Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 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: 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. ( I Kings : 1-4)
We are taken now into the bedchamber of the dying King David, where so much critical action had taken place in bringing Solomon to the throne over the false King, Adonijah.
David’s charge to his son is very similar to Moses’ charge to Joshua. Solomon was to be strong, and to have courage to carry out the God given task. Perhaps most critically, Solomon’s execution of his office was to revolve around his actual adherence to the Torah of God.
In this part of the charge David employs seven words to describe the various facets of the Torah. David called it “the charge of the LORD”, also Solomon was to walk in” His Ways”, to “keep his statutes”,and “commandments”,”Judgments” “Testimonies” and the”Law”. Solomon would succeed according to the extent to which He would allow himself to be saturated with the Word of God.
What does a reign of Righteousness look like? It involves the combination of Justice and Mercy. As Paul would tell us later, God ordains rulers to simply avenge the evildoers, and reward (reinforce) those who do good. (Romans13).
In his last charge to his son Solomon, David reminds him of certain evildoers who were in the Kingdom and who had proven to be evil when David was King. Evildoers cannot always be punished immediately, for various reasons, but the Righteous King must make war on all that is evil.
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. Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace ( I Kings 2:5-6)
We must keep in mind that this exhortation by David is not for the sake of personal revenge, as if a Mafia chief was dying and passing on an enemies list. David was acting in his capacity as the Anointed of God, and as a prophet, and urging his Son to reign in Righteousness for the glory of God. Evil must be purged.
Joab was an evil man. True humanly speaking he was loyal to his uncle, King David. He happened to be loyal to the right person, but his loyalty was tainted by a self serving, “ends justify the means” quality, which allowed him to commit cold-blooded murder more than once for the cause.
Shimei also was an evil man. David was tolerant of his abuse, in the days when David fled from Absalom his own Son, because David realized that he, David, was being punished for his own sin and that Shimei may have been fulfilling the prophecy of Nathan by showering abuse upon David when he was down. David lacked the moral authority to do what needed to be done.
But Shimei had dared to abuse and blasphemy the Anointed of the LORD, the “son of God” , pelting him with rocks and heaping blasphemies upon him. This was the act of an evil man, and that man remained in the Kingdom. Solomon was to deal with Him.
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.( I Kings 2:9)1
Barzillai was good, and had done good. Thus the Righteous King of necessity had to acknowledge and reward that as well. Solomon was to do good to Barzillai’s family.
Solomon’s faced his first challenge to the Righteous ordering of the Kingdom arose shortly after the death of David. It involved David’s older Son Adonijah.
We are reminded of the serpent in Genesis when we see Adonijah approach Solomon’s mother, with a very bold request, fraught with political implications.
Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly. And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.( I Kings 2:12-13)
What Adonijah requested was for the hand of Abishag, the beautiful young maiden who had been summonsed to keep David warm in his bed, as a cure for his circulation problems. There was no sexual intimacy, but because she had shared a bed with King David, she would technically qualify as a concubine.
In the succession of Kings, the wives and concubines of the previous King became the responsibility of the new King. For Adonijah to take Abishag would be in effect saying He was qualified to be King and was now taking his rights to the concubines!
Bathsheba didn’t understand this but Solomon immediately saw the implications of all of this.
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. 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. 1 Kings 2: 22-23)
Adonijah, had been given mercy by the King previously, when he clung to the horns of the altar after trying to assume to role of King in the fake coronation. But he had abused that mercy and continued to try to take the throne, which constituted treason. Solomon had him executed immediately.
Abiathar the Priest, who had attended the coronation of Adonijah, should have known better. He went along with the politically powerful and lent his support to the coronation of a King , which he knew David hadn’t selected, in effect he rejected the counsel of God in support of a usurper.
Solomon would not execute a Priest who had carried the Holy Ark on his shoulders in times past, but he sent him into exile to Anathoth, (ironically a Levitical town which would give us Jeremiah). He would not be allowed to be a Priest and was exiled in disgrace. This fulfilled the prophecy against the house of Eli from the days of Samuel, which said Eli’s house would no longer be priests but would be reduced to poverty.
It was now time to deal with Joab. Joab was shrewd enough to realize that his time had come so he fled to the “horns of the Altar” .
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.3And 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. ( I Kings 2:30-33)
But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. (Exodus 21).
Shimei the blasphemer was shown conditional mercy. He was put under oath that he would remain under house arrest as a condition of mercy. Shimei was allowed to build a house and to remain in Jerusalem. He was not to cross the brook Kidron. But after a season, Shimei’s servant ran away and he dared saddle an Ass and went after him. He was arrested and brought before the King.
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? 4The 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;4And 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.( 1 Kings 2:42-46)
In spite of mercy, Shimei proved as profane and unrepentant as He always had been, mercy did him no good, and there was (and is) no such thing as unconditional mercy and grace. Shimei too was executed.
Thus did Solomon faithfully execute his father’s charge…