In this chapter we have David setting and Solomon at the same time
I. The conclusion of David's reign with his life.
1. The charge he gives to Solomon upon his death-bed, in general, to
(1 Kings 2:1-4),
in particular, concerning Joab, Barzillai, and Shimei,
1 Kings 2:5-9.
2. His death and burial, and the years of his reign,
1 Kings 2:10,11.
II. The beginning of Solomon's reign,
1 Kings 2:12.
Though he was to be a prince of peace, he began his reign with some
remarkable acts of justice,
1. Upon Adonijah, whom he put to death for his aspiring pretensions,
1 Kings 2:13-25.
2. Upon Abiathar, whom he deposed from the high priesthood for siding
1 Kings 2:26,27.
3. Upon Joab, who he put to death for his late treasons and former
1 Kings 2:28-35.
4. Upon Shimei, whom, for cursing David, he confined to Jerusalem
(1 Kings 2:36-38),
and three years after, for transgressing the rules, put to death,
1 Kings 2:39-46.
David's Dying Charge; David's Death and Burial.
B. C. 1015.
1 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he
charged Solomon his son, saying,
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
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.
10 So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city
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.
David, that great and good man, is here a dying man
(1 Kings 2:1),
and a dead man,
1 Kings 2:10.
It is well there is another life after this, for death stains all the
glory of this, and lays it in the dust. We have here,
I. The charge and instructions which David, when he was dying, gave to
Solomon, his son and declared successor. He feels himself declining,
and is not backward to own it, nor afraid to hear or speak of dying:
I go the way of all the earth,
1 Kings 2:2.
Heb. I am walking in it. Note, Death is a way; not only a period
of this life, but a passage to a better. It is the way of all the
earth, of all mankind who dwell on earth, and are themselves earth,
and therefore must return to their earth. Even the sons and heirs of
heaven must go the way of all the earth, they must needs die;
but they walk with pleasure in this way, through the valley of the
shadow of death,
Prophets, and even kings, must go this way to brighter light and honour
than prophecy or sovereignty. David is going this way, and therefore
gives Solomon directions what to do.
1. He charges him, in general, to keep God's commandments and to make
conscience of his duty,
1 Kings 2:2-4.
He prescribes to him,
(1.) A good rule to act by--the divine will: "Govern thyself by that."
David's charge to him is to keep the charge of the Lord his
God. The authority of a dying father is much, but nothing to
that of a living God. There are great trusts which we are charged with
by the Lord our God--let us keep them carefully, as those that must
give account; and excellent statutes, which we must be ruled by--let us
also keep them. The written word is our rule. Solomon must himself do
as was written in the law of Moses.
(2.) A good spirit to act with: Be strong and show thyself a
man, though in years but a child. Those that would keep the charge
of the Lord their God must put on resolution.
(3.) Good reasons for all this. This would effectually conduce,
[1.] To the prosperity of his kingdom. It is the way to prosper in
all thou doest, and to succeed with honour and satisfaction in
[2.] To the perpetuity of it: That the Lord may continue and so
confirm his word which he spoke concerning me. Those that
rightly value the treasure of the promise, that sacred
depositum, cannot but be solicitous to preserve the entail of
it, and very desirous that those who come after them may do nothing to
cut it off. Let each, in his own age, successively, keep God's charge,
and then God will be sure to continue his word. We never let fall the
promise till we let fall the precept. God had promised David that the
Messiah should come from his loins, and that promise was absolute: but
the promise that there should not fail him a man on the throne of
Israel was conditional--if his seed behave themselves as they
should. If Solomon, in his day, fulfil the condition, he does his part
towards the perpetuating of the promise. The condition is that he walk
before God in all his institutions, in sincerity, with zeal and
resolution; and, in order hereunto, that he take heed to his
way. In order to our constancy in religion, nothing is more
necessary than caution and circumspection.
2. He gives him directions concerning some particular persons, what to
do with them, that he might make up his deficiencies in justice to some
and kindness to others.
