Solomon’s housecleaning continued. Having eliminated the threat posed by Adonijah, he then removed Abiathar the priest, telling him, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now” (I Kings 2:26a, NLT). Just as he had done when he first spared Adonijah, Solomon let Abiathar know he could still be executed; surely seeing Adonijah’s end would keep Abiathar from causing further trouble. Next, Solomon had to deal with Joab.
“Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar” (I Kings 2:28).
Adonijah had fled to “the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar” and Solomon had brought him out and granted him conditional amnesty. Joab hoped for the same. But this time, “When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him” (I Kings 2:29).
“Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, ‘The king orders you to come out!’” (I Kings 2:30a).
“But Joab answered, ‘No, I will die here’” (I Kings 2:30b).
Joab hoped that Solomon would grant him sanctuary as long as he clung to the altar. After all, it was pretty much a universal custom to spare a person under these conditions. But Solomon knew God had never issued blanket immunity to a guilty party. Instead He had said: "If someone deliberately kills another person, then the slayer must be dragged even from My altar and be put to death” (Exodus 21:14). Even by God’s law, Joab had no legal ground to stand on.
“So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said” (I Kings 2:30c).
“‘Do as he said,’ the king replied. ‘Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. The Lord will repay him for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne’” (I Kings 2:31-33).
“May the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.” Note the operative word there, “May.” As in conditional. David had already told Solomon: “Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all His ways. If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise He made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow Me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel’” (I Kings 2:3a, 4).
Big IF. No one else’s faithfulness would secure the throne for Solomon; it was up to him to be faithful to God’s teaching. Likewise, it may have been customary to run to the altar for sanctuary, but would it help a guilty man avoid the death penalty? No more than sitting in church will keep a lost person out of hell.
Neither Grandma’s, Grandpa’s, Mama’s, or Daddy’s commitment will get you or me into heaven. Your commitment must be yours; mine must be mine. Jesus Christ is a personal Savior.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates