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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

1 Kings 2

Verses 1-11

1 Kings 2 AND 1 Chronicles 29

David’s Charge, 1 Kings 2:1-11 AND 1 Chronicles 29:26-30

Shortly before his death David called Solomon into his presence again to further charge him. When he spoke of going the way of all the earth he used terminology again reminiscent of Joshua (Joshua 23:14), meaning that it is the lot of sinful man to live out a span of years, die, and go into eternity (Hebrews 9:2).

Every time such passages are read they serve to remind the reader of his own inevitable appointment. But David was concerned for the future, especially as it regarded his influence continuing on his son and successor.

Solomon should exercise manliness and strength of character. He should keep the charge of the Lord in observance of all His commandments, judgments, statues, and testimonies, as given by Moses.

If he was to have the Lord’s prosperity on him he must do this in whatever direction he should turn. The promises concerning David’s children and the continuance of his throne were contingent on the keeping of the Lord’s word.

David also assigned to Solomon three specific commandments to be carried out after his death. The first was a decree of death on Joab, his longtime captain of the host.

Joab had long been due the death penalty, but David had not inflicted it. It began with his murder of Abner, the captain of the host under Saul, whom he and his brother Abishai had killed in retaliation for Abner’s slaying of their brother, Asahel, in battle, in self defense. At that time David had said, "I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too hard for me" (2 Samuel 2:18-23; 2 Samuel 3:26-27; 2 Samuel 3:39).

The Scriptures nowhere reveal what it was that caused David to allow this crime to go unpunished. Then many years later, Joab, again with the connivance of Abishai his brother, had slain Amasa, whom David had appointed to be in Joab’s place following the death of Absalom by Joab’s hand in battle (2 Samuel 20:8-10). David called it the shedding of blood of war in time of peace. Though Joab was old and gray headed Solomon in his wisdom is to execute the old warrior for his crimes.

Next David cited the friendship of the family of Barzillai the Gileadite, who had befriended David during the time of the trouble concerning Absalom.

David had then proffered his kindness to Chimham, the grandson of Barzillai, because it was declined by the aged Barzillai (2 Samuel 19:31 -­40). David desired that Solomon continue to reward the family with kindness that they might have their wants supplied from his table. The last command had to do with Shimei, the Benjamite who had so vilely cursed and abused David and his men as they fled to Mahanaim. Shimei was certainly worthy of execution, but when he came repentant to David to the Jordan upon his return to Jerusalem, David had sworn to let him live.

At the time David was frustrated with the sons of Zeruiah, and Abishai had insisted on executing Shimei. Out of resentment against Abishai David had sworn to let Shimei live (2 Samuel 16:5-13; 2 Samuel 19:16-23). Yet Solomon in his wisdom must be mindful that Shimei is a dangerous character, and deal with him accordingly.

The reign of David is summed up as a total of forty years, divided between seven years in Hebron, as king over the tribe of Judah only, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. The Chronicles account says he died in a good old age, meaning that it was a long life relative to the times. He died with riches and honor, another measure of God’s blessing upon him. David died with the satisfaction of knowing that his desire was effected in the reigning of Solomon, the son he had picked to succeed him. Paul spoke of the death of David as a falling asleep after he had served his generation (Acts 13:36).

The records of David’s reign were well kept. In the early years they were written by Samuel; Gad had come into his life and kept records from the days of his flight from Saul; Nathan had been with him through the period of kingship, evidently surviving him. These men had told of his reign, his might, and the times which transpired with the surrounding nations. These writings are not likely the inspired ones found in the Books of Samuel and First Chronicles, but may have been used by whoever it was who did write them under inspiration (2 Peter 1:21)

Verses 12-25

Adonijah Executed, 1 Kings 2:12-25 AND 1 Chronicles 29:23-25 AND 2 Chronicles 1:1

From his father’s death Solomon began the establishment of his kingdom, prospered greatly, and was magnified exceedingly by the presence of the Lord with him. He was accepted by all Israel; the princes and the mighty men, along with the sons of David submitted themselves to his rule. As the’ Lord had promised He made Solomon great in the eyes of the people, and his majesty exceeded that of any previous king. From the very beginning the Lord made it apparent that His word was reliable, so that Solomon should never have doubted it (Proverbs 30:5).

