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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 2


David lying on his death-bed, giveth charge to Solomon of a religious life, 1 Kings 2:1-4.

Of Joab, Barzillai, and Shimei, 1 Kings 2:5-9.

He dieth: Solomon succeedeth, 1 Kings 2:10-12.

Adonijah suing for Abishag, is put to death, 1 Kings 2:13-25.

Abiathar is deprived of the priesthood, 1 Kings 2:26,1 Kings 2:27.

Joab fleeing to the horns of the altar is slain there, 1 Kings 2:28-34.

Benaiah is put in Joab’s room, and Zadok in Abiathar’s, 1 Kings 2:35.

Shimei confined to Jerusalem; going thence to Gath is put to death, 1 Kings 2:36-46.

Verse 2

Of all the earth, i.e. of all men upon the earth. Compare Joshua 23:14; Hebrews 9:27.

Be thou strong; for to govern his people according to the law of God, as it here follows, requires great fortitude or strength of mind; to arm himself against the subtle devices and evasions of some; against the flatteries and importunities of others; against terrors and dangers from revengeful men, and especially against himself and his own weakness, partiality, through fear or favour; and against all those evil thoughts and passions to which the temptations of their great wealth, and glory, and uncontrollable power naturally expose them. See Proverbs 16:32.

Show thyself a man, in manly wisdom, and courage, and constancy, though thou art but young in years, 1 Chronicles 22:5.

Verse 3

The charge of the Lord thy God, i.e. what God hath charged or commanded thee to do; the act being put for the object; as is usual.

In the law of Moses; which the prince was enjoined to transcribe and read, Deuteronomy 17:18, that he might govern his own and his people’s actions by it.

That thou mayest prosper; or, behave thyself prudently; for the word signifies both. Hereby he intimates that religion is the truest reason of state, and that all true wisdom and good success depends upon piety.

Verse 4

Confirm his word, i.e. fulfil his promise, the condition upon which it was suspended being performed.

Take heed to their ways, i.e. diligently observe all their actions, to order them according to God’s word.

To walk before me; to live as those that have God before their eyes, and endeavour to approve themselves to him.

In truth; not only in pretence and show, but truly and sincerely. With all their heart, and with all their soul, i.e. universally, freely, and fervently.

There shall not fail thee a man on the throne of Israel; the succession shall be continued in thy line without any interruption.

Verse 5

Did to me, i.e. against me; either, first, Directly and immediately; how insolently and imperiously he hath carried himself towards me from time to time, trampling upon my authority and commands when they thwarted his humour or interest, provoking my spirit by his words and actions. See 2 Samuel 3:39; 2 Samuel 19:7. Or, secondly, Indirectly, in what he did against Abner and Amasa; whose death was a great injury to David, as it was a breach of his laws and peace; a contempt of his person and government; a pernicious example to others of his subjects upon the like occasions; a great scandal and dishonour to him, as if Joab had been only David’s instrument, to effect what he secretly desired and designed; whereby the hearts of his people either were or might have been alienated from him, and inflamed against him, and the wounds which were well nigh healed might have been widened again, and made to bleed afresh.

And what he did, or, even; the following branches being added as an explication of the foregoing, to show what and how he acted towards or against David. Or, and particularly; as his other miscarriages, so these especially.

Shed the blood of war in peace; he slew them as if they had been in the state and act of war, when there was not only a cessation of arms, but also a treaty and agreement of peace, of which also they were the great procurers and promoters.

Upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet: this is added to note his impudence and impenitency, that although by his perfidious manner of killing them, when he pretended to embrace them, he stained his own garments with their blood, yet he was not ashamed of it, but gloried in it, and marched boldly along with the army with the same girdle and shoes which were sprinkled with their blood. See 2 Samuel 20:10.

Verse 6

According to thy wisdom, i.e. what in reason and justice thou seest fit. For though I was forced to forbear him when it was in a manner out of my power to punish him, yet I never forgave him; and therefore do thou wisely and severely examine all his actions, and particularly this last rebellion, and punish him according to his demerits.

Let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace; though he be old, having been the general of the army forty years, yet do not suffer him to die a natural death, but cut him off by the sword of justice.

Verse 7

Quest. Why doth he not require the like kindness to Mephibosheth the son of his dear Jonathan?

Answ. Either he and his were now extinct, or by their after-miscarriages had forfeited his favour.

For so, i.e. with such kindness either as I cannot express, (as the particle so is elsewhere used,) or as I command thee to show to them.

They, i.e. Barzillai and his sons; for though Barzillai only be mentioned, 2 Samuel 17:27, yet his sons doubtless were instrumental in the business, especially Chimham, 2 Samuel 19:37,2 Samuel 19:38.

Verse 8

With thee, i.e. in thy power, as that phrase is oft used.

Cursed me with a grievous curse; or, reproached me with bitter reproaches, 2 Samuel 16:7,2 Samuel 16:8; which David could not but deeply resent from him, though, as it was an affliction sent from God, he patiently submitted to it.

I will not put thee to death with the sword.

Quest. How then could David lawfully engage Solomon to punish him for it? And did David upon his death-bed bear malice against Shimei?

Answ. First, David was not a private person, which might remit such offences without any inconvenience; but a public magistrate, who for the honour and maintenance of government was obliged to punish such insolent and opprobrious speeches, if the necessity of his affairs had not then engaged him to pass it by. Otherwise it appears from divers passages of the Psalms, and of this history, how free David was from a rancorous and revengeful spirit, even towards his enemies.

Secondly, The following advice is not contrary to David’s oath, both because that was only personal, that David would not kill him either at that time, as Abishai desired him, or whilst he lived, and did not oblige his successors; and especially, because it was not David’s mind that Shimei should be put to death for that fault, (as is evident; for then there was no need of Solomon’s wisdom to find out an occasion, but only of his justice to punish him for the old crime,) but for some other competent crime, which Solomon’s wisdom, narrowly prying into all his actions, would easily find out. And if the condition which Solomon imposed upon Shimei, 1 Kings 2:36,1 Kings 2:37, seem hard, it must be remembered that David only swore that he would pardon him as to life, but not that he would exempt him from all punishment or confinement.

Verse 9

Hold him not guiltless; though I have spared his life, do not treat him as an innocent person, neither let him go wholly unpunished.

Thou art a wise man, and therefore wilt easily find out just occasions to chastise him, especially considering his perverse and wicked disposition.

What thou oughtest to do unto him; how to punish him, not without just cause, and yet without any violation of my oath, or reflection upon me, or upon religion for my or thy sake.

With blood, i.e. with the effusion of his blood; with a bloody or violent death.

Verse 10

Slept with his fathers;

See Poole "1 Kings 1:21", See Poole "Deuteronomy 31:16".

In the city of David, i.e. in that part of Jerusalem which was called by his name, because he took it from the Jebusites. See 2 Samuel 5:7; 1 Chronicles 11:5; 2 Chronicles 5:2.

Verse 11

Seven years; more precisely, seven years and six months, 2 Samuel 5:5; but smaller sums are oft neglected in Scripture computations.

Verse 12

Being settled upon him with universal consent and approbation, and with the hearty affections of his people, which all wise men know to be a prince’s best and surest establishment.

Verse 13

Comest thou peaceably, or with some evil design upon me or my son? which she might well surmise, knowing his ambition and envy at Solomon, and his hatred against her, as the chief occasion of his dejection.

Verse 15

The kingdom was mine, both by birthright and by actual inauguration. It seems he could not yet forget his pretence to the crown, nor his ambition for it, but continues his claim; which, it seems, Solomon did apprehend and resent, though Bath-sheba did not; the wives and concubines of the late king being reputed to appertain to the successor. See 2 Samuel 12:8.

All Israel set their faces on me; they looked upon me as their king, and David’s successor, expecting that David should confirm my election.

The kingdom is turned about; translated from me to him, by the vicissitude of human affairs, and the changeable humour of the people.

It was his from the Lord; either, first, By God’s providence so disposing David’s mind, and the people’s hearts. Or rather, secondly, By God’s appointment and particular designation, wherein he would seem to acquiesce; which he mentions, not that he made any conscience of it, or had any regard to it; but only that by this pretence he might deceive both her and Solomon, as if he were far from any design of usurping the kingdom.

Verse 16

Deny me not, Heb. do not turn away my face, i.e. do not send me out of thy presence sad or ashamed. Compare 2 Chronicles 6:42; Psalms 132:10.

