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1 Kings 2:1-12 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:54 mins 19 secs

Forestalling Rebellion; 1 Kings 2:1-12


What we see in Kings is the historical outworking of the Davidic covenant in the Davidic line, and we see in a broader scale that the fortunes of Israel will ebb and flow in relation to their obedience or disobedience to God in light of blessings and cursings of the Mosaic covenant. All of this falls into a broader context tracing the line of the seed of David, which goes back to the seed of Abraham, which goes back to the seed of the woman.


As we get into chapter two of 1 Kings David's advice can be divided into two sections. In the first four verses David focuses on spiritual advice to Solomon. Then in verse five he slips right into advice related to the administration and handling the transition and making sure he solidifies his power on the throne at the beginning of his reign. A lot of people have a difficult time with the harshness of what David says to Solomon. This is a great illustration of what happens when a false scale of values is adopted that we think has been labelled Christian, and we take that false scale of values and go back and read certain passages in Scripture which don't seem to fit our understanding of God being a loving God and what it is to be a believer. And we run into something like this and people try to explaining it by saying that obviously David wants vengeance. Or another explanation is that David wants Joab killed because he still wants to cover up his sin with Bathsheba and Joab was the only one who really knew that David had told him to put Uriah the Hittite up in the forefront of the battle. This is the failure to interpret Scripture within its covenantal context, and by that is meant to try to understand all of these things in light of the Mosaic covenant and then in light of later covenants. We go back to the Mosaic covenant as part of the law code in Israel and we see that it is to be applied as part of the legislative viewpoint for anyone who commits any certain number of crimes. These people were certainly guilty of those crimes and they were not executed up to this point and it was really a failure on David's part. It might have been a misapplication of grace, he might have felt intimidated by Joab, or have had various other reasons for not having carried out capital punishment in rhe past, but nevertheless that is a solid principle. We live in an era today when numerous evangelicals just have a difficult time even with capital punishment and trying to square that with the love of God. It seems like people are always putting the focus of love on the wrong object. They want to love the criminal and forget about loving the victim and society as a whole and removing from society those who have by their actions demonstrated that their soul is no longer worthy of living because they have reached a certain level of sin corruption in their souls, to take the life of someone who is in the image of God, that they have forfeited their right to life. This is God's dictate going back to the Noahic covenant in Genesis chapter nine that whoever sheds man's blood by man shall also his blood be shed. And God doesn't qualify that.


Once we start with the presupposition that man is basically good then it affects how we view every area of social endeavour in man's life—how we view marriage, parenting, education, the penal system, etc. With the penal system, if we choose the option that the reason for going to jail of to rehabilitate the criminal, then whether we realise it or not our basic presupposition is that man is basically good and the purpose for the prison is to just deal with the problems that society or family has brought on him. If we think that man is basically evil then we understand that the purpose for prison or jail is for punishment; it is a penal system.


So people comes to this passage and think that David is being vindictive. But what about all this doctrine he had? David had failed in areas of his life because David is a sinner but we start with verses 2-4 where he is focussed on doctrinal absolutes as substantiated in both the Mosaic covenant and the Davidic covenant. Then what he is saying in verse 5 is just as important as what he is saying in the first four verses because he is actually telling Solomon to do something he did not do, and that is to consistently and objectively apply the laws of capital punishment in the Mosaic Law. David did not do this and he now sees the problems that have resulted from that because he has nurtured traitors and enemies within the palace, within the upper echelons of leadership in the Davidic monarchy. So he is basically telling Solomon that what he needs to do is be objective and consistent in his application. How do we know? Verse 6 NASB "So act according to your wisdom …" Solomon's wisdom, because he has a soul that has been strengthened with Doctrine and he loves the Lord with all his soul, mind and strength at this point, is a wisdom that comes from the Mosaic Law, the study of God's Word. So he is a fairly mature believer understanding the divine absolutes as set forth in Scripture.


1 Kings 2:5 NASB "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." The two commanders he is concerned about is Abner, Saul's uncle, and Amasa who is first mention in 2 Samuel 25. There we learn that during the time of the Absolom rebellion when David has taken his followers and fled from Jeruslem, Absolom appoints Amasa to be the Comander–in-chief of the army in place of Joab. Joab and Abner are cousins. Amaser, like Joab, is a son of one of David's sisters. So they are both nephews of David which means that they are first cousins. So there is tremendous rivalry inside the family. Amaser has aligned himself with Absolom in rebellion against David and leads the army against David. In 2 Samuel 19 we see the return of David to Jerusalem after the death of Absolom.


