1(A) When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2(B) “I am about to go the way of all the earth.(C) Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses,(D) that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4that the LORD may(E) establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying,(F) ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way,(G) to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul,(H) you shall not lack[a] a man on the throne of Israel.’
We must not underplay the significance of the handover from David to Solomon, for it is in these very chapters that we see the handover of the typological government of David to the Christocracy of New Creation. Note the language which opens this chapter in v.2-4, and its parallel to Joshua’s language to Israel upon the conquering of the lands of Canaan (Joshua 22). These shadows time and time again remind us that the time of the law, as is often associated to Moses (v.3, Luke 2:22, 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 13:39, 15:5), is underlined by the gospel truth of salvation by Christ in the name of Joshua / Yeshua (from Hoshea, salvation, to Joshua / Yeshua, Jehovah is salvation – Numbers 13:16) – and finally passed on from the shadow to the nation Israel. This is just as we are brought to see that the transition from Moses to Joshua is that of the church under the Israelite law to the church with the gospel boldly proclaimed, and from Joshua to the Israelites as that of David passing the baton to Solomon who represents the new kingdom under an age of rest (Joshua 21:43-45).
The reality of the situation is that v.4 seems conditional – but note the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7 (the promise-centric nature of chapter 7, under the refrain “I will”, is repeated 9 times in v.9-27), not to mention the eventual demise of Israel as a nation scattered in Assyria and Babylon, and how Christ remained on the throne of Israel despite the royal lineage being effectively marred by four hundred years of silence (Amos 8:11). For this verse, though concerning the king, applies not solely in relation to the king but to the nation; and thus the line of David is not defined by the “visible kings” in the royal lineage, but in the remnant (Romans 9:27, 11:5) and engrafted branches to the vine, to the Christ.
5“Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah(I) did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel,(J) Abner the son of Ner,(K) and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging[b] in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war[c] on the belt around his[d] waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6Act therefore(L) according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7But deal loyally with the sons of(M) Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be(N) among those who eat at your table,(O) for with such loyalty[e] they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. 8And there is also with you(P) Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day(Q) when I went to Mahanaim.(R) But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9Now therefore do not hold him guiltless,(S) for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall(T) bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”
It is therefore important, in reading David’s final words to Solomon, to understand what is meant in the context of David’s messianic interpretation of the throne. David knew that the house of the LORD could not be built by David’s bloody hands (1 Chronicles 22:8); he also knew that Solomon is not necessarily the Anointed One promised in 2 Samuel 7 (1 Chronicles 22 shows that Solomon will be able to establish the shadow of what is spoken of in 2 Samuel 7); but in handing over the kingdom to Solomon (from David the beloved to Solomon the peaceful) we can now see that the old age of corruption within the church is weeded out in the new age of the golden new creation under the new headship of David’s son (Revelation 21 – streets of gold; Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17 – gathering of the wheat, and burning of the chaff). That is why Joab and Shimei were not dealt with in David’s lifetime – since David was (eventually) made aware of their treachery as noted in these verses. This weeding out specifies this son of Zeruiah who murdered the commander of both Israel and Judah, and Shimei this son of Benjamin from Bahurim who cursed David for his worthlessness (2 Samuel 16:5-8). Note how Matthew Henry views the curse on the sinner spanning ages if undealt with: “His crime is remembered: He cursed me with a grievous curse; the more grievous because he insulted him when he was in misery and poured vinegar into his wounds. The Jews say that one thing which made this a grievous curse was that, besides all that is mentioned (2 Sam. xvi.), Shimei upbraided him with his descent from Ruth the Moabitess… His pardon is not forgotten. David owned he had sworn to him that he would not himself put him to death, because he seasonably submitted, and cried Peccavi—I have sinned, and he was not willing, especially at that juncture, to use the sword of public justice for the avenging of wrongs done to himself. But… His case, as it now stands, is left with Solomon, as one that knew what was fit to be done and would do as he found occasion. David intimates to him that his pardon was not designed to be perpetual, but only a reprieve for David’s life: “Hold him not guiltless; do not think him any true friend to thee or thy government, nor fit to be trusted. He has no less malice than he had then, though he has more sense to conceal it. He is still a debtor to the public justice for what he did then; and, though I promised him that I would not put him to death, I never promised that my successor should not. His turbulent spirit will soon give thee an occasion, which thou shouldst not fail to take, for the bringing of his hoary head to the grave with blood.” This proceeded not from personal revenge, but a prudent zeal for the honour of the government and the covenant God had made with his family, the contempt of which ought not to go unpunished. Even a hoary head, if a guilty and forfeited head, ought not to be any man’s protection from justice. The sinner, being a hundred years old, shall be accursed, Isa. lxv. 20.”
