SOLOMON SECURELY ESTABLISHES HIS KINGDOM BY DECISIVELY DEALING WITH ARROGANT ENEMIES
There is a cost to establishing peace and righteousness and prosperity in a land. Security does not just happen without certain measures being taken. We have already seen the transition in power and the coronation of Solomon as the new king. But there is some unfinished business; some old enemies that must be dealt with before the kingdom can be established in security. This passage foreshadows the establishment of Christ’s millennial kingdom in the future.
Donald Wiseman: Solomon’s removal of opponents who conspired against him is taken to be the necessary and customary establishment of the Davidic kingdom (v. 12, cf. v. 46). It marks the end of David’s reign (vv. 1-9) and the beginning of that of Solomon. The reprisals are presented as a legal process which required a king to punish rebels (1:12), murderers, political assassins and those who broke solemnly sworn agreements. The proper outcome was foreseen by David, who had left his son to use his own discretion (vv. 6, 9) in making the judicial decisions. Discretion and compassion were also to be exercised (vv. 7, 26-27).
Wiersbe: Solomon was to be a “man of peace” (1 Chron. 22:6-10), and yet he began his reign by ordering three executions. But true peace must be based on righteousness, not on sentiment. . . The land was polluted by the innocent blood that Joab had shed, and the land could be cleansed only by the execution of the murderer.
(:12) PROLOGUE – SECURE ESTABLISHMENT OF SOLOMON’S KINGDOM
“And Solomon sat on the throne of David his father,
and his kingdom was firmly established.”
Inclusio bookends along with vs. 46 clearly delineate this section as a distinct unit
I. (:13-25) DISPOSITION OF ADONIJAH – ARROGANT TREASON BRINGS HIM DOWN – LUST FOR POWER
A. (:13-18) Rash Request of Adonijah via Bathsheba
(Violating Sanctuary Provided by Solomon)
1. (:13) Adonijah Approaches Bathsheba
“Now Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba
the mother of Solomon. And she said,
‘Do you come peacefully?’ And he said, ‘Peacefully.’”
He comes with ulterior motives and brazen ambition as we shall soon see.
2. (:14-17) Adonijah Requests Abishag
“Then he said, ‘I have something to say to you.’ And she said, ‘Speak.’ 15 So he said, ‘You know that the kingdom was mine and that all Israel expected me to be king; however, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the LORD. 16 And now I am making one request of you; do not refuse me.’ And she said to him, ‘Speak.’ 17 Then he said, ‘Please speak to Solomon the king, for he will not refuse you, that he may give me Abishag the Shunammite as a wife.’”
Don Anderson: Here is a proud man. He is set upon being the king of the land. And he has this passion that as the fourth born son and the other three are gone and are history that he has a right to that and he is not going to turn loose of it, it does not make any difference what is being done.
Pride will manifest itself in two ways. Did you know that? Pride will manifest itself in the words of the successful by boasting but in the words of the failure by self-pity.
John Piper in his book Future Grace put it this way: Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, “I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.” Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.”
Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak. Boasting sounds self-sufficient. Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing.
The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego and the desire of the self-pitying is not really for others to see them as helpless, but heroes. The need self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.
Guzik: Adonijah seemed to suffer from delusions of grandeur. He imagined that there was widespread popular support for him as king. In reality, he only had a handful of influential malcontents to support him, and they quickly deserted him when it was evident that David favored Solomon (1 Kings 1:49). . .
We wonder why Adonijah – after hearing the warning Solomon made in 1 Kings 1:52 – would make such an outrageous request. Perhaps he felt that Solomon was too young, too inexperienced, or too timid to do the right thing. He soon found out that Solomon was a wise and decisive leader.
MacArthur: In the ancient Near East, possession of the royal harem was a sign of kingship (cf. 2Sa 3:8; 12:8; 16:20-22). Adonijah’s request for Abishag was an attempt to support his claim to the kingship and perhaps generate a revolt to usurp the throne. Bathsheba didn’t see the treachery (vv. 18-21).
3. (:18) Bathsheba Agrees to Approach the King
“And Bathsheba said, ‘Very well; I will speak to the king for you.’”
B. (:19-22) Rejection by Solomon of the Outrageous Request
1. (:19) Bathsheba Approaches King Solomon
“So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.”
2. (:20-21) Bathsheba Petitions Solomon on Behalf of Adonijah
a. (:20) Minimizing the Request
“Then she said, ‘I am making one small request of you;
do not refuse me.’ And the king said to her,
‘Ask, my mother, for I will not refuse you.’”
b. (:21) Making the Request
“So she said, ‘Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah
your brother as a wife.’”
3. (:22) Sarcastic Response from King Solomon
“And King Solomon answered and said to his mother, ‘And why are you asking Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him also the kingdom– for he is my older brother– even for him, for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah!’”
Constable: Adonijah would also have found popular support among the people because he was David’s oldest living son (cf. v. 22). Solomon correctly regarded Adonijah’s request as an act of treason worthy of death.
C. (:23-25) Reaction of Solomon = Has Adonijah Executed
1. (:23) Swears an Oath by the Lord
“Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying,
‘May God do so to me and more also,
if Adonijah has not spoken this word against his own life.’”
2. (:24) Swears by Divine Providence
“Now therefore, as the LORD lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house as He promised, surely Adonijah will be put to death today.”
3. (:25) Sends Benaiah to Carry out the Execution
“So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada;
and he fell upon him so that he died.”
Wiersbe: David wasn’t there to feel the pain of another son’s death, but the execution of Adonijah was the final payment of the fourfold debt David had incurred (2 Sam. 12:5-6). The baby died, Absalom killed Amnon, Joab killed Absalom, and Benaiah executed Adonijah. David paid for his sins fourfold.
Philip Ryken: So Adonijah came to a bad end. His sinful request proved that he was not a worthy man. He knew who was supposed to be the king, but he refused to submit to his kingship. He put his lust for power and pleasure ahead of the kingdom of God. He would not give up what he wanted for the glory of God, so he perished in his sins.
II. (:26-27) DISPOSITION OF ABIATHAR – FAITHFUL SERVICE EARNS HIM A PASS
A. (:26) Solomon Initiates the Dismissal of Abiathar as Priest
1. Abiathar Deserved to Death
“Then to Abiathar the priest the king said,
‘Go to Anathoth to your own field, for you deserve to die;’”
Don Anderson: Abiathar fell victim to wanting to continue his priesthood under the new administration that he thought was going to come under Adonijah. So he was vulnerable and he went along with the conspiracy.
2. Abiathar Spared Because of Mitigating Factors
a. Role in Serving David as Priest
“but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before my father David,”
b. Role in Suffering Hardship with David
“and because you were afflicted in everything with which my
father was afflicted.”
(Sanctuary Provided for Abiathar)
B. (:27) Solomon Isolates Abiathar in Fulfilment of Prophecy
“So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from being priest to the LORD,
in order to fulfill the word of the LORD,
which He had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.”
Guzik: This refers to the prophecies found in 1 Samuel 2:27-36 and 1 Samuel 3:11-14. In removing Abiathar from the priesthood, Solomon, without direct intention, fulfilled the promise of judgment against the house of Eli, made some 100 years before Solomon took the throne.
III. (:28-35) DISPOSITION OF JOAB – ARROGANT TREASON BRINGS HIM DOWN – LUST FOR INDEPENDENCE –
MAN OF THE SWORD DIES BY THE SWORD
A. (:28) News Comes to Joab Regarding Solomon’s Purge
1. Joab Thinks He is Next on Solomon’s List
“Now the news came to Joab, for Joab had followed Adonijah,
although he had not followed Absalom.”
2. Joab Takes Refuge
“And Joab fled to the tent of the LORD
and took hold of the horns of the altar.”
(No Possible Sanctuary for Joab)
B. (:29-30) Negotiations Between the King, His Executioner Benaiah and Joab
1. (:29a) Joab Seeking Sanctuary
“And it was told King Solomon that Joab had fled to the tent of the LORD, and behold, he is beside the altar.”
Wiersbe: Only people who were guilty of manslaughter could do this [take hold of the horns of the altar and seek sanctuary] and claim the right to a trial, and Joab was guilty of both murder and disloyalty to King David and King Solomon.
2. (:29b) Solomon Commanding Execution
“Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying,
‘Go, fall upon him.’”
3. (:30a) Benaiah Calling Out Joab
“So Benaiah came to the tent of the LORD, and said to him,
‘Thus the king has said, Come out.’”
4. (:30b) Joab Refusing to Leave the Sanctuary
“But he said, ‘No, for I will die here.’ “
5. (:30c) Benaiah Reporting Back to Solomon
“And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, ‘Thus spoke Joab, and thus he answered me.’”
C. (:31-33) Narrative Justifying the Execution in the Sanctuary
1. (:31) Joab Deserves a Violent Death
“And the king said to him, ‘Do as he has spoken and fall upon him and bury him, that you may remove from me and from my father’s house the blood which Joab shed without cause.’”
Constable: David’s house shared the guilt for Joab’s murders as long as he remained alive (v. 31). By executing Joab, Solomon cleared the way for God to bless him and his throne. God would punish Joab’s house but bless David’s house (v. 33). Solomon honored Joab for his service to David by burying him in his own land in Judah (v. 34; cf. 2 Sam. 2:32).
2. (:32-33) Joab Determined His Own Fate
a. (:32) Unrighteous Killings of the Commanders of Israel and Judah
“And the LORD will return his blood on his own head, because he fell upon two men more righteous and better than he and killed them with the sword, while my father David did not know it: Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah.”
b. (:33) Unending Consequences
1) Joab’s Descendants Cursed with Bloodshed
“So shall their blood return on the head of Joab
and on the head of his descendants forever;”
Don Anderson: Joab illustrates the principle that “the wages of sin is death.”
2) David’s Descendants Blessed with Peace
“but to David and his descendants and his house and his throne, may there be peace from the LORD forever.”
D. (:34-35) Notorious Execution Carried out by Benaiah
“Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and fell upon him
and put him to death, and he was buried at his own house in the wilderness.”
John Schultz: Benaiah had been one of David’s heroes. He had been the commander of David’s body guard, the Cherethites and the Pelethites. Solomon ordered Benaiah to execute Joab. But Benaiah hesitated to kill anyone inside the tabernacle, so he ordered Joab to come out. He told Joab: “The king says, “Come out!”“ We don’t read that Solomon had given any such order. The words are evidence of Benaiah’s hesitation to kill in the sanctuary. Joab may have hoped that staying inside the tabernacle would save his life. But, at the king’s orders, he is killed while holding on to the horns of the altar.
Whether it was against the law to kill someone who was inside the tabernacle and who held on to the horns of the altar is a question difficult to answer. Joab’s situation was too exceptional to serve as a model. Joab may have thought that Benaiah’s scruples to kill him, while he was holding on to the horns of the altar would give him a chance to cling to life. But Solomon’s order ruled this out.
Although Joab was executed as a criminal, he was buried, which supposes some kind of military honor to the former commander-in-chief. The Hebrew text of v.34 reads literally: “So went up, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.”
The Hebrew word used for “house” is bayith, which has a variety of meaning, ranging from “house” to “court” to “family.” It obviously means here that he was buried on his own property.
E. (:35) New Appointments of Benaiah and Zadok to Positions of Power
1. Benaiah as Army Commander
“And the king appointed Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in his place,”
2. Zadok as Priest
“and the king appointed Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.”
John Gates: The appointment of Zadok was fraught with serious consequences, for from then on, the priesthood was subject to the political maneuvers of the state.
IV. (:36-46a) DISPOSITION OF SHIMEI – ARROGANT DISRESPECT AND FALSE CONFIDENCE BRINGS HIM DOWN – LUST FOR MONEY AND POSSESSIONS
A. (:36-38) Boundaries Set for Shimei
1. (:36) Rules for Continued Existence Established
“Now the king sent and called for Shimei and said to him,
‘Build for yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there,
and do not go out from there to any place.’”