2 Samuel 19:11 NASB "Then King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, 'Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, 'Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the word of all Israel has come to the king, {even} to his house? [12] You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?'" David is offering peace, he is going to deal with them in grace. This is the strength of David's soul. He understood strength, he understood forgiveness, he had gone through this whole episode where he had been a traitor to God by his adultery with Bathsheba and then his conspiracy to murder her husband Uriah. God commuted the sentence. God can do that. When God delegates authority to man, man can also do that, but when God communed the sentence to David it doesn't mean that God is setting a pattern that man should always commute the sentence or not. David understands forgiveness and he is willing to apply that lesson to his enemies.


2 Samuel 19:13 NASB "Say to Amasa, 'Are you not my bone and my flesh? May God do so to me, and more also, if you will not be commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.'" He has always had a problem with Joab, he understands the man is out of control, that he operates on his own personal agenda, that he is ruled by his emotions, he is powerful, mean and cruel; and David is willing to replace him. When Joab finds out about this it is going to cause great jealousy on Joab's part, and he is going to murder Amasa. This is just another example of how Joab is out of control, 2 Samuel 20:4-13.


"…he also shed the blood of war in peace [time]," 1 Kings 2:5. He has committed capital murder. He wallowed in his own violence, was proud of his own violence. He showed no remorse, no shame for what he had done in committing these acts of violence.


1 Kings 2:6 NASB "So act according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace." He has committed two capital crimes, he needs to be executed. So David's advice is based on the Mosaic Law, it is based on an objective application of the Law, it is not an act of personal vengeance, it is not that he is trying to cover up anything. As he is getting close to death he is seeing things with objectivity that he hasn't seen before.


In contrast to executing Joab: 1 Kings 2:7 NASB "But show kindness [grace] 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." The last part of 2 Samuel 17 records David's movement across the Jordan as he flees Absolom and his rebels. 2 Samuel 17:24 NASB "Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. [25] Absalom set Amasa over the army in place of Joab… . [26] And Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead. [27] Now when David had come to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim." So these three individuals who are Jewish and living in the Trans-Jordan area show their allegiance to David and come to support him. They are extending grace to David, are hospitable to David, and now David is instructing Solomon to deal with them in kindness and grace.


1 Kings 2:8 NASB "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.'" As David is fleeing from Absolom, Shimei comes out and curses him. David is eventually going to pardon him. 2 Samuel 16:5 NASB "When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. [6] He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. [7] 'The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are {taken} in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!'"

2 Samuel 16:9 NASB "Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, 'Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.' [10] But the king said, "What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, 'Curse David,' then who shall say, 'Why have you done so?'" In other words, David is felling very defeated at this point and he thinks just let him curse, it is not going to do any harm, that maybe he deserves all of this as part of my punishment for the affair with Bathsheba. How knows that because there is a fourfold punishment and the Absolom rebellion is the fourth part. He recognises that this is probably God's will to have him cursed by Shimei and so he treats him in grace. [11] "Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, 'Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. [12] Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day'." This is an Old Testament example of what Jesus is teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and turning the other cheek. Turning the other cheek is an idiom for taking offence. When somebody offends you don't jump at the chance to take offence and return evil for evil. That is grace orientation, and exactly what David is demonstrating here.

The next time we see Shimei is when David is coming back to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 19:16 NASB "Then Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjamite who was from Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David." He is a little obsequious, he's just this oily little unctuous character now and now that David is back in power he is going to come crawling and beg for forgiveness. [18] "…And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king as he was about to cross the Jordan. [19] So he said to the king, 'Let not my lord consider me guilty, nor remember what your servant did wrong on the day when my lord the king came out from Jerusalem, so that the king would take {it} to heart.'" So he is confessing his sin to David. [20] "For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore behold, I have come today, the first of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king." What do we see in the next verse? [21] "But Abishai the son of Zeruiah said, 'Should not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD'S anointed?' [22] David then said, 'What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be an adversary to me? Should any man be put to death in Israel today? For do I not know that I am king over Israel today?' [23] The king said to Shimei, 'You shall not die.' Thus the king swore to him." These are great lessons on forgiveness and grace orientation.