(1.) Concerning Joab,
1 Kings 2:5.
David was now conscious to himself that he had not done well to spare
him, when he had made himself once again obnoxious to the law, but the
murder of Abner first and afterwards of Amasa, both of them great men,
captains of the hosts of Israel. He slew them treacherously
(shed the blood of war in peace), and injuriously to David:
Thou knowest what he did to me therein. The murder of a
subject is a wrong to the prince, it is a loss to him, and is against
the peace of our sovereign lord the king. These murders were
particularly against David, reflecting upon his reputation, he being,
at that time, in treaty with the victims, and hazarded his interest,
which they were very capable of serving. Magistrates are the avengers
of the blood of those they have the charge of. It aggravated Joab's
crime that he was neither ashamed of the sin nor afraid of the
punishment, but daringly wore the girdle and shoes that were stained
with innocent blood, in defiance of the justice both of God and the
king. David refers him to Solomon's wisdom
(1 Kings 2:6),
with an intimation that he left him to his justice. Say not, "He has a
hoary head; it is a pity it should be cut off, for it will shortly fall
of itself." No, let it not go down to the grave in peace. Though
he has been long reprieved, he shall be reckoned with at last; time
does not wear out the guilt of any sin, particularly that of murder.
(2.) Concerning Barzillai's family, to whom he orders him to be kind
for Barzillai's sake, who, we may suppose, by this time, was dead,
1 Kings 2:7.
When David, upon his death-bed, was remembering the injuries that had
been done, he could not forget the kindnesses that had been shown, but
leaves it as a charge upon his son to return them. Note, the kindnesses
we have received from our friends must not be buried either in their
graves or ours, but our children must return them to theirs. Hence,
perhaps, Solomon fetched that rule
Thy own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not. Paul prays
for the house of Onesiphorus, who had often refreshed him.
(3.) Concerning Shimei,
1 Kings 2:8,9.
[1.] His crime is remembered: He cursed me with a grievous
curse; the more grievous because he insulted him when he was in
misery and poured vinegar into his wounds. The Jews say that one thing
which made this a grievous curse was that, besides all that is
(2 Samuel 16:1-23),
Shimei upbraided him with his descent from Ruth the Moabitess.
[2.] His pardon is not forgotten. David owned he had sworn to him that
he would not himself put him to death, because he seasonably submitted,
and cried Peccavi--I have sinned, and he was not willing,
especially at that juncture, to use the sword of public justice for the
avenging of wrongs done to himself. But,
[3.] His case, as it now stands, is left with Solomon, as one that knew
what was fit to be done and would do as he found occasion. David
intimates to him that his pardon was not designed to be perpetual, but
only a reprieve for David's life: "Hold him not guiltless; do
not think him any true friend to thee or thy government, nor fit to be
trusted. He has no less malice than he had then, though he has more
sense to conceal it. He is still a debtor to the public justice for
what he did then; and, though I promised him that I would not put him
to death, I never promised that my successor should not. His turbulent
spirit will soon give thee an occasion, which thou shouldst not fail to
take, for the bringing of his hoary head to the grave with
blood." This proceeded not from personal revenge, but a prudent
zeal for the honour of the government and the covenant God had made
with his family, the contempt of which ought not to go unpunished. Even
a hoary head, if a guilty and forfeited head, ought not to be any man's
protection from justice. The sinner, being a hundred years old,
shall be accursed,
II. David's death and burial
(1 Kings 2:10):
He was buried in the city of David, not in the burying place of
his father, as Saul was, but in his own city, which he was the founder
of. There were set the thrones, and there the tombs, of the house of
David. Now David, after he had served his own generation, by the
will of God, fell asleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw
His epitaph may be taken from
2 Samuel 23:1.
Here lies David the son of Jesse, the man who was raised up on high,
the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel,
adding his own words
My flesh also shall rest in hope. Josephus says that, besides
the usual magnificence with which his son Solomon buried him, he put
into his sepulchre a vast deal of money; and that 1300 years after (so
he reckons) it was opened by Hircanus the high priest, in the time of
Antiochus, and 3000 talents were taken out for the public service. The
years of his reign are here computed
(1 Kings 2:11)
to be forty years; the odd six months which he reigned above seven
years in Hebron are not reckoned, but the even sum only.
