Do therefore according to your wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)1 Kings 2:6. Do therefore according to thy wisdom — What in reason and justice thou seest to be fit. For though I was forced to forbear him, I never forgave him. Let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace — Punish him according to his demerits. “This dying order of David,” says Dr. Dodd, referring to Dr. Chandler, “was an order worthy of a good king, and fit to be given in the last moments of his life. The crimes which drew down this punishment upon Joab, have already been expatiated upon. Many reasons concurred to prevent David’s calling him to an account; but it is plain he never forgot nor forgave his crime: nay, he could not, consistently with the law, have forgiven him if he had been inclined to it. His deferring his punishment so long, was no reason why he should always do it. Reasons of state prevented its being inflicted before, and reasons of state required its being put in execution at this juncture. In time of war it was dangerous to attempt it, on account of the power, influence, and military skill of Joab; in time of peace it was safe, because Joab’s power was then upon the decline, and his services were unnecessary. Joab was ambitions, enterprising, and restless, and having not proved very loyal to the father, might have practised the same perfidy against the son; who being young, and scarcely settled in his throne, might have suffered from his treachery, his want of fidelity, and his ambitions views, which were insatiable.”According to thy wisdom, i.e. what in reason and justice thou seest fit. For though I was forced to forbear him when it was in a manner out of my power to punish him, yet I never forgave him; and therefore do thou wisely and severely examine all his actions, and particularly this last rebellion, and punish him according to his demerits.
Let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace; though he be old, having been the general of the army forty years, yet do not suffer him to die a natural death, but cut him off by the sword of justice.
and let not his hoary head go down to the grave in peace; that is, let him not die a natural, but a violent death; and let not his grey hairs be any argument for sparing him, or any reason for delaying the taking of him off, because he would in course die quickly; for he must be now an old man, as old as David, or perhaps older; since he had been his general forty years, even all the time of his reign; see 2 Samuel 2:13.Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. Do therefore according to thy wisdom] Compare 1 Kings 2:9. The wisdom to which David in both cases alludes is a politic method of bringing these men to do something for which they might be put to death. Such men were specially dangerous in the court of a young king.
his hoar head] Most likely Joab was already an old man not much younger than David himself. This may account for some of the freedom of his speech to the king.
go down to the grave in peace] The advice is put in a more direct form in 1 Kings 2:9, concerning Shimei, ‘Bring his hoar head down to the grave with blood.’
The Hebrew construction (the jussive after לא not אל) seems to imply a suggestion rather than a direct command. ‘I recommend you not to let,’ &c.Verse 6. - Do therefore according to thy wisdom [cf. Proverbs 20:26. It needed great discretion in exacting the punishment of death in the case of one who was so powerful, who had such influence with the army and the people, whose crimes had been passed over for so long a time, to whom David was so much indebted - Joab had partly won and had twice preserved for him his crown - and to whom he was allied by ties of blood. To act precipitately or unwisely might provoke a revolution], and let not his hoar head [see on ver. 9. Joab, though David's nephew, could not have been much his junior, and David was now seventy] go down to the grave in peace. [He must die a violent, not a natural death, as Corn. a Lap. This expression, no doubt, looks vindictive, but that is solely because we forget the character of the Old Testament dispensation (as one of temporal rewards and punishments. See the "Expositor," vol. 3. p. 114), the position of David as king (as the authorized dispenser of punishments, and as responsible to God for dispensing them without fear or favour), and the principles of the Mosaic code (as a lex talionis, demanding blood for blood, and requiring the magistrates and people to purge themselves of the guilt of blood by demanding "the blood of him that shed it"). Let these considerations be borne in mind, and there is absolutely no warrant for charging David with malevolence. Wordsworth lays stress on the fact that Joab had not repented of his crimes. But we need have recourse to no such suppositions. The Jewish law afforded no place of repentance to the murderer. No amount of contrition would cleanse the land of blood. The temporal penalty must be paid. In the case of David himself, it was only commuted by special revelation (2 Samuel 12:10, 13, 14), not remitted. 1 Kings 2:13 and 2 Samuel 14:24). Solomon did not wish to commence his own ascent of the throne by infliction of punishment, and therefore presented the usurper with his life on the condition that he kept himself quiet.
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