David’s Last Instructions and Death. 1When the time of David’s death drew near, he gave these instructions to Solomon his son: 2“I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong and be a man! 3a Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, and wherever you turn, 4b and that the LORD may fulfill the word he spoke concerning me: If your sons so conduct themselves that they walk before me in faithfulness with their whole heart and soul, there shall never be wanting someone of your line on the throne of Israel.
5* c “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 and brought the blood of war into a time of peace, and put the blood of war on the belt about his waist and the sandal on his foot. 6Act with all the wisdom you possess; do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7d But be true to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and have them among those who eat at your table. For they were loyal to me when I was fleeing from your brother Absalom. 8e You also have with you Shimei, son of Gera, the Benjaminite of Bahurim, who cursed me bitterly the day I was going to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD: ‘I will not kill you by the sword.’ 9But you must not let him go unpunished. You are wise; you will know what to do to send his gray head down to Sheol in blood.”
The Kingdom Made Secure.* 12Then Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingship was established.
13Adonijah, son of Haggith, came to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. “Do you come in peace?” she asked. “In peace,” he answered, 14and he added, “I have something to say to you.” She replied, “Speak.” 15So he said: “You know that the kingship was mine, and all Israel expected me to be king. But the kingship passed me by and went to my brother; by the LORD’s will it went to him. 16But now there is one favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me.” And she said, “Speak on.” 17* He said, “Please ask King Solomon, who will not refuse you, to give me Abishag the Shunamite to be my wife.” 18Bathsheba replied, “Very well, I will speak to the king for you.”
19Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right. 20She said, “There is one small favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me.” The king said to her, “Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” 21So she said, “Let Abishag the Shunamite be given to your brother Adonijah to be his wife.” 22King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask that Abishag the Shunamite be given to Adonijah? Ask the kingship for him as well, for he is my older brother! Ask for him, for Abiathar the priest, for Joab, son of Zeruiah!” 23And King Solomon swore by the LORD: “May God do thus to me and more, if Adonijah has not spoken this word at the cost of his life. 24h And now, as the LORD lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father and made for me a house as he promised, this day shall Adonijah be put to death.” 25Then King Solomon sent Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, who struck him dead.
26i The king said to Abiathar the priest: “Go to your estate in Anathoth. Though you deserve to die, I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father and shared in all the hardships my father endured.”* 27j So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from the office of priest of the LORD, thus fulfilling the word the LORD had spoken in Shiloh against the house of Eli.
28When the news came to Joab, since he had sided with Adonijah, though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the LORD and clung to the horns of the altar. 29King Solomon was told, “Joab has fled to the tent of the LORD and is by the altar.” He sent Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, with the order, “Go, strike him down.” 30Benaiah went to the tent of the LORD and said to him, “The king says, ‘Come out.’” But he answered, “No! I will die here.” Benaiah reported to the king, “This is what Joab said to me in reply.” 31The king answered him: “Do as he has said. Strike him down and bury him, and remove from me and from my father’s house the blood which Joab shed without provocation. 32k The LORD will bring blood upon his own head, because he struck down two men better and more just than himself, and slew them with the sword without my father David’s knowledge: Abner, son of Ner, commander of Israel’s army, and Amasa, son of Jether, commander of Judah’s army. 33Their blood will be upon the head of Joab and his descendants. But upon David and his descendants, upon his house and his throne, there shall be peace forever from the LORD.” 34Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, went back, struck him down and killed him; he was buried in his house in the wilderness. 35The king appointed Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, over the army in his place; Zadok the priest the king put in place of Abiathar.
36Then the king summoned Shimei and said to him: “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and stay there. Do not go anywhere else. 37For the day you leave, and cross the Wadi Kidron, be certain you shall surely die. Your blood shall be upon your own head.” 38Shimei answered the king: “I accept. Your servant will do just as my lord the king has said.” So Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time. 39But three years later, two of Shimei’s servants ran away to Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, “Your servants are in Gath.” 40So Shimei rose, saddled his donkey, and went to Achish in Gath in search of his servants; and Shimei returned from Gath with his servants. 41When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and had returned, 42the king summoned Shimei and said to him: “Did I not have you swear by the LORD and warn you clearly, ‘The day you leave and go anywhere else, be certain you shall surely die’? And you answered, ‘I accept and obey.’* 43Why, then, have you not kept the oath of the LORD and the command that I gave you?” 44l And the king said to Shimei: “In your heart you know very well the evil that you did to David my father. Now the LORD is bringing your own evil upon your head. 45But King Solomon shall be blessed, and David’s throne shall be established before the LORD forever.” 46The king then gave the order to Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, who went out and struck him dead.
And the royal power was established in Solomon’s hand.
* [2:5–9] David urges Solomon to purge Joab and Shimei and supplies him with justification for doing so. Joab had killed Abner (2 Sm 3:22–30) and Amasa (2 Sm 20:4–12), thereby bringing blood guilt upon himself and perhaps upon his master David. Shimei had cursed David (2 Sm 16:5–8), though David pledged that Shimei would not be killed for it (2 Sm 19:16–24). David’s motives, however, may have been more personal. Joab also killed David’s son Absalom and chided David for his untimely public display of grief (2 Sm 18:9–19:8), and David may have felt himself free of the promise he made to Shimei because that promise was coerced by the presence of Shimei’s thousand partisans backing him at the time.
* [2:12–46] The second major unit of the Solomon story shows how Solomon eliminated people he considered threats to the security of his throne. It is marked by a device called “inclusion,” where the text repeats a word, phrase, or idea at the beginning and end of a literary unit (see vv. 12b, 46b). Compare 11:14–25, where Solomon is unable to eliminate other threats to his security.
* [2:17–25] Abishag had belonged to David’s harem (1:3–4), which Solomon inherited. Adonijah’s request could imply a challenge to Solomon’s accession and so exposes Adonijah to the suspicion of insurrection that will cost him his life; cf. 2 Sm 3:6–11; 16:21–22.
* [2:26] The narrator indulges in a subtle wordplay: Abiathar’s exile to Anathoth (‘anatot) continues the series of hardships he has endured (hit‘annita).
* [2:42–44] In his charge against Shimei, Solomon misrepresents the truth in two ways. He did not make Shimei take an oath. And he imposed capital punishment only on crossing the Wadi Kidron, to the east of Jerusalem. This was presumably to prevent Shimei from returning to his home, Bahurim, which lay in that direction; Gath, however, is southwest of Jerusalem. Solomon’s next words to Shimei reveal that he is really being punished for cursing David, not for violating Solomon’s command.