Adonijah's Impudent Request; Adonijah Put to Death.
B. C. 1015.
12 Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and
his kingdom was established greatly.
13 And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother
of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said,
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
18 And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the
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 a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death
25 And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of
Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.
I. Solomon's accession to the throne,
1 Kings 2:12.
He came to it much more easily and peaceably than David did, and much
sooner saw his government established. It is happy for a kingdom when
the end of one good reign is the beginning of another, as it was
II. His just and necessary removal of Adonijah his rival, in order to
the establishment of his throne. Adonijah had made some bold
pretensions to the crown, but was soon obliged to let them fail and
throw himself upon Solomon's mercy, who dismissed him upon his good
behaviour, and, had he been easy, he might have been safe. But here we
have him betraying himself into the hands of Solomon's justice, and
falling by it, the righteous God leaving him to himself, that he might
be punished for his former treason and that Solomon's throne might be
established. Many thus ruin themselves, because they know not when they
are well off, or well done to; and sinners, by presuming on God's
patience, treasure up wrath to themselves. Now observe,
1. Adonijah's treasonable project, which was to marry Abishag, David's
concubine, not because he was in love with her, but because, by her, he
hoped to renew his claim to the crown, which might stand him in stead,
or because it was then looked upon as a branch of the government to
have the wives of the predecessor,
2 Samuel 12:8.
Absalom thought his pretensions much supported by lying with his
father's concubines. Adonijah flatters himself that if he may succeed
him in his bed, especially with the best of his wives, he may by that
means step up to succeed him in his throne. Restless and turbulent
spirits reach high. It was but a small game to play at, as it should
seem, yet he hoped to make it an after-game for the kingdom, and now to
gain that by a wife which he could not gain by force.
2. The means he used to compass this. He durst not make suit to Abishag
immediately (he knew she was at Solomon's disposal, and he would justly
resent it if his consent were not first obtained, as even Ishbosheth
did, in a like case,
2 Samuel 3:7),
nor durst he himself apply immediately to Solomon, knowing that he lay
under his displeasure; but he engaged Bathsheba to be his friend in
this matter, who would be forward to believe it a matter of love, and
not apt to suspect it a matter of policy. Bathsheba was surprised to
see Adonijah in her apartment, and asked him if he did not come with a
design to do her a mischief, because she had been instrumental to crush
his late attempt. "No," says he, "I come peaceably
(1 Kings 2:13),
and to beg a favour"
(1 Kings 2:14),
that she would use the great interest she had in her son to gain his
consent, that he might marry Abishag
(1 Kings 2:16,17),
and, if he may but obtain this, he will thankfully accept it,
(1.) As a compensation for his loss of the kingdom. He insinuates
(1 Kings 2:15),
"Thou knowest the kingdom was mine, as my father's eldest son, living
at the time of his death, and all Israel set their faces on me."
This was false; they were but a few that he had on his side; yet thus
he would represent himself as an object of compassion, that had been
deprived of a crown, and therefore might well be gratified in a wife.
If he may not inherit his father's throne, yet let him have something
valuable that was his father's, to keep for his sake, and let it be
(2.) As his reward for his acquiescence in that loss. He owns Solomon's
right to the kingdom: "It was his from the Lord. I was foolish
in offering to contest it; and now that it is turned about to him I am
satisfied." Thus he pretends to be well pleased with Solomon's
accession to the throne, when he is doing all he can to give him
disturbance. His words were smoother than butter, but war was in his
3. Bathsheba's address to Solomon on his behalf. She promised to speak
to the king for him
(1 Kings 2:18)
and did so,
1 Kings 2:19.
Solomon received her with all the respect that was due to a mother,
though he himself was a king: He rose up to meet her, bowed himself
to her, and caused her to sit on his right hand, according
to the law of the fifth commandment. Children, not only when grown up,
but when grown great, must give honour to their parents, and behave
dutifully and respectfully towards them. Despise not thy mother when
she is old. As a further instance of the deference he paid to his
mother's wisdom and authority, when he understood she had a petition to
present to him, he promised not to say her nay, a promise which both he
and she understood with this necessary limitation, provided it be just
and reasonable and fit to be granted; but, if it were otherwise, he was
sure he should convince her that it was so, and that then she would
withdraw it. She tells him her errand at last
(1 Kings 2:21):
Let Abishag be given to Adonijah thy brother. It was strange
that she did not suspect the treason, but more strange that she did not
abhor the incest, that was in the proposal. But either she did not take
Abishag to be David's wife, because the marriage was not consummated,
or she thought it might be dispensed with to gratify Adonijah, in
consideration of his tame submission to Solomon. This was her weakness
and folly: it was well that she was not regent. Note, Those that have
the ear of princes and great men, as it is their wisdom not to be too
prodigal of their interest, so it is their duty never to use it for the
assistance of sin or the furtherance of any wicked design. Let not
princes be asked that which they ought not to grant. It ill becomes a
good man to prefer a bad request or appear in a bad cause.
4. Solomon's just and judicious rejection of the request. Though his
mother herself was the advocate, and called it a small petition,
and perhaps it was the first she had troubled him with since he was
king, yet he denied it, without violation of the general promise he had
1 Kings 2:20.
If Herod had not had a mind to cut off John Baptist's head, he would
not have thought himself obliged to do it by a general promise, like
this, made to Herodias. The best friend we have in the world must not
have such an interest in us as to bring us to do a wrong thing, either
unjust or unwise.
(1.) Solomon convinces his mother of the unreasonableness of the
request, and shows her the tendency of it, which, before, she was not
aware of. His reply is somewhat sharp: "Ask for him the kingdom
1 Kings 2:22.
To ask that he may succeed the king in his bed is, in effect, to ask
that he may succeed him in his throne; for that is it he aims at."
Probably he had information, or cause for a strong suspicion, that
Adonijah was plotting with Joab and Abiathar to give him disturbance,
which warranted him to put this construction upon Adonijah's request.
(2.) He convicts and condemns Adonijah for his pretensions, and both
with an oath. He convicts him out of his own mouth,
1 Kings 2:23.
His own tongue shall fall upon him; and a heavier load a man needs not
fall under. Bathsheba may be imposed upon, but Solomon cannot; he
plainly sees what Adonijah aims at, and concludes, "He has spoken
this word against his own life; he is snared in the words of his
own lips; now he shows what he would be at." He condemns him to die
immediately: He shall be put to death this day,
1 Kings 2:24.
God had himself declared with an oath that he would establish David's
and therefore Solomon pledges the same assurance to secure that
establishment, by cutting off the enemies of it. "As God liveth, that
establisheth the government, Adonijah shall die, that would unsettle
it." Thus the ruin of the enemies of Christ's kingdom is as sure as the
stability of his kingdom, and both are as sure as the being and life of
God, the founder of it. The warrant is immediately signed for his
execution, and no less a man than Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, general
of the army, is ordered to be the executioner,
1 Kings 2:25.
It is strange that Adonijah may not be heard to speak for himself: but
Solomon's wisdom did not see it needful to examine the matter any
further; it was plain enough that Adonijah aimed at the crown, and
Solomon could not be safe while he lived. Ambitious turbulent spirits
commonly prepare for themselves the instruments of death. Many a head
has been lost by catching at a crown.
Joab Put to Death.
B. C. 1015.
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
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.
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
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
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 for ever: but upon David, and upon
his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be
peace for ever 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
Abiathar and Joab were both aiding and abetting in Adonijah's
rebellious attempt, and it is probable were at the bottom of this new
motion made of Adonijah for Abishag, and it should seem Solomon knew
1 Kings 2:22.
This was, in both, an intolerable affront both to God and to the
government, and the worse because of their high station and the great
influence their examples might have upon many. They therefore come next
to be reckoned with. They are both equally guilty of the treason, but,
in the judgment passed upon them, a difference is made and with good
I. Abiathar, in consideration of his old services, is only degraded,
1 Kings 2:26,27.
1. Solomon convicts him, and by his great wisdom finds him guilty:
"Thou art worthy of death, for joining with Adonijah, when thou
knewest on whose head God intended to set the crown."
