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Tue, Nov 20, 2007

8 - Consolidation [b]

2 Samuel 2:12-46 by Robert Dean
Note: This Lesson is labeled incorrectly on the video.
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:57 mins 24 secs

Consolidation; 2 Samuel 2:12-46

 

Again and again some come back and try to interpret the Old Testament and what happens there in light of what is revealed later in the New Testament, instead of taking the events that occur at a period of history at approximately 970 BC and interpreting those events in light of the revelation that had already been given and not in light of later revelation. The problem is that people misconstrue some of the New Testament revelation regarding love, regarding the role of the kingdom, and they try to read that back into the Old Testament. When they come to section in 1 Kings 2 it looks like some sort of vindictive operation against all of the personal enemies of the Davidic dynasty, and that is not what it is at all. The result is, then, that they start trying to extrapolate some application in terms of government and society, and that is not the purpose for this text. The purpose of this text isn't to give us a model of how government is to operate, it is to show the faithfulness of God in light of the Mosaic covenant, in light of the Davidic covenant, and how God is working to bring into human history the seed of the woman who comes through the seed of Abraham, who comes through the seed of David. It is really fairly simple and we just watch how God is working that out. In the midst of that there is an application of the Mosaic Law that seems harsh. The reason it seems harsh is because a lot of us come out of a fairly liberal western culture where there is a large degree of freedom, where we don't live under any kind of rigid authoritarian monarchical type of government, and where we live in a liberal sense that tries to look at people in a wrong way as basically good. So we don't want to exercise capital punishment, we don't want corporal punishment, we don't want to punish children anymore, and we don't want to impose the will of someone who knows what they are doing on someone who doesn't know what he is doing. So because we come from a very different culture people often misunderstand what is going on here.

 

God is working through all of this and Solomon is not carrying out a personal vendetta, neither is he carrying out some sort of personal agenda vendetta that David set for him. He is doing what needs to be done in a real world environment, understanding the depravity of the human heart, understanding what has already happened with these men who have conspired against him, what brought them to that point in this conspiracy, and recognising that if he doesn't do anything then it truly threatens the unity of the kingdom that God has established under him. So in light of the Mosaic Law and not in contradiction to anything in the Mosaic Law he carries out these executions and these punishments. Adonijah committed treason and as soon as he began to commit treason Solomon acted swiftly and certainly, which is how justice should be handled. We should not handle justice in sch a way that it takes ten or twelve years before somebody who has committed a capital crime is executed.

 

Now Solomon has to deal with his second problem, Abiathar the high priest. But even though he has been loyal to David—and that is going to count in his favour—Abiathar has aligned himself with Adonijah in his revolt and there has to be punishment.

 

1 Kings 2:26 NASB "Then to Abiathar the priest the king said, 'Go to Anathoth to your own field, for you deserve to die; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before my father David, and because you were afflicted in everything with which my father was afflicted'." What we see in the Bible is an extremely rigid standard of protocol for respect and honour for a person that has been placed by the Lord in a position of authority and that there is no basis whatsoever to dishonour them, to treat them with disrespect, or to try to move them out of office. Any act of rebellion like that, any act of disrespect for authority, follows in the pattern of Satan's rebellion against God. Abiathar is worthy of death, he has committed treason which is a capital crime, but Solomon is willing to commute the sentence in grace. Abiathar is being retired and removed from the high priesthood, and this is a fulfilment of prophecy.

 

Abiathar is the son of Ahimelech who was the high priest at Nob, located on the ancient outskirts of Jerusalem, just to the north-east of the temple. One of the times David flees from Saul he goes to the priest at Nob in order to get some food. Ahimelech provides food for him but Doeg the Edomite is there and sees David, and kowing that Saul is after David he reports to Saul Ahimelech has been giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which is David. Saul sends his militia up there and they massacre all of the priests, and the only one who survives is Abiathar. 1 Samuel 22:20-22; 23:6-9. Abiathar leaves there and joins up with David. But his lineage goes back further than that.

1 Chronicles 24:1, 2 NASB "Now the divisions of the descendants of Aaron {were these:} the sons of Aaron {were} Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died before their father and had no sons. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests." The line of Ithamar was the primary line down to Abiathar, it goes down through Eli. Eli is a lazy, corpulent apostate and he has raised two rebellious, self-centred, spoiled sons. And God announces to them in 1 Samuel 2:30, 36 that he is going to take the high priesthood from the family of Eli. So Abiathar would have been aware of his family because Eli was probably his great, great grandfather or great, great, great, great grandfather, and would have been aware of God's announcement that He was going to take the priesthood away from the line of Eli and from the line of Ithamar. God is going to transfer it to the line and descent from Eleazar, and that is Zadok. 1 Chronicles 24:3 NASB "David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their offices for their ministry."   

