Verses 35–46

Here is, I. The preferment of Benaiah and Zadok, two faithful friends to Solomon and his government, 1 Kgs. 2:35. Joab being put to death, Benaiah was advanced to be general of the forces in his room, and, Abiathar being deposed, Zadok was made high priest in his room, and therein was fulfilled the word of God, when he threatened to cut off the house of Eli (1 Sam. 2:35), I will raise me up a faithful priest, and will build him a sure house. Though sacred offices may be disgraced, they shall not be destroyed, by the mal-administration of those that are entrusted with them, nor shall God’s work ever stand still for want of hands to carry it on. No wonder that he who was a king so immediately of God’s making was empowered to make whom he though fit high priest; and he exercised this power with equity, for the ancient right was in Zadok, he being of the family of Eleazar, whereas Eli and his house were of Ithamar.

II. The course that was taken with Shimei. He is sent for, by a messenger, from his house at Bahurim, expecting perhaps no better than Adonijah’s doom, being conscious of his enmity to the house of David; but Solomon knows how to make a difference of crimes and criminals. David had promised Shimei his life for his time. Solomon is not bound by that promise, yet he will not go directly contrary to it. 1. He confines him to Jerusalem, and forbids him, upon any pretence whatsoever, to go out of the city any further than the brook Kidron, 1 Kgs. 2:36, 37. He would suffer him to continue at his country seat lest he should make mischief among his neighbours, but took him to Jerusalem, where he kept him prisoner at large. This might make Shimei’s confinement easy to himself, for Jerusalem was beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, the royal city, the holy city (he had no reason to complain of being shut up in such a paradise); it would also make it the more safe for Solomon, for there he would have him under his eye and be able to watch his motions; and he plainly tells him that if he ever go out of the rules he shall certainly die for it. This was a fair trial of his obedience, and such a test of his loyalty as he had no reason to complain of. He has his life upon easy terms: he shall live if he will but be content to live at Jerusalem. 2. Shimei submits to the confinement, and thankfully takes his life upon those terms. He enters into recognizance (1 Kgs. 2:38), under the penalty of death, not to stir out of Jerusalem, and owns that the saying is good. Even those that perish cannot but own the conditions of pardon and life unexceptionable, so that their blood, like Shimei’s, must rest upon their own heads. Shimei promised, with an oath, to keep within his bounds, 1 Kgs. 2:42. 3. Shimei forfeits his recognizance, which was the thing Solomon expected; and God was righteous in suffering him to do it, that he might now suffer for his old sins. Two of his servants (it seems, though he was a prisoner, he lived like himself, well attended) ran from him to the land of the Philistines, 1 Kgs. 2:39. Thither he pursued them, and thence brought them back to Jerusalem, 1 Kgs. 2:40. For the keeping of it private he saddled his ass himself, probably went in the night, and came home he thought undiscovered. “Seeking his servants,” says bishop Hall, “he lost himself; those earthly things either are, or should be, our servants. How commonly do we see men run out of the bounds set by God’s law, to hunt after them, till their souls incur a fearful judgment!” 4. Solomon takes the forfeiture. Information is given him that Shimei has transgressed, 1 Kgs. 2:41. The king sends for him, and, (1.) charges him with the present crime (1 Kgs. 2:42, 43), that he had put a great contempt upon the authority and wrath both of God and the king, that he had broken the oath of the Lord and disobeyed the commandment of his prince, and by this it appeared what manner of spirit he was of, that he would not be held by the bonds of gratitude or conscience. Had he represented to Solomon the urgency of the occasion, and begged leave to go, perhaps Solomon might have given him leave; but to presume either upon his ignorance or his connivance was to affront him in the highest degree. (2.) He condemns him for his former crime, cursing David, and throwing stones at him in the day of his affliction: The wickedness which thy heart is privy to, 1 Kgs. 2:44. There was no need to examine witnesses for the proof of the fact, his own conscience was instead of a thousand witnesses. That wickedness which men’s own hearts alone are privy to is enough, if duly considered, to fill them with confusion, in expectation of its return upon their own heads; for if the heart be privy to it, God is greater than the heart and knoweth all things. Others knew of Shimei’s cursing David, but Shimei himself knew of the wicked principles of hatred and malice against David which he displayed in cursing him and that his submission was but feigned and forced. (3.) He blessed himself and his government (1 Kgs. 2:45): King Solomon shall be blessed, notwithstanding Shimei’s impotent curses, which perhaps, in fury and despair, he now vented freely: Let them curse, but bless thou. And the throne of David shall be established, by taking away those that would undermine it. It is a comfort, in reference to the enmity of the church’s enemies, that, how much soever they rage, it is a vain thing they imagine. Christ’s throne is established, and they cannot shake it. (4.) He gives orders for the execution of Shimei immediately, 1 Kgs. 2:46. All judgment is committed to the Lord Jesus, and, though he be King of peace, he will be found a King of righteousness; and this will shortly be his word of command concerning all his enemies, that would not have him to reign over them: Bring them forth, and slay them before me; the reproaches of those that blasphemed him will fall on themselves, to their eternal condemnation.