Don Anderson: He says, sell your stuff in Bahurim and build yourself a condo in Jerusalem and do not leave here. Why? Because if he gets out of the city limits and he gets back to Bahurim he will stir up another conspiracy. And why run that risk with this guy that has got so much negative press about him. Put him here close where we can keep the surveillance on him and know what he is doing – what a great word of wisdom and yet what a gracious thing to do.
2. (:37) Rebellion Will Bring Certain Execution
“For it will happen on the day you go out and cross over the brook Kidron, you will know for certain that you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head.”
3. (:38a) Ratification of the Agreement
“Shimei then said to the king, ‘The word is good.
As my lord the king has said, so your servant will do.’”
4. (:38b) Rules for Continued Existence Obeyed
“So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.”
B. (:39-40) Boundaries Violated by Shimei
(Violating Sanctuary Provided by Solomon)
1. (:39) Temptation Arises
a. Loss of Servants
“But it came about at the end of three years,
that two of the servants of Shimei ran away
to Achish son of Maacah, king of Gath.”
b. Location Pinpointed
“And they told Shimei, saying,
‘Behold, your servants are in Gath.’”
2. (:40) Temptation Affects Sound Judgment
a. Recovery Pursued
“Then Shimei arose and saddled his donkey,
and went to Gath to Achish to look for his servants.”
b. Recovery Performed
“And Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath.”
Philip Ryken: The root of Shimei’s crime was his refusal to put that kingdom of God first. His own financial prosperity was more important to him than obedience to the kingdom of God. He was like the rich young man that Jesus commanded to sell everything he had and give his money to the poor (Matt. 19:16-22). The man sadly refused because he loved his money more than he loved the kingdom of God. Shimei made the same ungodly calculation. He wanted to keep all his property for himself. He could not bear to let any of it go, even when that meant disobeying the king and breaking his promise to God.
C. (:41-45) Breach of Promise Exposed
1. (:41) Intelligence Report
“And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and had returned.”
2. (:42-43) Inquiry
a. (:42) Reminder of the Terms of the Agreement
“So the king sent and called for Shimei and said to him, ‘Did I not make you swear by the LORD and solemnly warn you, saying, You will know for certain that on the day you depart and go anywhere, you shall surely die? And you said to me, The word which I have heard is good.’”
b. (:43) Reinforcement of the Penalty
“Why then have you not kept the oath of the LORD,
and the command which I have laid on you?”
3. (:44-45) Indictment
a. (:44) Curse Decreed by God on Shimei for Disrespecting the Throne of David
“The king also said to Shimei, ‘You know all the evil which you acknowledge in your heart, which you did to my father David; therefore the LORD shall return your evil on your own head.’”
John Schultz: Shimei was a member of the same clan as Saul. Evidently, he believed that when Saul and Jonathan died, another member of Saul’s family ought to have inherited the throne. He must have thought that David’s ascension to the throne was not based on divine revelation.
b. (:45) Blessing Decreed by God on Solomon and the Throne of David
“But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.”
D. (:46a) Benaiah Carries Out the Execution of Shimei
“So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada,
and he went out and fell upon him so that he died.”
(:46b) EPILOGUE — SECURE ESTABLISHMENT OF SOLOMON’S KINGDOM
“Thus the kingdom was established in the hands of Solomon.”
Dale Ralph Davis: These statements reflect the theological drive of the narrative: if the kingdom is to be secure, the threats against it must be neutralized. That is what “establishing” the kingdom demands. . .
The security of the kingdom requires the elimination of its enemies. The kingdom must be preserved from those trying to destroy and undermine it. This text then has a “last day” dimension to it, for . . .
So it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:40b-43da, NIV; see also 2 Thess. 1: 9-10).
1 Kings 2 shares the same kingdom theology with the rest of Scripture. That’s why 1 Kings 2 is such a searching text. The final Davidic king will follow the same principle in finally establishing his kingdom. My only safety then is in submitting to the monarchy of Jesus.