However, there is difference between the death of Shimei and the death of Joab; the former’s outright cursing at David’s house compared to Saul’s house is of no fake religiosity like that of Joab:
“I have two lessons I am anxious to teach at this time. The first is derived from the fact that Joab found no benefit of sanctuary even though he laid hold of the horns of the altar of God’s house, from which I gather this lesson—that outward ordinances will avail nothing. Before the living God, who is greater and wiser than Solomn, it will be of no avail to any man to lay hold upon the horns of the altar. But, secondly, there is an altar—a spiritual altar—whereof if a man do but lay hold upon the horns, and say, “Nay; but I will die here,” he shall never die; but he shall be safe against the sword of justice for ever; for the Lord has appointed an altar in the person of his own dear Son, Jesus Christ, where there shall be shelter for the very vilest of sinners if they do but come and lay hold thereon.” – Charles Spurgeon on 1 Kings 2
It is therefore a symbolic cleansing done by Solomon, that he should start his reign by first ensuring that there is no corrupted remnant left from the previous kingdom. David did not actively cleanse, but Solomon the new king as the typological second coming of Christ represents the new creation kingdom, ridding Joab the murderer of Israel and Judah; the removal of Benjamin (Genesis 49:27; 1 Samuel 9), the old leaven under Saul’s kingdom typological of the visible but unbelieving church, both removals sandwiching the blessing to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite (2 Samuel 19 – Barzillai who had possibly died of old age). What irony that men of righteousness are asleep in Christ and men of Satan have yet to have their gray heads brought down with blood to Sheol (v.9; Jeremiah 12:1).
10(U) Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in(V) the city of David. 11And the time that David reigned over Israel was(W) forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12(X) So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.
And so, David “was buried in the city of David, not in the burying place of his father, as Saul was, but in his own city, which he was the founder of. There were set the thrones, and there the tombs, of the house of David. Now David, after he had served his own generation, by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption, Acts xiii. 36, and see Acts ii. 29. His epitaph may be taken from 2 Sam. xxiii. 1. Here lies David the son of Jesse, the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, adding his own words (Ps. xvi. 9), My flesh also shall rest in hope.” – Matthew Henry
Indeed, David’s flesh now lies corrupted – but his flesh shall rest in hope that the one whose flesh is not corrupted shall stand between the race of Adam as the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).
13Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said,(Y) “Do you come peacefully?” He said, “Peacefully.” 14Then he said, “I have something to say to you.” She said, “Speak.” 15He said, “You know that(Z) the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s,(AA) for it was his from the LORD. 16And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said to him, “Speak.” 17And he said, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me(AB) Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” 18Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”
From David’s command in the previous verse, now note how Adonijah rises up to unite Joab and Abiathar in their implied rebellion against Solomon (v.22). It is interesting how David has foreseen Joab and Shimei’s resistance, but the matters of Abiathar and Adonijah relate specifically to the usurping of Solomon and not David’s throne. It is now clear that Adonijah’s actions by the end of chapter 1 are empty – and his word in v.13 to Bathsheba is also empty. What a deceitful tongue, that he should claim that “the kingdom was mine”; that “all Israel fully expected [him] to reign” (v.15), only to concede that Solomon is the rightful king because of the LORD’s appointment. Two points here – the kingdom was never Adonijah’s, for David was still called the king when Adonijah made public his self-enthronement (1 Kings 1:9-10); secondly, only Abiathar, Joab, and some of his men (1 Kings 1:24-27) expected Adonijah to reign. The trumpet blast and rejoicing of the appointment of Solomon as king seems to be a thing neglected in Adonijah’s twisting of the historical facts. Like the serpent, what right therefore does he have to make requests which cannot be refused (v.16)? What right therefore does he demand from Solomon (v.17) anything at all when he is under the very grace and mercy of the LORD by his apparently penitent actions by holding the horns of the altar (1 Kings 1:49-53)? He has no such right! Therefore, how preposterous that he should ask for the most beautiful woman who had been obedient to David, serving David, acting as David’s female companion though David did not know her (1 Kings 1:4), but that Abishag should symbolically overtake Solomon by uniting with the woman specifically appointed to serve David?
19So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king’s mother,(AC) and she sat on his right. 20Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” 21She said, “Let(AD) Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” 22King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask(AE) Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also,(AF) for he is my older brother, and on his side(AG) are Abiathar[f] the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.” 23Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying,(AH) “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! 24Now therefore(AI) as the LORD lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house,(AJ) as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.” 25So King Solomon sent(AK) Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.
It is significant to see that this request came from Bathsheba, who seems unaware of Adonijah’s pretenses, just as Eve was unaware of the serpent’s twisting of God’s word and history. Yet, unlike Adam who had stood by and let the serpent speak, Solomon immediately responds in his role as the appointed king and as “a wise man” (v.9) and discerns clearly the motivations of Adonijah. Unlike Adam who had caused the kingdom of the garden of Eden and the rest of creation to fall (Genesis 1:28-30), Solomon stood firm and followed the principle of David’s final words in leading a truly new creation kingdom, ruling by wisdom (c.f. 1 Kings 3). It is thus fitting that the new commander Benaiah, one of the thirty of David in 2 Samuel 23, shall take the reins in establishing (v.24 – Hebrew for “setting up, preparing”) the kingdom of Solomon.
It is on this catalyst that Solomon immediately acts – and the remaining verses of this chapter are a testament of the work which David did not do but which Solomon has now been appointed to execute:
“Tamar’s father. Israel’s king. What would he do to protect his beautiful princess? Verse 20:
When King David heard all this, he was furious.
Good. He ought to have been. But verse 20 should not stop there. We should read about David’s righteous anger leading to action. Here is the king. Here is her dad. He ought to have gone to his daughter and spoken words of comfort. He ought to have done all he could to restore her dignity and her reputation. He ought to have brought Amnon to account. Tamar was right, such things should not happen in Israel. So what is the king going to do about this? David does nothing. And the kingdom spirals down into greater and greater chaos. Because David does nothing, Absalom takes matters into his own hands. He kills the heir to the throne and then, as Absalom goes on the run he becomes a contender for the crown. If David had only acted here in chapter 13, then the turbulence and blood-shed of the next 5 chapters would not have happened. But David, the Almighty King, simply wrings his hands. His daughter and his kingdom needed him to act but he does nothing.” – Glen Scrivener on 2 Samuel 13
Though David had neglected Tamar despite his fury, what of the death of Asahel by Abner; death of Abner by Joab and Abishai, and the death of Amasa (2 Samuel 2:23; 3:30; 20:10-12) – under David’s very nose are these corruptions occurring but under Solomon’s kingdom does true peace and safety reign.
First, the removal of the house of Eli as prophesied in 1 Samuel 3:10-14:
26And to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to(AL) Anathoth, to your estate, for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death,(AM) because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father,(AN) and because you shared in all my father’s affliction.” 27(AO) So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, thus fulfilling(AP) the word of the LORD that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
Though Abiathar’s life is spared, the house of Eli is now replaced by Zadok (v.35) though the true priesthood still remains with the house of Melchizedek as Zadok is but a shadow of that priestly lineage.
