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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 2

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-4



1 Kings 2:3. Keep the charge of Jehovahi.e., preserve the Theocracy, maintain the piety and dignity becoming the Hebrew monarch, who rules by Divine right, and is entrusted with the representation and vindication of the Divine laws. Keep his statutes, חֻקּתֹ—the prescriptions of the law. Commandments, מִצְוֹת, the expressions of the Divine will. Judgments—מִשׁמָּטִים objective sentences and ordinances, the violation of which involves punishment. Testimonies—עֵדְוֹת solemn declarations of God’s will against sin (Keil). That thou mayst prosper—Not so much “have good fortune” (Gesenius, De Wette), but be skilful, carry yourself wisely, as he surely will do who acts harmoniously with the Divine “statutes, commandments,” &c., 1 Kings 2:4. The Vatican Sept. omits “concerning me,” and “with all their soul.” Not fail thee a man: assures “not a completely unbroken succession, but only the opposite of a break for ever” (Hengstenberg); lit. “there shall not be cut off from thee a man on the throne;” i.e., thy posterity shall hold the throne in perpetuity: the royal house of David became imperishable in “great David’s greater Son.”

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:1-4


I. That the supreme standard of obedience is the Divine will (1 Kings 2:3) Will expresses itself in significant actions, or in positive commands. The statutes are the prescriptions of the law, so far as its obedience is connected with definite rules and usages: the commandments, as the expression of the Divine will, which is to be fulfilled: the judgments, as the objective sentences and ordinances, the violation of which draws punishment after it: the testimonies, as solemn declarations of the will of God against sin. All these statutes, commandments, judgments, and testimonies are found in the law of Moses, to obey which David binds his son.—Keil. According to Patrick, the “statutes”are explained as the positive ordinances of the law, e.g., the command not to sow two seeds of different kinds together: the “commandments” as the moral precepts, not to steal, &c.; the “judgments” as the laws belonging to civil government: and the “testimonies” as the laws directing the commemoration of certain events (compare Psalms 19:7-8): the Written Word is the latest declaration of the Divine will, and the supreme rule by which obedience must be regulated.

II. That obedience consists in the strict conformity of the whole life to the Divine will. This implies—

1. Knowledge. There is to be a personal acquaintance with the will of God “as it is written in the law of Moses” (1 Kings 2:3), and in the books of Revelation and of nature. The Divine Word has been the subject of pious instruction from sire to son, through succeeding generations. As in the case of David, it has often constituted the last solemn charge of a dying father. It has been illustrated in the lives of the good, and enforced by the impressive teachings of many a wondrous providence. There has been line upon line and precept upon precept. Every opportunity has been afforded for becoming acquainted with the Divine will, so that ignorance thereof is inexcusable and blameworthy

2. Circumspection. “And keep the charge of the Lord thy God” (1 Kings 2:3). In general, this means to take care of God, His person, His will, His rights. A trust of tremendous significance is committed to us: the honour of Jehovah is in our hands. It is only by an exact obedience that we can discharge the duties of our sacred trust: and to do this involves incessant thought, anxious care, and sleepless vigilance. There is reference to the charge given to all kings in Deuteronomy 17:18-20. The monarch is amenable to the same moral law as his meanest subject. If obedience is careless and defective in the higher social circles, a similar spirit will soon infect the lower, and the moral integrity of the nation be seriously damaged. “The least deviation in the greatest and highest orb is both most sensible and most dangerous.” Keep the charge—as the sentinel the post of danger, as the physician in the critical stage of disease, as the stern and faithful guardian of untold treasure.

III. That obedience should be resolute and manly. “Be thou strong, therefore, and shew thyself a man” (1 Kings 2:2). Solomon’s youth clearly constituted one of the chief difficulties of his position. His exact age at his accession is uncertain. Eupolemus made him twelve. According to Josephus he was fourteen, but this may be no more than a deduction from David’s words, “Solomon, my son, is young and tender” (1 Chronicles 22:5), and from Solomon’s own declaration (1 Kings 3:7), “I am but a little child.” Moderns generally have supposed that he was about twenty, which is probably an over rather than an under estimate. For a youth of nineteen or twenty, known to be of a pacific disposition (1 Chronicles 22:9), to have rule over the warlike and turbulent Hebrew nation, with a strong party opposed to him, and brothers of full age ready to lead it, was evidently a most difficult task. Hence he is exhorted, though in years a boy, to show himself in spirit a man.—Speaker’s Comm. It is not always easy to obey. It demands a firm, bold, intrepid spirit to dare to do the right, when by doing so it bears painfully upon those we love. Obedience to the highest law sacrifices all lower considerations, at whatever cost of personal feeling. The obedient man is the true man—the bravest and the best. They who would be faithful to God have need of courage.

IV. That obedience is the pathway of blessing.

1. It insures the fulfilment of Divine promises. “That the Lord may continue his word which he spake” (1 Kings 2:4). The promises of God are conditional, “which is as an oar in a boat, or stern of a ship, and turneth the promise another way.” The original promise to David that Messiah should come out of his loins was apparently absolute and unconditional (2 Samuel 7:11-17); but the promise as to his children occupying the throne of Israel was conditioned on their obedience (Psalms 132:12). David reminds Solomon of this in order to impress upon him a powerful motive to continued fidelity. We never lose the blessedness of the promise till we first neglect the precept.

2. It confers blessing on every undertaking. “That thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself” (1 Kings 2:3). To infringe law in any department brings confusion and suffering; obedience is not only the way of safety, but of success. The man whose ways please God shall not lack any manner of thing that is good. Abraham, when at the call of Jehovah he stepped into the region of the untried and unknown, little dreamt of the wealth of blessing that was destined to rest upon him and his posterity as the reward of his faith and obedience. There is no peace so calm and abiding as that which flows from conscious rectitude. “That happiness is built on sand or ice which is raised upon any other foundation besides virtue.” Ill-gotten prosperity is transient and full of bitterness.

3. It leads to the highest honour. “There shall not fail thee a man on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 2:4). This promise, confirmed by the Lord himself to Solomon on his prayer at the consecration of the temple (1 Kings 8:25), which was repeated by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:17) at the time of the greatest humiliation of the royal house of David, for the strengthening and consolation of the faithful, found its full realization in Christ, the greatest descendant of David, whose dominion will endure as long as the sun and moon stand (Psalms 72:0) Fidelity in a lower sphere is an excellent preparation for the honours and duties of a higher. The career of the obedient is like a river, small and unnoticed in its beginning, but gathering volume, momentum, and majesty in its expanding flow. Obedience is, to quote the language of Carlyle, “an everlasting lode-star, that beams the brighter in the heavens, the darker here on earth grows the night around.”


1. Obedience is the earliest and most difficult lesson to learn.

2. It is often richest in blessing when it is most difficult to practise.

3. We are called to its exercise by the most solemn considerations.


The scene before us is solemnly impressive. The youth that had slain a giant is now, after a most eventful life, about to fall before a mightier arm than that of Goliath; the friend that had wept over his beloved Jonathan, is now going the way of all the earth; the monarch who had exclaimed over the remains of a child, still lovely in death, “I shall go to him, but he cannot return to me,” is now at the end of his last stage, and about to mingle his ashes with the departed. We will draw near, and hear his last words of parental tenderness and dying counsel to his royal son and successor. “Be thou strong, and show thyself a man.” If the king of Israel needed strength, and was required to show himself a man in the government of his kingdom, no less necessary, nay—onerous as the duties and cares of a sovereign might be—far greater, is the courage which the vigorous maintenance of our moral and religious principles demands.

I. It behoves us to be strong, and quit ourselves as men, as it respects the truth and doctrines of the Gospel. If on any question manliness of character is demanded, it is on this. If the Scriptures are a revelation of God’s will to man, receive them as such, and obey them accordingly. How many are there who, manly, perhaps, in many things besides, are here most irresolute, timid, hesitating, or double-minded. It is not acting as a man to own the Bible to be true, and at the same time treat it as if it were a fiction, a fable, a falsehood. Sustained by the clearest evidence, and published to the world by the highest authority, the Word of God is worthy of all confidence. It is no doubtful question whether the Lord Jesus was sent by the Father to be the Saviour of the world, nor what is the substance of His doctrine and teaching. Whatever He has expounded, it is for us, with a single, simple heart, to follow; to take the truth as He left it; to grasp it firmly as our life, and hold it with the same tenacity as a sinking man would hold the hand that was stretched forth to save him from the gurgling vortex. If we truly believe that we possess the treasure of a true revelation from God, then it is manly to espouse, to defend, to diffuse it for its own inestimable value, for the honour of Him from whom it comes, for the purity, peace, and safety of our own souls, and for its power to regenerate and bless the world.

II. To carry out the admonition is to shrink from no duty and no sacrifice which it may require. It is not the way of the world, even where the Christian religion is professed, to render obedience to the Divine commands. A kind of respectful treatment of the Word of God—nothing bold, nothing decided—is all that it will render; and the love and fear of the world will prompt us to do no more. A still stronger persuasion of the flesh speaks from within. It is sloth, it is selfishness, it is the predominance of some master passion, that governs the irreligious mind, and places men in rebellion against the will of God and the dearest interests of the soul. And then the Evil Spirit, the great tempter, the subtle adversary of man, will suggest all discontented and rebellious thoughts. Thus beset, multitudes, instead of quitting themselves like men and resisting the devil, readily yield. Does he show himself a man who yields to every temptation to neglect the house of God on the Sabbath, and to follow the allurements of pleasure? Does that youth show a manliness of mind who consents to the enticements of sinners, and surrenders himself to companionship with those whose house is the way to hell? Does that misguided and miserable creature show himself a man who, for the sake of indulging the lowest and worse than brutal propensities of his nature, will beggar his wife, starve his children, cover himself with rags, and make his home the scene of poverty, strife, and every hateful and disgusting passion? Ought we not to carry with us as Christians the same resolute and decided temper, the same open and obvious manliness in all matters that refer to eternity, as we do to those which are limited to time? In a word, to serve God is to show the same spirit towards Him which every one of us, who has the heart of a man, would show in defence of the health, the welfare, the happiness, and the life of the members of his own family.

