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David was close to dying, so he gave direction to his son, Solomon.

King David: I am about to go the way all earthly things go. Be strong; demonstrate your maturity. Honor the laws of the Eternal your God, and live by His truth. Be faithful to His laws, commands, judgments, and precepts—the ones written for us in the instructions of Moses. If you follow this path, you will be successful in everything you do no matter where you are, for the Eternal will be faithful to His promise to me throughout your life. He promised me, “For as long as your sons are devoted to Me and live by My truth and embrace it with all their being, your offspring will always sit upon Israel’s throne.”[a]

You, too, remember what trouble Joab (Zeruiah’s son) sent toward me—how he killed the armies of Israel’s two commanders, Abner (Ner’s son) and Amasa (Jether’s son), when I was close to striking a treaty with them. He brought the horror of war during a time of peace. He covered his belt and sandals with blood, so his offspring and family are judged. Act wisely, and take revenge on Joab. Do not allow a single gray hair on his head to descend into the grave peacefully. Be loving toward the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite. Invite them to feast at your table because they were good friends to me when I ran from your brother, Absalom.[b] There is also Shimei (Gera’s son) the Benjaminite of Bahurim. He cursed me with terrible words when I went to Mahanaim, but when we met again at the Jordan River, I made him a promise in the sight of the Eternal. I told him, “I am not going to kill you.”[c] However your actions are not bound by my oath to him; you must not let him go without retribution. You are wise, and you will know in your heart exactly what punishment you should give him. You will bloody every gray hair on his head before sending him down to the grave.

10 After he spoke these words to his son, Solomon, David left this world to sleep with his fathers. His body was laid to rest in the city of David. 11 David ruled Israel 40 years. He ruled in Hebron 7 years and in Jerusalem 33 years. 12 Solomon inherited David’s throne, and his kingdom was strong and healthy.

13 Adonijah (Haggith’s son) approached Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother).

Bathsheba: Do you come to visit me in peace?

Adonijah: Yes. 14 I have something to tell you.

Bathsheba: Go on.

Adonijah: 15 You are aware that all the kingdom was in my possession and that everyone in Israel believed I was going to be king; but instead, my brother Solomon has received the kingdom from the Eternal One. 16 I have one thing to ask you, and I beg you not to ignore it.

Bathsheba: Go on.

Adonijah: 17 Please, I ask that you go to King Solomon, for he adores you and will not ignore your request. Ask him to give me Abishag the Shunammite, the young woman who nursed my father before he died. I want her as my wife.

Bathsheba: 18 All right. I will speak to the king on your behalf.

19 Bathsheba approached King Solomon about Adonijah’s request. When she entered the king’s presence, he stood up and bowed to her, then sat on his throne. He arranged for a throne to be brought for his mother, so she sat to the right of him in a place of honor and authority.

Bathsheba: 20 I have something to ask of you, and please do not deny me.

Solomon: Go on and ask it, Mother. Of course I will not deny you.

Bathsheba: 21 Give Abishag the Shunammite to your brother, Adonijah, so that she can be his wife.

Solomon: 22 Why do you wish Abishag the Shunammite to be Adonijah’s wife? While you’re at it, why don’t you ask me to hand the entire kingdom over to Adonijah? He is the eldest son. I might as well hand it over to him, Abiathar the priest, and Joab (Zeruiah’s son)!

Adonijah already has a claim to the throne, since he is the next in line of David’s sons. If he takes one of his father’s intimate acquaintances as a wife, then his claim to succeed David will be strengthened.

Solomon (vowing by the Eternal): 23 God do so to me and worse if Adonijah has not condemned himself by this request! 24 As certain as the life of the Eternal One, who has given me the inheritance of my father David’s throne and given me the kingdom and family He promised, Adonijah will certainly be executed today.

25 King Solomon dispatched Benaiah (Jehoiada’s son), who met up with Adonijah and executed him.

Solomon (to Abiathar the priest): 26 Return to your own fields in Anathoth. You deserve the penalty of death, but I will not execute you now because you transported the sacred chest of the Eternal before King David, my father, and because you suffered all the same troubles and burdens my father suffered.

