Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 2

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-46



As David was about to die, his words to Solomon have serious significance. Just as Paul (2 Timothy 4:1-6) and Peter (2 Peter 1:12-15) were concerned about the testimony of the Lord after their decease, so was David, for they were not moved by selfish motives, but by concern for God's glory among His people.

David therefore urged Solomon, "be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man" (v.2). If he was to do this, he would have to keep the charge of the Lord, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments and His testimonies written in the Law of Moses. Only by heeding this law would Solomon prosper (v.3).

The Lord had told David that if his sons would be diligent to walk before the Lord in truth with all their heart and soul, then there would be no lack of a descendant to sit on David's throne. David reminded Solomon of this conditional promise (v.4). Sad to say, David's sons did not fulfill the conditions. Solomon began well, but very soon departed from the truth of scripture, and his sons departed farther still (1 Kings 11:1-9; 1 Kings 12:1-15).

David was concerned that Solomon's throne was to be established in righteousness, a picture of the righteousness of the coming reign of the Lord Jesus in the millennium. He will purge out of His kingdom all things that offend. Therefore David speaks first of Joab, who had been for many years the general of David's army. He had been outwardly loyal to David, but had deliberately defied the law of God in seeking his own ends. David reminds Solomon that Joab had, in cold blood, murdered both Abner and Amasa (2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 20:10). He did not mention Joab's killing Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14), though Joab did this while Absalom was helpless and ought to have been taken prisoner rather than killed. Yet David avoided any suggestion that his personal feelings were involved in requiring that Joab should suffer the consequences of his crimes. But he made it clear to Solomon that Joab must not be left to die a natural death (vs.5-6).

In lovely contrast to this, David speaks most appreciatively of Barzillai, who had in old age come to David with food when David was in exile (2 Samuel 17:27-29). David therefore asks Solomon to show special kindness to the sons of Barzillai in allowing them to eat at his table. Just so, every act of devotion toward the Lord Jesus will be fully rewarded in His coming kingdom.

However, there is another class of people represented by Shimei, who had maliciously cursed David at the same time Barzillai had helped him (2 Samuel 16:5-8). When it seemed to Shimei that David was losing to Absalom, then he felt safe in cursing him, But when David regained his authority in Israel, Shimei changed his attitude and came to David to apologize (2 Samuel 19:1-20). The apology was made out of fear for his own safety, but David accepted it and swore to him by the Lord that he would not kill him (2 Samuel 19:23).

Though Shimei had cursed David, David would not trust himself to take vengeance on his own behalf. How important it is that we should observe such a principle as this! However, David knew that Shimei's apology was lacking in sincerity, so he told Solomon to act wisely in seeing to it that Shimei would be put to death for this evil that had really been against the Lord (vs.8-9). David told Solomon that his wisdom would find means to do this, as was proved later (vs.36-46). Thus, Solomon's kingdom illustrates the future kingdom of the Lord Jesus, which will not allow the admission of those who have before proven treacherous and cannot be trusted.



2 Samuel 5:4 tells us that David was 30 year old when he began to reign, and reigned 40 years over Israel. Thus he died at 70 years of age and was buried in Jerusalem. For seven years he reigned in Hebron and for 33 years in Jerusalem (v.11). By the time David died, Solomon was already reigning and his kingdom was firmly established. Solomon also reigned for forty years (1 Kings 11:42). How short indeed is the span of earthly glory! The last days of Paul in prison were much more bright with rejoicing than were the last days of either David or Solomon! (2 Timothy 4:6-8).



Adonijah was not a changed man in spite of his having submitted to Solomon. After David's death he came to Bathsheba (v.13). She was on her guard, wondering if he came peaceably, but she was not sufficiently on guard. Adonijah was like many religious people today, who choose to pray to Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus, to seek her influence with the Lord. He was too cautious to approach Solomon himself. But he told Bathsheba that she knew the kingdom was his and that all Israel had set their expectations on him. This was only pride, for how did he know that all Israel favored him? Natural thought might have expected the eldest son to succeed his father, but Adonijah knew that the Lord had chosen Solomon as king (v.15). Yet he had thought he might defeat the Lord's choice by gathering people after him. His words to Bathsheba show that he had not in heart submitted to Solomon and therefore could not be trusted.

He asked Bathsheba to intercede for him to ask Solomon that he would allow Adonijah to take Abishag as his wife. He thought Bathsheba's intercession would be effective with Solomon (vs.16-17). Bathsheba did not discern the dangers of such a suggestion, and was led more by a sympathetic nature than by cautious wisdom to agree to intercede for him (v.18) She ought to have simply reported to Solomon what Adonijah had said, rather than telling him she had only a small petition to make, urging him not to deny her request (vs.19-20). But Solomon also was too quick to assure his mother before hearing her request, that he would not refuse it.

