David's dying charge to Solomon. (1-4) David's charge as to Joab and others. (5-11) Solomon reigns, Adonijah aspiring to the throne is put to death. (12-25) Abiathar banished, Joab put to death. (26-34) Shimei is put to death. (35-46)
Verses 1-4 David's charge to Solomon is, to keep the charge of the Lord. The authority of a dying father is much, but nothing to that of a living God. God promised David that the Messiah should come from his descendants, and that promise was absolute; but the promise, that there should not fail of them a man on the throne of Israel, was conditional; if he walks before God in sincerity, with zeal and resolution: in order hereunto, he must take heed to his way.
Verses 5-11 These dying counsels concerning Joab and Shimei, did not come from personal anger, but for the security of Solomon's throne, which was the murders he had committed, but would readily repeat them to carry any purpose; though long reprieved, he shall be reckoned with at last. Time does not wear out the guilt of any sin, particularly of murder. 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, ( 2 Samuel. 23:1-7 ) salvation of that glorious personage, the Messiah, whose coming he then foretold, and from whom he derived all his comforts and expectations. That passage gives a decided proof that David died under the influence of the Holy Ghost, in the exercise of faith and hope.
Verses 12-25 Solomon received Bathsheba with all the respect that was owing to a mother; but let none be asked for that which they ought not to grant. It ill becomes a good man to prefer a bad request, or to appear in a bad cause. According to eastern customs it was plain that Adonijah sought to be king, by his asking for Abishag as his wife, and Solomon could not be safe while he lived. Ambitious, turbulent spirits commonly prepare death for themselves. Many a head has been lost by catching at a crown.
Verses 26-34 Solomon's words to Abiathar, and his silence, imply that some recent conspiracies had been entered into. Those that show kindness to God's people shall have it remembered to their advantage. For this reason Solomon spares Abiathar's life, but dismisses him from his offices. In case of such sins as the blood of beasts would atone for, the altar was a refuge, but not in Joab's case. Solomon looks upward to God as the Author of peace, and forward to eternity as the perfection of it. The Lord of peace himself gives us that peace which is everlasting.
Verses 35-46 The old malignity remains in the unconverted heart, and a watchful eye should be kept on those who, like Shimei, have manifested their enmity, but have given no evidence of repentance. No engagements or dangers will restrain worldly men; they go on, though they forfeit their lives and souls. Let us remember, God will not accommodate his judgment to us. His eye is over us; and let us strive to walk as in his presence. Let our every act, word, and thought, be governed by this great truth, that the hour is quickly coming when the smallest circumstances of our lives shall be brought to light, and our eternal state be fixed by a righteous and unerring God. Thus Solomon's throne was established in peace, as the type of the Redeemer's kingdom of peace and righteousness. And it is a comfort, in reference to the enmity of the church's enemies, that, how much soever they rage, it is a vain thing they imagine. Christ's throne is established, and they cannot shake it.
1 Kings 2:1-11 . DAVID DIES.
1. David . . . charged Solomon his son--The charge recorded here was given to Solomon just before his death and is different from the farewell address delivered in public some time before ( 1 Chronicles 28:2-9 ). It is introduced with great solemnity.
2. I go the way of all the earth--a beautiful and impressive periphrasis for death.
be thou strong, . . . show thyself a man--This counsel is similar to the apostolic direction ( 1 Corinthians 16:13 ) and refers to the fortitude or strength of mind that was required to discharge the onerous functions of king.
3. keep the charge of the Lord thy God--that is, the divine law in all its ceremonial as well as moral requirements. But particular reference was intended to its political institutions, as it was only by strictly maintaining the conduct that became the Hebrew monarch ( Deuteronomy 17:10-20 ), that he would secure the blessing of peace and prosperity to his reign
4. there shall not fail thee . . . a man on the throne of Israel--a reference to the promise made to David of the sovereignty being vested perpetually in his lineage ( 2 Samuel 7:11-16 ), which was confirmed to Solomon afterwards (see 1 Kings 9:5 ), and repeated with reference to its spiritual meaning long after ( Jeremiah 33:17 ).
5, 6. thou knowest also what Joab . . . did--The insolent and imperious conduct of that general had not only been deeply offensive to the feelings ( 2 Samuel 18:5-15 , 19:5-7 ), but calculated to bring reproach on the character, to injure the prospects, and endanger the throne of David. Passing over the injuries committed directly against himself, David dwelt with strong feelings on the base assassination of Abner and Amasa.
shed the blood of war in peace, &c.--The obvious meaning is, that in peace he acted towards them as if they had been in a state of warfare; but perhaps these graphic expressions might be designed to impress Solomon's mind more strongly with a sense of the malice, treachery, and cruelty by which those murders were characterized.
6. Do . . . according to thy wisdom--Joab's immense popularity with the army required that any proceedings instituted against him should be taken with great prudence and deliberation.
8. thou hast with thee Shimei--Though David promised him a pardon, which being enforced by the presence of a thousand followers, could not have been well refused, he warned his son against Shimei as a turbulent and dangerous character. It must not be supposed that in these dying instructions David was evincing a fierce, vindictive spirit. He is rather to be considered as acting in the character of a king and magistrate, in noticing crimes which he had not been in a condition to punish, and pointing out persons of whom Solomon would be under a necessity to rid himself as dangerous to the state. The grateful mention of Barzillai's kindness [ 1 Kings 2:7 ] was, however, a personal feeling that does honor to the warmth of his heart; and his silence as to Mephibosheth, the son of his beloved Jonathan, would imply the previous death of that prince.
9. for thou art a wise man--Solomon had given early indications of wisdom before his miraculous endowment with the heavenly gift (see 1 Kings 3:11 ), and his own sagacity would dictate the course that should be followed in any new offense that Shimei might commit.
10. So David slept with his fathers--about six months after the coronation of Solomon (compare 2 Samuel 5:5 , with 1 Chronicles 29:27 ). The interval was spent in developing his ideas and plans for the future glory of the kingdom and providing for the permanent worship of God within the precincts of cities. Jerusalem, however, formed an exception; and yet, even there, the privilege was reserved chiefly for the royal family ( Acts 2:29 ). Tradition says that the bones of David repose on Mount Zion, and the minaret of a small mosque points out the spot which tradition has fixed. His was a noble, a wondrous, and a humbling history. He was a good man, yet his life was deformed by various crimes of a very gross character. But there were many bright and noble traits in his character; he was an earnest lover of the divine law; his reign was signalized by many important services that contributed to the glory of God and the exaltation of His kingdom; and his name, as the sweet Psalmist of Israel, will be held in honor to the latest age of the Church.
1 Kings 2:12-24 . SOLOMON SUCCEEDS HIM.
12. Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father--His ascension to the royal dignity was made under the happiest auspices. Having been born after his father became monarch of the whole kingdom, his claim, according to the notions of Oriental people, was preferable to that of all, even his elder brothers. The Hebrew kingdom enjoyed internal prosperity; it was respected and renowned abroad, and Solomon well knew how to improve these advantages.
13-18. Adonijah . . . came to Bath-sheba--Her question to him betrays an apprehension which his recent conduct might well warrant; but his pious acknowledgment of the divine will seemed apparently to indicate so entire an acquiescence in the settlement of the succession ( 1 Kings 2:15 ), that, in her womanly simplicity, she perceived not the deep cunning and evil design that was concealed under his request and readily undertook to promote his wishes.
19, 20. Bath-sheba . . . went unto King Solomon--The filial reverence and the particular act of respect, which Solomon rendered, were quite in accordance with the sentiments and customs of the East. The right hand is the place of honor; and as it expressly said to have been assigned to "the king's mother," it is necessary to remark that, when a husband dies, his widow acquires a higher dignity and power, as a mother over her son, than she ever possessed before. Besides, the dignity of "king's mother" is a state office, to which certain revenues are attached. The holder has a separate palace or court, as well as possesses great influence in public affairs; and as the dignity is held for life, it sometimes happens, in consequence of deaths, that the person enjoying it may not be related to the reigning sovereign by natural maternity. Bath-sheba had evidently been invested with this honorable office.
22. why dost thou ask Abishag . . . ask for him the kingdom moment penetrated the artful scheme, and from his associating the names of Abiathar and Joab, he seems to have suspected or known that those deep schemers had been the prompters of Adonijah.
23-25. God do so to me, and more also--the common form of introducing a solemn oath.
if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life--Whether there was a treasonable design to conceal under this request or not, the act, according to Eastern notions, was criminal, and of dangerous consequence to the state. There is no ground of censure upon Solomon for cruelty or precipitation in this instance. He had pardoned Adonijah's former conspiracy; but this new attempt was rebellion against the viceroy appointed by the divine King and called for condign punishment. The office of executioner was among the Hebrews, as in other ancient countries of the East, performed unceremoniously and privately--often without any previous warning--by the captain of the guard, or one of his officers ( Matthew 14:10 ).
26, 27. unto Abiathar the priest said the king--This functionary, as the counsellor or accomplice of Adonijah, had deserved to share his fate. But partly from regard to his priestly dignity, and partly from his long associations with the late king, Solomon pronounced on him the mitigated sentence of banishment to his country estate at Anathoth, and thereby, as God's vicegerent, deprived him of his office and its emoluments. The sacred writer notices the remarkable fulfilment. Abiathar's degradation from the high priesthood of the doom denounced against the house of Eli ( 1 Samuel 2:30 ).
1 Kings 2:28-45 . JOAB SLAIN.
28. Then tidings came to Joab--The execution of these sentences respectively on Adonijah and Abiathar prepared Joab for his fate. Death, due to his great crimes ( Numbers 35:33 ), would long ago have been inflicted, had not his power and popularity with the army been too formidable for the old king. He now fled to the altar, which, though a recognized asylum, afforded no sanctuary to the rebel and murderer ( Exodus 21:14 ). And, as he refused to leave it, he seems to have cherished some faint hope that a religious scruple would have been felt at the thought of violating the sanctity of the place by bloodshed. Benaiah, not liking to assume any responsibility, referred the matter to Solomon, who determined that the law should take its course ( Deuteronomy 19:13 ).
33. Their blood shall . . . return upon the head of Joab, &c.--A reference is here made to the curse publicly and solemnly pronounced by King David ( 2 Samuel 3:28 2 Samuel 3:29 ).
1 Kings 2:34-46 . SHIMEI PUT TO DEATH.
34. Benaiah . . . went up, and fell upon him--According to the terms of the statute ( Exodus 21:14 ), and the practice in similar cases ( 2 Kings 11:15 ), the criminal was to be dragged from the altar and slain elsewhere. But the truth is, that the sanctity of the altar was violated as much by the violence used in forcing the criminal from the place as in shedding his blood there; the express command of God authorized the former and therefore by implication permitted the latter.
was buried in his own house--or family vault, at his property in the wilderness of Judah. His interment was included in the king's order, as enjoined in the divine law ( Deuteronomy 21:23 ).
36. the king sent and called for Shimei--He was probably residing at Bahurim, his native place. But, as he was a suspicious character, Solomon condemned him henceforth to live in Jerusalem, on the penalty of death, for going without the gates. He submitted to this confinement for three years, when, violating his oath, he was arrested and put to death by Solomon for perjury, aggravated by his former crime of high treason against David [ 1 Kings 2:42-44 ].
46. the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon--Now, by the death of Shimei, all the leaders of the rival factions had been cut off.