III. To carry out the admonition, we must be bold and persevering in the work of God, till He shall relieve us from all further service. It is manly to begin well, but it is most unmanly to forsake or negligently execute a task once begun. There is a mighty class of inducements to instability in religion, such as are not brought to operate upon the mind in any other sphere of action. Here, as everywhere, success and satisfaction are the recompense, not of half deeds, but of manly, hearty energy, industry, and perseverance. Who is sufficient for these things? No one of himself; but He who gives us the command will not fail us if we rely upon Him for its fulfilment. When He bids us be strong, He is ready to give us power to obey. Heaven is the prize, every effort shall have its reward. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have finished their manly course, and reached the crown. They invite us onward. Let us not fear the troubles that beset the way, but be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Arise, for the work is great, the time is short, but the prize is eternal.—T. W. Hamilton, D. D.


1 Kings 2:2. “I go the way of all the earth.” Death a journey.

1. Silent and mysterious in its commencement.
2. Interminable in its pathway.
3. A journey on which all must enter.
4. Demands diligent and serious preparation.
5. Is a period of sad farewells and solemn counsels.

David lives to see a wise son warm in his seat; and now he that yielded to succession yields to nature. Many good counsels had David given his heir; now he sums them up in his end. Dying words are wont to be weightiest; the soul when it is entering into glory breathes nothing but divine; “I go the way of all the earth.” How well is that princely heart content to subscribe to the conditions of human mortality, as one that knew sovereignty doth not reach to the affairs of nature! Though a king, he neither expects nor desires an immunity from dissolution, making no account to go in any other than the common tract to the universal home of mankind, the house of age. Whither should earth, but to earth? And why should we grudge to do that which all do?—Bishop Hall.

“Be thou strong, therefore, and shew thyself a man.” Be firm, and be a man!

1. What is requisite to be one?
2. How shall one become one?

3. Of what use? (Hebrews 13:9; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8; 1 Corinthians 16:13.)—Lange.

Even when David’s spirit was going out, he puts spirit into his son; age puts life into youth, and the dying animates the vigorous. He had well found that strength was necessary to government, that he had need to be no less than a man that should rule over men. A weak man may obey, none but the strong can govern.—Bishop Hall.

1 Kings 2:3. The last and best will of a father to his Song of Song of Solomon 1:0. Trust in God’s protection of yourself and all whom God has confided to your care.

2. Walk in His ways; let Him lead and guide you; He will do it well (Proverbs 23:26; Psalms 35:5).

3. Keep His ways and ordinances (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Psalms 1:1-6; Tob. 4:6). God-fearing parents are more anxious about their children keeping close to God and His word than about leaving them temporal goods.—Lange.

Graceless courage were but the whetstone of tyranny. The best legacy that David bequeaths to his heir is the care of piety. Himself had felt the sweetness of a good conscience, and now he commands it to his successor. If there be anything that, in our desires of the prosperous condition of our children, takes place of goodness, our hearts are not upright. Here was the father of a king, charging the king’s son to keep the statutes of the King of kings; as one that knew greatness could neither exempt from obedience, nor privilege sin.—Hall.

Verses 5-9


1 Kings 2:5. Shed the blood of war in peace; i.e., murderously slew the inoffensive; shed, in peace, blood which should only flow in war. Put the blood of war on his girdle and in his shoes—The “girdle” was the military band, and to which his sword was attached, worn by a warrior, suggestive, therefore, of his rank; while his “shoes” suggest his marching equipment; and these insignia of his office and dignity he soiled with murder! (comp. Lange).

1 Kings 2:6. Do according to thy wisdom—At fitting time, and in fitting manner, mark his crimes with abhorrence, and requite his guilty deeds.

1 Kings 2:7. “Eat at thy table, for so they came to me,” i.e., they did me kindness in entertaining me.

1 Kings 2:8. Bahurim—A village beyond Olivet, five and a quarter miles distant from Jerusalem. A grievous curse—Not merely cursed me, but קְלָלָה נִמְרֶצֶת a grievous, violent curse (as in Micah 2:10, “sore destruction”); heinous, dreadful. Such punishment of Shimei was not vindictiveness on David’s part, but a vindication of the Divine justice against a ribald impiety.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:5-9


It is unfair to judge Old Testament characters according to the standard of New Testament morality. Viewed in the light of the religious ideas of the nineteenth century, the temper and conduct of David on his death-bed are irreconcileable with the spirit and genius of Christianity. But the religious era of David was initial and imperfect in its development; and it is no marvel if we detect serious blemishes alongside what is best in its experimental life. Besides, it should not be overlooked that in the instance before us David spoke not as a private individual, but as a theocratic king, uttering the decrees of the righteous vengeance of Heaven against gross wrong-doing. We may regard the whole passage as illustrative of the terrible pertinacity of revenge.

I. That a spirit of revenge is difficult to suppress.

1. It may obtruds itself amid the solemnities of the dying hour. When the soul is about to quit its frail, worn tenement, and is pluming its wings to soar into the invisible and eternal, it is desirable that its latest thoughts on earth should savour of amity, peace, and concord, and that its words should be free from bitterness and enmity. But such is the subtle, pertinacious character of revenge, that it clings to the soul for years, and disturbs the repose of the dying pillow. It is the dark, grim shadow of man’s better self, ever present, consciously or unconsciously, and which sometimes never vanishes but into the deeper shadow of the grave.

2. It mars a character otherwise noble and generous. There was much in the character of David of moral beauty, of noble impulse, and lofty aspiration. In the complexity of its elements, passion, tenderness, generosity, fierceness—the soldier, the shepherd, the poet, the statesman, the priest, the prophet, the king, the romantic friend, the chivalrous leader, the devoted father—there is no character of the Old Testament at all to be compared to it. Jacob comes nearest in the variety of elements included within it. But “David’s character stands at a higher point of the sacred history, and represents the Jewish people just at the moment of their transition from the lofty virtues of the older system to the fuller civilization and cultivation of the later. In this manner he becomes naturally, if one may so say, the likeness or portrait of the last and grandest development of the nation and of the monarchy in the person and period of the Messiah.” Pity it is that a character of qualities so fine and varied should be blurred by the dark, unsightly blot of revenge! making every allowance for David as representing in his last utterances the intentions of avenging Heaven. Revenge threatens the destruction of every virtue.

II. That a spirit of revenge retains a vivid recollection of past injuries.

1. The particular occasions of past injuries are retentively remembered (1 Kings 2:5; 1 Kings 2:8.) Joab’s chief offence against David, besides his murder of Abner and Amasa, was, no doubt, his killing Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14), despite the king’s orders to the contrary. Another serious crime was his support of the treasonable attempt of Adonijah. But, besides these, he seems to have offended David by a number of little acts. He was a constant thorn in his side. He treated him with scant respect, taking important steps without his orders (2 Samuel 3:26), remonstrating with him roughly and rudely (ib. 1 Kings 2:24-25), almost betraying his secrets (ib. 11. 1 Kings 2:19-21), and where he disliked the orders given him, disobeying them (1 Chronicles 21:6). David allowed his ascendancy, but he chafed against it, finding “this son of Zeruiah” in particular, “too hard” for him (2 Samuel 3:39). Shimei’s cursing was all the more grievous because David was in distress at the time (2 Samuel 16:0); and the Jews say the insult was all the greater because Shimei upbraided him with his descent from Ruth. the Moabitess. The hatred and virulence of the curse indicated that the Benjamites resented the loss of royalty in their tribe, even in the palmiest days of David’s monarchy. Revenge notes every minute detail of the injury inflicted, broods over it in secret, and watches for the moment of retaliation; its memory is infallible, its hatred intense, its patience stern and unwearying, and its sting venomous and cruel.

2. The character of past injuries modifies the character of the revenge they provoke. The injuries in this case were of the gravest kind—cursing and murder. Sometimes the revenge is more terrible than the offence. In other instances the acts are so flagrant and sinful that to cherish and execute revenge simply amounts to the infliction of the righteous punishment of outraged justice. Magistrates are the avengers of the blood of those of whom they have charge. There are some sins which it would be a greater sin to allow to go unnoticed and unrequited. The murderer and blasphemer were punishable with death (Leviticus 24:14; Exodus 22:27; 2 Samuel 16:9; ib. 2 Samuel 19:22).

3. Great forbearance may be shown before revenge is gratified (1 Kings 2:8). Shimei had seen and confessed his sin, and obtained a reprieve, at least during David’s lifetime (2 Samuel 19:16-23). But his offence was of such a character, and his turbulent, malicious temper so well known, that Solomon was warned not to let slip the opportunity which any new offence offered of inflicting the punishment he deserved. The spirit of revenge may be for a while restrained by the prevalence of a more generous feeling, from motives of policy, or in order to choose the best time for its gratification; but, sooner or later, the stroke will fall. For a justification of David’s conduct in committing to judgment a man whom he had forgiven, see Keil on 1 Kings 2:8-9, with foot note.

III. That a spirit of revenge is terribly pertinacious in its demands (1 Kings 2:6-9).

1. It surrenders its victims to the extreme penalties of justice. “Hold him not guiltless,”—do not treat him as an innocent man; but punish him as in thy wisdom may seem best. Not at once; but when the next delinquency is committed, hesitate not to punish with the utmost severity. “So that deferring payment is no breach of bond: there will come a time wherein the Lord will have a full blow at the impenitent person, be the pretences of impunity what they will.”—Trapp. The hoary head of both must be brought to the grave with blood, else David’s head could not be brought to his grave in peace. Due punishment of malefactors is the debt of authority: if that holy king has run into arrearages, yet, as one that hates and fears to break the bank, he gives orders to his paymaster, it shall be defrayed, if not by him, yet for him.—Bishop Hall. Revenge may slumber for years; but when it is once roused, terrible is the havoc which it works. It burns with irresistible fierceness. It exacts the uttermost farthing of the penalty.

2. The aged are allowed no exemption from its severest punishments. Grey hairs, if found in the way of righteousness, are a crown of glory (Proverbs 16:31), adorned with which man may go the way of all flesh in peace and comfort; but an old sinner, whom even grey hairs have not brought to repentance, goes down to the grave without solace or peace. Age in itself is no protection from justice. The longer man continues in sin, the more fearful will be his punishment (Isaiah 65:20). A life of wasted opportunities, abused privileges, and unrepented sins will bring an old age of suffering and dishonour.

IV. That a spirit of revenge is often relieved by the exhibition of an opposite spirit of kindness and liberality. “But shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai” (1 Kings 2:7). A good deed will not go unrewarded. Even successions of generations fare better for one good parent (Proverbs 27:10). The children of Barzillai inherit the fruits of their father’s timely hospitality (2 Samuel 17:27-29). Generous natures are never ungrateful. Agesilaus, king of Sparta, was always very grateful for any courtesies he received, and used to say that it was not only an unjust thing not to be thankful, but if a man did not return greater kindness than he received. The honour of eating at the royal table is a custom thoroughly oriental, and has prevailed in all ages. How much more bountiful is the Father of Mercies in the remuneration of our poor, unworthy services! The heart that is susceptible of the bitterest revenge is often most lavish in affection and generosity.


1. Revenge is strangely out of place on a death-bed.

2. The predominance of the Christian spirit destroys revenge.

3. To forgive an injury is more noble than to retaliate.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:8-9


A man of God retains to the last the bias of nature with which his Maker endowed him at the first. Christianity does not reduce men to one dead level; it rather brings out in greater relief those parts of our character which are in harmony with its principles, while tending to tone down others with which it has no affinity. If the good man in the present age is so misunderstood, and his actions so unmercifully criticised, what little chance is there of the characters of men in past times being rightly appreciated and justly dealt with? The Almighty is ever the same; but the peoples of every age, in every land, differ from their sires. Where once the stalwart Roman stood, there now the effeminate Italian basks in languid ease. The bandit lurks where erst the philosophic Greek discoursed. All this God recollects, if we forget, and assuredly will judge men as well from that outside them, as from that within their hearts. There are three ways in which David may have been influenced in giving this dying injunction to his son:—

I. As the agent, unconscious or otherwise, of Divine justice. We cannot conceive this measure as being the consummation of a Divine purpose, it had apparently so much about it of human plan. The Almighty’s power, when exerted in support of justice, has always been certain and direct in its action, without any references to contingencies. With God it is all justice or all mercy: no half measures. How different from man’s punishment is this! The very manner of Shimei’s death is the greatest argument against it having been ordained by God (1 Kings 2:36-46). Even David and his son were ashamed of it; and shall God be credited with what they despised? For the honour of his father’s name, as well as his own, Solomon disguised his real object by laying a trap for Shimei, puerile in its meanness, and yet sufficient to attain the end desired. David’s conduct in giving this dying injunction to his son may have been influenced—

II. By a conscientious desire to administer human justice according to the will of God. David, we are told, was a man of God, one after His own heart. Intimately acquainted with the Divine nature—keenly alive to heaven’s requirements, and inspired most devoutly with the desire to imitate his Maker’s character—he is prominently put forth as, in many respects, the model of a godly man How, then, with such clear perceptions of the Divine attributes, can we conceive of him as acting in this matter conscientiously and with cool judgment, in the full belief of the harmony of his decree with Almighty rectitude? To do so is to dishonour the unswerving uprightness of God’s justice, or to depreciate David’s experiences and knowledge of the Divine character. We would rather be left to our final alternative in—

III. Regarding his injunction as prompted by revenge. As a man he forgave Shimei at the time of his crime, which then should have been effaced from his memory. Heavenly justice, if not satisfied, would have taken its own way of vindicating itself, without further action on David’s part. With David, as a man of God and Israel’s lawgiver, we must utterly disconnect this act, and attribute it entirely to a flaw in his character, which, at the last, reasserted its natural power in antagonism to Divine grace. Feud and retaliation have ever been the preceders of law, order, and Christianity; and even now, among some nations, one of the most sacred principles a man acknowledges is to avenge a loved one’s death, or his own personal wrong, till the third and fourth generations. Undoubtedly, in David’s time, this custom of revenge and retaliation was rife among the Eastern nations, along with many other practices at variance with progress and religion. Men were brought up to them, accepted them as their moral clothing, and acted up conscientiously to their injunctions. So it was with David. Though a man of God, in whom He delighted, yet the customs of his time, the habits of thought of those about him, with the silent effect of their example, had—unknown, maybe, to him—so impregnated his being as to germinate into ungodly actions at any sudden temptation or crisis, with sufficient power to sweep away for a time the tuition and principles of his heavenly life. In David’s case, what mighty lessons this should teach! Here was a patriarch indeed, at the last moments of his existence succumbing to the seducing wiles and powerful instincts of his grosser nature Men may well dread death, for then is the last great struggle between earth and heaven—nay hell and heaven. It is Satan’s last chance, and he puts forth his mighty energies in one last grand endeavour, in which the deadliest hate and fear, and every terrible passion, is at work, striving to counteract the power of his Almighty antagonist. But the Almighty knows him, and He knows us. Like David, we may be vengeful on our death-bed—our spirits may become dim, and weak, and faint; yet He knows our hearts that we are in Him, and He in us, and pardons the wanderings of our faltering footsteps as we totter to His threshold, until, as we gain the door and faintly knock, it opens wide, disclosing a scene of light, and joy, and bliss, with the inspiriting words sounding gladly in our ears—“Be of good courage, I will never leave thee or forsake thee!”—Homilist.


1 Kings 2:5-9. Perhaps the dying monarch is solely anxious for the security of his young successor’s kingdom. Perhaps he allows old animosities to revive, and is willing to avenge himself indirectly and by deputy, though he had been withheld by certain scruples from taking vengeance in his own person. We must not expect gospel morality from the saints of the Old Testament. They were only the best men of their several ages and nations. The maxim of them of old time, whether Jews or Gentiles, was “Love your friends and hate your enemies” (Matthew 5:43), and David, perhaps, was not, in this respect, in advance of his age. It would have been more magnanimous had he, either now or previously, freely forgiven these great offenders (Joab and Shimei) their offences against himself; but it would have been a magnanimity unexampled in the previous history of the world, and which we have no right to look for in one who was the warrior king of a nation just emerging from barbarism. If David was actuated by a sense of his own wrongs in the injunctions which he gave with respect to Joab and Shimei, we cannot justify the morality of his conduct; but it ought not to occasion us any surprise or difficulty. At any rate, it is satisfactory to see that, if David did allow himself to accept the unchristian half of the maxim above quoted, and to indulge malevolent feelings against his enemies, at least he accepted equally the other half, and entertained warm feelings of affection towards his friends. His hatred pursues only the individuals who have done him wrong. His gratitude and love pass on from the doer of a kindness to the doer’s children after their father’s death.—Speaker’s Comm.

1 Kings 2:7. A noble heart does not forget what was done for him in times of trouble especially, and thinks of it even in the hour of death. The world is ungrateful. A blessing rests on deeds of faithfulness, and self-sacrificing, disinterested love; and it descends to children and children’s children.—Lange.

A spirit of kindness

1. Has a lively appreciation of help rendered in time of need.
2. Is prompt to acknowledge its obligations.
3. Delights in showing greater kindness than it received.
4. Is an important, practical feature of the Christian spirit.

1 Kings 2:8-9. A curse rests on those who curse the “powers” which are God’s ministers, instead of praying for them, and they are made, sooner or later, to feel the curse (1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 2:6). The Lord prayed for those who cursed Him; but when they did not repent and become converted, Divine judgment came down on them. No doubt a wicked man often goes a long time unpunished for his deeds; but Divine justice does not fail to overtake him finally, ere he is aware. It required wisdom to punish: a premature, ill-judged chastisement does more harm than good.—Lange.

Verses 10-12


1 Kings 2:10. Buried in the city of David—A tomb probably prepared by the king before he died, and afterwards marked with great veneration, even in the time of Christ.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:10-12


The reign of David began in the midst of storm and conflict. His was a long and eventful life, teeming with romance, ever menaced with danger, and ever escaping it, and yet continually advancing to a higher pitch of greatness and power. The trumpet of rebellion had roused him from his dying couch. As one accustomed to such scenes, and well knowing how to act, he crushed the incipient attempt before it had gathered strength enough to injure his throne. It was his last struggle. From that period an era of peace was inaugurated that lasted for years. At the beginning of this season of tranquillity the dynasty of the Warrior-King closes, and is followed by the rule of the Man of Peace. This change of government suggests a few reflections.

I. That death is no respecter of person or rank. “So David slept with his fathers” (1 Kings 2:10). The unpitying destroyer ravages alike the cottage and the palace. Even David, who had borne a charmed life in the fiercest battles, is at length overtaken by the enemy whose power he had seemed to defy. All the resources of a kingdom are utterly incompetent to arrest the inevitable and desolating stroke of Death. No amount of wealth can bribe him to betray his ghastly mission; no skill, however subtle, can baffle his designs; no pleadings, however pathetic, can move him to pity; no rank, however exalted, can escape his fatal visit. Silently, steadily, irresistibly, unweariedly he prosecutes his work. Like the gigantic vampire bat of Java, whose perfumed wings fan its victims into a profound sleep while it sucks the life-blood, so Death often throws a stupor over the worn-out body while knawing away its vitality: the senses are numbed, the breath rifled, the pulse stilled, and all is over—the prince and the beggar are reduced to the same level. One event happeneth to all.

II. That the greatness of the son is often built on the wise provisions of the sire. “Then sat Solomon on the throne of David his father” (1 Kings 2:12). The exertions of David had made the kingdom of Israel what it was. By his conquests he greatly enlarged its territory and increased its wealth. As the crowning work of his life he set his heart upon building a temple for Jehovah; but this he was not permitted to do, though he had made extensive preparations for the undertaking. When, therefore, Solomon came to the throne, he found a kingdom thickly populated, and growing in wealth, prestige, and influence. A substantial basis was thus laid down on which the empire was raised to the height of affluence, splendour, and renown it afterwards attained. Whatever reputation Solomon might have won by his wisdom, he would never have been known to posterity as a mighty prince had he not inherited the substantial fortunes of his victorious father. The son of a great man and heir to vast possessions occupies no enviable position. He accepts a solemn responsibility—he has the prospect of a brilliant career. If he fails, his humiliation is most abject. He needs Divine help. The best guarantee of success is to possess heavenly wisdom.

III. That the progress of a nation advances notwithstanding the loss of its greatest men. “And his kingdom was established greatly” (1 Kings 2:12). There is an immense power in an individual life; it impresses itself upon the nation; it moulds its policy and guides its destiny, and becomes interwoven with the texture of its character; it seems indispensable to its existence. Yet it is humbling to discover how little one is missed and how soon forgotten. Great men die; but the nations they helped to create survive and flourish. How often are we made to feel:—

The individual is less and less,
The world is more and more.

Individuals perish—principles never: men depart, but humanity remains. The work of one generation is a preparation for the work of another; and thus, under the controlling hand of God, nations accomplish their respective destinies:

“There is a Power

Unseen, that rules the illimitable world—
That guides its motions, from the brightest star
To the least dust of this sin-tainted world;
While man, who madly deems himself the lord
Of all, is nought but weakness and dependence.”—Thomson.


1. All earthly governments are subject to change.

2. It is matter for gratitude to the nation when the end of one good reign is the beginning of another.

3. Amid the rise and fall of dynasties the Divine purpose concerning the race steadily advances.


1 Kings 2:10-11. The death and burial of David.

1. His death was a rest from a long and toilsome life—as a storm having spent its force sinks gently into a peaceful and prolonged slumber. Rest is sweet after bearing the burden and heat of the day for forty years.

2. He was buried among the monuments of his energy and greatness. His own city was his tomb. Kings who build palaces should not forget their tombs; a small space must shortly contain all their greatness. David’s grave is a pledge that the memory of the just is blessed (Proverbs 10:7; Acts 2:29).

And now, when David hath set all things in a desired order and forwardness, he shuts up with a zealous blessing of his son Solomon and his people, and sleeps with his fathers. O, blessed soul, how quiet a possession hast thou now taken, after so many tumults, of a better crown! Thou that hast prepared all things for the house of thy God, how happily art thou now welcomed to that house of His, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!—Hall.

David, a type of Christ.

1. Appointed by God to his high office, and consecrated to it with the holy oil.
2. Was long opposed by violent enemies.
3. Was sustained in his heaviest trials by a large measure of Divine consolation.
4. Was supreme governor of his people.
5. Ruled in righteousness.
6. Pardoned enemies and punished the obstinately rebellious.

7. Was confirmed in the kingdom by covenant (Psalms 89:3-4; Psalms 89:28-29).—Robinson.

Verses 13-25


1 Kings 2:13. Comest thou peaceably?—After recent events, there was reason to suspect his design.

1 Kings 2:15. The kingdom is turned about—He prudently thus evades the charge on Bathsheba of having herself been accessory to this issue.

1 Kings 2:16. Deny me not; lit., turn not away my face.

1 Kings 2:18. Well, I will speak for thee—She saw not the cunning of Adonijah and might have thought this gratification would appease his disappointment.

1 Kings 2:22. Ask for him the kingdom also—Solomon saw his crafty aim. The wives and concubines of a deceased king became the property of his successor to the throne (2 Samuel 12:8); hence the possession of Abishag would have given to Adonijah an additional apparent right to the kingdom; it was treason, therefore, for him, a subject, to claim a member of the royal harem as his wife; and Solomon recognised it as one step towards the seizure of the crown, or as a scheme by which Adonijah sought to found a rival dynasty. Hence the summary justice (1 Kings 2:25), and hence, too, the religious oath (1 Kings 2:23), for the royal line of David might not be imperilled by intrigue.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:13-25


1 Kings 2:1. That a treasonable spirit is slow to learn a lesson from past misfortunes. One would have thought that after the lamentable and disgraceful failure of his recent enterprise Adonijah would not have had the hardihood to risk another defeat. His conduct at this time reveals his character as a restless, intriguing, ambitious man. There are some men who will not be taught. The advice of the wise is contemptuously thrown away: the most calamitous events and their obvious lessons are speedily forgotten. The love of plotting and scheming amounts in some men to a passion; they are often blinded by their own cunning, and caught in the snares they had laid for the feet of others. Envy and ambition are turbulent elements, difficult to allay, and often hurrying their victims to certain ruin.

II. That a treasonable spirit has no scruple as to the method adopted in gaining its end.

1. It will flatter a mother’s vanity. Treason is a tortuous policy, and seeks to use others as tools to accomplish its designs. Instead of going direct to the king, Adonijah strove to influence the mother in his favour. He spoke of her son in a way to gratify the mother’s heart, and to disguise the insincerity that lay beneath his words. Flattery is one of the most polished and effective weapons of the schemer.

2. It is regardless of veracity. “Thou knowest that all Israel set their faces on me.” This was a great exaggeration. He had really no very large following (see 1 Kings 1:39-40; 1 Kings 1:45; 1 Kings 1:49). It was well known the Lord had chosen Solomon. Accuracy as to matters of fact never troubles the conscience of some people. The liar is never at a loss for arguments, nor very particular as to their character. Says the proverb—“It is an easy thing to find a staff to beat a dog with.”

3. It can affect a mock saintliness. “For it was his from the Lord.” From such lips, this sounds very much like cant! The aim was evidently to deceive Bathsheba as to the real intention of securing her advocacy. Of all methods to attain sinister ends, the rôle of the religious hypocrite is the most detestable. There are some natures over whom it exerts a potent charm.

III. That a treasonable spirit is prompted by base motives (1 Kings 2:17). The beauty of Abishag had made its impression on Adonijah. Blinded by sensual passion and the lust of power, he disregarded the incestuous proposal to marry his father’s widow. Such an union was directly contrary to positive law (Leviticus 18:8). The darkest designs are the offspring of the lowest motives, and an ambitious zeal for place and the public weal often covers the desire for a wider scope in the personal indulgence of sensual instincts (Psalms 37:12).

IV. A treasonable spirit knows no bounds to its ambition. Nothing short of kingship could satisfy Adonijah. His possession of Abishag was intended as a means to that end. Her eminent beauty and near relation to David would give her a powerful interest at court. In the oriental mind a monarch was so sacred, such a divinity hedged him in, that whatever was brought near to him was thenceforth separate from common use. This sacred and separate character attached especially to the royal harem. The inmates either remained widows for the rest of their lives, or became the wives of the deceased king’s successor. When a monarch was murdered or dethroned, or succeeded by one whose title was doubtful, the latter alternative was almost always adopted. The Pseudo Smerdis married all the wives of Cambyses (Herod. iii. 68); and Darius married all the wives of the Pseudo-Smerdis (ib. ch. 88). So David, when he succeeded Saul, had all the wives of Saul (2 Samuel 12:8); and Absalom, when he seized the crown, by the advice of Ahitophel, went in unto his father’s concubines (ib. 1 Kings 16:22). These are examples of what seems to have been a universal practice; and the result was such a close connection in public opinion between the title of the crown and the possession of the deceased monarch’s wives, that to have granted Adonijah’s request would have been the strongest encouragement to his pretensions.—Speaker’s Comm. Woman is often courted for the sake of the place and power to which she can introduce her suitor: the serpent addressed the woman first in order to gain the man. The ambition of a treasonable spirit is as avaricious and insatiable as it is reckless in the agencies it employs.

