When we studied 1 Kings 1 last week we saw that King David had become old and weak and it was clear that he was near the end of his life. And his oldest surviving son, Adonijah, put himself forward. That is, he exalted himself and said that he will be king. And he gathered his supporters around him and they assembled outside Jerusalem to crown him as king. However, we learned from 1 Chronicles that God had made clear to David that another son, Solomon, would be king in David’s place. And so, in 1 Kings 1 Nathan the prophet and Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, agreed to speak to the king and to let him know what Adonijah was planning. And David, with a burst of energy, made arrangements for Solomon to be crowned king in his place. And so, the chapter ended with Solomon on the throne and Adonijah came and bowed down to him.
And I’ve said before and I said it last week that all the kings of Israel foreshadow in one way or another God’s True Anointed King, Jesus Christ, who was installed in heaven as king over all after his death and resurrection. And the Lord Jesus Christ is currently extending his kingdom throughout the world through the reading and preaching of his word. And all who come to him by faith and bow down to him as king are added to his kingdom and they receive the assurance of sins forgiven and the hope of everlasting life in the presence of God. But all who will not believe in him and who refuse to bow to him will one day be condemned and will be sent out of God’s presence to be punished forever for all that they have done wrong.
Today’s chapter can be divided into two main parts. In the first part, which is from verse 1 to verse 9, we have David’s final instructions to Solomon. As he hands over the reins of the kingdom to Solomon, he wants to give the new king some final words of advice. And the second part of the chapter, which is from verse 10 to the end, is about establishing Solomon’s kingdom and making it firm. If you’ve got your Bible open, you can see that the word ‘established’ appears four times in the second part of this chapter. It’s in verse 12; and it appears again in verse 24; and it appears again in verse 45, though it’s translated in the NIV as ‘will remain secure’; and it’s there in verse 46. Verse 12 says that Solomon sat on the throne of his father David and his rule was firmly established. And in the following verses we’re told what he did to establish his rule firmly.
Verses 1 to 4
Let’s turn first to verses 1 to 9 and to David’s final instructions to Solomon. This is his charge to his son, the new king. And it can be divided into two parts, because in verses 1 to 4 he’s telling his son to commit himself to the Lord; and in verses 5 to 9 he’s telling his son what to do to certain people.
So, he tells Solomon in verse 2 to be strong and to show himself a man and observe what the Lord your God requires. And that means: walk in God’s ways, and keep his decrees and commands and his laws and requirements, as written in the law of Moses. This is what you’re to do, Solomon.
So, be strong. Sometimes believers are regarded as weak people. We’re regarded as weak people who cannot cope with life on our own and we need a crutch to lean on; and religion is our crutch. And so we need our religion to support us; and we need something to believe in to give us comfort when life is hard. We’re therefore weak, whereas the unbeliever is strong and is able to stand up to everything which life throws at them. That’s how we are sometimes regarded by those who do not believe.
But we who believe know hat we need strength and courage to believe, because we need strength and courage to resist the pressure of an unbelieving world to conform to its unbelieving and wicked ways. Our young people know this only too well, because it take strength and courage to remain faithful in school where you’re in the minority and everyone regards you as strange and odd and even stupid for believing in the Saviour. But this not only happens in school, because it happens in all areas of life. And the weak person will cave in to peer pressure and will follow the crowd, whereas it takes strength and courage to stand firm in the faith and to persevere.
And David realised that this is true and that his son would need strength and courage to do what is right. He knew that there would be times when different people would be putting Solomon under pressure and they would be pressing him to do something which was contrary to the word of the Lord. And perhaps some of his decisions as king would be unpopular and popular opinion would be against him. And so, he needed strength and courage to remain faithful to the Lord and to do what’s right and not to give in when everyone is against him.
And so, you need to be strong, Solomon. You need to be a man: you need to be courageous and not timid like a little lamb. And fortunately it’s the Lord who gives us strength. He’s the one who gives us the strength and courage we need to be a man or to be a woman and to stand firm in the face of pressure. How did the Apostle Paul put it? He said we’re to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty strength. In other words, the Lord gives us the strength we need to be strong. The little boy wants to be helpful and to carry the groceries in from the car. But he’s not strong enough yet. And so, his mother helps him and the two of them hold the bag and carry it, even though it’s the mother who is doing most of the lifting. And the Lord comes alongside us and he upholds us and helps us and he strengthens us. All we need to do is look to him for the strength we need.
And David told Solomon that he needs to observe what the Lord your God requires. So, walk in his ways and keep his commands and do his will. That’s what David tried to do all of his life. Of course, we all know how he failed to do God’s will when he took Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and when he then took Uriah’s life. But the rest of the time, he tried to observe what the Lord requires and he tried to walk in his ways. And he’s the one who wrote Psalm 19 which says:
 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes….
And he went on to say that God’s word is more valuable than gold and it’s sweeter than honey. That’s how David regarded God’s word. And that’s what made David different from Saul, who reigned before David. Saul was the king the people wanted and he was the kind of king the nations had. And it soon became clear that he was not prepared to do as God commanded. And so, here’s David, speaking to the new king; and in effect he’s saying to the new king that you must not be like Saul, who disregarded the word of the Lord and who forfeited the throne, but you must do as I tried to do and walk in the ways of the Lord.
And if you’re familiar with the book of Deuteronomy, you’ll know that the Lord spoke about blessings and curses: blessings for obedience and curses from disobedience. If his people disobeyed him, he would send troubles and trials into their life to humble them. But if they obeyed him and walked in his ways, he would fill their lives with good things to enjoy. And that’s what David is saying to Solomon: walk in God’s ways and you’ll receive good things from the Lord. And if you do what is right, and if your descendants do what is right, then there will always be one of David’s descendants on the throne.
It seems that today there are some Christians who are allergic to talking about obedience. They think that since we’re pardoned and accepted by God through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by keeping the law, then obedience has no part to play in the believer’s life. But those who think that way have it got wrong, because what the Bible teaches is that, yes, we’re pardoned and accepted by God through faith in Jesus Christ. However, having been pardoned and accepted by God through faith in Jesus Christ, true believers will strive with all of their might to obey the Lord in order to demonstate their gratitude for what he has done for us. God’s grace to us in Christ Jesus produces gratitude in our hearts and we demonstrate our gratitude by obeying God’s laws. And to encourage our obedience, the Lord promises good things to those who obey; and he warns us of the trouble we can expect when we disobey him. And so, David’s charge to Solomon applies to us as well, doesn’t it? We’re to be strong and courageous like a man or a woman. And we’re to observe all that the Lord requires, because this is how we demonstrate our gratitude to him for saving us from our sins.
Verses 5 to 9
That’s the first part of David’s charge to Solomon. And in the second part of his charge, he tells Solomon what to do about certain people. He mentions Joab in verses 5 and 6. He was the commander of David’s army and he was a greater warrior. But he was also a loose cannon who took matters into his own hands and who acted ruthlessly towards his enemies. And David refers to two of his victims here. One was Abner and the other was Amasa. Abner commanded Saul’s army and Amasa commanded Absalom’s army. And therefore both of them were commanders of armies hostile to David. But both made peace with David. And both of them were killed by Joab without David’s knowledge. And so, David tells Solomon that Joab shed their blood in peacetime as if in battle. Well, it’s possible that David now regrets not having dealt with Joab previously. And now it’s too late for him to do anything to repay Joab for committing these murders. But he asks Solomon to deal with Joab according to Solomon’s wisdom and not to let Joab’s grey head go down to the grave in peace. In other words, he needs to be executed for his crimes.
David then tells Solomon to show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Barzillai was a wealthy man who had helped David when he was fleeing for his life from Absalom. And now, because of Barzillai’s kindness to David, David wants Solomon to show kindness to his sons and to let them eat at the king’s table. In other words, look after them and provide them with all that they need.
But then there’s Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite. Do you remember him? When David was fleeing from Jerusalem, because of Absalom’s rebellion, Shimei came out and threw stones at David and his men and called down curses on David. After David was restored to the throne, once Absalom’s rebellion had come to an end, Shimei came to meet David and he fell down before the king and asked for mercy. And although one of David’s men encouraged him to put Shimei to death, David refused. But things appear to be different now. David tells Solomon in verse 9 not to consider him innocent. You’re a man of wisdom, David said. You will know what to do to bring his grey head down to the grave in blood.
Why was David willing to show him mercy before and not now? The commentators wonder whether Shimei had shown himself in the intervening years to be disloyal or a troublemaker. But we really don’t know. What we do know is that David had clearly been patient with Shimei, just as he’d been patient with Joab. He had let both of them live longer than they deserved. But now, at the end of his life, David has decided that both of them deserved to be punished for what they had done. And that brings us to the second part of today’s chapter where we see what Solomon did to Joab and to Shimei and to others in his kingdom.
Verses 10 to 46
In verse 10 we read that David rested with his fathers and was buried in Jerusalem, the City of David. He reigned for 40 years. And now Solomon, his son, sat on his throne, and his rule was firmly established. How did he establish his rule firmly? That’s what the following verses tell us. He established his rule by dealing with his enemies.
We read first about Adonijah, who, in chapter 1, had wanted to be king. But at the end of chapter 1, he bowed before Solomon. And it seemed that he was willing to submit to Solomon and accept that his brother was king. But now he seems to be making a move to take the throne again. He went to Bathsheba and asked her to ask Solomon if he can take Abishag as his wife. Do you remember who Abishag was? She was the young woman who had been appointed to care for David in his old age and to keep him warm. Though she wasn’t exactly David’s concubine, she may have been regarded that way. In any case, she was closely associated with the king. And taking this woman who was closely associated with David was a kind of signal that Adonijah intended to take David’s throne. It’s not clear whether Bathsheba realised this or not, but Solomon clearly understood that this was a power move. And we’ve been hearing a lot about being a spare royal these days, haven’t we? And Adonijah didn’t want to be a spare royal. He wanted to be the king. Solomon understood this and so he swore an oath in verse 23 that Adonijah must pay for this request with his life. And the king gave the order and Benaiah went off and struck Adonijah down and killed him.
If only Adonijah was willing to accept Solomon as king, he could have lived a long life. If only he has submitted to the king, nothing would have happened to him and he could have lived a long and happy life as the brother of the king. But, just as he had done in chapter 1, he put himself forward. He exalted himself. He wanted to be king in place of Solomon.
And then there’s Abiathar, one of the priests. So, we’re now looking at verses 26 and 27. And do you remember that he had sided with Adonijah in chapter 1? And so, he had shown himself to be an enemy of the king. But rather than execute a priest, who had carried the ark of the Lord and who had shared David’s hardships, Solomon instead removed him from being a priest and banished him to his hometown. And the narrator tells us in verse 27 that this fulfilled the word of the Lord concerning the house of Eli. You see, Abiathar was descended from Eli, who was the priest when Samuel was young. And because Eli did not prevent his sons from dishonouring the Lord, the Lord promised that the time will come when Eli’s descendants will die; and the only one who will be left will not be able to serve as a priest. And that word from the Lord was fulfilled when Abiathar was removed from the priesthood.
And then there’s Joab in verses 28 to 35. And Joab can see the writing on the wall and that his time has come. So, he fled for refuge to the tabernacle and took hold of the horns of the altar, as Adonijah had done in chapter 1. Solomon nevertheless sent Benaiah to strike him down. Benaiah was unwilling to kill Joab while he was clinging to the altar. So he commanded Joab in the name of the king to come out. Joab refused. ‘What should I do now?’ we can imagine Benaiah thinking. He reported back to the king and the king ordered him to go ahead and to strike Joab down in the tabernacle. And Solomon said that, by doing so, Solomon and David’s house will be cleared of Joab’s bloodguilt, because he had shed the blood of innocent men. And after killing Joab, Benaiah was appointed as commander of the armies in place of Joab. And Zadok was appointed priest in place of Abiathar.