27 Solomon stripped Abiathar of his priesthood to the Eternal One. He did this so that the Eternal’s word in Shiloh would be honored: the house of Eli would not be able to atone for their wickedness through sacrifices and offerings.[d]

28 News of all this arrived to Joab, who had been a follower of Adonijah but not of Absalom. Joab rushed to the altar in the tent of the Eternal and gripped the horns, hoping for sanctuary as Adonijah had. 29 King Solomon received word that Joab had rushed to the tent of the Eternal and that he was at the altar that very moment. Solomon again dispatched Benaiah (Jehoiada’s son) with the instructions, “Execute Joab.”

30 Benaiah arrived at the tent of the Eternal, but he could not enter to kill Joab.

Benaiah (calling out to Joab): It is the king’s command that you come out at once.

Joab: No. If you are going to kill me, then kill me here at the altar.

Benaiah went back to the king and relayed his conversation with Joab. Joab did not expect Solomon to violate the rules of sanctuary.

Solomon: 31 Do as he wishes. Kill him at the altar, then bury him. This will cleanse me and my father’s house from all blame concerning the blood Joab has recklessly spilled. 32 The Eternal will do to him that which he did to others, for he murdered two men with his sword who were more honorable and better than he was. He kept this secret from my father. He killed Abner (Ner’s son) who was the leader of Israel’s army and also Amasa (Jether’s son) who was the leader of Judah’s army.[e] 33 Their blood will come back to haunt Joab and all his progeny forever. But there will be peace from the Eternal in the house of David and on his throne forever.

34 Benaiah (Jehoiada’s son) killed Joab and buried him on his own land in the wilderness.

35 King Solomon then designated Benaiah (Jehoiada’s son) to lead the army in Joab’s stead, and the king designated Zadok the priest to take on Abiathar’s responsibilities.

36 The king summoned Shimei, intending to fulfill his promise to David and subdue this political enemy.

Solomon (to Shimei): Go now, and build yourself a house in Jerusalem. You are to stay there indefinitely. Do not leave for any reason. 37 You would be wise to heed my warning because, mark my words, whenever you cross the Kidron stream toward your ancestral home, you will meet your death. And it will be your own fault.

Shimei: 38 Thank you for the good advice, my lord. I am your servant; and I will do exactly as you, my king, have instructed me to do.

Shimei departed from the king and lived in Jerusalem for a very long time.

39 After three years, two of Shimei’s servants fled west to their home in Philistia to find Achish (son of Maacah, Gath’s king). They sent word to Shimei: “We, your servants, are in Gath.” 40 Shimei prepared his donkey and traveled to Gath to find Achish with hopes of finding his servants. Shimei found his servants and took them away from Gath.

Shimei, a known traitor, is allowed to live as long as he doesn’t leave Jerusalem and return home to Benjamin where he can muster an army. After years of supposed obedience, that same traitor tests his limits by running in the opposite direction of Benjamin to visit Philistia, Israel’s greatest enemy at the time. Even if Solomon hadn’t promised David that he would take revenge on Shimei, the man gives Solomon ample reason himself. First and foremost, he breaks his oath to Solomon and God by leaving Jerusalem; second, he has the opportunity to threaten Solomon’s new reign by fraternizing with Achish, the king whom David abandoned the last time Israel and Philistia fought. He is guilty by both deed and association.

41 Solomon received word that Shimei had traveled from Jerusalem to Gath and was back in Jerusalem. 42 King Solomon had Shimei brought to him and questioned him.

Solomon: Do you not remember the warning I gave you? Did you not swear an oath to me in the name of the Eternal that you would not leave Jerusalem or else you would most certainly die? Were you not glad at my warning? 43 So why have you broken your promise to the Eternal One? Why did you go against my warning and my instruction?

44 You are fully aware of the evil inside your heart, the evil you did to my father, David. The Eternal One is sending all the evil you have done to others back upon you. 45 But I, King Solomon, will be honored by the Lord, and David’s throne will stand in His presence forever.

46 King Solomon instructed Benaiah (Jehoiada’s son) to execute Shimei, and Benaiah did what Solomon asked him to do.

And that is how the kingdom was secured under Solomon’s rule.

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