V. That a treasonable spirit is unexpectedly detected and exposed (1 Kings 2:22-23). Solomon at once saw through the design of Adonijah. He appears, too, to have discovered some indications of another attempt at rebellion, in which Abiathar and Joab were implicated (1 Kings 2:22). He showed Bathsheba how she had been deceived by the flattery of Adonijah; and we can conceive with what alarm she would start back from the dark pitfall into which she was about unwittingly to plunge herself and son! A course of villany may go on for a long time in uninterrupted prosperity; but detection is sure to come, and the exposure will be humiliating and complete. Be sure your sin will find you out. In these days of literary enterprise, the columns of a thousand journals will exhibit your disgrace to the world in unmistakeable characters. If the mask could be torn from the face of society, what a horrid index would be presented to the festering mass of deceit, envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness which is ever heaving and spreading there! A day is coming when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and all wrongs redressed. But who can fathom the depth of that Divine patience that bears with the enormities of the wicked, and calmly waits for the hour of retribution? Better to find out and deplore our own sins before they are exposed and punished by omniscient and omnipotent justice.

VI. That a treasonable spirit meets with summary and unfaltering vengeance (1 Kings 2:24-25). Adonijah had before been pardoned, and his life spared, on condition that he acted worthily (1 Kings 1:52). That condition was violated; and now, without admitting any intercession for his life, he is solemnly doomed to death, and the sentence forthwith executed. The perils of the state sometimes demand the prompt and rigorous punishment of offenders. Sin entails a life of disappointment and misery, and a death of shame and infamy. The cunning of the wicked often overreaches itself, and the plot which is intended to gain a fortune terminates in a dishonoured grave. Many a head has been lost in the attempt to seize a crown. The ruin of the enemies of Christ’s kingdom is as sure as the unshakeable stability of that kingdom.


1. A treasonable spirit demoralizes man’s whole nature.

2. The cleverest plotter is no match for the simple wisdom of uprightness.

3. Persistency in sin intensifies the severity of the punishment.


1 Kings 2:13-25. Adonijah’s attempt to gain the throne.

1. Wherein this attempt consisted (1 Kings 2:13-18).

2. How it ended (1 Kings 2:19-25). Adonijah and his faction show the truth of what is often found—namely, that revolutionary men are not discouraged by the failure of their plans, and even disgraceful defeat, but always brood over the means of attaining their ambitious views and gratifying their thirst for power. Pardon and forbearance do not change them, but generally harden and embolden them. If they do not succeed by open force, they choose deceitful ways, notwithstanding all the promises they may have given; and they feign submission until they think their opportunity has arrived. Every one to whom God has confided the government should hear the words of David to Solomon: “Be strong, therefore, and show thyself a man;” for weakness is, in this respect, sin against God and man. As to Adonijah, the whole East knew but one punishment for such plans as he cherished—viz., death. Had his enterprise succeeded, he would doubtless have destroyed Solomon and his principal adherents, in accordance with the usual practice hitherto. Solomon, on the contrary, did not follow this custom, but showed forgiveness and generosity; in fact, he avoided all persecution of Adonijah’s partisans. Only when Adonijah, contrary to his word, and notwithstanding his humble homage, again appeared as pretender to the throne, and sought to reach his end by deceit and hypocrisy, did he order the affixed punishment.—Lange.

1 Kings 2:18. “I will speak for thee unto the king.” The Christian minister an ambassador.

1. He is divinely called and qualified.
2. He has influence with the court of heaven.
3. He pleads the cause of the needy.
4. He seeks to reconcile the rebellious to God.
5. He is appealed to for counsel by the distressed and penitent.

1 Kings 2:20. Bathsheba makes a petition against herself, and knows it not; her safety and life depend upon Solomon’s reign, yet she unwittingly moves for the advancement of Adonijah. In unfit supplications we are most heard when we are repelled. Thus doth our God many times answer our prayers with merciful denials, and most blesseth us in crossing our desires.—Bishop Hall.

1 Kings 2:22. “Ask for him the kingdom also.” For that is it he gapes after, and seeks to strengthen his cracked title by marrying the late king’s concubine, who was likely grown very gracious with the great ones, and as potent at court as was once here Dame Alice Pierce, King Edward III.’s concubine, who did whatsoever she pleased.—Trapp.

1 Kings 2:24. “Adonijah shall be put to death this day.” This day, before to-morrow, lest delay should breed danger. Who knoweth what a great-bellied day may bring forth? We are used to say—A day breaketh no square; but that is not always true. Oh, that we would be as quick in slaying our arch rebels—those predominant sins that threaten our precious souls!—Trapp.

1 Kings 2:25. “And he fell upon him that he died.” This was another piece of the punishment of David’s two great sins, the small and short pleasure whereof behold what a train and tail of calamities it draweth after it!—Trapp.

Verses 26-27


1 Kings 2:26. Not at this time put thee to death—It did not contain a threat that what was now deferred would be executed at a later date; the sentence would depend on Abiathar’s future conduct.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:26-27


Formerly, Abiathar had been a firm and attached friend of David, had attended him in all his wanderings when he fled from Saul, and was esteemed by the king with a special tenderness. It may be Abiathar had grown jealous of Zadok, and feared being supplanted by him; or, it may be, he was drawn into rebellion by the masterly strategy and astute opposition of the wilful and discontented Joab. He thus became, equally with Joab, involved in the guilt of treason, though a difference is made in the final judgment passed upon the two. The subject suggested by the whole passage is the retribution of a faithless friendship.

I. That a faithless friendship may merit the severest punishment. “For thou art worthy of death” (1 Kings 2:26). Treachery on the part of one we have trusted is an act of basest cruelty; and in proportion to the intimacy enjoyed will be the mischief wrought. It is an exquisitely painful experience when, for the first time, our confidence in human nature is broken. Such an experience has driven many into general infidelity and a reckless course of iniquity. We begin to discover the truth of the proverb—“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth and a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19). Few men can be trusted to do all we expect, still less to do all we require. Faithless conduct is ungrateful. All the kindnesses of a long, fond friendship are forgotten and despised. “He who calls a man ungrateful,” says Swift, “sums up all the evil a man can be guilty of.” Such conduct entails unspeakable suffering. To the pang of disappointment is added a series of disasters. No one sin is alone; it is the cause of many others: it is like the letting out of waters. Such conduct will meet with severe punishment. The unfaithful friend often suffers more than his victim. Conscience will speak, and its every tone is full of torture. The most callous will be goaded into agony by the stings of a retributive remorse.

II. That the severity of retribution is often moderated by the recollection of acts of fidelity in the past.

1. Respect is had to the religious office and conduct of God’s ministers. “Because thou barest the ark of the Lord God” (1 Kings 2:26). Whatever we do for God in sincerity and truth will not be forgotten when trouble overtakes us. The virtuous part of a life that may afterwards sink in the moral scale is looked back upon with admiration and regret. Justice draws near with reluctance, and sorrows while it smites.

2. Respect is had to the exhibition of a genuine fellow-sympathy in times of suffering. “And because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted” (1 Kings 2:26). Abiathar had been with David in his exile and distress, caused both by the persecution of Saul and the rebellion of Absalom, and shared all the hardships of those trying times. Friendship is cemented and strengthened by suffering. Our love to any one may be measured by the extent we are prepared to suffer for him. The father and brethren of Abiathar were slain for David’s sake. Those who show kindness to God’s people will have it recompensed to them sooner or later. It is a sad reflection that a friendship that has borne the test of suffering may, nevertheless, prove untrue.

III. That the retribution of a faithless friendship consigns its victim to a condition of shame and obscurity.

1. It involves a dismissal from the royal presence. “Get thee to Anathoth, &c.” (1 Kings 2:26). This would be a heavy blow to Abiathar, whose life had hitherto been spent at court, and occupied with the highest affairs of state. He must now exchange the excitement and display of the city for the obscurity of Anathoth. And yet he must have dreaded a heavier punishment when he remembered the fate of Adonijah, and the fate that threatened Joab. His life was mercifully spared, though he was excluded from that which had before been the sunshine and joy of his life—the favour of the king. Cain felt his curse all the more bitterly because he was driven from the presence of the Lord; and the lot of the finally impenitent will be all the more unendurable because they are for ever shut out from the presence of the Great King.

2. It involves a degradation from the most honourable office. “So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord” (1 Kings 2:27). He had disqualified himself for the holy duties of his office by his opposition to that which he knew was the will of God. “The priesthood of Abiathar, as it aggravated his crime, so it shall preserve his life. Such honour have good princes given to the ministers of the sanctuary that their very coat has been defence enough against the sword of justice: how much more should it be of proof against the contempt of base persons!” Saul cruelly slew the father of Abiathar, and eighty-five priests with their families, for a supposed crime: Solomon spares Abiathar himself, though guilty of a real crime. Mark the judgment of history in those two cases: the government of Saul was disgraced and ruined; the throne of Solomon was established. As men are to God’s ministers, they will find Him to them. When circumstances permit, mildness and forgiveness should go hand-in-hand with justice. The highest ecclesiastical office does not lift a man above the power of the law to punish for wrong-doing.

