In today’s passage Solomon is cleaning house. This passages follows the death of King David after a 40-year reign and is bookended with Solomon’s possession of his kingdom being “firmly established” (1 Ki 2:12, 46).
This passage is a lot like a soap opera—it has drama, intrigue and a great deal of confusion for those who aren’t familiar with the cast of characters and subplots. Before we can deal with the overall implications, it is helpful to establish some of the details concerning the cast and why Solomon responds the way he does (especially since a lot of people get executed). If you’re pretty familiar with this, go ahead and skip down to the bottom.
|Adonijah (2:13–25)||Adonijah asked Solomon’s mother to request that he may marry Abishag the Shunammite.||Solomon was outraged by the foolish request and sentenced Adonijah to execution.||Abishag was added to David’s harem at the end of his life. She would lie with him to keep him warm (1 Ki 1:1–4). Although they never “knew” each other, for Adonijah to request any part of a deceased king’s harem was equivalent to establishing himself with a claim to the throne. This power-play did not fool Solomon who understood his motives despite trying to use his own mother as a proxy.|
|Abiathar the priest (2:26–27)||Abiathar’s offense to Solomon was the support for Adonijah as king (1 Ki 1:7).||Because of Abiathar’s support for David, he was not executed for treason. Instead, he was stripped of his priestly title and duties, and subsequently banished.||Abiathar was a close and trusted advisor to King David making his treacherous support of Abiathar all the more surprising. In fact, he was so trusted by David that when David fled his son Absalom, Abiathar stayed behind to act in the king’s interests (2 Sa. 15:35ff.; 17:15). However, the author notes, all of this fulfilled what was spoken against the house of Eli the priest (1 Sam. 2:30–35).|
|Joab (2:28–34)||Joab supported Adonijah as king. Not only that, he also killed two men without David’s knowledge or permission, in connection with his official duties. (2 Sam. 3:22–30; 20:8–10)||Because of the guilt Joab’s actions brought on the house of David for treason and murder, Solomon followed the deathbed request of David to execute Joab (1 Ki 2:5–6).||Joab was commander of Israel’s armies under David (1 Ch. 11:6). While he supported the king positively in a variety of ways, his actions in the murders of Abner and Amasa were not sanctioned by the throne. His motives were suspect and his treasonous support of Adonijah crossed the line. Although he had fled to the tabernacle in a city of refuge, the Mosaic Law did not allow for the refuge of murderers (Ex. 21:13–14). When he would not let go of the alter, he was killed where he stood. Although he paid the ultimate price, he was properly buried with honor.|
|Benaiah & Zadok (2:35)||After the removal of Abiathar and death of Joab, Solomon needed to fill the void.||Benaiah would take Joab’s place as head of Israel’s armies, while Zadok filled the priestly duties left by Abiathar.||The loyalty of Benaiah and Zadok in the establishment of Solomon’s throne was unwavering. For this, they were rewarded with the highest positions in the kingdom.|
|Shimei (2:36–46)||When David fled Absolom, Sheimei attacked David and his officials both physically and verbally (2 Sam. 16:5–13). Although David had sworn not to put Shimei to death, his life was ending along with his promise of clemency.||On his deathbed, David had requested the punishment of Shimei (1 Ki 8–9). Although he had spoken against and acted violently toward the Lord’s anointed king, Solomon offered him a chance to live provided he stay in place. After three years, he broke Solomon’s agreement and was executed.||When David’s son Absolom tried to usurp his throne, David had hit rock bottom. He fled, and on his way Shimei met him heaping insults as well as stones at the king who received it as a punishment from the Lord. At the end of his life, it was clear the Shimei was not speaking for the Lord and his assault would not go unpunished. One of David’s final wishes was for this man to be punished as a last act to secure Solomon’s throne without any remaining slander against it.|
While this passage is not technically about Jesus, it has a lot to do with Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises to David in 2 Samuel 7. Remember, this passage is bookended with the establishment of Solomon’s throne, and today’s passage is all about Solomon consolidating his own power as he establishes himself as king over Israel. In the same way, one day Jesus will return and establish himself as king over everything (in an earthly sense, because he already is king over everything). On that day, the punishment and rewards handed out by Solomon will pale in comparison.
Like in our passage, Jesus is not without an enemy who is trying to usurp his throne through deceit. Satan, however, is as impotent as Adonijah against the Lord’s Anointed and no amount of trickery can return him to power.
The question today is, where are your loyalties? Will your loyalties today be for the temporary ruler; the one who boasts in his temporary reign like Adonijah, “You know that the kingdom was mine and all Israel considered me king?” (1 Ki 2:15, NET) Or, will your loyalties rest with the one who’s kingdom will soon be “firmly established?” As your heart is pulled toward the things of this world, let your loyalties rest with Jesus.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Associate