And finally there’s Shimei in verses 36 to 46. Solomon was gracious and kind to Shimei. Instead of executing him, he confined him to Jerusalem. He was told: Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there and don’t go anywhere else. Perhaps Solomon wanted to keep his eye on Shimei. And the king warned him that the day he leaves and crosses the Kidron Valley, he will die; and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
All went well for three years. But then two of his slaves ran off. And disregarding the king’s order, Shimei saddled his donkeys and went out of Jerusalem in search of his slaves. When Solomon heard about it, he summoned Shimei and reminded him of the conditions he their agreement. Why then did you not keep your oath to the Lord and obey my command? And Solomon once again gave the order to Benaiah and Benaiah struck Shimei down.
And so, having dealt with Adonijah and Abiathar and Joab and Shimei, the kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands. He had done what was necessary to make his kingdom firm, because he removed those men who had demonstrated that there were enemies of the king. If Adonijah has submitted to the king, he would not have died. If Abiathar had not sided with Adonijah, he would have continued as priest. If Joab had been obedient to David, he would not have lost his life. And if Shimei had submitted to the king, he would have lived in peace in Jerusalem. But each one of them in their own way rebelled against the king.
As long as these rebels and enemies remained, they would have disturbed the peace of the kingdom. And so, Solomon had to deal with them firmly so that he and his people could live safely and securely and in peace.
And the Lord God Almighty has promised that his people will live with him in perfect peace and rest in his everlasting kingdom in the new heavens and earth. That’s the great hope he gives to all who trust in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God’s True Anointed King. He has promised that in the life to come, there will be no more sorrow or sadness or disease or death. There will be nothing to make us unhappy or to disturb our peace. And God has therefore also promised that all rebels and enemies of his kingdom will be kept out of the new heavens and earth, starting with the Devil, who will be cast into the lake of fire along with all his demons and all who sided with him in this life.
And so, when Christ the King comes again to bring his people into the new heavens and earth, he will weed out of his kingdom all those who never believed in him and who never submitted to him as king. He will remove all those who are rebels and enemies; and he will send them away to be punished. And those who are left — all those who believed and who yielded their lives to Christ — will live with him in that place of perfect peace and rest forever and forever. Just as Solomon established his kingdom firmly by removing his enemies, so the Lord Jesus will establish his everlasting kingdom and he will make it safe and secure by removing all his enemies.
But the Lord is gracious and merciful, isn’t he? Whereas Solomon removed his enemies at the beginning of his reign, the Lord Jesus is patient with his enemies. And he has not yet destroyed them. He’s giving them time to turn from their sins in repentance and to turn to him for salvation. He’s giving them time to believe in him and to submit their lives to him. The day is coming when he will deal with them firmly and he will send them away to be punished. But that time has not yet come and there’s still time for any who do not believe to turn to him. And he’s coming to you today in the preaching of his word to say to all who have not yet submitted to him that now is the time to do so. Now is the time to yield your life to him. Give up your rebellion and give up being his enemy and submit to Christ the King.
And to those who already believe, remember that by nature you were his enemy and therefore you were liable to his wrath and curse and to eternal punishment away from the presence of the Lord. But he was gracious and merciful to you and he enabled you to repent and believe and he forgave you for all that you have done wrong and he added you to his kingdom. You did not deserve it and you did not earn it. But he was gracious and kind and he pardoned you for the sake of Christ our King who loved us and who gave up his life for us so that we might live with him forever. And so, you should give thanks to him for his kindness to you and you should demonstrate your gratitude by obeying his commands and by walking in his ways.