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As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:

“I am going where every man on earth must some day go. I am counting on you to be a strong and worthy successor. Obey the laws of God and follow all his ways; keep each of his commands written in the law of Moses so that you will prosper in everything you do, wherever you turn. If you do this, then the Lord will fulfill the promise he gave me, that if my children and their descendants watch their step and are faithful to God, one of them shall always be the king of Israel—my dynasty will never end.

“Now listen to my instructions. You know that Joab murdered my two generals, Abner and Amasa. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace. You are a wise man and will know what to do—don’t let him die in peace. But be kind to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite. Make them permanent guests of the king, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom. And do you remember Shimei, the son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim? He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was going to Mahanaim; but when he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I promised I wouldn’t kill him. But that promise doesn’t bind you! You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.”

10 Then David died and was buried in Jerusalem. 11 He had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 And Solomon became the new king, replacing his father David; and his kingdom prospered.

13 One day Adonijah, the son of Haggith, came to see Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba.

“Have you come to make trouble?” she asked him.

“No,” he replied, “I come in peace. 14 As a matter of fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 “Everything was going well for me,” he said, “and the kingdom was mine: everyone expected me to be the next king. But the tables are turned, and everything went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 But now I have just a small favor to ask of you; please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf (for I know he will do anything you request) and ask him to give me Abishag, the Shunammite, as my wife.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied, “I’ll ask him.”

19 So she went to ask the favor of King Solomon. The king stood up from his throne as she entered and bowed low to her. He ordered that a throne for his mother be placed beside his; so she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag,” she replied.

22 “Are you crazy?” he demanded. “If I were to give him Abishag, I would be giving him the kingdom too! For he is my older brother! He and Abiathar the priest and General Joab would take over!” 23-24 Then King Solomon swore with a great oath, “May God strike me dead if Adonijah does not die this very day for this plot against me! I swear it by the living God who has given me the throne of my father David and this kingdom he promised me.”

25 So King Solomon sent Benaiah to execute him, and he killed him with a sword.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You should be killed, too, but I won’t do it now. For you carried the Ark of the Lord during my father’s reign, and you suffered right along with him in all of his troubles.”

27 So Solomon forced Abiathar to give up his position as the priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the decree of Jehovah at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.[a]

28 When Joab heard about Adonijah’s death (Joab had joined Adonijah’s revolt, though not Absalom’s) he ran to the Tabernacle for sanctuary and caught hold of the horns of the altar. 29 When news of this reached King Solomon, he sent Benaiah to execute him.

30 Benaiah went into the Tabernacle and said to Joab, “The king says to come out!”

“No,” he said, “I’ll die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king for further instructions.

31 “Do as he says,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of his senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 Then Jehovah will hold him personally responsible for the murders of two men who were better than he. For my father was no party to the deaths of General Abner, commander-in-chief of the army of Israel, and General Amasa, commander-in-chief of the army of Judah. 33 May Joab and his descendants be forever guilty of these murders, and may the Lord declare David and his descendants guiltless concerning their deaths.”

34 So Benaiah returned to the Tabernacle and killed Joab; and he was buried beside his house in the desert.

35 Then the king appointed Benaiah as commander-in-chief, and Zadok as priest instead of Abiathar.

36-37 The king now sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem, and don’t step outside the city on pain of death. The moment you go beyond Kidron Brook, you die; and it will be your own fault.”

38 “All right,” Shimei replied, “whatever you say.” So he lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves escaped to King Achish of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled a donkey and went to Gath to visit the king. And when he had found his slaves, he took them back to Jerusalem.

41 When Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned, 42 he sent for him and demanded, “Didn’t I command you in the name of God to stay in Jerusalem or die? You replied, ‘Very well, I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why have you not kept your agreement and obeyed my commandment? 44 And what about all the wicked things you did to my father, King David? May the Lord take revenge on you, 45 but may I receive God’s rich blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit upon this throne.”

46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah took Shimei outside and killed him.

So Solomon’s grip upon the kingdom became secure.


  1. 1 Kings 2:27 See 1 Samuel 2:31-35.

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