2. He calls to mind the respect he had formerly shown to David his
father, and that he had both ministered to him in holy things (had
borne before him the ark of the Lord), and also had tenderly
sympathized with him in his afflictions and been afflicted in them all,
particularly when he was in exile and distress both by Saul's
persecution and Absalom's rebellion. Note, Those that show kindness to
God's people shall have it remembered to their advantage one time or
3. For this reason he spares Abiathar's life, but deposes him from his
offices, and confines him to his country seat at Anathoth, forbids him
the court, the city, the tabernacle, the altar, and all inter-meddling
in public business, with an intimation likewise that he was upon his
good behaviour, and that though Solomon did not put him to death at
this time he might another time, if he did not conduct himself well.
But, for the present, he was only thrust out from being priest, as
rendered unworthy that high station by the opposition he had given to
that which he knew to be the will of God. Saul, for a supposed crime,
had barbarously slain Abiathar's father, and eighty-five priests, their
families, and city. Solomon spares Abiathar himself, though guilty of
a real crime. Thus was Saul's government ruined and Solomon's
established. As men are to God's ministers, they will find him to them.
4. The depriving of Abiathar was the fulfilling of the threatening
against the house of Eli
(1 Samuel 2:30),
for he was the last high priest of that family. It was now above eighty
years since the ruin was threatened; but God's judgments, though not
executed speedily, will be executed surely.
II. Joab, in consideration of his old sins, is put to death.
1. His guilty conscience sent him to the horns of the altar. He heard
that Adonijah was executed and Abiathar deposed, and therefore, fearing
his turn would be next, he fled for refuge to the altar. Many that, in
the day of their security, care not for the service of the altar, will
be glad of the protection of it in the day of their distress. Some
think Joab designed thereby to devote himself for the future to a
constant attendance upon the altar, hoping thereby to obtain his
pardon, as some that have lived a dissolute life all their days have
thought to atone for their crimes by retiring into a monastery when
they are old, leaving the world when it has left them and no thanks to
2. Solomon ordered him to be put to death there for the murder of Abner
and Amasa; for these were the crimes upon which he thought fit to
ground the sentence, rather than upon his treasonable adherence to
Adonijah. Joab was indeed worthy of death for turning after Adonijah,
in contempt of Solomon and his designation to the throne, though he
had not turned after Absalom,
1 Kings 2:28.
Former fidelity will not serve to excuse any after treachery; yet,
besides that, Joab had merited well of the house of David, to which and
to his country he had done a great deal of good service in his day, in
consideration of which, it is probable, Solomon would have pardoned him
his offence against him (for clemency gives great reputation and
establishment to an infant government), and would have only displaced
him as he did Abiathar; but he must die for the murders he had formerly
been guilty of, which his father had charged Solomon to call him to an
account for. The debt he owed to the innocent blood that was shed, by
answering its cries with the blood of him that shed, he could not pay
himself, but left it to his son to pay it, who, having power
wherewithal, failed not to do it. On this he grounds the sentence,
aggravating the crime
(1 Kings 2:32),
that he fell upon two men more righteous and better than he,
that had done him 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 that common lives,
the crime is the more heinous), that David knew not of it, and yet the
case was such that he would be suspected as privy to it; so that Joab
endangered his prince's reputation in taking away the life of his
rivals, which was a further aggravation. For these crimes,
(1.) He must die, and die by the sword of public justice. By man
must his blood be shed, and it lies upon his own head
(1 Kings 2:32),
as theirs does whom he had murdered,
1 Kings 2:33.
Woe to the head that lies under the guilt of blood! Vengeance for
murder was long in coming upon Joab; but, when it did come, it remained
the longer, being here entailed upon the head of his seed for
(1 Kings 2:33),
who, instead of deriving honour, as otherwise they might have done,
from his heroic actions, derived guilt, and shame, and a curse, from
his villainous actions, on account of which they fared the worse in
this world. The seed of such evil doers shall never be renowned.
