LEADERSHIP TRANSITIONS MUST DEAL DECISIVELY WITH ISSUES IMPACTING THE PEACE AND SECURITY OF GOD’S PEOPLE
The baton of kingdom leadership is here passed successfully from King David to his son Solomon. David’s final charge emphasizes that the enjoyment of God’s covenantal blessings are dependent on faithful obedience to God’s Word. The new king must gird himself like a man and take courage to face the challenges of leadership over God’s people. The first priority in establishing the peace and security of the new kingdom reign will be to deal with some unfinished business. There are some old enemies that must be executed and some faithful loyalists that must be rewarded so that the kingdom can move forward without strife or disruption.
Dale Ralph Davis: Whether it is the Davidic king or the disciple of Jesus, true stability only comes through obedience to the Lord’s commands. What is true on the personal level holds also for the people of God as a corporate body. Kingdom stability is not anchored in our experiences or profession, nor in our education or pedigree, nor in our ministerial achievement, but only in obedience to the clear word we have long possessed.
F. W. Farrar: A king’s justice must be shown alike in his gracious influence upon the good and his stern justice to the wicked.
Gene Getz: We should do what we can to correct the results of our mistakes before passing our leadership role to our successors.
Don Anderson: Key Insights from the text:
1. The great ones when they die they are still looking to the future and being concerned about others.
2. When the great ones die they are concerned about relationships.
We have a generation that does not know how to be a man and we have a generation that does not know how to be strong when it gets rough. We do not. We have raised a whole generation that has lots of wealth, they have never had an experience of war where they have watched their friends die and they have done very little work to accumulate what they have gotten, many of them have inherited it and they do not appreciate it. And that is going to be the demise of America, I tell you. We are in apathy now and the next step is bondage in the seven cycles of a civilization that goes to destruction.
Well to be strong:
1. You have to be persistent in obedience.
2. You are positive in your attitude.
3. And you persevere in your living
Philip Ryken: The question in 1 Kings 1 was succession (who would be the next king?). This question was answered emphatically when Solomon was crowned king. The question in chapter 2 is security (will the kingdom stand?). David was dead (1 Kings 2:10-11), and after Solomon received his father’s final instructions, it was up to him to secure his kingdom. This question gets answered in verse 12 and again in verse 46. Together these two verses form an inclusio – they mark the beginning and the end of a section of the Bible – and they tell us what that section is about. In verse 12 we read that “Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.” Verse 46 says the same thing in slightly different words: “So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.”
I. (:1-4) TEST OF THE TYPE OF LEADERSHIP GOD WILL BLESS –
FINAL CHARGE TO SOLOMON TO OBEY COVENANT LAW
“As David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying,”
A. (:2-3a) Priority Responsibilities of the King
1. (:2) Responsibilities Relating to Character and Courage
“I am going the way of all the earth.
Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.”
MacArthur: An expression of encouragement (Dt 31:7, 23; Jos 1:6, 7, 9, 18; 1Sa 4:9) with which David sought to prepare Solomon for the difficult tasks and the battles in his future.
Guzik: Perhaps David sensed some weakness in Solomon. Perhaps he knew Solomon would be tested in far greater ways than before. Whatever the exact reason was, David knew Solomon needed strength and courage (prove yourself a man). Great responsibilities require great strength and courage.
Floral Heights Church of Christ: David admonishes his son Solomon to be strong like a man. It is likely that this admonition is given not only due to the magnitude of Solomon’s work as king but also the fact that he was a young man. Solomon refers to himself as a “little child” at 1 Kings 3:7. Josephus claimed that Solomon was 14 years old at the time of coming to be king while others say around twenty. The word of God does not give us Solomon’s exact age yet it is obvious that he is relatively young to rule a nation.
Ron Daniel: Today, many men believe it is not manly to follow the commandments and live a godly life. For many, manhood is rated on how you hold your liquor, how immoral you can live, how coarsely you can speak. But in reality, living the Christian life according to the Word of God is what makes a real man’s man. To be a godly man is not to be a geek – it is to be struggling and persevering, keeping your strength under control, being a righteous husband and father. These things are not easy. They take effort, strength, and self-control. Any idiot can get drunk. Any bozo can curse. But it takes a real man to live a life of discipline and set an example.
2. (:3a) Responsibilities Relating to Obedience of God’s Commands
“And keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the law of Moses,”
R. D. Patterson: David’s legacy to Solomon was thus much more than a great kingdom with secure borders, tributary nations, and considerable wealth and prestige. Far more importantly he instilled in Solomon a love for God and his Word. He gave to Solomon a proper orientation to life and leadership and was himself an outstanding role model, despite his failures, of a man whose heart truly beat for God.
Brian Bell: Slight nuances of meaning;
– Law = instruction.
– Testimony = a witness to God’s will & man’s duty.
– Statutes or precepts = a collection of specific injunctions.
– Commandment = that which expresses the will of a personal God.
– Fear = that which brings reverence for God.
– Judgments = a group of judgments
B. (:3b-4) Potential Blessings for Obedience
1. (:3b) Blessing of Success — Prosperity
“that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,”
2. (:4) Blessing of Sustained Kingdom — Posterity
“so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ “
Constable: Careful obedience to the Law of Moses would yield success in all areas of his son’s life (v. 2). That obedience would constitute his manhood (v. 1). Since God made man in the image of God, man can realize his manhood only by placing himself under God’s authority. “Statutes,” “commandments,” “ordinances,” and “testimonies” are all different kinds of precepts in the Law. Solomon’s faithful obedience would also ensure an unbroken line of rulers (v. 4; implied in 2 Sam. 7:12-16).
II. (:5-9) TREATMENT OF VARIOUS FRIENDS AND FOES TO PROVIDE A SECURE KINGDOM–
SETTLING OLD SCORES TO PROTECT THE KINGDOM –
IMMEDIATE CHALLENGES — UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A. (:5-6) Disposition of Joab – Execute Murderers
“Now you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner, and to Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed; he also shed the blood of war in peace. And he put the blood of war on his belt about his waist, and on his sandals on his feet. 6 So act according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace.”
MacArthur: Abner . . . Amasa. These were victims of Joab’s jealousy and vengeance, who were killed after warfare had ceased (2Sa 3:27; 20:10), thus bringing Joab’s punishment as a murderer (Dt 19:11-13).
Guzik: At the very least, David knew the complexity of Joab’s character. He knew the loyalty and sacrifices Joab made for David over the years, and he knew his violence and ruthlessness. “David felt under obligation to Joab, and though David was certainly not lacking in courage, he was not able to cope with the mixture of Joab’s loyalty and his misdeeds” (Patterson and Austel).
B. (:7) Disposition of Sons of Barzillai – Reward Loyalty
“But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table; for they assisted me when I fled from Absalom your brother.”
Wiersbe: David not only remembered dangerous men like Joab and Shimei, but he also remembered helpful men like Barzillai (v. 7), who had provided him and his people with what they needed when they fled from Absalom (2 Sam. 17:27-29). David had wanted to reward Barzillai with a place at his table, but the old man preferred to die in his own home. He asked David to give the honor to his son Kimham (2 Sam. 19:31-38); but now David instructed Solomon to care for Barzillai’s sons and not Kimham alone.
Michael Mark: The next part of David’s charge to Solomon was to carry out judgment against threats to the peace of Israel. Joab was guilty of shedding innocent blood, and David asked Solomon to deal with him according to his wisdom. David also remembered the sons of Barzillai, who supported David when he was fleeing from Absalom, and asked Solomon to allow them to eat at the king’s table. So not only is guilt remembered, but David also remembers the kindness done to him in his life. It’s a good encouragement to always be kind to others. And finally there was Shimei, who violently called down curses on David as he was fleeing from Absalom. Shimei had a deep seated hatred of David, and David advised Solomon to watch him closely. After David had given Solomon these charges, he was laid to rest. 1 Chron 19:28 said “He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honor. His son Solomon succeeded him as king.” He wasn’t buried with his father down in Bethlehem, but in the city he founded, the City of David. Solomon’s rule was now firmly established.
C. (:8-9) Disposition of Shimei – Punish Disrespect
“And behold, there is with you Shimei the son of Gera the Benjamite, of Bahurim; now it was he who cursed me with a violent curse on the day I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9 Now therefore, do not let him go unpunished, for you are a wise man; and you will know what you ought to do to him, and you will bring his gray hair down to Sheol with blood.”
Philip Ryken: This was not merely a matter of politics but a question of obedient submission to the kingdom of God. If these men were Solomon’s rivals, then they were enemies of the crown that God had placed on Solomon’s head. . .
Solomon had four enemies to eliminate: Adonijah, Abiathar, Joab, and Shimei. What is important to notice about these men is that they all put their desire for money, sex, or power ahead of loving obedience to the kingdom of God. Thus, the stories of these men give us test cases in temptation.