Verse 17

Which though it was against a positive law of God, Leviticus 18:7, yet either Adonijah might be ignorant of it, being a man more studied in the affairs of the court than in the book of God; or might think her not concerned in it, because David knew her not, 1 Kings 1:4.

Verse 19

The most honourable place next to the king’s. See 2 Chronicles 18:18; Nehemiah 8:4; Psalms 45:9; Matthew 20:21.

Verse 20

One small petition; so she esteemed it, because she did not perceive his design in it; and as for that law, Leviticus 18:7, she might apprehend, that because David knew her not, it was only a contract for marriage, and therefore no impediment of her marriage to any other after his death; which also is the opinion of some of the late learned Hebrew doctors.

I will not say thee nay; supposing thy request be but small, as thou sayest it is, and not unlawful, nor injurious to myself or others.

Verse 21

Thy brother, by the father’s side, whom brotherly affection and relation obligeth thee to gratify, at least, in small things.

Verse 22

Ask for him the kingdom also: his design is not upon Abishag, but upon the kingdom; which, by this means, he thinks to recover; partly because she was the last king’s wife, or concubine, which might strengthen his pretence to the crown; see 2 Samuel 3:7; 2 Samuel 12:8; 2 Samuel 16:21; and partly because by her eminent beauty, and near relation to David, she had a powerful interest in the court.

Quest. Was not this too harsh a censure, and the following punishment of it too severe?

Answ. 1. That Adonijah had such a design is very probable, both from his temper, for he was an aspiring and designing man, and highly discontented with Solomon’s government, and desirous of a change; and from the nature of the thing, because he would not have made so daring and presumptuous a request, if he had not some great design in it.

2. It is very likely from the following words, though not expressed, that he, and Joab, and Abiathar were engaged in some design against Solomon, and that Solomon had got information of it; and therefore he did and might reasonably take this for an indication, and the first overt act of his treason.

3. Solomon did not pardon Adonijah’s treason simply and absolutely, but upon condition that he carried himself worthily, 1 Kings 1:52; and this being confessedly a bold and unworthy action, and arguing more confidence and presumption than became him, and carrying in it the appearance and intention of an incestuous marriage, he might justly revive his guilt, and take this occasion to execute the sentence which he formerly deserved. If it be said, That it is very improbable that Adonijah should expect to get the kingdom from Solomon, who was so firmly established in it with universal applause; it may be answered, That Adonijah was not the only man that hath fed himself with vain hopes, and engaged himself in high and treasonable designs, where to other wise men there was but little likelihood of success; and that he might now be only laying the foundation of what he further intended, when he saw a fit time, and getting a pretence for his future attempts upon the crown; either when Solomon should lose the people’s affections, as David had done; or when Solomon should die, which also Adonijah might secretly procure and hasten; and he had only Solomon’s young and tender son to contest with. All which, and many other things, Solomon in his great wisdom might easily discern; yea, or have some secret intelligence of, though it be not recorded.

He is mine elder brother; he looks upon the kingdom as his by nature and birthright, and the law of nations; and therefore he may seek to recover his own, and to cast me out as a usurper.

And for Abiathar and for Joab; who have all a hand in the plot, though he alone appear in it; which appears the more likely, because of Solomon proceeding against them all at the same time, as appears in the following verses.

Verse 23

Sware by the Lord; once here, and again, 1 Kings 2:24; which he did to oblige himself irrevocably to it, and to prevent all intercessions for his life, it being of so great importance to him.

Verse 24

Though Adonijah be my elder brother, yet I have an undoubted right and title to the crown, and that from the promise and appointment of that God who disposeth of all kingdoms, and especially this of Israel, to whom he pleaseth; and therefore Adonijah in this and his former attempt is guilty of treason against me, and of rebellion against God.

Who hath made me an house; either,

1. Who hath given me posterity, as that phrase is used, Exodus 1:21, and elsewhere; for Rehoboam most probably was born before this time, by comparing 1 Kings 14:21. Or rather,

2. Who hath established me in the house and throne of David; which he thus expresseth, to signify, that God hath fulfilled in and to him that promise which he made to David, in 2 Samuel 7:11, where the same phrase is used, and where it doth not so much signify the giving of David posterity, which he had sufficiently before that time, as the settlement of the crown in him and his seed.

Adonijah shall be put to death this day; for he knew delays were dangerous in matters of that nature.