When she made her request, he positively refused it, for he recognized that Adonijah was still desirous of having the kingdom. Bathsheba had thought it was a small matter, but Solomon discerned the spirit behind the request, which was a deeply significant matter. He found he could not keep his word to his mother, and instead decided that Adonijah must die, so that he would pose no threat to Solomon's authority (vs.23-24). He appointed Benaiah as the executioner, who immediately killed Adonijah.

This may remind us that after the antichrist exalts himself above all that is called God, the Lord Jesus will be exalted by God and will consume this proud enemy with the breath of His mouth and destroy him with the brightness of His coming (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). As Adonijah was a handsome man, so the antichrist will be very appealing to the fleshly desires of ungodly people, but his popularity will be short-lived, as was that of Adonijah.



Abiathar the priest had before seemed true to David (2 Samuel 15:24-29), but his being tested by the defection of Adonijah had proved him deficient, so that he was no longer to be trusted as a faithful priest. Solomon did not put him to death, though he told him he was worthy of death (v.26), but he banished him from Jerusalem, sending him to Anathoth, his home. Verse 27 tells us that this fulfilled the word of the Lord spoken to Eli (1 Samuel 2:31-34) because Eli had failed to faithfully function for God in the priesthood.

When news came to Joab of Adonijah's execution and of Abiathar's banishment, Joab knew he could not escape punishment since he had defected to Adonijah. He went to the tabernacle and took hold of the horns of the altar (v.28) as Adonijah had done at first (ch.1:51). This was the desperate act of a man clinging to religious ritual, but having no knowledge of God. Solomon sent Benaiah to execute Joab, which Benaiah was hesitant to do while Joab was clinging to the horns of the altar, but at Solomon's word, since Joab would not leave the altar, Benaiah carried out this unpleasant task, and Joab was buried in his wilderness house.

It was necessary for the establishment of Solomon's kingdom that the innocent blood of Abner and Amasa should be avenged on Joab, blood that Joab had shed without the knowledge of David (vs.32-33). Joab had stood by David until his defection to Adonijah, but his defection manifested the fact that his motives were not truly those of love for David, but rather of seeking his own advantage. His motives in killing Abner and Amasa were selfish too. Joab's execution symbolizes the fact that the millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus will be established in righteousness, which brings peace.

Benaiah therefore killed Joab, "and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness" (v.34). Solomon then made Benaiah general of the army in Joab's place, and Zadok replaced Abiathar as priest.



Shimei was a still different character. Though he had so viciously cursed David, yet he had apologized for this and David had then spared his life (2 Samuel 19:18-23), but he was not changed in heart, and Solomon told him in effect that he could not trust him our of sight, ordering him to live in Jerusalem with the warning that if he went elsewhere at any time he would be put to death (vs.36-37). Shimei fully agreed to this and promised to do as Solomon said.

However, three years later two of Shimei's slaves escaped from his service and went to Gath, about 25 miles from Jerusalem. When Shimei was told his servants were there, he took a trip by donkey to look for them (v.40). Surely he had not forgotten Solomon's warning and his own promise! Perhaps he thought that three years was enough to change Solomon's thoughts, but he wanted slaves to rule over, though he would not be content to be ruled himself!

Shimei's trip was reported to Solomon, who called for Shimei and reminded him of his promise to remain in Jerusalem, and of Solomon's promise to have him killed if he did not (vs.41-42). Though Shimei did not keep his promise, yet Solomon would keep his. Solomon also reminded him of the wickedness of his attitude toward David and that this wickedness would come back on his own head. David had not killed Shimei so as to avoid any appearance of personal retaliation, but justice must be carried out though David was no longer alive. Shimei's case is a warning to us not to speak evil of dignities (Jude 1:8-9). Again Benaiah was appointed executioner, and Shimei was put to death (v.46).

Thus, when the evil was fully judged, "the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon." There was a transitional period of three years before the kingdom is said to be fully established, just as there is a transitional period between Israel's being set aside and the Church fully established in the book of Acts. So also, when Christ takes His kingdom, there will be brief period during which God and Magog from the uttermost north will come down to attack Israel, a land brought back from war and dwelling in peace, but will be judged unsparingly, that Christ's kingdom may be established in unchallenged supremacy (Ezekiel 38:1-23).

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 2". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/1-kings-2.html. 1897-1910.
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