Constable: Evidently David had reason to believe Shimei the Benjamite would threaten the throne again (cf. 2 Sam. 16:11). If he did, Solomon was to execute him (v. 9; cf. vv. 36-46). Cursing the king, which Shimei had done, violated the Mosaic Law (Exod. 22:28). We see here (vv. 1-9) another instance of the theme that punishment comes on those who resist the Lord’s anointed and blessing follows those who serve him.
John Schultz: David feared that this man, once his protective custody was withdrawn, would again strike at the throne. Moreover, before actual penalty was imposed, Solomon gave Shimei a reprieve conditioned on obedience. Donald J. Wiseman in 1 and 2 Kings, observes: “Shimei, whose ancestor Gera is named in (Gen. 46:21; cf. Judg. 3:15) and whose home town was Bahurim, north of Bethany, had uttered “grievous curses” (AV; NIV bitter) against the LORD’s anointed king. This was a capital offence (Exod. 22:28; 1 Kgs 21:10), but David on oath had failed to remove the curse which still threatened. So Solomon was firmly directed to find Shimei “not guiltless” (AV, RSV; cf. NIV innocent). Heb. nqh means “to exempt from punishment” (cf. REB “not go unpunished”) or “free from oath.” To bring down … in blood is a direct incitement to impose the death penalty (vv. 34-36).” Shimei had, evidently, not accepted the fact that one of Saul’s children had not inherited the crown after the death of Saul and Jonathan. He considered David to be an illegal rival, as Saul, himself, had considered David to be.
III. (:10-12) TRANSITION FROM REIGN OF DAVID TO SOLOMON –
PEACEFUL TRANSFER OF POWER
A. (:10) Reign of David Stops with His Death and Burial
“Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.”
John Gates: The city David had wrested from the Jebusites and claimed for his capital became the burial ground for the great king.
Constable: David was 70 years old when he died (2 Sam. 5:4). Saul may have been 80 when he died. However, the deaths of these two kings, as well as their lives, contrast dramatically. David died in peace, Saul in battle. David died in victory, Saul in defeat. When David began to reign, the Philistines dominated Israel. When Solomon began to reign, Israel was at peace and in control of her neighbors (v. 12).
B. (:11) Reign of David Summarized
“And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years:
seven years he reigned in Hebron,
and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem.”
Redpath: He was a shepherd, a soldier, an outlaw, a king, a fugitive, a sinner, a saint, a poet… His experiences were the writing of God on his life, making him into a man after God’s own heart.
John Dummelow: David’s reign was more important and critical than any other in the history of Israel, both from a secular and from a religious point of view. In the first place, he consolidated into a kingdom what had previously been an aggregate of jealous tribes, and so enabled his countrymen to take a place among the nations of the Eastern world; and, in the second place, he strengthened his people’s attachment to the Lord, alike by the zeal he showed for God’s honour and worship, and by the obedience he rendered to the prophets who counselled or admonished him in the divine name. Consequently later times regarded the period of his rule as Israel’s golden age, and the memories of it coloured the anticipations which were entertained respecting the coming of the Messiah. His character, indeed, was not free from reproach; for, besides being guilty of adultery and murder, he was cruel in war (2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 12:31) and negligent of justice at home (though in these respects he was doubtless no worse than his contemporaries). But if he sinned grievously, he repented sincerely; and by his humility under reproof (2 Samuel 12:13), his resignation in adversity (2 Samuel 15:25-26), and his faith in the divine mercy (2 Samuel 24:14), he still affords an example.
C. (:12) Reign of Solomon Started
“And Solomon sat on the throne of David his father,
and his kingdom was firmly established.”
Morgan: With Solomon began, in some senses, the most splendid period in Israel’s history. The splendor, however, was largely mental and material. The spiritual is noticeably absent.
John Kitto: It may be 3 this place to remark, that although Solomon was not the firstborn, nor even the eldest living son of David, but succeeded to the throne through the special appointment of the supreme king, Jehovah, there was one circumstance which, from the usual notions of the Orientals, could not but be highly favourable to him, even had all his elder brothers been alive. Amnon had been born before his father became king, and Absalom and Adonijah while he was king of Judah only; while Solomon was born when his father was king over all Israel, and lord over many neighbouring states. And in the East there is a strong prejudice in favour of him who is the son of the king and of the kingdom, that is, who is born while his father actually reigns over the states which he leaves at his death.