1 Kings 2:9
Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for you are a wise man, and know what you ought to do to him; but his hoar head bring you down to the grave with blood.
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1 Kings 2:9. Now therefore hold him not guiltless — Though I spared his life, do not treat him as an innocent person, nor consider him as one reconciled to my family, and to thy succession to the throne. He is Shimei still, and wants nothing but a fair opportunity to declare it. Clear him not, therefore, as I did, if thou findest him guilty of any mal-practices; but his hoar head bring down, &c. — Cut him off as an old offender and dangerous enemy, to secure thy own peace, and the safety of thy government. In this sense Josephus understands the words. But, certainly, David’s telling Solomon, that he sware to Shimei he would not put him to death for his outrage and treason, is a demonstrative proof that he did not advise Solomon to put him to death for the crime that he himself had solemnly forgiven; for can any one imagine David would tell Solomon that he had sworn not to put Shimei to death, and in the same breath order him, in defiance of his oath, to be put to death? If he had intended that Solomon should immediately put him to death, there would have been neither reason nor sense in the words, Thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him. For to what purpose was it to tell Solomon that he knew how to behave to Shimei, if David’s command was immediately to cut him off, and Solomon understood him in that sense? But it is certain Solomon did not understand his father in that sense, by his ordering him to build a house for himself in Jerusalem, (1 Kings 2:36,) as well as from the different manner in which he treated Shimei and Joab. The fact is, David advised his son to keep a strict watch over Shimei, and to put him to death only, if, on any new offence, he should again forfeit his life; and this, it is hoped, has been made appear to be the truth of the case. Now, how is this inconsistent with piety, or the advice of a prince on his death-bed? It is true, forgiveness of enemies is a duty, provided they cease to become our enemies; but no man is obliged, by any law, so to forgive an enemy, continuing such, as not to take the proper methods to guard against the effects of his enmity, and bring him to justice, if no other method will prove effectual. Much less is a prince obliged so to forgive an implacable enemy to his crown and government, and one who is likely to disturb the settlement of the crown in his successor, as not to order the successor to be upon his guard against him, and punish him, when guilty, according to his demerits. Such a caution and order is what he owes to his people; he may die as a private person, in charity with all mankind, and forgive every private injury against himself; and yet, as a prince, advise what is necessary for the public good after his decease, and even the execution of particular persons, if, by abusing the lenity and respite they once received, they should be guilty of new and capital offences. — Chandler. Doctor Waterland, Le Clerc, and Calmet, give the same interpretation with Doctor Chandler. The reader will probably think that the above reasoning sufficiently justifies David in this particular, even on supposition that the text is rightly translated, which, however, Dr. Delaney is of opinion it is not. The Hebrew particle, ו, vau, he thinks, ought to have been rendered here, as in all similar cases, not connectively, but disjunctively, as it is Proverbs 30:8, and in many other places. “Agur,” says he, “beseeches God to keep him from the extremes of poverty and wealth. If the particle vau were to be interpreted here connectively, the petition would run thus: Give me not poverty and riches. Every one sees the absurdity of this petition; and therefore the translators rightly rendered it, Give me neither poverty nor riches. In the same analogy, the passage in question, rightly translated, will stand thus: Now, therefore, neither hold him guiltless, (for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him,) nor his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood. This advice, in this sense, is full of humanity, as well as wisdom, and Solomon (we see) understood and observed it in this sense, and in no other.”2:5-11 These dying counsels concerning Joab and Shimei, did not come from personal anger, but for the security of Solomon's throne, which was the murders he had committed, but would readily repeat them to carry any purpose; though long reprieved, he shall be reckoned with at last. Time does not wear out the guilt of any sin, particularly of murder. Concerning Shimei, Hold him not guiltless; do not think him any true friend to thee, or thy government, or fit to be trusted; he has no less malice now than he had then. David's dying sentiments are recorded, as delivered under the influence of the Holy Ghost,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.) 9. for thou art a wise man—Solomon had given early indications of wisdom before his miraculous endowment with the heavenly gift (see 1Ki 3:11), and his own sagacity would dictate the course that should be followed in any new offense that Shimei might commit. Hold him not guiltless; though I have spared his life, do not treat him as an innocent person, neither let him go wholly unpunished.

Thou art a wise man, and therefore wilt easily find out just occasions to chastise him, especially considering his perverse and wicked disposition.

What thou oughtest to do unto him; how to punish him, not without just cause, and yet without any violation of my oath, or reflection upon me, or upon religion for my or thy sake.

With blood, i.e. with the effusion of his blood; with a bloody or violent death. Now therefore hold him not guiltless,.... Do not look upon him as an innocent person; and if he commits an offence against thee, as he has against me, do not acquit him as I have done:

for thou art a wise man; so it seems he was before the appearance of the Lord to him at Gibeon, even before his father's death he had given some proofs of it to David himself:

and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; to watch and observe him, and, if found offending, to punish him according to the rules of justice, and the laws of the land:

but his hoary head bring thou down to the grave with blood; spare him not on account of his age, but put him to death whensoever he shall be found guilty, let him not die a natural death.

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 {g} blood.

(g) Let him be punished with death, see 1Ki 2:46.