(2.) He must die at the altar, rather than escape. Joab resolved not to
stir from the altar
(1 Kings 2:30),
hoping thereby either to secure himself or else to render Solomon
odious to the people, as a profaner of the holy place, if he should put
him to death there. Benaiah made a scruple of either killing him there
or dragging him thence; but Solomon knew the law, that the altar of God
should give no protection to wilful murderers.
Thou shalt take him from my altar that he may die, may die a
sacrifice. In case of such sins as the blood of beasts would atone for
the altar was a refuge, but not in Joab's case. He therefore orders him
to be executed there, if he could not be got thence, to show that he
feared not the censure of the people in doing his duty, but would
rectify their mistake, and let them know that the administration of
justice is better than sacrifice, and that the holiness of any place
should never countenance the wickedness of any person. Those who, by a
lively faith, take hold on Christ and his righteousness, with a
resolution, if they perish, to perish there, shall find in him a more
powerful protection than Joab found at the horns of the altar. Benaiah
(1 Kings 2:34),
with the solemnity, no doubt, of a public execution. The law being
thus satisfied, he was buried in his own house in the
wilderness, privately, like a criminal, not pompously, like a
soldier; yet no indignity was done to his dead body. It is not for man
to lay the iniquity upon the bones, whatever God does.
3. Solomon pleased himself with this act of justice, not as it
gratified any personal revenge, but as it was the fulfilling of his
father's orders and a real kindness to himself and his own government.
(1.) Guilt was hereby removed,
1 Kings 2:31.
By returning the innocent blood that had been shed upon the head of him
that shed it, it was taken away from him and from the house of his
father, which implies that the blood which is not required from the
murderer will be required from the magistrate, at least there is danger
lest it should. Those that would have their houses safe and built up
must put away iniquity far from them.
(2.) Peace was hereby secured
(1 Kings 2:33)
upon David. He does not mean his person, but, as he explains himself in
the next words, Upon his seed, his house, and his throne, shall
there be peace for ever from the Lord; thus he expresses his
desire that it may be so and his hope that it shall be so. "Now that
justice is done, and the cry of blood is satisfied, the government will
prosper." Thus righteousness and peace kiss each other. Now that
such a turbulent man as Joab is removed there shall be peace. Take
away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be
established in righteousness,
Solomon, in this blessing of peace upon his house and throne, piously
looks upward to God as the author of it. "It shall be peace from the
Lord, and peace for ever from the Lord." The Lord of peace himself give
us that peace which is everlasting.
B. C. 1014.
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
36 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him,
Build thee a 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.
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
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 for ever.
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.
I. The preferment of Benaiah and Zadok, two faithful friends to Solomon
and his government,
1 Kings 2:35.
Joab being put to death, Benaiah was advanced to be general of the
forces in his room, and, Abiathar being deposed, Zadok was made high
priest in his room, and therein was fulfilled the word of God, when he
threatened to cut off the house of Eli
(1 Samuel 2:35),
I will raise me up a faithful priest, and will build him a sure
house. Though sacred offices may be disgraced, they shall not be
destroyed, by the mal-administration of those that are entrusted with
them, nor shall God's work ever stand still for want of hands to carry
it on. No wonder that he who was a king so immediately of God's making
was empowered to make whom he though fit high priest; and he exercised
this power with equity, for the ancient right was in Zadok, he being of
the family of Eleazar, whereas Eli and his house were of Ithamar.
II. The course that was taken with Shimei. He is sent for, by a
messenger, from his house at Bahurim, expecting perhaps no better than
Adonijah's doom, being conscious of his enmity to the house of David;
but Solomon knows how to make a difference of crimes and criminals.
David had promised Shimei his life for his time. Solomon is not bound
by that promise, yet he will not go directly contrary to it.
