Adonijah went into panic mode when he found out that his self-appointment as king had fallen through and that Solomon had already been seated on David’s throne. Terrified, “he rushed to the sacred tent and grabbed on to the horns of the altar” (I Kings 1:50b, NLT), pleading for Solomon not to kill him for his treachery.
Solomon spared Adonijah, saying, “If he proves himself to be loyal, not a hair on his head will be touched. But if he makes trouble, he will die” (I Kings 1:52). Solomon certainly started his first day on the job as king with a serious problem to handle. But handle it he did, and wisely.
We wrap First Kings Chapter One and move to Chapter Two: “As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon: ‘I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all His ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. 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 2:1-4).
Then David started discussing final business matters that Solomon needed to be aware of: “And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace, staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood. Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace” (I Kings 2:5-6).
“Don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.” David didn’t point-blank tell Solomon to kill Joab, but he pretty much let him know that would be for the best. Joab may have had David’s back on a number of occasions, but he’d shown his disrespect for David’s choice in Solomon by showing up for Adonijah’s party and siding with him.
“Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom” (I Kings 2:7). Just as David had kept his word to Jonathan in caring for Mephibosheth, David wanted to make sure that Solomon would continue the kindness due to Barzillai’s family.
“And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him” (I Kings 2:8-9).
Sounds pretty monstrous, doesn’t it? But David knew that any enemy of his would also be an enemy of David’s choice as ruler. He wanted to be certain that Solomon was aware of every possible threat so that Solomon could make the preemptive strike regarding both Joab and Shemei.
Having learned some lessons the hard way, David gave stern warning to Solomon to obey God in all he did. Then he gave his advice concerning Joab and Shemei and made a request for the care of Barzillai’s family. Those bases covered, David was ready to go.
“Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. David had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. Solomon became king and sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established” (I Kings 2:10-12).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates