After David’s last words in 2 Sam 23, here are more of his last words. This time they are specially to his son, Solomon, who has taken over his rule as king.
Instruction towards God
verses 3 & 4:
3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; 4 that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
He reminds Solomon that the best and only way to secure his kingdom and prosper is by obeying God. Indeed, it does not matter how strong the kingdoms are around Israel, as long as the king obeys God, we see that God always protect them from their enemy.
Instructions towards man
It’s interesting how I am made to face a portion in the Bible that I had been struggling to understand. Today’s reading contains such a portion for me.
Let’s start with the good/easy case. He told Solomon to show kindness to sons of Barzillai because of help rendered to him by Barzillai (cf 2 Sam 19). This is definitely praiseworthy as it shows his gratitude to those who had been kind to him.
Then there were two other persons that David instructed Solomon to take care of – Joab and Shimei.
These were people he had chosen not to deal with them when he had the chance.
I could somewhat understand why Solomon should judge Joab.
Joab was a very complicated man and had indeed shed innocent blood. David probably knew that he was too dangerous to be around during Solomon’s rule. Although Joab was very loyal to David, he was not a righteous man, and he would kill other righteous men in order for him to keep or raise his position. One could argue that David could not kill him personally because Joab was very loyal to David. It could also be David’s realization that it is time Joab had to be dealt with, with his own impending death.
Now for Shimei…. I feel that though he was deserving of death for cursing the anointed king, he had came before David to beg for mercy, and David shown him great display of mercy and even vowed that he will not kill him. So did telling his son to kill him mean that he did not break his promise? This is what I struggle to accept.
I had a few nights of discussion with my companion about this. He feels that David had not broken his promise because he instructed Solomon to handle this case with wisdom and Solomon’s method means Shimei was not put to death by his sin of cursing of David, but by going beyond the king’s instruction.
David’s last words in 2 Sam 23 mentioned God reminding/revealing to David that he needed to rule in justice and also to put his house (kingdom) in order. So could it be that David had shown too much mercy in the past which becomes injustice, and causing a mess to his house, just as how he had refused to kill Absalom despite his treason. For this, David did not mention Joab’s direct opposition of his instruction not to kill Absalom, probably because he realized that Absalom should indeed be put to death.
What do you think?
What I could see from this chapter is Solomon’s wisdom and his hand of power to establish his throne. He could understand the significance of his brother Adonijah’s audacious request to ask for the last maidservant of David, equivalent of claiming the king’s concubine, just as Absalom took David’s concubines when he tried to usurp the throne. Solomon also removed Abiathar from the priesthood and sent him away for exile as he supported Adonijah as the next king; in this he showed mercy in consideration of Abiathar’s service in the past toward David.
He also executed Joab as he should, and he dealt with Shimei with wisdom. I feel that he has done all the right things. This is even before he asked for wisdom from God.
Shimei took the mercy of the king for granted; he crossed the line
Shimei seemed to accept it quite well that the time has come for his judgment when he was placed under house arrest. However he took the condition of mercy for granted and literally crossed the line to chase his runaway slaves.
Here I see the similarity to the command given in the Garden of Eden – when the warning states, “you shall surely die”. Even the king had his spies to find out every movement of the man under his kingdom, let us not test the knowledge of God or His words. We should not cross the line and then attempt to bank on His mercy. God is just, as He instructed the kings of His kingdom on earth to be.