IV. That the retribution of a faithless friendship may be the unconscious fulfilment of a long-threatened judgment against a sinful generation. “That he might fulfil the word of the Lord, which He spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh” (1 Kings 2:27). Eighty years had rolled away since the words of doom were spoken against the house of Eli, and it seemed very unlikely that they would ever be fulfilled (1 Samuel 2:31-36). But time has no power to wipe out the Divine record, or to enfeeble the justice of the Divine hand. The deposition of Abiathar involved the rejection of the house of Ithamar (1 Chronicles 24:3), to which Eli belonged, and the re-establishment of the high-priesthood in the line of Eleazar, to which Zadok belonged (Numbers 25:13; 1 Chronicles 24:5-6). The wickedness of a generation cannot be purged away, though its punishment may be arrested by the virtues of individuals. “If God pays slowly, He pays sure. Delay of most certain punishment is neither any hindrance to His justice, nor any comfort to our miseries.” Solomon had no immediate intention of punishing the descendants of Eli, and, perhaps, never thought of the prophecy. Man is often the unconscious instrument of carrying out the Divine purposes. Faithlessness will not go unpunished for want of agencies to punish. All the forces of the universe are at the service of the Supreme Judge. Rebellion in a priest, who should teach loyalty, is doubly criminal.


1. A treacherous friend may work serious mischief.

2. Is punished with reluctance.

3. Yet cannot escape the inevitable retribution of his treachery.


1 Kings 2:26-27. Solomon allowed Abiathar to go unpunished at first, which scarcely any other Eastern prince would have done. But when the repeated attempt of Adonijah to seize the kingdom was discovered, Abiathar could no longer be passed over. Yet, instead of inflicting death upon him, he deprived him of his influential office, and let him live at liberty on his estate, on account of his former good behaviour. Here was no severity, but gratitude, kindness, and generosity. Ecclesiastical office can be no protection from just punishment of crime (see Luke 12:47; 1 Corinthians 9:27). Former fidelity cannot efface later treachery. It is most lamentable that a man who was faithful in times of trouble should end his career as a sinner (1 Corinthians 10:12).—Lange.

1 Kings 2:26. “Thou art worthy of death.” The voice of law to the sinner.

1. He has forfeited life by transgression.
2. It is the function of law to convince him of that fact.
3. Law offers no gleam of hope as to any escape from death.
4. Christ alone redeems from the curse of the law.

“Because thou hast been afflicted.” But for this he had now been a dead man. So God by the rod preventeth the sword; and therefore will not condemn his saints for their sins, because they have suffered (1 Corinthians 11:31), and in His account have suffered double (Isaiah 40:1).—Trapp.

1 Kings 2:27. Solomon might lawfully take from Abiathar all the revenues of his place, as well as the liberty of officiating in it; but the sacerdotal office, which he received from God, and to which he was anointed, he could not alienate. He was still styled the priest (1 Kings 4:4). There is a great difference between depriving a man of the dignity and of the exercise of his function in such a determinate place, and taking from him an authority which was given him by God, and the profits and emoluments which were the gifts of the crown or the nation.

Verses 28-34


1 Kings 2:30. Nay, but I will die here—A defiance of the king’s message, thinking that Solomon dared not order his execution there. But Joab had placed himself outside the protection of the altar (Exodus 21:14; Deuteronomy 19:11-13).

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:28-34


Life is a Divine gift, bequeathed as a sacred trust to humanity, to be jealously guarded and carefully cultured. It is susceptible of the loftiest rapture, or the most abject misery. To violate the body, which is the curiously-wrought casket of the life-principle, and to rob it of its priceless jewel, is a sacrilege and a crime. Only He who gave life has an absolute right to resume it. Murder is an unpardonable outrage on humanity; it is the ghastly policy of the cruel tyrant, the final resource of the baffled coward. It is a gross Insult to the great Giver of all life, and an offence against the Divine law which cannot go unpunished. The murderer forfeits his own life, and exposes himself to a righteous retribution which sooner or later will fall upon him with overwhelming power. The blood of the innocent victim clamours with unceasing voice for vengeance, and clamours not in vain. Terrible will be the wrath-vials poured upon the head of the blood-shedder, and which he is utterly powerless to avert.

I. The retribution of blood, though delayed, is inevitable. Years had passed away since Joab had recklessly shed the blood of Abner and A masa; but the crime was not forgotten, nor could it go for ever unrequited. Mere lapse of time has no power to change the nature of things; it weakens nothing; it strengthens nothing. Before Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, the sin a generation old is as new as at the time of its committal, even as the holy aspiration that may be rising from the soul at this moment will be had in remembrance a thousand years hence as it is at this instant of time. Nor can the good deeds of one part of our life atone for the heinous crimes committed at another period. Joab deserved well of his king and country. He was brave and victorious in war; he did much towards the building and beautifying of Jerusalem; he clung faithfully to David in his distresses; and devoted himself to promote the best weal of Israel. But his noblest virtues were unable to ward off the punishment due to his old sins. “It is not in the power of all our deserts to buy off one sin, either with God or man; where life is so deeply forfeited, it admits of no redemption.” Often when least expected the stroke of vengeance falls. The long, deep, silent pause in the tempest is most to be dreaded: the storm-king is but gathering strength for a more terrific onset.

II. The retribution of blood is perpetually dreaded. “Then tidings came.… And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord, and caught hold on the horns of the altar” (1 Kings 2:28). The conscience spoke, and the soul was filled with fear. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” No man pursued Adam amid the bowers of Paradise, yet he fled. “I heard thy voice in the garden, and was afraid.” No man pursued Cain when the world was in the morning of youth, yet he fled. No man pursued Joab as yet, though the sword of vengeance was busy with those around him, and yet he fled. There was that within him which told him he could not always escape. Oh, what a hell of misery is often carried in the breast of the sinner! His conscience creates the image of his righteous avenger who is ever threatening and ever pursuing him. It is a mere phantom, but none the less real, none the less near, none the less alarming on that account. He cannot escape it; he cannot destroy it. Neither oceans nor continents can separate him from it; it is not at his heels, it is in his heart; it has become a part of himself. He hears the visionary pursuer in every sound. The whispering wind, the rustling leaf, the creak of a swinging branch, the chirp of an insect, seem to betray to his disturbed imagination the immediate presence of the avenger.

“Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
The thief doth fear each bush an officer.”—Shakespeare.

III. The retribution of blood respects not the protection of the most sacred asylums. “Behold, he is by the altar … Go fall upon him” (1 Kings 2:29). It had become the custom for malefactors to flee to the altar for safety, though there was no law on the subject, except for accidental homicides. But for the murderer the altar offered no protection (Exodus 21:14). There is no citadel, however massive; no cavern, however gloomy; no seclusion, however remote; no spot on earth, however sacred, that can screen the trembling victim from the remorseless avenger of blood. There are some sins too great for any human sanctuary to shelter. But there is a refuge to which the worst transgressor may run, and be assured of safety, pardon, and hope. Christ is that refuge. The victims offered and the blood shed on the altar of the tabernacle, and which sanctified it as a place of refuge, typified the atonement made for the sins of the whole world by the shedding of the blood of Christ, the Paschal Lamb. None, however guilty, but may, by believing in Christ, obtain salvation. Unspeakably happy are they who have taken sanctuary in Him.

“Betake thee to thy Christ, then, and repose
Thyself in all extremities, on those

His everlasting arms,

Wherewith he girds the heavens, and upholds
The pillars of the earth.”—Quarles.

IV. The retribution of blood is in harmony with the Divine law. “And the Lord shall return his blood upon his own head” (1 Kings 2:32). We are set in the midst of a system of laws which, in their ever active operation, press upon us at all points. While we act in harmony with them they minister to our well-being; but when we violate them they are inexorable in their revenge.

1. Retribution is in harmony with the law of causation. We are to-day the result of our conduct yesterday, and the cause of our conduct to-morrow; and thus our present actions must ever be the seeds of future recompense.

2. It is in harmony with the law of conscience. It is the province of conscience to approve or condemn. No action of our life is ever lost. Memory reproduces every detail of the past; and conscience smiles or frowns according to its actual character.

3. It is in harmony with the law of righteousness. Divine justice binds itself to punish the wicked and reward the good. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

“Heaven is most just, and of our pleasant vices
Makes instruments to scourge us.”

V. The retribution of blood sometimes reaches, in its effects, beyond its immediate victim. “Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab and upon the head of his seed for ever” (1 Kings 2:33). It is a sentiment frequently set forth in the Old Testament that innocent blood cries to God for vengeance, and that if suffered to go unpunished it brings down a curse and judgment upon the land. This idea seemed present to the mind of David, and influenced his conduct; hence, at the time of Abner’s murder, he publicly implored that the judgment of this innocent blood might be averted from his house and kingdom, and that it might rest upon Joab and upon his house (2 Samuel 3:28-29). The murderer hands down the stigma of his guilt to his posterity. The history makes no further mention of the descendants of Joab; they sink into inglorious oblivion. What becomes of the children of our great criminals? If it were possible to trace the career of sin in its darkest exploits, what a terrible record would be made!

VI. The retribution of blood is essential to the maintenance of good government. “But upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the Lord” (1 Kings 2:33). Either from motives of friendship, or fearing the consequences because of Joab’s popularity with the army, David had hesitated to punish the murderer as he deserved; but knowing the power of this man to disturb the peace of the kingdom—an instance of which had just been exhibited in his siding with the treasonable attempt of Adonijah—the dying monarch charged his son to execute upon him the judgment of heaven on the first occasion that justified him in so acting. All government is at an end where crime is allowed to go unpunished; authority is insulted and defied, and anarchy and terror prevail. “It is a foolish niceness,” says Bishop Hall, “to put more shame in the doing of justice than in the violating of it. In one act Solomon approved himself both a good magistrate and a good son, fulfilling at once the will of a father and the charge of God.” A negligent magistrate will bear the woe of the sin that he is not careful to avenge. Favour to the offender is cruelty to the favourer. The throne is only secure when it sends forth justice irrespective of persons (Proverbs 25:5).