1. He confines him to Jerusalem, and forbids him, upon any pretence
whatsoever, to go out of the city any further than the brook Kidron,
1 Kings 2:36,37.
He would suffer him to continue at his country seat lest he should make
mischief among his neighbours, but took him to Jerusalem, where he kept
him prisoner at large. This might make Shimei's confinement easy to
himself, for Jerusalem was beautiful for situation, the joy of the
whole earth, the royal city, the holy city (he had no reason to
complain of being shut up in such a paradise); it would also make it
the more safe for Solomon, for there he would have him under his eye
and be able to watch his motions; and he plainly tells him that if he
ever go out of the rules he shall certainly die for it. This was a fair
trial of his obedience, and such a test of his loyalty as he had no
reason to complain of. He has his life upon easy terms: he shall live
if he will but be content to live at Jerusalem.
2. Shimei submits to the confinement, and thankfully takes his life
upon those terms. He enters into recognizance
(1 Kings 2:38),
under the penalty of death, not to stir out of Jerusalem, and owns that
the saying is good. Even those that perish cannot but own the
conditions of pardon and life unexceptionable, so that their blood,
like Shimei's, must rest upon their own heads. Shimei promised, with an
oath, to keep within his bounds,
1 Kings 2:42.
3. Shimei forfeits his recognizance, which was the thing Solomon
expected; and God was righteous in suffering him to do it, that he
might now suffer for his old sins. Two of his servants (it seems,
though he was a prisoner, he lived like himself, well attended) ran
from him to the land of the Philistines,
1 Kings 2:39.
Thither he pursued them, and thence brought them back to Jerusalem,
1 Kings 2:40.
For the keeping of it private he saddled his ass himself,
probably went in the night, and came home he thought undiscovered.
"Seeking his servants," says bishop Hall, "he lost himself; those
earthly things either are, or should be, our servants. How commonly do
we see men run out of the bounds set by God's law, to hunt after them,
till their souls incur a fearful judgment!"
4. Solomon takes the forfeiture. Information is given him that Shimei
1 Kings 2:41.
The king sends for him, and,
(1.) charges him with the present crime
(1 Kings 2:42,43),
that he had put a great contempt upon the authority and wrath both of
God and the king, that he had broken the oath of the Lord and
disobeyed the commandment of his prince, and by this it appeared what
manner of spirit he was of, that he would not be held by the bonds of
gratitude or conscience. Had he represented to Solomon the urgency of
the occasion, and begged leave to go, perhaps Solomon might have given
him leave; but to presume either upon his ignorance or his connivance
was to affront him in the highest degree.
(2.) He condemns him for his former crime, cursing David, and throwing
stones at him in the day of his affliction: The wickedness which thy
heart is privy to,
1 Kings 2:44.
There was no need to examine witnesses for the proof of the fact, his
own conscience was instead of a thousand witnesses. That wickedness
which men's own hearts alone are privy to is enough, if
duly considered, to fill them with confusion, in expectation of its
return upon their own heads; for if the heart be privy to it,
God is greater than the heart and knoweth all things. Others knew of
Shimei's cursing David, but Shimei himself knew of the wicked
principles of hatred and malice against David which he displayed in
cursing him and that his submission was but feigned and forced.
(3.) He blessed himself and his government
(1 Kings 2:45):
King Solomon shall be blessed, notwithstanding Shimei's impotent
curses, which perhaps, in fury and despair, he now vented freely:
Let them curse, but bless thou. And the throne of David shall
be established, by taking away those that would undermine it. It is
a comfort, in reference to the enmity of the church's enemies, that,
how much soever they rage, it is a vain thing they imagine. Christ's
throne is established, and they cannot shake it.
(4.) He gives orders for the execution of Shimei immediately,
1 Kings 2:46.
All judgment is committed to the Lord Jesus, and, though he be King of
peace, he will be found a King of righteousness; and this will shortly
be his word of command concerning all his enemies, that would not have
him to reign over them: Bring them forth, and slay them before
me; the reproaches of those that blasphemed him will fall on
themselves, to their eternal condemnation.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".