Verse 25

For the execution of justice was not then committed to obscure persons, as now it is; but to persons of great honour and authority. See Judges 8:21; 1 Samuel 22:18; 2 Samuel 1:15; 2 Samuel 4:12. He fell upon him with a sword, or other instrument of death; as below, 1 Kings 2:32,1 Kings 2:34,1 Kings 2:46.

Verse 26

To Anathoth, a city of the priests, Joshua 21:18, to lead a private life there.

Unto thine own fields; either that part of the suburbs which fell to his share, or other land which he had purchased there. See Jeremiah 32:7.

At this time: he doth not fully pardon him, but only forbears him, and reserves to himself a liberty of punishing him afterwards, if he saw occasion; which he doth to keep him in awe, that he might not dare to raise or foment discontents or tumults among the people, which otherwise he might be prone to do.

Because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David my father, when he thought fit to carry it out with him; as 2 Samuel 15:24,2 Samuel 15:29; 1 Chronicles 15:11,1 Chronicles 15:12; when he as high priest was to attend upon it. Thus Solomon showeth his respect to his sacred function.

Thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted: here he mixeth mercy with justice, and requites Abiathar’s former kindness to David; hereby teaching princes that they should not write injuries in marble, and benefits in sand or water, as they have been too oft observed to do.

Verse 27

From being priest unto the Lord; either from his office, or at least, from the execution of his office. For some think that he was thrust from his office before David’s death, when Zadok was formerly made priest, i.e. high priest, in his stead, 1 Chronicles 29:22. But that seems to be a mistake; for although that passage immediately follows the history of what was done in the time of David’s life and health, when he was in a capacity of going into the public congregation; yet it manifestly belongs to another time, and was done after it; for he there speaks of Solomon’s

being made king the second time, and he was made king but twice; once undoubtedly before this, 1 Chronicles 23:1; and again 1 Kings 1:39; when David was bedrid, and Adonijah’s usurpation made a second unction necessary. And therefore what is said 1 Chronicles 29:22, of Zadok’s being made priest, was done after Abiathar’s deposition, and upon that occasion.

That he might fulfil the word of the Lord; for what hinders but Solomon might intend this not only as a punishment for his treason, but also as a means to accomplish God’s word?

Concerning the house of Eli, i.e. concerning the translation of the priesthood from the house of Eli, and of Ithamar, unto that of Eleazar; which being threatened eighty years ago, is now executed. So Divine vengeance, though sometimes it be slow, is always sure.

Verse 28

Tidings came to Joab, concerning Adonijah’s death, and Abiathar’s deposition.

The tabernacle of the Lord then was at Gibeon, 1 Kings 3:4, compared with 2 Chronicles 1:3,2 Chronicles 1:5. Caught hold on the horns of the altar; of which see before, 1 Kings 1:50.

Verse 29

To wit, if he will not come thence, as I foresee he will not.

Verse 30

Thus saith the king, Come forth: that the king gave him this command, though it be not mentioned before, is evident, both from the nature of the thing; for Solomon would not pollute the altar without necessity; and from Benaiah’s affirmation of it; for why should he tell a lie without a cause? and from his return to the king for new orders upon Joab’s resolution not to come thence.

I will die here; for he supposed either that Solomon would not defile that place with his blood; or that he would spare him for his respect to it, as he had done Adonijah; or he had a superstitious conceit that his dying there might give his guilty and miserable soul some advantage.

Verse 31

Do as he hath said; either,

1. Kill him in that place; and for so doing Solomon might seem to have warrant from God, Exodus 21:14, and might further design by this just severity to deter future offenders, by showing that no place nor person should protect them from the stroke of justice. Or rather,

2. Let him die as he is resolved; kill him, though he be there; take him by violence from that place, and then kill him; for Exodus 21:14 doth not command the ruler to kill the murderer there, but to remove him thence, to

take him from the altar, that he may die. And seeing this might be done, why should Solomon unnecessarily stain the altar with his blood?

The innocent blood, i. e. both the guilt of it, which would rest upon my father and my family if it went unpunished; and the scandal and reproach of it, that neither this nor following ages may imagine that it was done by David’s secret instigation, or with his consent.

Verse 32

His blood, i.e. the guilt of the blood which he shed.

More righteous and better than he; of more ingenuous and generous tempers, abhorring from all such treacherous practices; and both of them then devoted to and employed in my service.

