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Read 1 Kings 2

David’s Charge to Solomon

When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.

“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

“Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace.

“But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom.

“And remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord: ‘I will not put you to death by the sword.’ But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.”

10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. 11 He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.

Solomon’s Throne Established

13 Now Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. Bathsheba asked him, “Do you come peacefully?”

He answered, “Yes, peacefully.” 14 Then he added, “I have something to say to you.”

“You may say it,” she replied.

15 “As you know,” he said, “the kingdom was mine. All Israel looked to me as their king. But things changed, and the kingdom has gone to my brother; for it has come to him from the Lord. 16 Now I have one request to make of you. Do not refuse me.”

“You may make it,” she said.

17 So he continued, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”

18 “Very well,” Bathsheba replied, “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “Do not refuse me.”

The king replied, “Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you.”

21 So she said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given in marriage to your brother Adonijah.”

22 King Solomon answered his mother, “Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him—after all, he is my older brother—yes, for him and for Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah!”

23 Then King Solomon swore by the Lord: “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request! 24 And now, as surely as the Lord lives—he who has established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as he promised—Adonijah shall be put to death today!” 25 So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.

26 To Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the ark of the Sovereign Lord before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships.” 27 So Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the Lord, fulfilling the word the Lord had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli.

28 When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar. 29 King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the tent of the Lord and was beside the altar. Then Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada, “Go, strike him down!”

30 So Benaiah entered the tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king says, ‘Come out!’”

But he answered, “No, I will die here.”

Benaiah reported to the king, “This is how Joab answered me.”

31 Then the king commanded Benaiah, “Do as he says. Strike him down and bury him, and so clear me and my whole family of the guilt of the innocent blood that Joab shed. 32 The Lord will repay him for the blood he shed, because without my father David knowing it he attacked two men and killed them with the sword. Both of them—Abner son of Ner, commander of Israel’s army, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of Judah’s army—were better men and more upright than he. 33 May the guilt of their blood rest on the head of Joab and his descendants forever. But on David and his descendants, his house and his throne, may there be the Lord’s peace forever.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried at his home out in the country. 35 The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab’s position and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the priest.

36 Then the king sent for Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but do not go anywhere else. 37 The day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei answered the king, “What you say is good. Your servant will do as my lord the king has said.” And Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maakah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, “Your slaves are in Gath.” 40 At this, he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slaves. So Shimei went away and brought the slaves back from Gath.

41 When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and had returned, 42 the king summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and warn you, ‘On the day you leave to go anywhere else, you can be sure you will die’? At that time you said to me, ‘What you say is good. I will obey.’ 43 Why then did you not keep your oath to the Lord and obey the command I gave you?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You know in your heart all the wrong you did to my father David. Now the Lord will repay you for your wrongdoing. 45 But King Solomon will be blessed, and David’s throne will remain secure before the Lord forever.”

46 Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and he died.

The kingdom was now established in Solomon’s hands.

Go Deeper

Today’s passage is watching God continue to fulfill his promises through King David and his son, Solomon. The Old Testament highlights David as the Israelites’ greatest king because of the promises that God made him and fulfilled during his reign. In 1 Kings 2, David reminds Solomon of God’s promise that He made for future generations. As we read this story, it encourages us in strength and courage as we learn from Solomon’s obedience in fellowship with God.       

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus reiterates the concept that walking in obedience with God and putting Him first allows God to take care of the rest; God’s desire for this prioritization is consistent from Old Testament to New. David’s heirs had the benefit of God’s voice speaking to David and outlining the proper path, but the Holy Spirit dwells in us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit reiterates to us to live faithfully with wisdom and discernment.

Solomon is encouraged by David to lead with justice and boldness to continue in the Lord’s blessings. He does this by fulfilling the execution of men who attempted to overtake the position of Solomon as King. These actions reveal God’s intentional plan while displaying his mercy by sparing some for his Kingdom glory. As Solomon steps into leadership, the promise to the nations continues through his kingship. Read 1 Kings 2 with attentiveness to how God’s justice and mercy coincide to display his faithfulness to the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians.  

God’s character shows through the reigns of David and Solomon in their administration of both justice and mercy from the throne. 1 Kings 2 demonstrates God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promise to David through partial fulfillment in Solomon and complete fulfillment in Jesus (the “Son of David”). Solomon’s faithfulness leads to overflow of God’s blessings on the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, and Jesus’s death on the cross made it possible for all to come to the Father and be blessed with His mercy. God’s promises to Adonijah, Absalom, Abiathar, and Joab came to fruition, and the Lord’s commission to us to spread the gospel should be treated with a sense of urgency because His promised return will also occur.


  1. Reread verse 1, how does David tell Solomon to deal with the injustice and corruption under the throne?
  2. As God’s character display’s loving-kindness, where do you see Him as a righteous and merciful King in your life?
  3. How is God asking you to live in response to His justice and mercy shown through David and Solomon?

By the Way

In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul is teaching the church of Corinth about true apostleship and God’s intentions behind church leadership. Consider the parallels from the Old Testament to the New Testament about how a leader for the kingdom of God displays God’s character in power and authority. Both today’s passage and 1 Corinthians encourage justice on the throne, which reveals how God judges and rules with righteousness and loving-kindness. How do you see God’s character on display in authority? It is easy to think that he is full of judgment on the throne, but his character displays mercy and justice through the promises he has fulfilled as King.

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5 thoughts on “1 Kings 2”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    God’s character displays both justice and mercy. Each day we get to choose who we will serve (Joshua 24:15). Let our lives proclaim we serve the Lord. It won’t be easy and many times it won’t make sense, but it will always be worth it. When we are tempted to take matters into our own hands and selfishly manipulate others for our own gain, remember the outcome of Adonijah, Abiathar, Joab, & Shimei. Let’s determine today to live in tandem with every word God speaks, loving him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:30)

  2. Nate Cornelius

    This was an interesting study. The overview states that Solomon’s wrath against his political enemies was “God’s justice” being enacted. The Bible project has a different take where they describe Solomon’s actions as sinful and selfish. From a biblical perspective I could see either viewpoint being correct, but I’m not sure which aligns more with God’s character. Curious if anyone has any other insight or additional context.

    1. I thought the same thing… but what I got from this passage is Solomon was following out David’s commands—using wisdom. Even when he had his brother killed—who again, was probably not going to stop trying to take something of his father’s. (Disrupting peace and always wanting some sort of inheritance to put it nicely)
      We will read later Solomon’s fall that I think the Bible project was referring to. But I believe in this chapter we see him God-honoring and cleaning house so to speak. In my opinion, but could be wrong … good question!

  3. It was generous for us to have a glimpse into the intimacy of a last conversation between a father and son…I noted that David set an example for Solomon by putting the commands of God first in verses 2-4 before reminding him of those who posed a threat to the throne. David’s dying words of instructions were important in securing peace of the throne. As I read I thought about it being a lesson of loyalty—to God —covenants—standing firm on your words. Not only for those put to death because of their disloyalty, but Benaiah who was very loyal to the King. Benaiah who once killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day -1 Chronicles… (Mark Batterson wrote a phenomenal book on him)
    Today, my key word is loyalty. Loyalty to God first, then loyalty by my words to man.

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