David's whole history we are brought to the conclusion of in this chapter. Here is his farewell charge to Solomon, and his death. Solomon's succession is soon followed with the deaths of Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei.
1 Kings 2:1
(1) ¶ Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,
There is somewhat very affecting in the dying moments of all men; but particularly so when eminent servants of the Lord come to die. We feel highly interested to know what they say, what were their views, and what their feelings, as they went down into the Jordan of death. The Holy Ghost hath been pleased to gratify the church on this point in numberless instances; and, in a part of scripture where many of the Old Testament saints are brought together into one point of view, we are told in general terms, that they all died as they had lived, believing; These all died in faith. See Heb 11.
(2) I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; (3) And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: (4) That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.
The opening of this charge to Solomon is just as might be expected from the man after God's own heart. What could he say; what ought he to have uttered, but such a charge concerning his regard to the faithful God as he here delivered to his son, as his successor in the kingdom? The Holy Ghost, in the parallel passage of David's dying scene, which he hath been pleased to have recorded in the first book of the Chronicles, gives a much more particular account of his last words, both to Solomon, and to the princes, and the captains of his court, than is here mentioned. And as there are several leading circumstances in that account which David, as a dying prophet, delivered in reference to the gospel church, I could wish that the Reader would consult that scripture while he has read this. See 1 Chronicles 28:1-10.
(5) Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet. (6) Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace. (7) But show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother. (8) And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword. (9) Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.
It should seem, from the particular charges David gave to Solomon concerning those men, Joab and Shimei, that his conscience told him he had not done justice in suffering a murderer like Joab to go unpunished. And with respect to Shimei, the grievous curse perhaps of which he complains was of a spiritual nature, leveled against the covenant. I am, I confess, inclined to think so; as being in David's view what belonged not to him to pardon. If Shimei's conduct came at all under this description, it came not within the power of David to pardon. See Deuteronomy 13:12-17.
(10) So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
Here we come at last to David's death and burial. Alas! what is the sum total of every man's history in the world, but that he was born, and lived, and died, and was buried? But, Reader, let you and I solemnly remember that, as it is appointed unto men once to die, so after death there is a judgment. Ah! here is the thing which makes both life and death important. Where we die, or when we die, is not so interesting; but it is of eternal consequence how we die. Blessed (said the voice of heaven) blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 14:13.
(11) And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
If the Reader be curious to calculate, he will find that David's reign was six months more than forty years. But the Holy Ghost, in causing this memorial of David's reign to be marked down, was pleased to have it conveyed to the church in even numbers. And I am the more glad of it, because it acts as an authority and precedent for me, in my Commentary, in which I have purposely chosen to set down, upon different occasions, the periods of time in the same round numbers.
(12) ¶ Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
From hence we may properly date the commencement of Solomon's reign. And let the Reader observe what is said, that it was established greatly. Reader! how precious is it when our Jedidiah, our Solomon, hath his kingdom established greatly in our hearts!
(13) And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably. (14) He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on. (15) And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the LORD. (16) And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on. (17) And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife. (18) And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king. (19) Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand. (20) Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay. (21) And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife. (22) And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah. (23) Then king Solomon sware by the LORD, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life. (24) Now therefore, as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day. (25) And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.
Unless we take into our account certain circumstances which very probably operated on the mind of Adonijah, as well as the probability that this Shunammite had been really married to David, by which the intention of Adonijah was incestuous, the great displeasure of Solomon cannot be well explained. Solomon was appointed by the Lord to the kingdom, as the successor of his father, and therefore we find that during the rebellion of Adonijah he appeared as one not anxious for the event. But now he is king, and his throne fully established, wherefore doth he take alarm at Adonijah's request? But it will throw a light upon the subject if we suppose, as hath been conjectured by some, that the Shunammite was betrothed to David, though, from his age and imbecility, it is said he knew her not. Yet the proposed alliance with his son Adonijah, if granted, would have led to incest. But, beside this, the object put on another appearance, as it respected the kingdom. When Absalom usurped the crown, it was the advice of Ahithophel that he should go in unto his father's concubines, by way of intimating publicly that he and his father were in hatred. See 2 Samuel 16:20-21. Hence this attempt of Adonijah to do the same respecting Abishag, Solomon considered as implying the same. And as Solomon was so eminent for wisdom, he discovered this design, and crushed it in the bud. But, Reader, let you and I gather improvement from it, and consider how much it behoves us to bring every enemy, both secret and open, under the feet of Jesus.
(26) ¶ And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted. (27) So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
I do not presume to say as much, but yet I think it is likely, that Abiathar was at the bottom of Adonijah's proposal concerning Abishag; for Solomon, in his answer to his mother Bath-sheba, seems to hint at it in 1 Kings 2:22. But the degradation of Abiathar from the priest's office became a confirmation of what God had threatened concerning the house of Eli. Abiathar was the last high priest of that family; which, though predicted fourscore years before, was not confirmed until now. However slow, yet God's judgments are sure. The apostle makes a striking observation upon it, 2 Peter 3:8-10. How gracious Solomon appears in his dismission of Abiathar. He reminds him of his attachment to his father, and therefore deals gently by him. Think, Reader, in what a multitude of instances the Lord Jesus deals thus with sinners, and how gracious he is in the midst of judgment.