Then comes the removal of Joab in v.28-35, the murderer of the commanders of Israel and Judah , Abner and Amasa, respectively. Note in particular v.30-33:
“30So Benaiah came to the tent of the LORD and said to him, “The king commands, ‘Come out.'” But he said, “No, I will die here.” Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” 31The king replied to him,(AT) “Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him,(AU) and thus take away from me and from my father’s house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. 32The LORD will(AV) bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men(AW) more righteous and better than himself,(AX) Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and(AY) Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33(AZ) So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the LORD forevermore.””
It appears that David would otherwise have been held accountable for Joab’s sin, being the king of the nation he is vicariously liable for Joab’s treachery. Is this not the Hebraic understanding of the king’s propitiation of God’s wrath on his people by standing as the responsible head and mediator of his people (corporate sin in Leviticus 4:13-21; Judges 9)? Yet, Solomon establishes that David and himself did not approve of such heresy within the Israelite church, and that the LORD himself will be the true Person separating the wheat from the chaff, symbolically resolved in the very tent of God (Exodus 29:37 – whatever touches the altar shall become holy; yet the irony falls on Joab’s guilty status) as Joab, like Adonijah, hid in their overt religiosity and cultural identity as God’s people – but failed to be known and to know God Himself. Where Joab’s blood shall go down with him to Sheol, so also our Christ stands on our behalf as the true offering at the altar when He was subject to the Father’s wrath because of his vicarious embodiment of our sins as the true King of Israel. Joab shall not benefit from this propitiation of the Father’s wrath found in the Christ, the same demise of those who stand in the church and hold on to the altar and sacraments but do not stand under the true object of faith which these shadows point towards.
And so, the removal of Abiathar and Joab (father of abundance and Jehovah is his father), two Israelites who are so aptly named and poised to be great Christian saints reminds us of the hollow meaning of such names when they are instead replaced by the righteous Zadok and Benaiah (righteous and built up by Jehovah) respectively:
Finally, to fulfil David’s final words, Shimei is dealt with in the remaining verses 36-46 under the renewed government established by Solomon by the priesthood of Zadok and the army of Benaiah:
36Then the king sent and summoned(BD) Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. 37For on the day you go out and cross(BE) the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die.(BF) Your blood shall be on your own head.” 38And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.
Note the refrain: “Your blood shall be on your own head” (v.37), the subject earlier touched upon with regards to Joab’s blood being on his own head as well (1 Kings 2:9). Like Adonijah, Abiathar and Joab, Shimei is subject to their own actions and their own sins causing their own demise. Either the blood is on the head of David or Solomon, the chapter being rich of imagery of such propitiation of the Father’s wrath should a king stand as the mediator; or the blood is on the head of those who stand not under David nor Solomon. Yet, in Shimei’s loose oath (v.42-43), we see a man who does not take the LORD’s commandment with seriousness; made an oath to keep Solomon at bay rather than realize the implications of such covenant made (2 Samuel 21:7). Solomon’s reason therefore of removing Shimei is the same reason which David explained to Solomon – that this cursing towards David in 2 Samuel is but one of the several symptoms of Shimei’s hard heart, similarly portrayed here in his failure to keep this oath and indirectly cursing God’s commandment. Like the LORD who commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of good and evil lest mankind dies, so also Shimei in his old adamic flesh and spirit ignores this command, though it is acknowledged that Solomon’s command is good (v.38). It is thus fitting that should Shimei re-enact David’s expulsion from Israel that he himself is pronouncing his self-expulsion (2 Samuel 15:23), not to mention that the brook Kidron represents death, decay and rejection (1 Kings 15:13, 23:12; 1 Chronicles 15:16, 29:16, 30:14; Jeremiah 31:40)
So, the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon finally (v.46), this word “established” repeated throughout this chapter, reminding us of these bloody acts as preparation, as part of the erecting and fitting of Solomon’s kingdom of Salem (peace – Genesis 14:18; Psalms 76:2; Hebrews 7:1-2).