VII. The retribution of blood is inexorable and complete.—“So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him and slew him” (1 Kings 2:34). The voice of blood can be silenced only by adequate retribution (Genesis 9:6). Retribution overtook Joab on the very scene of the most treacherous of his murders; for the tabernacle, at whose altar he perished, was then at Gibeon, and it was at the “great stone which is in Gibeon” that Joab slew Amasa (2 Samuel 20:8-10). The sword of justice may be for a while mercifully suspended; but when it falls, terrible indeed is the havoc it occasions. The sins of an impenitent life return in vengeance upon the sinner. “Society is like the echoing hills. It gives back to the speaker his words; groan for groan, song for song. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to yon again.” Though human laws cannot be satisfied with anything less than blood for blood, yet if the greatest sinner, even a murderer, fly to the horns of the Divine altar, he shall never be dragged thence.

VIII. The retribution of blood does not extend further than to answer the purpose of God. “And he was buried in his own house in the wilderness” (1 Kings 2:4). Vengeance did not extend to the dead body of Joab. It is not for man to lay the iniquity upon the bones, whatever God may do. It is a fiendish cruelty that offers the least indignity to a lifeless corpse. Joab was buried in his own family sepulchre attached to his country seat, and in a manner befitting a great warrior, a peer of Israel, and a near relative of the king. “Death puts an end to all quarrels: Solomon stays the penalty when Heaven is satisfied: the revenge that survives death, and will not be shut up in the coffin, is barbarous and unbeseeming true lsraelites.” The funeral of Joab would suggest to the spectators many solemn reflections on fallen greatness, and the inability of high social status and deeds of valour to screen the wrongdoer from severe retribution.


1. The preciousness of human life.

2. That no misery is so great as that of the murderer.

3. That Christ can pardon the greatest sinner.


1 Kings 2:28-34. The terrible end of Joab.

1. He dies conscious of his guilt, without peace and pardon.
2. Even in the very jaws of death he is defiant, rough, and proud.

3. He does not leave the world like a hero, but like a criminal. How differently David dies! (1 Kings 2:2).—Lange.

Of all expositors, Pellican only justifies Joab to have been a most faithful servant to David, and seemeth to tax it as a point of ingratitude in David towards him to appoint him to be slain; by his example warning all courtiers of their uncertain condition. But Joab certainly now received according to his deserts for his bloodshed and faction, which must not go unpunished.—Mayer.

1 Kings 2:28. “For Joab turned after Adonijah.” And that was his bane. If men do not cast away all their transgressions—that “all” is a little word, but of large extent—they perish undoubtedly. Many here, like Benhadad, recover of one disease and die of another.—Trapp.

“Joab fled, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.” An evil conscience can put to flight a hero who never yielded to the enemy in a single bloody field. Fond Joab, hadst thou formerly sought for counsel from the tabernacle, thou hadst not now needed to seek it for refuge; if thy devotions had not been wanting to that altar, thou hadst not needed it as a shelter. It is the fashion of our foolish presumption to look for protection where we have not cared to yield obedience. Even a Joab clings fast to God’s altar in his extremity, which, in his prosperity, he regarded not. The worst men would be glad to make use of God’s ordinances for their advantage. Miserable Joab! what help canst thou expect from that sacred pile? Those horns, that were sprinkled with the blood of beasts, abhor to be touched by the blood of men. That altar was for the expiation of sin by blood, not for the protection of the sin of blood. If Adonijah fled thither and escaped, it is murder that pursues thee more than conspiracy. God hath no sanctuary for a wilful homicide.—Bishop Hall.

1 Kings 2:30. “Nay; but I will die here.” The sullen stubbornness of crime.

1. It gloomily accepts the inevitable.
2. It expects no mercy.
3. Is indifferent about desecrating the most sacred place.
4. Seeks, in dying, to throw the utmost odium on those who inflict the punishment.

1 Kings 2:31. “That thou mayest take away the innocent blood.” David had never formally pardoned Joab; and, indeed, it may be questioned whether by the law there was any power of pardoning a murderer (see Numbers 35:16-34; Deuteronomy 19:10). The utmost that the king could do was to neglect to enforce the law. Even in doing this he incurred a danger. Unpunished murder was a pollution to the land (Numbers 35:33), and might bring a judgment upon it like the famine which had been sent a few years before this on account of Saul and of his bloody house, “because he slew the Gibeonites” (2 Samuel 21:1). Or the judgment might fall upon the negligent monarch, or his house, as punishment fell upon Eli and his house, fur not chastising the wickedness of his sons (1 Samuel 3:13).—Speaker’s Comm.

1 Kings 2:32. “Who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he”—who had done Joab no wrong, nor meant him any, and, had they lived, might probably have done David better service. If the blood shed be not only innocent but excellent, the life more valuable than common lives, the crime is the more heinous. Joab is put to death for the murder of Abner and Amasa, rather than for his treasonable adherence to Adonijah.

1 Kings 2:34. “So Benaiah went up and slew him.” Joab must have been old and infirm at this time; and now he bleeds for Abner, he bleeds for Amasa, and he bleeds for Uriah. The two former he murdered; of the blood of the latter he was not innocent. Yet he had done the state much service, and they knew it; but he was a murderer, and vengeance would not suffer him to live.—Dr. A. Clarke.

1 Kings 2:35. The reward of a tried fidelity.

1. That there are crises when fidelity is severely tried.

1. In times of national distress and rebellion.
2. In times of personal affliction and helplessness.
3. In times of secret temptation and outrageous threatening.
2. That the maintenance of fidelity in times of trial has a good influence on the unstable.

1. Rebellion is more easily suppressed.
2. The authority of government is more firmly established.
3. It is an education to fit for nobler and more important service.
3. That fidelity severely tried is sure to meet with reward.

1. It secures the satisfaction of an approving conscience for duty done.
2. It wins the confidence and generosity of the highest authorities.
3. It conducts to positions of high honour and responsibility. A faithful man makes himself indispensable.
4. It exalts the character of the office disgraced by the unfaithfulness of others.

Verses 36-46


1 Kings 2:37. Thy blood shall be upon thine own head—The legal form of the sentence of death (Leviticus 10:9; Leviticus 10:11-12, etc.).

1 Kings 2:38. Dwelt in Jerusalem many days; וָמִים רַבִּים

1 Kings 2:42. The word that I have heard is good. Pointed sometimes thus,—“The word is good; I have heard.”

1 Kings 2:46. So the king commanded—that he died—This was not merciless rigour. Shimei had committed perjury, had acted deceitfully and independently—not petitioning Solomon for leave; and having added to high treason (1 Kings 2:44) this crime of violating his oath though on keeping it his life hung, retribution was imperative. Kingdom was established בְּיָך, in or by the hand, i.e., in the possession of Solomon, or by his administration.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 2:36-46


It is a striking testimony to the power of Christianity, that those who have been trained under its influence find much that is painful to their feelings in transactions which would, even in modern times, appear perfectly reasonable, just, and even laudable, among Eastern nations. The greatest oriental magnates were animated by the spirit of the age in which they lived; and we might as well complain that they travelled from Dan to Beersheba on the slow-footed ass, rather than by the rapid rail, as that they were not in all things actuated by the spirit of a later revelation and a later time. The series of stern retributions recorded in this chapter must be viewed and interpreted in the light of the times in which they took place. Many have complained that in the case of Shimei an unwonted measure of severity is shown. There is much force in the remarks made by Dr. Kitto:—“Upon the whole, it seems to us that in this incident, as in many other austere circumstances of Scripture history, the apparent difficulty disappears, or becomes greatly attenuated, when all the circumstances are closely weighed, and when we contemplate the subject not exclusively from our own point of view, but from that of contemporaries, and in connection with influences—religious, political, and social—very different from our own, but which some degree of careful study may enable us to realize. The more this is done, the more ‘digestible’ many of the hardest things of Scripture history will appear. One thing is certain, that there is not a word or hint in the Sacred Book to show that the conduct of David and Solomon to Joab, Shimei, Adonijah, or Abiathar, was regarded as other than perfectly right and just, if not laudable, by the people of the age and country in which David and Solomon lived. Indeed, we may be sure that Solomon was too sagacious to disfigure the commencement of his reign by acts abhorrent to the public opinion of his time. And if he had that sanction—as we are sure he had—we feel that, in matters not affecting any principle of God’s ancient law, we have no right to stigmatise his conduct as unjust or barbarous, although, with our keener sense—with our Christian and occidental perceptions—of human obligations, we turn with relief from the grim severities of this blood-stained page.” In reviewing the conduct and fate of Shimei observe:—

I. That a curse is the offspring of a spirit of bitter rancour and hostility. Shimei was of the house of Saul, and strongly resented the loss of royalty to the Benjamites, and all prospect of preferment to himself. He unjustly charged David with being the cause of the ruin of the Sauline dynasty, and conceived a violent hatred towards him. While David was in prosperity and power, Shimei dared not assail him; but when, in a day of adversity, David and his followers had in their flight come to Bahurim, Shimei came out from his house, situated on an elevated ridge near the roadside, and poured on the humbled and distressed monarch a torrent of outrageous curses (2 Samuel 16:5-13). The greatest swearer is the greatest coward. There are men with hearts so full of hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, that their lips constantly burn with freshly uttered blasphemies; their stomachs are so foul that they must needs spit up the loathsome venom with which they are overcharged, and they care not on whom it shall fall. If there is no special object of their spite before them, they will curse all round, and end by cursing themselves. To curse is the most contemptible method of revenge; it is an evidence of utter impotency, and a horrid revelation of a most fiendish nature. Just as Shimei cast dust (ib. 1 Kings 5:13) which would be harmless to those he abused, and would doubtless be blown again into his own eyes, so the curses of the vile blasphemer often return in fearful retribution upon himself. Shimei was a dangerous, bad man, equal to any intrigue, and finding his recreation in plotting wickedness. With some monarchs such a man would not be suffered to be at large. There are some men who are not fit to be trusted out of sight, and the swearer is often of that class.