But there was still trouble to be dealt with before the young king was entirely secure on his throne. The Adonijah party, contrary to appearances and their own profession, had not given up their intentions to subvert the kingdom to him. However, they evidently intended to do so by gradual, subtle subversion. The initial step was taken by Adonijah himself, who did so by a seemingly innocent request through Bath­sheba, the mother of Solomon.

Bathsheba suspected the purpose of Adonijah when he came, but he declared that he came peaceably, and she agreed to hear his peti­tion. Bathsheba appears a bit naive in the matter, but it seemed no great thing Adonijah asked. He asked for Solomon’s permission to marry Abi­shag, the pretty little nurse who attended David in his last days. Then, too, the cunning Adonijah played on Bathsheba’s sympathy, claiming that he was the choice of the people to be their king and that he failed only because the Lord Himself pre-empted him. This appears to have been altogether false in light of the universal acclaim Solomon received once it was announced that he should be king.

So Bathsheba agreed to intercede with Solomon for Adonijah. Solomon received his mother with great re-sped, rising from the throne and bowing before her, then having a seat brought to put her beside him. She asked of him "one small petition," and Solomon said he could not say, "No," to her requests, though he had not an inkling of what she would ask. Therefore he was astonished, and taken aback, when she asked for Abishag for Adonijah. He could not grant such a request, and answered Bathsheba curtly, "Ask for him the kingdom," for he claimed the right of the elder brother. Why not ask it for Abiathar and Joab? Solomon swore that this attempt of Adonijah should seal his death warrant.

Why was the request for Abishag considered a covert attempt to undermine Solomon’s kingdom? Adonijah could not have been so much in love with the pretty little nurse. As a handsome, charismatic man he must have already had many wives. Why should he wish to take Abi­shag? Then, legally, Abishag was also the widow of his father, the late king, and such a marriage could be considered incestuous. Also, according to custom, the new king succeeded to all that had been possessed by the old king. The concubines were included in this custom, and rightfully Solomon could claim Abishag as a part of his harem. It appears that this is exactly what he did, and may well have been the deciding factor in the death sentence. If Adonijah could procure one right out of his brother’s harem it would become known by the people, and Solomon would suffer in.their esteem. It would imply his weakness and enhance the prestige of Adonijah, who would then have the choice member of the harem.

Solomon recognized the trick and immediately sent Benaiah to execute the wicked rebel brother. That brave warrior fell upon the up­start prince and slew him. Adonijah had brought his fate on his own head. Solomon had sworn to show him mercy so long as Adonijah showed himself a worthy man, or until wickedness appeared on him. Solomon had kept his part of the agreement, and Adonijah was justly condemned (James 1:14-15).

Verses 26-35

Joab Executed, Vs 26-35

The second of the conspirators dealt with by Solomon was Abiathar the priest. David had felt responsible for Abiathar, for it was his falsehood to the high priest Ahimelech which led to the slaughter of the priests by Saul when David was a fugitive from Saul (1 Samuel 21:1-9; 1 Samuel 22:6-23). Abiathar was the lone escapee, and David had sheltered him all through their mutual danger from King Saul, and had even allowed him to exercise the high priesthood, along with Zadok the proper high priest. Abiathar’s family was already under judgment from the Lord for the sins of Eli, his forefather, and his sons in the last day of the judges (1 Samuel 2:27-36). Abiathar’s reason for returning from David to Adonijah is not re­vealed in Scripture.

He was an old man, and already his son had succeeded him, and he may have felt that his position, and that of his son, might be more secure under Adonijah than under Solomon, who seemed to prefer Zadok.

Yet, Solomon would not condemn Abiathar to death, because he had suffered hardships with David and because he had borne the ark of God. Instead he banished him to the priest city of Anathoth, and the long-standing prophecy against the house of Eli was fulfilled.