9. hold him not guiltless] i.e. Be sure not to let him go unpunished. Find out some good reason for vengeance to be taken on him. We are not to wonder at these injunctions of David, which were not unnatural, both for the satisfaction of his own feelings and for providing for the security of Solomon’s throne. Joab was a dangerous man to be left alive, and Shimei, with Oriental fickleness, would curse Solomon as readily as he had cursed David, should a reverse of fortune come upon him. Nor are we to look for New Testament virtues in even the best men of the older covenant. The Christian thinks it nobler to forgive, following the lessons of his master, but what David saw of Christ was in the less clear vision of faith, and neither he nor his people are to be expected to rise in any great degree towards the nobility of Christian forgiveness. Yet David was very generous toward Saul. He seems to have become less forgiving in his old age, though doubtless he was thinking chiefly of Solomon’s safety.Verse 9. - Now therefore [lit., "and now." Possibly the "now" is a note of time in apposition to the "day" of ver. 8, or rather the time of David's oath. "I then unadvisedly swam unto him, but now the law must have its course." Probably it is merely inferential, - quae cum ita sint] hold him not guiltless [rather, thou shalt not leave him unpunished (Vatablus, Gesen., Bahr, al.); cf. Exodus 20:7; Jeremiah 30:11]; for thou art a wise man [φρόνιμος rather than σοφός (LXX.) Gesen. renders here, "endued with ability to judge." David clearly desires that wisdom and justice, not malice or passion, should be Solomon's guide], and knowest what thou oughtest to [lit., shalt or shouldest] do to him; but [Heb. and] his hoar head [mentioned, not maliciously, but with the idea that punishment, which had been long delayed, must overtake him nevertheless. The age of Joab and Shimei would make the Divine Nemesis the more conspicuous. Men would "see that there was a God that judgeth in the earth"] bring thou down to the grave with blood. The Auth. Version here needlessly alters the order of the original, which should be followed wherever it can be (and it generally can) without sacrifice of idiom and elegance. In this case the alteration, by the slight prominence it gives to "hoar head" and to "blood," gives a factitious harshness to the sentence. The Hebrew stands thus: "And thou shalt bring down his hoar head with blood to Sheol." This order of the words also exhibits somewhat more clearly the sequence of thought, which is this: "Thou art wise, therefore thou knowest what by law thou shouldest do. What thou shalt do is, thou shalt bring down," etc. It is clear from these words that if David was actuated by malice, by a "passionate desire to punish those who had wronged him" (Plumptre, Dict. Bib., art. "Solomon"), or by "fierce and profound vindictiveness" (Stanley, "Jewish Church," vol. 2. p. 135), he was profoundly unconscious of it. If it was "a dark legacy of hate" (ibid.) he was bequeathing to Solomon, then he stands before us in these last hours either as an unctuous hypocrite, or as infatuated and inconsistent to the last degree. That the man who, in his opening words (ver. 3), enjoined upon his son, in the most emphatic manner, a strict and literal obedience to the law of Heaven, should in these subsequent words, delivered almost in the same breath, require him to satiate a long-cherished and cruel revenge upon Joab and Shimei (the latter of whom he had twice delivered from death), is an instance of self contradiction which is almost, if not quite, without parallel. But as I have showed elsewhere, at some length, it is a superficial and entirely erroneous view of David's last words, which supposes them to have been inspired by malice or cruelty. His absorbing idea was clearly this, that he had not "kept the charge of the Lord;" that he, the chief magistrate, the "revenger to execute wrath," by sparing Joab and Shimei, the murderer and the blasphemer, both of whose lives were forfeited to justice, had failed in his duty, had weakened the sanctions of law, and compromised the honour of the Most High. He is too old and too weak to execute the sentence of the law now, but for the safety of his people, for the security of his throne, it must be done, and therefore Solomon, who was under no obligation to spare the criminals his father had spared, must be required to do it. Of the Jewish king it might be said with a special propriety, "Rex est lex loquens," and seldom has the voice of law spoken with greater dignity and fidelity than by David in this dying charge. To say, as Harwood does, (Lange, American Trans., p. 32) that "nothing but sophistry can justify his [David's] charge to Solomon, not to let the unfortunate man [Shimei] die in peace," merely shows how imperfectly the writer has entered into the spirit of the theocratic law, that law under which David lived, and by which alone he could be governed and govern others. David's Last Instructions and Death. - 1 Kings 2:1-4. When David saw that his life was drawing to a close, he first of all admonished his son Solomon to be valiant in the observance of the commandments of God. "I go the way of all the world" (as in Joshua 23:14), i.e., the way of death; "be strong and be a man," - not "bear my departure bravely," as Thenius supposes, but prove thyself brave (cf. 1 Samuel 4:9) to keep the commandments of the Lord. Just as in 1 Samuel 4:9 the object in which the bravery is to show itself is appended simply by the copula Vv; so is it here also with וגו ושׁמרתּ. The phrase יי את־משׁמרת שׁמר, to keep the keeping of Jehovah, which so frequently occurs in the Thorah, i.e., to observe or obey whatever is to be observed in relation to Jehovah (cf. Genesis 26:5; Leviticus 8:35; Leviticus 18:30, etc.), always receives its more precise definition from the context, and is used here, as in Genesis 26:5, to denote obedience to the law of God in all its extent, or, according to the first definition, to walk in the ways of Jehovah. This is afterwards more fully expanded in the expression וגו חקּתין לשׁמר, to keep the ordinances, commandments, rights, and testimonies of Jehovah. These four words were applied to the different precepts of the law, the first three of which are connected together in Genesis 26:5; Deuteronomy 5:28; Deuteronomy 8:11, and served to individualize the rich and manifold substance of the demands of the Lord to His people as laid down in the Thorah. תּשׂכּיל למען, that thou mayest act wisely and execute well, as in Deuteronomy 29:8; Joshua 1:7.
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