However, this is not the last we see of Shimei. When we come to the whole episode with Adonijah in 1 Kings chapter one and his conspiracy against David we discover Shimei again and he is aligned with David. 1 Kings 1:8 NASB "But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not with Adonijah." He doesn't align himself with Adonijah overtly because he is sneaky. He is going to sit in the background, he is not going to come out and risk anything. But when David is instructing Solomon in 2:8 NASB "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." Why? Because this man is dangerous, he is going to wind up with the conspiracy. Just because David has forgiven him doesn't mean Solomon can turn his back on him. David was right in realising that in his heart Shimei was a traitor.

That ends David's final instruction to Solomon and with verse 10 we see the death of David. NASB "Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David." He is not buried with his fathers in Bethlehem. The idiom "rested with his fathers" is simply an idiom that he has died and his soul has gone to be with his ancestors in heaven.

1 Kings 2:11, 12 NASB "The days that David reigned over Israel {were} forty years: seven years he reigned in Hebron and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem. And Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established." Notice the designation: the throne of David. It focuses our attention on the Davidic dynasty, it focuses our attention back to the Davidic covenant, and we remember that Kings gives us the human perspective on this. When we come to Chronicles, Chronicles looks at all these events from the divine perspective, and when we look at 1 Chronicles 29:23, a parallel passage, instead of calling it the throne of David it says Solomon is on the throne of Yahweh. The ruler of Israel is a descendant of David on the human side but he is ruling as God's representative over the people.

The next part, beginning in verse 13, is where we see the application of the wisdom related to ruling. This has to do with knowing who to punish and when to punish, who to extend grace to and how to extend grace to them. Solomon began by extending grace to Adonijah. In the case of two of those Solomon executes, Adonijah and Shimei, he set up certain conditions, and those conditions would indicate whether or not they were willing t submit themselves to his authority as the king. Violation of those conditions would show that they still had their own agenda and were a threat to his power on the throne.

1 Kings 2:13 NASB "Now Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, 'Do you come peacefully?' And he said, 'Peacefully'." The writer doesn't give any judgments on what is going on here. We have to carefully watch how things are worded here. What we see is that Bathsheba is just as canny and smart about what is going on as she could be. As the queen she is the head of the harem. She knows exactly what is going when Adonijah comes to her. When he comes to her to make this request we will see how she in turn makes the request to Solomon. When she presents Adonijah's request to Solomon she states it without supporting it or without criticising it but she says the same words the same way that Adonijah does because that communicates what is going on. By repeating Adonijah's request word for word to Solomon, Solomon is clued in to exactly what is going on. So Adonijah comes to Bathsheba, he is going to work behind the scenes to try to get his foot in the door, as it were, to claim the throne. 

1 Kings 2:15 NASB "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." He is still convinced in his heart that he is the rightful king. "…all Israel expected me to be king." That is not true. "…for it was his from the LORD." He has to say that but he still wants the kingdom.

1 Kings 2:16, 17 NASB Now I am making one request of you; do not refuse me." And she said to him, 'Speak.' 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'." He thinks that the only one who can probably get this is Bathsheba, how could Solomon refuse his mother? He thinks that this is an innocent request since it is probably known that David did not sleep with Abishag. [18] "Bathsheba said, 'Very well; I will speak to the king for you'." But there is no indication that she is supportive of this manoeuvre at all. [19] "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. [20] 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'. [21] So she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as a wife.'" Notice it is the same phraseology as the request made by Adonijah. Solomon immediately understands what is happening. He knows that Adonijah put his mother up to this, that he is manipulating the family, and that it shows his desire to seize the throne. (Whenever someone took the king's wife or concubine as his that was a sign that he was claiming all of the king's possessions as his)

1 Kings 2:22 NASB "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!" – the three conspirators. He understands the conspiracy is still going on. [23] "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." He has broken the condition that Solomon set up in chapter one. [24] "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 shall be put to death today." So we don't see Solomon carrying out vendettas against the enemies of his father. He deals with some of the enemies in grace; other enemies who have committed capital crimes he is going to execute justly as under the law. [25] "So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him so that he died." This is how he deals with treason because Adonijah has violated the conditions. In the next section he exiles Abiathar. This is dealing with him in grace. He could just as easily have him executed for treason but he is dealing with those in grace where he can. But once grace has been extended so long it is necessary sometimes to bring out the punishment.