The behavior of the aged Joab certainly implies that he was privy to the contrivances of Adonijah to yet usurp the kingdom. As soon as he heard what had happened to his cohorts he rushed to Gibeon to the tab­ernacle, and grasped the horns of the brazen sacrifice altar. This sym­bolized his desire for mercy.

The sacrifices on the brazen altar were atonement offerings sym­bolizing the need for mercy on the part of those sacrificing. In the end hard, cruel old Joab, who had shown no mercy of Abner, and Amasa, begged for mercy from King Solomon. How like this it surely will be in the last day, when those who never treasured mercy, nor sought it, in their lifetime cry out for mercy too late (Lu 16:25).

When the word reached Solomon he again sent out Benaiah with the sword of execution. When he called on Joab to emerge from the tab­ernacle and accept his fate, he refused, preferring to die in the sacred precincts of the sanctuary. Benaiah hesitated to shed blood of men in the tabernacle, and only complied when commanded by the king. Joab was buried in his own house in the wilderness, probably in the area southeast of Jerusalem toward his native city of Bethlehem.

It was a terrible end for a brave man, who had done much good on Israel’s behalf during his lifetime, and won many battles for his king and country. But he had never concerned himself with mercy and the future until it was too late. His evil heart deceived him to the end, though he at last realized his need for mercy too late.

This should be a sober warning to all people today to prepare for the future as early as possible in life, lest the opportunity slip out of the grasp before it is expected (Galatians 6:7-8).

Solomon proceeded to fill the vacancies by elevating Benaiah into the place of the captain of the host. Zadok finally assumed his rightful role as the sole high priest of Israel. So the kingdom of Solomon grew steadily stronger.

Verses 36-46

Shimel Executed, verses 36-46

Shimei was given opportunity to save his life, though it appears that he may also have had thoughts of rebellion against Solomon. David had unwisely allowed him to live, when he begged for his life, at the Jor­dan meeting with the returning David from exile. When Solomon was warned of Shimei’s suspected malice it was left to his determination whe­ther he should live or die. Solomon decided to confine him to the city of Jerusalem to keep him under the king’s watchful eye. Shimei was doubt­less happy to escape with his life and readily agreed to Solomon’s re­quirement that he build himself a house and live in confinement in Jeru­salem. He was plainly advised that to leave the city and to cross the Kid­ron would be to forfeit his right to life and make him suspect to mischief.

So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for three years in strict obedience to Solomon’s proposal. At the end of that period two of his servants ran away to the Philistine city of Gath and sought asylum with Achish the king. The Philistines were at that time vassals of Solomon, no doubt chafing under his tribute, and seeking for a way to escape the dominion of the kingdom of Israel. Therefore the arrival of two servants from a known foe of David’s house would certainly arouse suspicions relative to their master. But Shimei was told that his runaway servants were seen in Gath, and he ignored his agreement with Solomon, saddled a donkey, went to Gath, and came back with his servants.

When Solomon found out Shimei’s violation he sent for him and rebuked him severely. The king reminded Shimei that 1) he had sworn to abide by the agreement; 2) he had been assured that to leave would be to forfeit his life; 3) he had agreed that Solomon’s requirement was good. Proceeding Solomon further reminded Shimei 4) that he had sought the destruction of David through his vile cursing. He implied that Shimei alone knew of all the wicked scheming that went on in his heart. Perhaps the runaway servants was a ruse to meet with the Philistine king and plot against Solomon.

Benaiah was called upon to administer the death stroke to this last of David’s enemies. It is surprising that Shimei is not said to have made any protest. He was guilty without doubt, and there was nothing to say. He had sinned away his day of grace (Hebrews 10:29).

More lessons to learn: 1) It is good to seek correction of the errors of previous generations; 2) family friendships of long standing are valuable blessings in following generations, when of the Lord; 3) wickedness among God’s people should be firmly dealt with at its first appearance; 4) it is tragic that many put off settling things with the Lord until it is too late to acquire mercy; 5) God’s decrees, though long in coming, will not fail; 6) a guilty sinner will have no answer when he stands in judgment.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-kings-2.html. 1985.