(28) Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. (29) And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him. (30) And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me. (31) And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father. (32) And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah. (33) Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed forever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace forever from the LORD. (34) So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.
The death of Joab is not for his joining in Adonijah's rebellion, but, it is for the murders he had committed. And Solomon evidently, in this instance, meant to take away the blood of iniquity from the kingdom. It was in conformity to the divine law; and Solomon is not the law-maker, but the law-fulfiller. See Genesis 9:5-6. Oh! how sweet is it to the relief of every poor, distressed, burthened conscience, that Jesus hath both fulfilled the law, and paid the penalty to the law, by the sacrifice of himself.
(35) ¶ And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar.
It is delightful to see a throne surrounded with upright servants. It is yet, if possible, more delightful to see the church of Jesus filled with faithful ministers.
(36) And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. (37) For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. (38) And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.
By this process a foundation was laid for securing Shimei's fidelity, or opening the door for his punishment. And it should seem that those articles of agreement were entered into before the Lord, and sanctioned with his authority. I know not whether the Reader enters with me in his feelings, into a similar view of Kidron. But since Jesus passed this brook in the night of his agony in the garden, preparatory to his death, the very mention of the place raises many interesting images to the mind. To trace thy footsteps, dearest Jesus, though, like Shimei, it brought an death, oh! for faith to think nothing of the sacrifice!
(39) And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath. (40) And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath. (41) And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again. (42) And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good. (43) Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with? (44) The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head; (45) And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever. (46) So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
The event was just as might be expected. Sinners lay the foundation of their own ruin; and even, as the Psalmist saith, are entrapped in the works of their own hands. And verily do I believe, in the end of the day, every despiser of Jesus and his blessed gospel, will be condemned out of their own mouth, when it will be proved that salvation hath been brought home to their very doors, and proclaimed in their streets, and they have rejected the counsel of God against their own souls. Well might the apostle exclaim, How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Hebrews 2:3.
READER! after gathering all the instructions from this chapter which the Holy Ghost graciously intended from it, for the comfort and edification of his church and people, let us direct our views to the contemplation of David; and, having here seen his end in his death and burial, first consider the character of this man as he is in himself; and, secondly, in the light in which he eminently stands in the church, a type and figure of the ever blessed Jesus.
When we consider David in his original obscurity of situation, as the son of Jesse! When we behold him brought forth and placed in a state so high and exalted! When we view him in all his private life, and public usefulness! When we see him in his most exalted seasons of piety! and when we behold him no less in his falling into sin - What a wonderful character, taken together, doth he appear! The most extraordinary perhaps that ever the Lord brought forward from among the sons of Adam. No doubt, eminently intended to be held forth as a monument in the church; that his most astonishing heights of devotion might comfort, encourage, and animate the people of God. And no less that the sad falling into sin, from which almighty grace recovered him, might encourage poor penitent transgressors to hope in his mercy, in and through Jesus.
But, when we have duly pondered over the character of David, as he was in himself, I would beg the Reader to look at him yet more leisurely and attentively, as he stands in the church, a type and figure of our ever adored Redeemer. Here he comes forward in a more eminent manner, and challenges our more serious consideration.
Chosen of God from among the sheepcotes, and from the lowest obscurity, how doth he prefigure Him who was taken from among the humblest of men, and set up in the councils of peace from everlasting. And if David was the man after God's own heart, who can overlook in him the type of Jesus, Jehovah's elect, in whom his soul delighteth; the man whose name is the Branch, and concerning whom a voice from heaven proclaimed him God's well-beloved Son, in whom his soul was well pleased? Did David fight the battles of the Lord; did he conquer Goliath, and the armies of the uncircumcised Philistines? and did not Jesus obtain the victory over all the enemies of our salvation'? Was David anointed king over God's people contrary to the wishes of Saul, and all the expectation of Israel? and was not Jesus crowned king in Zion in direct defiance of Herod, and all the expectation of the people of the Jews, who declared that they would not have this man to reign over them? Did David make his way to the throne through a series of persecution, affliction, and distress? and who can forget the sorrows, persecutions, and oppositions, dearest Jesus, by which thou didst purchase the crown of redemption, before it was put upon thy sacred head? Was David surrounded with his worthies, the captains, and elders of Israel; and what a noble army of patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, followed the Lord Jesus? Was David the sweet psalmist of Israel, and did he compose songs for the sanctuary? And what songs of salvation hath our Jesus taught his people, both in the temple service below, and in the realms of bliss above, when the redeemed of the Lord shall come to Zion with everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away forever! Hail! blessed Jesus! thou hast the key of David; thou art both the root and the offspring of David! David's son after the flesh, and David's Lord and God in the divinity of thy nature. Truly, Lord, many kings have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Oh! may the history of all thy servants lead my soul to thee. They shall lay on thee all the glory of thy Father's house; and on thee would I lay all the glory of my salvation!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter