Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 2

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Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues in 1 Kings and gives us a glimpse of history long past (some 3,000 years ago). For those who query why the Old Testament Scriptures are filled with historical details, allow me to explain.

If one is willing to be a student, history is an amazing teacher. History affords us life lessons and insights into human character, which opens understanding of our past but brings peril when disregarded or disdained. Tragically, we are living in a time when monuments have been destroyed, historical facts and events distorted, and history books rewritten.

Be forewarned: A biased, dishonest view of history is dangerous and destructive. In the words of philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

A History Lesson in Human Character (1 Kings 2:1-9)

I have learned the strengths and weaknesses evidenced in a man’s character tend to be constant throughout his life. For example, consider the counsel David gave Solomon regarding his adversaries (2:1-9).

David’s Counsel and Final Days (1 Kings 2:1-4)

Because he was old and frail (1 Kings 1:1), David made it his mission to prepare Solomon to reign after his death and challenged him, “I go the way of all the earth [i.e., the inevitability of death]: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man” (1 Kings 2:2).

To put David’s charge in the 21st-century vernacular, he challenged Solomon, “BE A MAN!”

In his early 20s, Solomon would have to be stronger than his tender youth. As king, he would contend with mature, more experienced men than himself. For example, he would face an older brother (Adonijah) who arguably had some claim to the throne (1 Kings 1:41-53). He would also contend with his father’s enemies (especially those who supported Adonijah’s attempt to usurp David, 1 Kings 1:7).

Thus, David urged his son to walk in the ways of the LORD and “keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses” (1 Kings 2:3). He assured Solomon, the LORD would prosper and bless him and his children if they walked before the LORD “in truth with all their heart and with all their soul” (1 Kings 2:4).

David’s Admonition Concerning His Enemies (1 Kings 2:5-9)

David cautioned Solomon regarding the flaws and failures of unreliable men who had wronged him in the past (1 Kings 2:5-9). As king, David failed to punish Joab for his treason and urged Solomon, “Let not his hoar head (white hairs) go down to the grave in peace” (1 Kings 2:5-6). There was also Shimei, who had cursed David when he fled from his son Absalom. Shimei later begged the king for his life and was spared after Absalom’s rebellion. Nevertheless, David urged Solomon to execute Shimei and not risk him becoming a threat to the throne (1 Kings 2:8-9). 

Solomon’s Wisdom and Discernment (1 Kings 2:10-46)

Adonijah was Killed for His Aspiration to Be King (1 Kings 2:13-15)

Later, following David’s death (1 Kings 2:10-11), Solomon moved swiftly to secure the throne (1 Kings 2:12). The first threat to his reign arose from Adonijah, his elder brother (1 Kings 2:12-25). Playing upon Bathsheba’s compassion, Adonijah petitioned Solomon’s mother to intercede for him that he might take Abishag [Ah-bi-shag] (1 Kings 1:3-4), David’s young virgin concubine, for his wife (1 Kings 2:13-18). Bathsheba seemed to have pitied Adonijah, who approached Solomon, voicing his brother’s request (1 Kings 2:18-21).

Solomon, who possessed insight and wisdom far beyond his years, discerned his brother’s request to marry his father’s concubine as a ploy to legitimize Adonijah’s claim to the throne (1 Kings 2:19-24). Following his late father’s counsel, Solomon quickly put down his brother’s threat to the throne and commanded “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada” to slay Adonijah that day (1 Kings 2:24-25).

Abiathar was Removed from the Priesthood (1 Kings 2:26-27)

Abiathar, the priest who supported Adonijah’s illegitimate claim to the throne, was warned his traitorous actions were worthy of death, but he was spared because he served with his father, the king (1 Kings 2:26-27).

Joab was Executed for Treasonous Acts (1 Kings 2:28-35)

When Joab heard Solomon pursued threats to his reign and that Adonijah was dead, he fled to the altar, hoping to find grace (1 Kings 2:28). Yet, Solomon commanded Benaiah to slay Joab, though he hesitated when he refused to leave the altar. Knowing the law would not afford a murderer mercy, Solomon demanded Joab be killed for his having murdered two faithful servants of David: Abner (2 Samuel 3:27-39) and Amasa (2 Samuel 20:4-10).

Shimei was Warned and Executed for his Transgressions (1 Kings 2:39-46)

David also advised Solomon concerning one final enemy, Shimei, of whom he strongly warned: “Hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood” (1 Kings 2:9). Solomon remembered the curses of Shimei against his father and three years later had him slain (1 Kings 2:39-46).

True to their fallen natures, Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei lacked integrity in life, and their violent deaths were justified.

Closing thoughts –

I close by inviting you to reflect on your character and the character of those whom you allow to influence your life. With few exceptions, apart from sincere repentance and genuine humility, most men and women will go to their graves exhibiting the strengths and weaknesses of character they have demonstrated throughout their lives.

In other words, a liar is a liar; a thief is a thief; a traitor is a traitor; and an honest, faithful man is predictably just that…honest, reliable, and trustworthy. 

Wise men and women know and do not forget the character of their friends and enemies.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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