Description / Transcription
Good evening. It’s good to be here with you. I say it once again because why not? I would be curious to know how many of you have found yourself in the following situation. We don’t have to do a show of hands, it’s fine, but this is a safe place if you want to kind of chuckle and maybe look to a spouse or a brother or sister, that’s fine. More than once something like this has happened in our household. I’m in the other room, probably the bathroom or something, getting ready for bed or getting ready for something, and from another room I hear a shout, “Joel, get in here right now.”
Of course, I think to myself, okay, something very pressing is happening, something urgent is afoot, and I run in, ready to fight the intruder, and what I find is someone in the household pointing to a corner of the room and saying, “Look! A spider.” Usually there’s a little bit of a conversation, a little bit of a back and forth, where I say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, just keep an eye on it. I’ll get it whenever.” Or I’ll say, “Yeah, okay, we’ll try, but if it runs away, I’m not altering my plans for the day just to kill the spider.”
But almost inevitably what happens is once you see that spider, once you see the hindrance, once you see the annoyance, the frustration, nay, the threat, the imposition upon your safety, once you see that you can’t let it go. You can’t just move about your day and sleep peacefully at night because at some point you are absolutely confident that that spider will find its way into your room, will climb down your headboard, sit right here on your forehead, bite you, crawl into your mouth, gag you, do whatever. It’s going to be the end of your life if you do not kill the spider right away, so obviously everything changes about your day, you clear your schedule, you pick up a shoe, a baseball bat, and a flamethrower and you go to town.
When we see an issue that has to be dealt with, it’s really hard to let it go.
Now in 1 Kings 2, something like that is happening. Something like that is going on. What we see here in this passage is Solomon recognizing threats that he cannot just let go. It’s not just spiders. Here’s what Solomon is working with, here’s what Solomon is confronting: Backstabbers, murderers, swindlers, people who want his position, people who want his title, people who want his kingdom at all costs.
So what we see Solomon do might actually seem a little bit excessive. I’ll be honest. When I was reading through this and when I was studying for this sermon, I had some conflicting emotions very early in the process. The more I started to read, the more I started to think critically about what was actually going on here, the more clear it became, but right off the bat I thought to myself, man, Solomon, this is a little much buddy. You could have been a little more tame, a little more level-headed about this.
But I think what this passage is drawing out is actually the severity of the situation. It’s showing that to secure the peace and prosperity of the kingdom that God had ordained Solomon to lead and to establish, he had to deal with its enemies. Threats to the kingdom and threats to the king had to be dealt with. They couldn’t just be let go. They couldn’t be forgotten.
So there’s going to be three points tonight, imagine that, three points of tonight’s sermon. The first one: Solomon did it partially. So if we’re thinking about dealing with the threats to the kingdom, we see that Solomon did it partially.
Then we’re going to turn our attention towards a Christo-Centric and Christ-centered lens and understand that Christ did it permanently and perfectly, two for one deal there.
Then the third one. We can do it promptly and proactively, another two for one deal.
I promised only three points, not five points, but you get five for the price of three. You’re welcome.
So what we’re going to try and do is not anachronize and think, well, “What would I have done if I were Solomon? What would I have done if I were in this situation?” To anachronize, to read backwards, and to put our own presuppositions into the text as we’re reading, is not the way that we’re supposed to do it. Rather, we want to see the text in context, understand the situation as it is laid out for us here in the text itself, and then gain clarity.
With that said, let me pray for us before we dive into this passage.
Father, we pray that You would speak to us clearly, that You would give us understanding according to Your Word, that You would speak to us by Your Spirit, that we would see and know that You are good and that You have worked and You will continue to work through the outpouring of Your kingdom and through leaders that You call to steward responsibility in Your kingdom. We pray that we would see that even tonight. It’s in Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.
So let’s jump in at verse 13 and we’re just going to read to the end of chapter 2.
“Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, “Do you come peacefully?” He said, “Peacefully.” Then he said, “I have something to say to you.” She said, “Speak.” He said, “You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the Lord. And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said to him, “Speak.” And he said, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.””
“So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right. Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” She said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also, for he is my older brother, and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.” Then King Solomon swore by the Lord, saying, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as He promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.” So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.”
“And to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to Anathoth, to your estate, for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because you shared in all my father’s affliction.” So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.”
“When the news came to Joab—for Joab had supported Adonijah although he had not supported Absalom—Joab fled to the tent of the Lord and caught hold of the horns of the altar. And when it was told King Solomon, “Joab has fled to the tent of the Lord, and behold, he is beside the altar,” Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go, strike him down.” So Benaiah came to the tent of the Lord and said to him, “The king commands, ‘Come out.’” But he said, “No, I will die here.” Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” The king replied to him, “Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him, and thus take away from me and from my father’s house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. The Lord will bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men more righteous and better than himself, Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the Lord forevermore.” Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and struck him down and put him to death. And he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.”
“Then the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. For on the day you go out and cross the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die. Your blood shall be on your own head.” And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.”
“But it happened at the end of three years that two of Shimei’s servants ran away to Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath. And when it was told Shimei, “Behold, your servants are in Gath,” Shimei arose and saddled a donkey and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants. Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath. And when Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and returned, the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and solemnly warn you, saying, ‘Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever, you shall die’? And you said to me, ‘What you say is good; I will obey.’ Why then have you not kept your oath to the Lord and the commandment with which I commanded you?” The king also said to Shimei, “You know in your own heart all the harm that you did to David my father. So the Lord will bring back your harm on your own head. But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever.” Then the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck him down, and he died. So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.”
This is the Word of the Lord.
So what we see here first is that Solomon established the kingdom but in the grand scheme of things he did it partially. So number one, Solomon did it partially.
What and who did Solomon have to encounter? Who were the enemies of the kingdom?
We’re going to break it down into four categories and admittedly there is some overlap between people and categories, that’s fine, but just for a little bit of clarity we’re going to stick with one category per person. The first thing, contenders. So the first enemy that we see is a contender.
This is Adonijah, verses 13 to 25. What we see here is Adonijah making another move for a power grab. He thinks he’s the rightful king. He thinks that he can run the kingdom better than Solomon. He’s not showing himself to be a faithful man. Remember, after his first rebellion when he tried to proclaim himself king, he runs and lays hold of the horns of the altar and then when he repents and he says, “Oh, forgive me,” he says, “Great, if you show yourself to be an honorable faithful man, you will live.” Right here he is proving that he is not a faithful man. Plain and simple, he thought that he deserved to be in the place that Solomon had been put in by the Lord Himself, and he even acknowledges that and says, “The kingdom is Solomon’s by the Lord. The Lord gave it to him.”
So Solomon sees the trajectory of the situation here and he determines to go ahead and eliminate it before it’s too late. He cuts off the problem before it can fester, before it can really take even more root, because it had already taken root. What was happening here was that Adonijah was rebelling against the Lord Himself by contending for the throne that He had given to Solomon.
We see contenders. Second, we see conspirators, in Abiathar. This is a pretty short chunk, verses 26 and 27. Now we don’t actually know a ton about Abiathar’s role in the conspiracy. It says that he was at the coronation ceremony for Adonijah when Adonijah tried to start his initial coup. Abiathar was there, he approved of it, he was on his side, it says that in this text, but we don’t get all the details. We don’t know exactly how intentional and aggressive and proactive he was being in his conspiracy, but what we do know is that no matter what, he got wrapped in and therefore perpetuated a conspiracy to overthrow the king and overtake the kingdom and hand it over to someone else.
He was caught up in that, and therefore Solomon knew he was a threat. But pay attention. Solomon doesn’t treat him the exact same as Adonijah because the situation is different. What he does, he banishes him to Anathoth, and he actually tells him you deserve to die but I’m going to show some grace here. I’m going to banish you to Anathoth.
Solomon knows that Abiathar’s past unfaithfulness would again fester. His past faithfulness even to David, even to the Lord in his service as the high priest, did not guarantee absolute loyalty and security moving forward because he had proven that he was a conspirator, he had proven that he was not on the Lord’s side, and it had to be dealt with.
So we see contenders, conspirators. Third, we see deceivers. This is Joab and Joab again is even more than a deceiver. He was also a murderer, etc. But Joab is deceptive in this passage. How? What does it look like?
Number one, you might remember sort of the parallel situation in language that’s used about Adonijah himself. When Adonijah gets caught, when Adonijah finally realizes that because of his power grab, Solomon was going to try and put him to death, he runs to the altar, he lays hold of the horns of the altar. Joab does the same thing. He mirrors that response. He says, “Well, it worked for him, maybe it’ll work for me, too.” Who knows. But here’s the problem. It’s all a farce. It’s completely fake. It’s a public show. He’s putting on a show because once he’s confronted, once he’s actually talked to by Solomon himself, he says, “No, I actually would rather die than humble myself and repent. I would rather die and double down on my conspiracy, double down on the deception, than humble myself before the king and acknowledge that I am in the wrong.” He was trying to mimic what worked for Adonijah but his heart was completely disengaged and Solomon can perceive that. Solomon is not going to be fooled twice. It’s very clear. So again he deals with Joab.
Lastly, we see doubters. So we contenders, conspirators, deceivers, doubters. Shimei, verses 36 through 46.
Now Shimei goes along for a little bit. He and Solomon go back and forth and they come up with these parameters. They come up with sort of a layout of what the future’s going to look like. Shimei says, “Yeah, yeah, that sounds good. Thank you. That’s cool. Thank you for not killing me. Really appreciate that.” But then what happens, it says after three years his circumstances take precedent. So after three years something happens that causes him to supplant the commands of the king and to go back on his word and disobey the king, knowing what the risk was. He was told what his punishment would be. He was told if you leave, if you go outside of this circle, if you go out of your jurisdiction, you’re going to be put to death. That’s the way that this works, and he said, “Yeah, that sounds great. I can do that. I can hang with that. That’s cool.”
But then when obedience became an inconvenience, he rebelled. Shimei went back on his word. He showed a lack of faithfulness, a lack of commitment to the king, a lack of commitment to the kingdom, by going back on his word, and he knew it, too. He knows. He even acknowledges, yep, this happened.
Now a quick side note. I don’t know about you guys, but a lot of times in action movies one of the things that drives me crazy is the speech right before the final blow, or at least what you think is going to be the final blow. The speech before the fake, the faux blow, wow, that’s great, the speech before the fake, final slash. He’s rehashing everything that happened. He says, “You killed my father and you did blah blah blah and you rebelled” and all that stuff. In my head, I’m just thinking in that moment, dude, just kill him. Okay, if you’re so confident that you’re in the right, don’t do the whole speech, because his buddies are on the way and guess what’s going to happen, you’re not going to get to kill him. They’re going to come to his defense and there’s going to be another 35-minute fight scene and we all just want to see the bad guy die. Okay?
I always thought that that was so fake. This happens a lot. Especially in Marvel movies or superhero movies. When this speech is happening, a little joke that I like to make, I made this before I was a dad so no haters, but a little joke that I like to make, I’ll turn to my wife, or whoever else is in there, and I’ll say, “Maddie, this is the most unrealistic part of this whole movie.” Little fun there. It’s a Marvel movie so it’s all fake, but the most unreal, yeah, you get it. That’s all right, joke didn’t land. Move on.
I always thought, “Why are you doing that, man?” But here we sort of see this little speech. Solomon’s confronting Shimei and he’s saying, “Hey, let’s rehash all the stuff that happened here, just to clarify that when you’re put to death, I’m in the right.”
Again we see Solomon taking steps necessary to secure the peace and prosperity of the kingdom here.
Now a few observations about Solomon’s approach. We said this already, but it’s good to remember Solomon’s approach is not a one size or one punishment fits all approach. He doesn’t go with a blanket policy where he says, “You know what? No dialogue, no thought. Let’s just kill them all.”
It’s not a one size fits all approach. He tailored the punishment. He tailored the penalties to each of the individuals. He wasn’t being impulsive. He wasn’t being reactionary. He’s actually being attentive to his context. He knows and understands the situation and therefore he knows how to approach it.
Number two. There are a few times in the text where we’re reminded not just by the Word of God itself, but we’re reminded by the characters in the text that this is all the Lord’s doing. We’re reminded that Solomon was given the kingship, was given the kingdom, by the Lord. We’re reminded that when Abiathar is replaced, he’s supplanted, he’s removed from his high priestly office, we’re reminded that that was to fulfill the word of the Lord that came before. So this is not just Solomon concocting a plan and saying, “ah, now’s my time to seize some power and to centralize and to cause uniformity.”
No, these things are actually being brought about by the Lord Himself. Solomon is not acting outside of the will of God.
Number three. Solomon is being clear about the stipulations. We kind of hinted at this already as well. They knew the risk. They understood their situation. They didn’t think, “Hey, you know what I can do is threaten the king, kill his buddies, and he should just be cool with me anyway.” They knew the risks. Not only that, but they knew these stipulations. They knew the parameters. It’s not that things were super vague and therefore they were being deceived; Solomon is actually being pretty clear. They just thought they could get away with it. They thought that Solomon wouldn’t actually be able to follow through on the things that he’s saying he will follow through on.
Then the next thing. These men deserved punishment for their offenses. Now here temporal proximity has a lot to do maybe with our response. Think about Joab. Had Joab been put to death immediately after he murdered those two people, you probably wouldn’t have thought anything about it. But because there’s some time removed, because there’s a change of regime, it might strike us a little bit like, “Whoa, dude, can’t you just let it go?” The temporal proximity, the timing of it, might make us feel like it was wrong, but in reality everything that came before the justice, everything that came before the judgment, was an act of grace and mercy on Solomon’s part, and on David’s part.
But when it came time, Solomon knew that he had to eliminate the threats and the barriers to the establishment of the kingdom. We’re told that at the very end, verse 46: So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
Side note, 2 Chronicles, or 1 Chronicles, honestly can’t remember right this second, but the Chronicles were one when they were originally written, so I win. Chronicles in the recounting of this episode/saga, it’s pretty clear. It doesn’t actually bring up all the twists and the turns and everything, it just says, yeah, Solomon’s kingdom was established, he took care of it and everyone moved on.
So we know that this wasn’t something that would be a huge stain on the kingdom moving forward. He established the kingdom, the Lord allowed him to do that.
Now here’s the bad news. This doesn’t last long. The united kingdom is a tiny blip on the timeline of the history of God’s people. Even the estrangement of the kingdom, what seems to be a done deal, it’s secure, finally it happened, in just a few chapters, by the end of this series, we’re going to realize things don’t stay as good as they seem. They start to go downhill really fast. Eventually Solomon makes some pretty serious, grave mistakes and the kingdom of Israel crumbles. That’s the bad news.
But coupled with that we have good news. The good news is that this Old Testament kingdom was always meant to be temporary. I think sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we look back at Old Testament Israel and we see this and we think, the glory days. Can we just go back to that? Where it was a visible kingdom. We’re very much like the disciples in this way – Lord, will You just establish the kingdom so I can see it, so I can touch it, so I can walk in it? I want it to be physical. I want it to be present, in your face.
But we forget that the Old Testament kingdom of Israel was always meant to be a shadow. It was meant to be pointing towards the eternal kingdom that would be established and secured by the cosmic ruler of the universe, the King of glory Himself Jesus Christ.
Solomon was not supposed to be Christ. Christ was. It’s not like God sent Solomon and said, “Okay, I’m putting all my eggs in the Solomon basket. Will you please be the Christ?” Then he failed and God said, “Oh, bummer, now I’ve got to come up with a second solution. Now I got to fix the problem. You really threw me for a fast one there.”
No. Solomon was not supposed to be Jesus. Jesus was. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son. He knew when it was going to happen. He knew that it was supposed to happen. That’s good news.
Which leads us to our second point. Christ deals with the threats permanently and perfectly. He does it in a way that is utterly and absolutely unique. He does it in a way where Solomon never could have and was never supposed to. Whereas Solomon’s rule and reign was designed to be temporal and partial, Christ’s reign and rule is eternal and full. It’s plenary. He is the King of glory and His kingdom is everlasting to everlasting. His kingdom shall have no end.
Solomon also only dealt with humans. Solomon dealt with a bunch of grumpy dudes who thought that they were better than him. Solomon dealt with guys who thought to themselves, “Ah, you know, I don’t know, Solomon’s kind of smart but I’m also pretty smart. I made an A in logic or rhetoric or whatever.”
Christ is not just dealing with humans on a human level. Christ is dealing with the principalities, the rulers, the authorities, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit at work and the sons of disobedience, the antichrist, the devil. Christ’s enemies are far superior to Solomon’s enemies, and His victory and His kingdom are far superior to Solomon’s as well.
