“So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar” (I Kings 34-35).
Joab met his end and Abiathar was removed from his position. Now Zadok alone, who had apparently been serving alongside Abiathar already, is priest.
And remember back when David was running from Absalom? Shemei was the guy who ran alongside them, cursing David and throwing rocks – see Second Samuel 16:5-14; he was also a relative of Saul. It was time to deal with this potential danger to Solomon’s rule.
“The king then sent for Shimei and told him, ‘Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head’” (I Kings 2:36-37).
“Shimei replied, ‘Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.’ So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time” (I Kings 2:38).
Operative phrase here? “For a long time.” Interesting how short our memories can be on the things we should hold onto and how long they can be on the things we should let go of. Shemei knew he’d received great mercy when Solomon so much as let him live. Why push the envelope?
“But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem” (I Kings 2:39-40).
Let’s look at this realistically. Shemei owned slaves; he wasn’t a poor man. He could have sent other family members or hired men to go after the slaves. He could even have gone to Solomon, explained his problem and asked permission to go after the slaves. Instead, he said nothing to Solomon and foolishly went himself.
“Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, ‘Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?’” (I Kings 2:41-43).
In truth, Shemei’s actions gave Solomon no choice. Shemei had sworn a solemn oath never to leave Jerusalem and Solomon had solemnly sworn what the consequences would be if Shemei ever broke that agreement. If Solomon’s rule was to remain secure, his word had to be trustworthy, and that included fulfilling his side of this agreement with Shemei.
And speaking of being trustworthy, God is only as trustworthy as His Word. And John 1:1 plainly tells us that Jesus Christ is the Living Word. God never threatens; He warns. And thankfully, He also exhibits great patience. But eventually, He acts. Otherwise His Word isn’t trustworthy.
You hear people say, “How can a loving God send people to hell?” Truth is, He doesn’t. Jesus clearly stated that hell is “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons” (Matthew 25:41b). Not for people. That’s why Jesus also taught: “Everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16b).
Hell is a personal choice. Jesus is a personal choice. Which one have you chosen? Which have your friends and family chosen? What are you doing to point them to Jesus?
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates