equal clarity that the covenant is conditional. What’s the big deal?

          • The ESV Study Bible explains, “The promise to David is similarly the seedbed of the OT’s messianic hope, which the NT will show is fulfilled in Jesus as the descendant of David (Rom 1:3).” If this promise was somehow dependent upon the performance of David’s descendants then…you can see the problem. David’s descendants did not uphold their end of the deal.

          • How one views this covenant will also effect one’s eschatology and the role one sees for Israel in the future. Is God done with Israel? Has the church replaced Israel? This article from Jewish Awareness Ministries on the Davidic Covenant briefly discusses one of the resultant views if the covenant is seen as conditional, followed by their response:

            • There are some Christians who argue for a ‘conditional’ covenant and a ‘spiritualized’ fulfillment of the covenant…They believe that the throne on which Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father becomes the ‘throne’ of the Davidic covenant.”

            • The throne in heaven at the right hand of the Father is not David’s throne. His throne will be on the earth (Jer 23:5-6)…This means that David’s son, Jesus Christ, must return to the earth bodily and literally, in order to reign over David’s covenantal kingdom. The belief that Messiah Jesus is seated on the Father’s throne reigning over a spiritual kingdom, the church, does not fulfill the promises of the covenant.”

            • This covenant is mentioned again in the books of Chronicles where we see a similar issue:

            • 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 (ESV):11 When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14 but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.’”

            • 2 Chronicles 6:16-17 (ESV): 16 Now therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.’ 17 Now therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David.

          • How can we reconcile the language that appears clearly unconditional in some passages with the language that appears unarguably conditional in other passages?

            • Could it be that the covenant has both an unconditional application and a conditional application, dependent upon whether the ultimate subject of the passage is: 1) David’s descendants whom God knew would fail, or 2) Jesus the Messiah, David’s descendant and the Son of God, whose kingdom will indeed be everlasting? To me, the answer seems to be “yes.”

        • You also know what Zeruiah’s son Joab did to me- how he dealt with two commanders of Israel’s army, Ner’s son, Abner, and Jether’s son, Amasa. He murdered them during peacetime as if it were a time of war. He stained his own waistband and the sandals on his feet with their bloodshed. Deal with him according to what you think is best, but don’t let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace.”

            • Joab is to be killed so as to clear David’s house of ‘the guilt for the blood’ that he ‘shed without cause’ (v. 31). It is curious, however, that David himself had apparently not been sufficiently concerned about this bloodguilt to take action against someone who had been so useful to him (e.g., 2 Sam 11:15; 14:1-33; 19:1-8). Perhaps beneath David’s words is more of a political than a religious concern. Joab is too dangerous to be allowed to live in Solomon’s united kingdom once David is gone because he is too much a man of the Judean past…Solomon must not act rashly, but must find some clever justification for removing Joab from the scene (see also v. 9 in reference to Shimei) so that he does not die a peaceful and natural death in old age…” (ESV Study Bible)

          • Guzik cites this quote from Patterson and Austel which is, perhaps, a fair assessment, “David felt under obligation to Joab, and though David was certainly not lacking in courage, he was not able to cope with the mixture of Joab’s loyalty and his misdeeds.”

          • On Sheol, HCSB writes, “’Sheol’ in Hebrew was the abode of the dead, both good and evil. Though the overall picture of Sheol is grim, the OT nevertheless affirms that God is there (Ps 139:8; Pr 15:11) or that it is impossible to hide from God in Sheol (Jb 26:6; Am 9:2). The OT also affirms that God has power over Sheol and is capable of ransoming souls from its depths (Jb 33:18, 28-30; Ps 16:10; 30:3; 49:15; 86:13).”

          • Deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Let them be among those who eat at your table because they supported me when I ran away from your brother Absalom.”

          • Don’t forget that Gera’s son Shimei is also with you, the Benjaminite from Bahurim. He cursed me with a terrible curse the day I went to Mahanaim, but when he came to meet me at the Jordan River I swore to him by Yahweh: ‘I will not kill you with the sword.’ Don’t consider him innocent now. You’re a wise man and you know how to deal with him. Bring his gray head down to Sheol with blood.”

          • If you’re having trouble understanding whether or not David’s basically telling Solomon to kill Shimei even though he had made an oath to him is right or wrong, you aren’t alone. Some commentaries offer some type of gloss over explanation to indicate why this was right for David to do, but I really don’t find any of them very compelling. Other commentaries just want to skip over this entirely, so the discomfort and lack of adequate explanation must be a pretty common view. Perhaps Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says it best when he says, “Concerning Shimei, Hold him not guiltless; do not think him any true friend to thee, or thy government, or fit to be trusted; he has no less malice now than he had then. David’s dying sentiments are recorded, as delivered under the influence of the Holy Ghost.” In other words, right or wrong, inspired Scripture just tells us what occurred in this case.

      • Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. David reigned over Israel for 40 years- 7 years in Hebron and 33 years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on his father David’s throne and his kingship was firmly established.

          • On “rested with his ancestors,” NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says, “Conceptually indicates that a person has joined the ancestors in the netherworld. It is more tangibly expressed in the common burial practices that interred each individual in a family tomb wherein they literally rested with their ancestors…”

          • Where is David’s tomb? The same source adds, “The tomb was known as late as the first century AD (cf Ac 2:29), but the modern-day ‘David’s tomb’ is a much later construction on a nearby hill erroneously ascribed to David by Crusader pilgrims.”

          • NET Bible clarifies, “The phrase the City of David refers here to the fortress of Zion in Jerusalem, not to Bethlehem. See 2 Sam 5:7.”

Adonijah’s Request

      • Haggith’s son, Adonijah, visited Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba. She asked, “Do you come in peace?” He replied, “Yes. May I speak with you?” She answered, “Speak.” He said, “You know the kingship was mine and all of Israel expected me to be king. But then the kingship was turned over to my brother because Yahweh gave it to him. Now I have one request of you- don’t refuse me.” She said, “Speak.” He said, “Please ask Solomon if he will give me Abishag the Shunammite as a wife- he won’t refuse you.” Bathsheba answered, “Very good. I will speak with the king on your behalf.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “Adonijah’s request to marry Abishag and Solomon’s harsh response must be understood against the backdrop of Abishag’s ambiguous status (1:3-4) and the revolt of Absalom in 2 Sa 16:21-22. In the ancient world, control of the harem accompanied accession to the throne. A public appearance with the king’s concubines was a political statement of control…Although Abishag had never been an official concubine of David, her close association with him meant that her marriage to Solomon’s political rival might be interpreted by the population as an acquisition of power and a challenge to the new king. In light of the fight over succession, Solomon had no other choice but to interpret Adonijah’s request as a rebellious act (v. 22), and thus Solomon eliminated him (v. 25).”

        • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says, “Bath-sheba does not seem to have suspected Adonijah’s design, and this simplicity of hers he perhaps hoped to trade upon, and thought that his petition, coming to Solomon through her, might appear less dangerous.”

      • So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on Adonijah’s behalf. The king arose to meet her, bowed down to her, then sat down on his throne. He ordered that a throne be brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand. She said, “I have one small request to make of you; don’t refuse me.” The king replied, Go ahead and make your request, my mother, I will not refuse you.” She said, “Allow Abishag from Shunem to be given as a wife to your brother Adonijah.” King Solomon answered his mother, “Why are you requesting Abighag from Shunem for Adonijah? Since he’s my older brother, you might as well ask the kingship for him also, and for the priest Abiathar, and for Zeruiah’s son Joab.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds this interesting note, “There are three different kinds of queens in the ancient world. The first includes primary wives of the king (e.g., Esther), who were sometimes treated as ornaments, but could alternatively be delegated power (as is later the case with Jezebel). The second is the wife or mother of the king who assumes his place when he dies, such as Athaliah of Judah or Hatshepsut of Egypt. The third is the ‘queen mother,’ whose royal husband as died but who continues to hold influence over his successor, such as Maakah of Judah, Sammuramat of Assyria and, in this context, Bathsheba. The amount of power and influence would have depended upon the personality of the individual. The queen mother is named for nearly every king in Judah, but not those of Israel, suggesting that the queen mother was an especially important figure in the southern kingdom.”

      • Then Solomon swore by Yahweh, saying: May God do so to me and more if this request does not cost Adonijah his life. Now, as Yahweh lives, He who established me, placed me on my father David’s throne, and established a dynasty for me as He promised, Adonijah will be put to death today!” Then King Solomon sent Jehoiada’s son Benaiah, and he killed Adonijah.

        • Because Adonijah violated his terms of submission to Solomon (1:52-53), the king ordered Benaiah…to execute him.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

Abiathar’s Banishment

      • The king said to the priest Abiathar, “Go back to your property in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you today because you carried the ark of the Lord Yahweh before my father David, and because you shared in all the hardships my father endured.” So Solomon banished Abiathar from being Yahweh’s priest. This fulfilled Yahweh’s words that He had spoken at Shiloh with regard to Eli’s family.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible explains, “Abiathar had treasonously supported Adonijah. But he was deposed rather than killed because he had carried the Ark (2 Sam 15:24, 29, 35), had supported David, and had shared all his hardships. Abiathar’s removal from the priesthood fulfilled the Lord’s word about the house of Eli in Ithamar’s line (1 Sam 2:30-35). Zadok’s appointment (1 Kgs 4:2) returned the high priesthood to Eleazar’s line as it had been before Eli (Num 20:22-28; 25:11-13; 2 Sam 8:17; 1 Chr 6:1-8, 50-53; Ezra 7:2-5) and as it continued throughout the divided monarchy (2 Chr 31:10; Ezek. 43:19).”

Joab’s Execution

      • When the news reached Joab, he ran to Yahweh’s tent and grabbed the horns of the altar because, even though he hadn’t supported Absalom, he had supported Adonijah. It was reported to Solomon: “Joab has fled to Yahweh’s tent and is beside the altar.” Solomon sent for Jehoiada’s son Benhaiah and said, “Go kill him.” When Benaiah arrived at Yahweh’s tent he said, “The king says, ‘Come out!’” Joab answered, “No! I will die here.” Benaiah went back and told the king what Joab said. The king replied, “Do as he said. Strike him down and bury him. This will take the guilt for the innocent blood that Joab shed away from me and my father’s family. Yahweh will return the bloodshed to his own head because, without my father David’s knowledge, he murdered with the sword two men who were better and more righteous than himself: Ner’s son Abner, who was the commander of Israel’s army, and Jether’s son Amasa, who was the commander of Judah’s army. May the guilt for their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever. But may Yahweh give peace to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne forevermore.” Then Jehoiada’s son Benaiah went up and killed him, and he was buried at his own house in the wilderness. The king appointed Jehoiada’s son Benaiah to take Joab’s place at the head of the army, and he appointed the priest Zadok to take Abiathar’s place.

      • Following Adonijah’s example…Joab had hoped to find mercy by grasping the horns of the altar according to the provisions of the law of Moses (Exod 21:12-14; Num 35:22-25; Deut 19:4-5). But because Joab was a murderer, he could not claim clemency (see 2 Sam 3:27; 18:14; 20:10).” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “Despite the guilt assigned to him…, Joab was given a proper burial in his family tomb at the edge of the wilderness near Bethlehem. There he would rest secure with his ancestors on the family plot…”

Shimei’s Banishment and Execution

      • Then the king sent for Shimei and told him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but you may not leave there to go anywhere else. The very day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, know for sure that you will certainly die and your blood will be on your own head.”

        • Benson Commentary writes, “Which Solomon mentions, because it was in the way to Bahurim, where Shimei’s former and settled habitation was, as appears by comparing 2 Samuel 15:23, with 1 Kings 16:5. But Solomon’s meaning was, and so, no doubt, was understood by Shimei, that if he went out of Jerusalem any way, to a greater distance than Kidron was from thence, he should die for it; for when he went to Gath, after his servants, he went not over Kidron, but the direct contrary way, that city lying westward of Jerusalem, as Kidron did eastward. Thy blood shall be upon thine own head — The blame and guilt of thy blood shall lie upon thyself only. In other words, his death should be owing to himself only, as the condition of his holding his life was known to him and accepted by him, as appears from the next verse.”

      • Shimei replied, “What you say is good, and your servant will do as my lord the king has said.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time. But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish of Gath, who was Maacah’s son. When Shimei was told, “Your slaves are in Gath,” he saddled his donkey and went to Achish in Gath to look for his slaves. Then he brought them back from Gath. When it was reported to Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and returned, he sent for Shimei and said, “Didn’t I make you swear by Yahweh and warn you: ‘On the day you leave and go anywhere, know for sure that you will certainly die’? And didn’t you say to me, ‘What you say is good and I will obey’? Why then have you not kept your oath to Yahweh and obeyed the command I gave you? You know yourself the harm you caused my father David. Therefore Yahweh will return the harm upon your own head. But King Solomon will be blessed and David’s throne will endure before Yahweh forevermore.” Then the king gave Jehoiada’s son Benaiah the order, and he went and executed Shimei. So the kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands.

        • Guzik says, “This chapter demonstrates that Solomon’s throne was secure at an early date, not like the reign of David or Saul.”

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