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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 2

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-11

The Death of David

v. 1. Now, the days of David drew nigh that he should die; he felt that death was approaching rapidly; and he charged Solomon, his son, saying,

v. 2. I go the way of all the earth, walking on the way which led to death, Joshua 23:14. Be thou strong therefore and show thyself a man, a true watchman in the service of Jehovah;

v. 3. and keep the charge of the Lord, thy God, that which was entrusted to him in his kingly office, that he might perform it, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and His testimonies, the sum total of the Law in all its different aspects, in its various relations to men, whether this had special reference to the children of Israel or not, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper, be skilful, use wise care, in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself, performing all things in such a manner as to have the approval of Jehovah and therefore be a partaker of true prosperity;

v. 4. 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, in faithful adherence to His covenant, with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee, shall not be cut off to thee, (said He) a man on the throne of Israel. The Messianic promise 2 Samuel 7:12-13 implied, of course, an unbroken succession of descendants of David, through whom the family of David might be continued. The posterity of David was not to be exterminated, for it was a branch out of his root who was to be the Messiah of the world.

v. 5. Moreover, thou knowest also what Joab, the son of Zeruiah, did to me, since he, with his strange influence in Israel, often acted counter to the wishes of the king, 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, in willful and malicious murder, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, 2 Samuel 3:27-28; 2 Samuel 20:8-9, and in his shoes that were on his feet, these articles of apparel being named as those of a warrior, the former serving to hold up the sheath of the sword, the latter for marching. Joab had soiled with innocent blood the very insignia of his rank and dignity as general and soldier.

v. 6. Do therefore according to thy wisdom, in choosing the right moment when Joab might give occasion, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace, to punish him for his blood-guiltiness in such a manner as not to provoke murmuring on the part of the people.

v. 7. But show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, Chimham being even now one of those enjoying the bounty of the king, 2 Samuel 19:40, 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, 2 Samuel 17:27.

v. 8. And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei, the son of Gerah, a man connected with the same occasion, 2 Samuel 16:5-6; 2 Samuel 19:21, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse, with a heinous and horrible malediction, 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, 2 Samuel 19:23, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword. He had forgiven the insult to his person, but the disgrace heaped upon the royal office must be avenged.

v. 9. Now, therefore, hold him not guiltless, he had a duty to perform as king and judge and as representative of the divine right; 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. Punishment must be visited upon him, only the time and manner of inflicting it was left to Solomon's discretion.

v. 10. So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David, in the city of Zion.

v. 11. And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years, in round numbers; seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem. Thus the believers, having finished their course, fall asleep in peace and join the number of those that are in the presence of the Lord.

Verses 12-25

Adonijah Forfeits his Life

v. 12. Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David, his father, having been acknowledged by a second anointing, which took place in the presence of all the representatives of the people; and his kingdom was established greatly, confirmed in a manner which caused all his enemies to abandon hope against him.

v. 13. And Adonijah, the son of Haggith, who had by no means abandoned his intention of possessing the kingdom, came to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, hoping to reach his object through the influence of this woman. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? Past experience had made her cautious. And he said, Peaceably, feigning friendship and concealing his real purpose throughout.

v. 14. He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee, thus flattering her by asking her advice and making her his unwitting ally. And she said, Say on.

v. 15. And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that, all Israel set their faces on me, a rather daring assertion, that I should reign; howbeit, the kingdom is turned about and is become my brother's; for it was his from the Lord. He proceeded from the assumption that he, as the eldest living prince, would have been the logical successor of David, but shrewdly covered his intention by the pious remark that the present state of affairs was due to Jehovah's disposition of matters.

v. 16. And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not, literally, "Turn not away my face," namely, in an unwilling refusal. And she said unto him, Say on.

v. 17. And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay, this probability being the basis of his entire plan, ) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife, the plea being, of course, that he honestly loved her.

v. 18. And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king. She may have thought that the discontent of Adonijah would be removed by the granting of this request, and the kingdom thus made more secure for her son.

v. 19. Bathsheba therefore went unto King Solomon to speak unto him for Adonijah, to prefer Adonijah's request. And the king, mindful of the reverence due to parents according to the Fourth Commandment, 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. This was a very high distinction, and Solomon's conduct might well be emulated by young people in our days, who have apparently forgotten what honoring of their parents requires of them.

v. 20. Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. She evidently thought only of the love-affair in the matter, the political aspect having entirely escaped her. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother; for I will not say thee nay. A small favor he was willing to grant in advance.

v. 21. And she said, let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah, thy brother, to wife. Bathsheba overlooked the fact that he who took one of the king's wives thereby put in a claim to the throne; for Abishag was a member of David's harem, being looked on by the entire nation as David's last wife, even if he had not known her.

v. 22. And King Solomon, who immediately saw through the intrigue of Adonijah and was fully aware of the consequences, 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, who might base his claim on that fact; even for him and for Abiathar, the priest, and for Joab, the son of Zeruiah, the two men who had sided with Adonijah in his rebellion.

v. 23. Then King Solomon, upon whom it now dawned that Adonijah had tried to use his mother as his tool, sware by the Lord, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life. The meaning of the oath is that the continual punishment of God should strike him, if he did not carry out the death-sentence upon Adonijah for this trickery on his part.

v. 24. 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, given him a son and thus established his family, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day, having forfeited his life by this new attempt against the king.

v. 25. And King Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died, he carried out the sentence of execution. If men, after having repented and received forgiveness of sins, deliberately and maliciously fall back into their former transgressions, they must expect to be punished for all their crimes.

Verses 26-35

The End of Joab

v. 26. And unto Abiathar, the priest, said the king, in deposing him and his family from office, Get thee to Anathoth, a priests' town in the tribe of Benjamin, some five miles northeast of Jerusalem, unto thine own fields, for he had possessions there; for thou art worthy of death, as a conspirator against the king; but I will not at this time put thee to death because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David, my father, 1 Samuel 23:6; 2 Samuel 15:24-29, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted, both during the persecution of Saul and during the rebellion of Absalom.

v. 27. So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord, that he might fulfill the word of the Lord which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh, from whom Abiathar was, through Ithamar, descended. The office of the high priest, from this time forth, passed over to the house of Eleazar, to which Zadok belonged. If a servant of the Word becomes guilty of flagrant transgressions of God's holy Law, he becomes unworthy of the holy office.

v. 28. Then tidings came to Joab, he received news of the execution of Adonijah and of the deposition of Abiathar; for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord, probably the tent of David on Mount Zion, and caught hold on the horns of the altar, the altar being considered a place of refuge, 1 Kings 1:50.

v. 29. 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, the official executioner, saying, Go, fall upon him.

v. 30. And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the Lord and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. He did not like to perform the execution in the sanctuary. And he, Joab, said, Nay; but I will die here. He relied upon his defiance to save his life. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.

v. 31. And the king, assuming the responsibility, said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and, after the execution, bury him, that thou mayest take away the innocent blood which Joab shed, from me and from the house of my father; for as long as the murderer was unpunished, the blood-guiltiness rested upon the chief magistrate of the land, Numbers 35:30-31; Deuteronomy 19:13.

v. 32. And the Lord shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon the 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, 2 Samuel 3:27, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa, the son of Jether, 2 Samuel 20:10, captain of the host of Judah. Thus the blood of these men, which had been shed by Joab in deliberate murder, mould be avenged.

v. 33. Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, to be required at his hand, and upon the head of his seed forever, Cf 2 Samuel 3:28-29; but upon David and upon his seed and upon his house, his family in all its descendants, and upon his throne, upon the royal office hereditary in his family, shall there be peace forever from the Lord, salvation and blessing in richest measure.

v. 34. So Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, went up and fell upon him, in the sanctuary, and slew him; and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness, that of Judah, not far from Bethlehem and Tekoa.

v. 35. And the king put Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, who till now had been captain of the king's body-guard, in his room over the host, making him commander-in-chief over the army; and Zadok, the priest, did the king put in the room of Abiathar, the only high priest in office. No matter if one has, for a long time, walked in the paths of righteousness; if he becomes unfaithful to his Lord, he loses the credit of his former conduct and must suffer the penalty of his transgressions.

Verses 36-46

The Punishment of Shimei

v. 36. And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, without specific reference to his crime, of which he was very well aware, Build thee an house in Jerusalem and dwell there, for Solomon desired to keep him under surveillance, and go not forth thence any whither. He could move about freely within the city, but was not permitted to leave it.

v. 37. For it shall be that on the day thou goest out and passest over the brook Kidron, especially with the purpose of returning to his home at Bahurim, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die, he was plainly told that the king could not trust him out of his sight; thy blood shall be upon thine own head, he would have no one but himself to blame in case the death-sentence would have to be carried out upon him.

v. 38. And Shimei said unto the king, in accepting the inevitable and probably counting himself lucky for escaping at all, The saying is good; as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.

v. 39. And it came to pass at the end of three years that two of the servants of Shimei, his slaves, ran away unto Achish, son of Maachah, king of Gath, in the Philistine country. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath.

v. 40. And Shimei arose, deliberately ignoring his promise to the king, to whom he should have appealed concerning the return of his slaves, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath, to Achish, to seek his servants. And Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath, he was successful in his quest.

v. 41. And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and was come again, that he had broken his parole.

v. 42. And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the Lord, taking a solemn oath from him, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out and walkest abroad anywhither that thou shalt surely die? And thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.

v. 43. Why, then, hast thou not kept the oath of the Lord, that made in His name, and the commandment that I have charged thee with? He had forfeited his life by breaking his oath.

v. 44. The king said moreover to Shimei, reminding him of his former wickedness, which he had, to all appearances, not yet laid aside, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, which his heart knew and continually thought over, that thou didst to David, my father; therefore the Lord shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head, he now had to suffer the consequences of his crime;

v. 45. and King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever. The Lord had turned Shimei's curse upon David into a blessing upon his whole house, as the king had prayed, 2 Samuel 16:12.

v. 46. 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; this affair gave him further prestige. Through the proper administration of right and justice the power and prestige of every government is established.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 2". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/1-kings-2.html. 1921-23.
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