Christ deals with them. He destroys them. He puts them to open shame and here’s the thing, here’s the beauty of the Gospel – He does it not by utilizing His special forces, He does it not by sending a Benaiah, He does it, He subdues His enemies, He establishes His kingdom, by humbling Himself to the point of death on the cross and thereby conquering death and sin, breaking the bonds of our slavery, establishing and making public, in your face, His superiority over all things, visible and invisible. Christ ushers in His eternal kingdom and He grants His children access to it now. The kingdom is in our midst.
We live in God’s kingdom now, which leads us to the last point. It’s not a one to one, that’s fine, but we can draw some lessons about how we are to respond in God’s kingdom to threats and barriers that come against us.
We can do it promptly. We can deal with things promptly and proactively. We need to admit that oftentimes the threats to the security and prosperity of God’s kingdom comes from within. We’re rebels. The indwelling sin within us causes us to fit all of those categories that we see in this text. Oftentimes we’re the contenders. Things that our sin is drawn to are the contenders. Contenders, specifically in our own pride. Our pride, our self-centeredness, gives us a desire for autonomy and authority that doesn’t belong to us – it belongs to the Lord. We are contenders to the throne in and of ourselves. We think to ourself, “Lord, I could have done this so much better. If you’ll just give me the reins, I’ll tidy this up, I’ll clean it up, I’ll make it work. Just hand it over, buddy. I got it.”
We oftentimes are contenders. Idols are contenders.
We’re conspirators. There are factors, there are things that happen within us. There are desires that get mixed up, our own unrighteousness, that makes us complacent with sin. We are conspirators against the glory of the Lord when we buddy up with sin, when we buddy up with unrighteousness. We say, “You know what? I don’t love what’s happening here, but it’s the path of least resistance. I’m kind of just going to let it happen and hopefully it’ll take care of itself down the road.” We become co-conspirators with sin.
We’re deceivers, or we are deceived. Things that strike at our desires, things that strike at our emotions. They promise an experience of fulfillment and pleasure that they never could and never will be able to deliver. There are deceivers in the world. There are deceptions in our own hearts.
The New Testament says do not be carried away by the deceitfulness of sin. There are things in this world that deceive us and that make us think you’ll be okay, you’re going to be fine, a little leaven doesn’t leaven the whole lump, just let it happen and then you’ll move past it and you’ll repent and you’ll be fine and then everything’s all hunky-dory.
But we have to acknowledge these threats. We have to combat them.
Lastly, there are doubters, or we become doubters. We believe that God does and will deal with sin and rebellion in the ways that He says He will. We have to believe that. Specifically, for Christians, we believe that the way that He has done that and will do that is through our union with Christ, is through our faith in Christ. By grace we are united to Him, our sins have been paid for, we’ve received full pardon, full atonement.
That’s good news. We have to know and not doubt the fact that outside of Christ, we are dead in our sins. We will face judgment. The king will come. He will come and He will deal with sin in the ways that He’s told us that He will.
Believers are called, therefore, to walk by the Spirit, to live by the Spirit, to put to death the deeds of the flesh. To put to death the unrighteousness that remains within us. To put to death what is earthly in us.
And we can. By the power of the Spirit and humble reliance on the Word of God and prayer, we can walk by faith. Living faithfully in the kingdom of God today means that we will submit more and more to His rule and reign in every area of life. It has to start in our own hearts, it has to start there.
Thinking about all this, reading through, studying all of this, it made me think about the Heidelberg Catechism question, which we’ll end on. It says this: Your kingdom come, the second petition in the Lord’s Prayer, Your kingdom come means rule us by Your Word and Spirit in such a way that more and more we submit to You. Preserve and increase Your Church, destroy the devil’s work, destroy every forest which revolts against You and every conspiracy against Your holy Word. Do all this until Your kingdom comes fully when You will be all in all.
Let’s pray. Father, we long for the kingdom to come, as You taught us to pray, and we believe that it will, and that it has. We long for this to be true for us in our own hearts. We want to see Your kingdom flourish, be established, in our lives and in the world around us. We want to see Your Church built up. We want to see You as the King of Glory, glorified and magnified and high and lifted up, in such a way that You actually only can make happen, through us. We pray that You would do this. Subdue us to Yourself. Rule us, reign in our hearts. In Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.