Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,
The events related in 1 Chronicles 28-29 had occurred in the interval which separates the last and this present chapter.
I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;
David appears to have in his thoughts the divine address to Joshua. Without following it servilely, he reproduces several of its leading expressions and sentiments (compare the margin reference). Solomon's youth clearly constituted one of the chief difficulties of his position. If he was about nineteen or twenty, and known to be of a pacific disposition 1 Chronicles 22:9, then to have to 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."
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:
The "statutes" have been explained to be the positive ordinances of the Law; the "commandments" the moral precepts, not to steal, etc.; the "judgments" the laws belonging to civil government; and the "testimonies" the laws directing the commemoration of certain events. Compare Psalm 19:7-8.
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.
That the Lord may continue his word - The original promise given to David indirectly, through Nathan 2 Samuel 7:11-17, and apparently unconditional, afterward was made conditional upon continued obedience. (See the margin reference "f.") David reminds Solomon of this, in order to impress upon him a powerful motive to continue faithful and obedient.
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.
In his directions with respect to certain important persons, David, anxious for the security of his young successor's kingdom, 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" (see Matthew 5:43); and David perhaps was not in this respect in advance of his age. Joab's chief offence against David, besides his two murders, was no doubt his killing Absalom 2 Samuel 18:14. Another serious crime was his support of the treasonable attempt of Adonijah 1 Kings 1:7. But besides these flagrant misdemeanours, 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 2 Samuel 2:24-25, almost betraying his secrets 2 Samuel 11:19-21, 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 (margin reference).
Put the blood of war upon his girdle ... - Meaning "The blood of Amasa spirited all over the girdle to which the sword of Joab was attached; and the sandals on his feet were reddened with the stains left by the falling corpse."
Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
His hoar head - Joab, though the nephew of David, was probably not very greatly his junior, David being the youngest of the family, and Zeruiah, as is most likely, one of the eldest.
But shew 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.
One of the sons of Barzillai here intended was probably Chimham (see the margin reference). Who the others were is not known. The family continued down to the return from the captivity, and still held property in Israel (compare Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63).
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.
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.
Hold him not guiltless - i. e. "Do not treat him as an innocent man. Punish him as in thy wisdom thou deemest best. Not capitally at once; but so that he may be likely to give thee in course of time a just occasion to slay him." So, at least, Solomon seems to have understood the charge. (See 1 Kings 2:36-46.)
So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
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.
Forty years - In all forty years and six months. See 2 Samuel 5:5, and 1 Chronicles 3:4. The Jewish writers almost universally omit the fractions of a year.
Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
The "establishment" of the kingdom here intended is probably its universal acceptance both by the tribe of Judah and the other Israelites.
And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.
He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.
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.
And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.
Deny me not - literally, as in the margin, i. e. "make me not to hide my face through shame at being refused."
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.
And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.
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.
A seat - Or, "a throne." We have here a proof of the high dignity of the Queen-mother. Compare also 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 11:1-3. In the Persian court the Queen-mother had often the chief power.
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.
And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife.
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.
Ask for him the kingdom also - Bath-sheba had not seen anything dangerous or suspicious in Adonijah's request. Solomon, on the contrary, takes alarm at once. To ask for Abishag was to ask for the kingdom. To the Oriental mind a monarch was so sacred, 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 (compare 2 Samuel 12:8; 2 Samuel 16:22). Public opinion so closely connected the title to 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. Solomon, seeing this, assumes that Adonijah cherishes a guilty purpose, that there has been a fresh plot, that Abiathar and Joab - Adonijah's counselors in the former conspiracy 1 Kings 1:7 - are privy to it, and that the severest measures are necessary to crush the new treason.
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.
Against his own life - Adonijah had forfeited his life by his former conduct, and his pardon had been merely conditional 1 Kings 1:52.
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.
The phrase "making a house" means "continuing the posterity" of a person, and, in the case of a royal person, "maintaining his descendants upon the throne."
And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.
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.
For Anathoth and the allusions in this verse, see the margin reference.
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.
That he might fulfil the word of the L RD - We need not understand this as stating that the fulfillment of the old prophecy was Solomon's motive, or even one of his motives. The reference is to the overruling providence of God, which thus brought about the fulfillment of the prophecy. (Compare Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 27:35, etc.) The deposition of Abiathar involved the rejection of the house of Ithamar 1 Chronicles 24:3, to which Eli belonged, and the reestablishment of the high priesthood in the line of Eleazar.
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.
Joab followed the example of Adonijab (margin reference). The tabernacle was now at Gibeon 1 Kings 3:4; 1 Chronicles 16:39.
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.
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.
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.
It was only a murderer to whom the tabernacle was to be no protection (margin reference). Hence, the reference to the "innocent blood."
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.
Shalt return his blood - i. e. "his shedding of blood."
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.
Upon the head of his seed - Compare the margin reference. Nothing further is heard of Joab's descendants in the history.
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.
Retribution overtook Joab on the very scene (Gibeon) of the most treacherous of his murders. It was at the "great stone which is in Gibeon" that Joab killed Amasa 2 Samuel 20:8-10.
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.
The high priesthood had been for some time in a certain sense divided between Zadok and Abiathar. (See the 1 Kings 1:8 note). Henceforth, Zadok became sole high priest.
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.
The object, apparently, was to keep Shimei under the immediate eye of the government. Shimei's old home, Bahurim, lay east of Jerusalem, on the road to Jericho, 2 Samuel 17:18, and could only be reached by crossing the Kedron valley. Solomon assumes, that, if he quits the city, it will probably be in this direction 1 Kings 2:37.
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.
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.
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.
Achish - Possibly the Achish of the marginal reference, but more probably the grandson of the former Achish.
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.
And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.
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.
Did I not make thee to swear - The Septuagint add to 1 Kings 2:37 a clause stating that Solomon "made Shimei swear" on the day when he commanded him to reside at Jerusalem.
Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?
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;
And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever.
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.