After the solemn assembly at which David publicly inaugurated the reign of Solomon, the strength of the aged monarch seems to have gradually ebbed away until “the days drew near that he must die.” During these heart-searching times of silence and retirement – as he lay looking back upon the irrevocable past, and forward into the prospect of eternity – many thoughts must have filled his mind, and he must have enjoyed much close communion with God. He did not meddle much with earthly things now; but when he did give any attention to them, the reign of Solomon still came uppermost. And his earnest admonitions to his son concerning the building of the Temple, and the character which he was to choose and cultivate, were renewed.
One such occasion appears to have been more important than all the rest, and it is to that occasion which the sacred historian refers in the beginning of this chapter. Feeling within him the sure premonitions of approaching death, he laid upon Solomon – with all the importance of a last injunction – a most important charge. “Be thou strong therefore,” he said, “and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways.” We cannot read this injunction without being reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy, in somewhat similar circumstances: “Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Nor can we fail to see the appropriateness of the command to ourselves. It may seem strange indeed that we should be commanded to be strong, since (at first sight) strength may not appear to be a thing entirely in our own hands; but we must never forget that God imparts His strength to us, as we strenuously labor – not that we are saved by the works we perform, but the Lord does give us work to do so that we are not standing around idle after He has saved us. It will never do to be converted by the grace of Christ, and then to sit around in careless laziness in our spiritual life. God works for us, but He does not do so in order for us to have an excuse for slothfulness. If we would ultimately – through Him – be conquerors in the battle of life, then we must zealously carry on the fight and never lay down our weapons! Let us pray for grace to take a decided stand for God and truth and duty; and the strength that we need in order to maintain that stand will not be withheld from us.
Appended to David’s wise paternal counsel to Solomon, he gave his son various injunctions concerning the discharge of his governmental duties toward certain individuals. First, he spoke of Joab; and after referring to his murder of Abner and Amasa in circumstances of peculiar atrocity, he told him to deal with him according to his wisdom. Next, he alluded, in kind terms, to the sons of good old Barzillai, who had assisted him when he was fleeing from Absalom; and he commended them to Solomon’s tender care. And finally, David spoke of Shimei, who had so shamefully and spitefully cursed him on the same sad occasion. “Hold him not guiltless,” he told Solomon; “for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him.”
So it came to pass that after 40 years of shepherding his people, King David passed into heavenly glory; and his son Solomon was established as his successor upon his throne. And the rest of this chapter details how Solomon began his reign with a good start – obeying his father’s last wishes and executing justice and judgment in the land over which he reigned as king. First, he ordered Adonijah to be executed when he – through Bathsheba – asked to marry Abishag. Such a request, in those days, was considered to nothing short of an attempt to usurp the throne. Thankfully for Solomon, he discovered Adonijah’s intentions and crushed them before they came to fruition again. Let us hereby learn how necessary it is to bring every enemy – secret or open – under the feet of Jesus!
The removal of Abiathar from the high priest’s office became a fulfillment of what God had threatened concerning the house of Eli, which – although it was predicted around 90 years before – was not confirmed until now. God’s judgments may be slow, but they are sure! (2 Pet. 3:8-10) And yet how graciously Solomon dealt with Abiathar, even in his dismissal of him! This reminds us how the Lord Jesus deals gently with sinners, and how gracious He is – even in the midst of judgment!
The death of Joab was not because of his joining in Adonijah’s rebellion, but for the murders which he had unjustly committed – at least in the case of Amasa (2 Sam. 20:8-10). Hereby Solomon meant to take away the guilt of bloodshed from his kingdom, in conformity to the Divine law (Gen. 9:5-6). O how sweet it is to the relief of every poor, distressed, burdened conscience that Jesus has fulfilled the law, and paid the penalty to the law by the sacrifice of Himself!
Solomon established a foundation for either securing Shimei’s faithfulness, or opening the door for his punishment. He was to remain in Jerusalem permanently, upon pain of death. But alas! Sinners work their own ruin; as the Psalmist says, they are entrapped in the works of their own hands. And truly, on the last day, every despiser of Jesus and His blessed Gospel will be condemned out of their own mouth; for it will be proved that salvation has been brought home to their very doors, but they have rejected the counsel of God against their own souls! Well might the Apostle exclaim, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3)
Lord, we thank You for the pictures that are preserved for us to see in the life and reign of David, for He was truly a foreshadow of Jesus – our King and our Good Shepherd! Amen.
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