Verse 33

Upon the head of his seed for ever; either as long as he shall have a posterity, or for a long time, as that phrase is commonly used; but in and by this execution of justice upon him, and such malefactors, my throne shall be established, and God will bless me and mine with peace and prosperity.

Verse 34

Places which have but few houses and inhabitants are oft so called in Scripture, as Isaiah 42:11; Jeremiah 25:24; Ezekiel 34:25.

Verse 35

He now put him in the execution of that office to which he may seem to have been anointed before, 1 Chronicles 29:22; but of that, See Poole "1 Chronicles 29:27".

Verse 36

This Solomon ordered, partly, for his own security, that being removed from that place where his kindred, and estate, and interest lay, to a place where he was but a stranger, and sufficiently odious for his former and never-to-be-forgotten insolency towards his lord and king, he might be incapable of raising any tumults and seditions; partly, as a penalty for his former wickedness, wherein yet there was more mercy than justice, and from which David had not promised him any security, but only given him his life; and partly, that being in this public theatre, all his words and actions might be narrowly observed; which, considering his busy, and covetous, and wicked temper, was likely to give Solomon the advantage which he sought for; and this very prohibition would probably inflame his desire of transgressing it, as the manner of men is.

Verse 37

The brook Kidron; a brook nigh unto Jerusalem, of which see 2 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 23:4; which he particularly names, because that was the way to Bahurim, his former and settled habitation: but this is not to be understood exclusively to other ways and places; for the restraint was general, that he should

not go forth thence any whither, 1 Kings 2:36, to wit, as far any other way as Cedron was: which also appears from the following history; for when he went to Gath, he went not over Cedron, (which lay eastward from the city,) but westward, as Gath lay.

Thy blood shall be upon thine own head; the blame and guilt of thy blood shall lie upon thyself only.

Verse 38

The saying is good; thy sentence is much more merciful than I expected or deserved. So will thy servant do; and Shimei did not only promise it, but also swore to it; being required by Solomon to do so, as is manifest from 1 Kings 2:42,1 Kings 2:43.

Verse 39

Achish son of Maachah king of Gath; a king, but subject and tributary, first to David, and then to Solomon. This might be either that Achish who showed so much kindness to David, 1 Samuel 27:0, 1 Samuel 28:0, or his son; who, in requital of this kindness, was still permitted to enjoy the title and honour of a king, but not the full power; whence it was that Achish could not, or durst not, keep these servants, though they had fled to him for protection, but suffered Shimei to take them away from his royal city.

Verse 40

Went to Gath; which, though highly dangerous, he attempted, partly, because he was blinded with covetousness and rage and against his servants, which two lusts have done, daily do, engage men to such courses and actions as are no less dangerous to their lives than this is; partly, because he thought length of time had worn this out of Solomon’s mind, and other men’s thoughts; and that this being done secretly and speedily, would never have come to Solomon’s ears; or that Solomon would not be severe in this case, where it was not wantonness nor contempt of his authority, but the necessity of his household concerns, which put him upon it; and partly, because God withdrew from him the light of common prudence, and wholly left him to his own mistakes, and folly, and lusts; and withal, to the instigation of the devil, whose cunning and powerful artifices and insinuations he could not resist without Divine help.

Verse 41

It was told Solomon, who doubtless had his spies appointed to observe him in all his motions.

Verse 43

He was guilty both of rebellion against the express, and just, and (as himself called it) good command of the king, and of perjury against God; which were two high and heinous crimes. His oath he calls

the oath of the Lord, because it was taken in God’s presence, and he was called upon as a witness of it, and as the avenger of all violations of it, and because the law of God obliged him to the performance of it.

Verse 44

Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to; for which thy own conscience accuseth thee, and there is no need of other witnesses.

Shall return, Heb. hath returned, which seems most proper. God hath punished thee for thy former wickedness, by suffering thee to fall into further crimes, and expose thyself to thy deserved death.

Verse 45

The throne of David; that royal power and dignity conferred upon David to him and his heirs for ever.

Shall be established by the execution of such righteous judgments as this is.

Before the Lord; in the presence of that God who is both an observer and rewarder of all such righteous actions; or under God’s inspection, and by his blessing.

Verse 46

Which went out; carrying Shimei along with him to the place of execution, which was not fit to be in the king’s presence.

The kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon; his secret and worst enemies being taken out of the way.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 2". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.