II. That the retribution of a curse is sometimes mercifully delayed.

1. The delay affords space for repentance and reformation. The evildoer misapprehends the slowness of the Divine punishment, as though it were an evidence of weakness. God hesitates, that man may relent and find forgiveness. But, oh! the blindness of the human heart—“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). The lull in the tempest enables the skilful mariner to repair damages, and prepare for the worst; so the stillness of God should suggest to the sinner the importance of a prompt and penitent search after salvation.

2. The delay is conditional (1 Kings 2:36-37). Shimei was to be a prisoner at large in Jerusalem, and not to pass a certain boundary outside the city, formed by a circle drawn from the brook Kidron. To infringe that condition, on any pretence whatever, would render him worthy of death. “Besides the old grudge no doubt Solomon saw cause to suspect the fidelity of Shimei, as a man who was ever known to be hollow to the house of David. The obscurity of a country life would easily afford him more safe opportunities of secret mischief; many eyes shall watch him in the city; he cannot look out unseen, he cannot whisper unheard. Upon no other terms shall he enjoy his life, which the least straying shall forfeit.”—Bp. Hall. All our blessings are conditional. As a limit was fixed for the restless Shimei, so is it necessary that we should set a limit to our affections, desires, and ambitions.

3. The mercy of delayed retribution should be gratefully acknowledged (1 Kings 2:38). Shimei recognized the justice and clemency of the conditions imposed on him, and solemnly pledged himself to observe them. He looked for death, and lo! life was continued. The sinner has reason to praise God for every moment his punishment is delayed. He best shows his gratitude for the gracious respite by striving to be obedient. St. Bernard, one of the holiest of the church’s saints, was in the habit of constantly warning himself by the grave enquiry—“Bernard, for what purpose art thou here?” The thoughtful penitent may profit by frequently putting to himself the question—“For what purpose art thou spared?”

III. That the retribution of a curse is hastened by some fresh act of disobedience.

1. Man is tempted to disobedience by the love of temporal gain (1 Kings 2:39-40). Avarice is the root of all evil. The loss of two servants led Shimei to disobedience, even to forget his oath and risk his life. “Covetousness and presumption of impunity,” says Bishop Hall, “are the destruction of many a soul. Shimei seeks his servants, and loses himself! How many are there who cry out of this folly, and yet imitate it! These earthly things either are our servants, or should be. How commonly do we see men run out of the bounds set them by God’s law, to hunt after them till their souls incur a fearful judgment!”

2. Disobedience is ungrateful. Shimei had acknowledged the kind forbearance shown him, and engaged himself by an oath to observe the condition. He ignored his obligation, and forgot the kindness he had received. Forgetfulness is a reckless destroyer of gratitude, and a prolific cause of disobedience. Men sin because they “forget” the commandments of the Lord. It is the depth of ingratitude to rebel against our best benefactor, to slight his commands, to depreciate his goodness, and frustrate his purpose.

3. Disobedience is dangerous. This Shimei discovered to his cost. Let the skater disregard the warning, “Beware!” and it is no marvel if he is suddenly immersed under the treacherous ice. A certain rebel chieftain—a principal leader in one of the most sanguinary risings of the Irish against the government—died from a grievous malady contracted by his wearing poisoned boots, which, it is said, were sent him in a present. The disobedient walk in poisoned boots, and to continue the practice is sure to prove fatal (Ezekiel 18:20)!

IV. That the retribution of a curse falls at last with awful severity.

1. The grounds of retribution are rehearsed (1 Kings 2:42-45). Stress is laid upon Shimei’s violation of his own oath, and of the king’s commands. He is also reminded of his former crimes: there was no need to call witnesses in proof—his own heart was privy to it all (1 Kings 2:44). The heart is privy to much more wickedness than ever appeared without. The punishment for any one sin brings up unpleasant recollections of all the sinful past. The retribution of the wicked will be justified in the light of Divine justice, and in the reflected light of his own sinful history.

2. The retribution is complete. “So Benaiah fell upon him that he died” (1 Kings 2:46). Vengeance against rebels may sleep; it cannot die. Shimei’s fate plainly proves the truth of the word (Job 34:11; Psalms 141:10; Proverbs 5:22). Divine justice at length overtakes those whose crimes have long been unpunished, and when they least expect it. Those also who have cursed the anointed of the Lord, the eternal King of God’s realm, and who have shot their poisoned shafts at Him, shall hereafter say to the mountains, Fall on us! and to the hills, Cover us! (Luke 23:30). How weak and forgetful of his word would the king have seemed to all the people if he had let Shimei now go free, particularly with the notions then entertained about a king! (Proverbs 16:12-15; Proverbs 20:2; Proverbs 20:26).—Lange.

V. The retribution of a curse tends to strengthen the authority of government. “And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon” (1 Kings 2:46). All malcontents and rebels were now removed or subdued: his own subjects were affectionately bound to him, and the surrounding nations either dreaded him, or did not think proper to make him their enemy. The union of mildness and firmness, generosity and official justice, in the conduct of the young sovereign in the treatment of his foes, must have deeply impressed the people, have increased his authority, and established his rule. It is a comforting thought to the believer, that the kingdom of Messiah is firmly established, notwithstanding the rage and tumult of His adversaries. In Him the throne of David is established for ever (1 Kings 2:45; see also 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalms 89:4; Psalms 89:36, &c.) The time is approaching when all the enemies of Christ shall perish, and His righteous government be universally acknowledged and obeyed.


1. A swearer is always something worse.

2. A foul mouth is its own condemnation.

3. The impenitent blasphemer will be rigorously punished.


1 Kings 2:36. “Build thee an house in Jerusalem.” Shimei was no further to be trusted than he might be seen, and is therefore confined and kept within compass. So should our deceitful hearts be dealt with. Set a jealous eye upon them, or else they will give you the slip, as David’s did (Psalms 39:1-2). He said he would look to his ways and bridle his tongue; but presently after he shows how he broke his word (1 Kings 2:3).

1 Kings 2:36-37. The power of evil circumscribed.

1. Though evil is a power, it is not the greatest power.
2. Evil is checked and limited by the superior power of law.
3. Law enforces its authority by adequate penalties.
4. When the limits of law are transgressed, its penalties are inflicted.
5. The extreme penalty of violated law is death.

1 Kings 2:39. The temptations of avarice.

1. Are irresistible to the depraved.
2. Lead to the transgression of hitherto observed restrictions.
3. Allure the victim to inevitable destruction.

“And they told Shimei”—either for good or for evil will; so shall a man sooner or later hear of his faults, either by his friends or his foes; and malice, though an ill judge, may be a good informer.—Trapp.

1 Kings 2:40. “And Shimei went to Gath. Sin, the way of death. The walker therein is—

1. Passion-blinded.
2. Devil-driven.
3. Judgment-stricken.

—“And it was told Solomon.” Kings have long ears, and more eyes than their own.

1 Kings 2:42-43. The precept here was a mutual adjuration. Shimei swore not to go; Solomon swore his death if he went. The one oath must be revenged; the other must be kept. If Shimei were false in offending, Solomon will be just in punishing.—Bishop Hall.

Oaths should bind to good abearance (behaviour); but some can play with them as apes do with nuts, or monkeys with their collars, which they slip on and off again at pleasure.—Trapp. Perjury is a crime for which the avenging God will visit.

1 Kings 2:41-46. This proceeding appears very harsh to the subjective modern view of history. Shimei has surely, it is thought, committed no great offence, if he has brought back his slaves, which he probably bought and paid for with hard cash, and thus helped himself to his own lawful property. Perhaps he thought also that his journey to Gath was no transgression of the royal command, because he did not require to cross the Kidron. On such grounds expositors have endeavoured to excuse Shimei, and, at the same time, to prove Solomon’s rigour. But Shimei cannot be exculpated. The subtle evasion is refused by the plain words of the text, which forbid him to go any whither out of Jerusalem (1 Kings 2:36; 1 Kings 2:42); and the reference to the cash which his slaves may have cost him is no less an empty argument. If Shimei wished to remain true to his oath, he should have informed the king of the flight of his slaves, petitioned him for leave to bring them back, and awaited his directions; but he ought not to have lightly broken his oath. In his perjury lay his guilt, and he had no excuse, as Solomon showed him; to which was added his high treason against David. In the punishment of his crime Solomon thus only vindicated the Divine right, and might therefore have regarded it as a retribution suspended over Shimei for his transgression, for which God will bless him by the fulfilment of the promise made to David of the perpetual duration of his throne.—Keil.

A sure, though late judgment attends those that dare lift up either their hand or tongue against the sacred persons of God’s vicegerents. How much less will the God of heaven suffer unavenged the insolencies and blasphemies against His own Divine Majesty! It is a fearful word, He should not be just if he should hold these guiltless.—Bishop Hall.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Kings 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-kings-2.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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