Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,
1Ki 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 (1Ch 28:2-9). It is introduced with great solemnity.
I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;
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 (1Co 16:13) and refers to the fortitude or strength of mind that was required to discharge the onerous functions of king.
And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
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 (De 17:10-20), that he would secure the blessing of peace and prosperity to his reign (see on De 4:5; De 29:10).
That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.
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 (2Sa 7:11-16), which was confirmed to Solomon afterwards (see 1Ki 9:5), and repeated with reference to its spiritual meaning long after (Jer 33:17).
Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet.
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 (2Sa 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.
Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
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.
But shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother.
And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword.
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 [1Ki 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.
Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.
9. for thou art a wise man—Solomon had given early indications of wisdom before his miraculous endowment with the heavenly gift (see 1Ki 3:11), and his own sagacity would dictate the course that should be followed in any new offense that Shimei might commit.
So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
10. So David slept with his fathers—about six months after the coronation of Solomon (compare 2Sa 5:5 with 1Ch 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 (see on 1Ch 22:1, and following).
was buried in the city of David—Sepulchres were not allowed within the precincts of cities. Jerusalem, however, formed an exception; and yet, even there, the privilege was reserved chiefly for the royal family (Ac 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.
And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
1Ki 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.
And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.
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 [1Ki 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.
He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.
And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the LORD.
And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.
And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife.
And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.
Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand.
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.
Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay.
And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife.
And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah.
22. why dost thou ask Abishag … ask for him the kingdom also—(See on 2Sa 16:5; also see on 2Sa 12:8). Solomon's indignation was roused; he in a 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.
Then king Solomon sware by the LORD, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.
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 (Mt 14:10).
Now therefore, as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day.
And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.
And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.
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 (see on 1Ki 4:4), of the doom denounced against the house of Eli (1Sa 2:30).
So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
1Ki 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 (Nu 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 (Ex 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 (De 19:13).
And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him.
And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.
And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father.
And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah.
Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD.
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 (2Sa 3:28, 29).
So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.
1Ki 2:34-46. Shimei Put to Death.
34. Benaiah … went up, and fell upon him—According to the terms of the statute (Ex 21:14), and the practice in similar cases (2Ki 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 (De 21:23).
And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar.
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither.
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 [1Ki 2:42-44].
For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.
And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.
And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath.
And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.
And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.
Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?
The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head;
And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever.
So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
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.