Gibeon is the location of where Joab killed Amasa and left him out on the road to die bleeding to death, and it was the sight of a major altar. So there was part of the priesthood that operated at Gibeon to the north of Jerusalem and another part with the high priest associated with the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle that was located at the threshing floor Araunah the Jebusite in Jerusalem. They operated in both area but it seems like the primary site was in Gibeon. When we get into 1 Kings chapter three and Solomon goes to the Lord in prayer, the place where Solomon goes to offer sacrifices and to enter into communication with God is Gibeon. So this is a key site where Zadok was serving. Zadok's family had been appointed to serve the Lord there during Saul's time, so Saul who is in total carnality is used by God to make a decision that is eventually going to bring the lineage of Eleazar into the high priesthood. So we see God's hand in the background. Just because God isn't overtly revealing Himself, overtly giving revelation, doesn't mean that God isn't guiding in the process. Whether a person is carnal or whether a person is in obedience to God, God controls history. He is omnipotent and therefore powerful enough to bring about that which He intends without it being restricted by the volition of the creature.

 

Abiathar would have known what was going on and probably watched with some degree of consternation as he saw Zadok being raised in influence over the years. Zadok and Abiathar together bring the ark into Jerusalem. Again and again Abiathar sees David giving deference to David. Now it is clear because of Solomon's decision in 1 Kings chapter two that Abiathar is being removed from the high priesthood and the lineage from Aaron on his side ends. This is a clear sign of how God works to fulfil prophecy. Eventually it is the descendants of Zadok who are going to serve as priests in the Millennial temple.

 

1 Kings 2:27 NASB "So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD, which He had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh. [28] Now the news came to Joab, for Joab had followed Adonijah, although he had not followed Absalom. And Joab fled to the tent of the LORD and took hold of the horns of the altar." Grabbing the horns of the altar was a tradition that if somebody went into the sanctuary they could be protected by God. But this was not consistent with the Law. Exodus 21:14 NASB "If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him {even} from My altar, that he may die." So there is no sanctuary by grabbing hold of the horns of the altar.

Solomon's explanation for doing this is given in 1 Kings 2:31, 32 NASB "The king said to him, 'Do as he has spoken and fall upon him and bury him, that you may remove from me and from my father's house the blood which Joab shed without cause. The LORD will return his blood on his own head, because he fell upon two men more righteous and better than he and killed them with the sword, while my father David did not know {it:} Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah'." As long as the Davidic dynasty allowed him to live then that blood guiltiness was upon them. The rationale isn't because he has done something personal against Solomon but because he has committed a capital crime. [33] "So shall their blood return on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever; but to David and his descendants and his house and his throne, may there be peace from the LORD forever."

This runs completely contrary to modern notions that somehow capital punishment is a violation of anything in the character of God. In fact it is consistent with the justice of God. We see that Solomon exercises grace toward Abiathar but to the one who has been truly guilty of capital crime he recognises the rationale for capital punishment. The result is that Benaiah goes up and executes Joab and buries him in his own house in the wilderness. Then "The king appointed Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in his place, and the king appointed Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar." The writer ties these two events together at the end and thus there is the establishment of Solomon's kingdom. This now brings stability to his government. He has removed those who were treasonous and criminals but there is one who is left who is still a potential thorn in the side, and that is Shimei.

Shimei is mentioned earlier in 2 Samuel 16:5-13 as one who opposed David. He is a Benjamite and is one therefore who is loyal to the house of Saul. He has never forgiven David or his family for taking the monarchy away from the family of Saul, which shows that he is not oriented to doctrine, not oriented to the plan of God; he is oriented to personal power. When Absolom took over he saw that as an opportunity to gain revenge on David and as David was leaving and headed east across the Jordan Shimei comes out of his house and curses David. He ridicules him and treats him with disrespect. Once again, that is a violation of the principle of authority. This borders on treason. Later Shimei reprents of his attitude and comes to David and seeks forgiveness (1 Samuel 19) when David comes back into town. But it is probable that David understood that Shimei was just ingratiating himself to him because there is still at the core of his thinking an attitude of resentment to the house of David. The only reason he comes to David to seek forgiveness is because David is back in power and he'd better make sure that he makes up to him or David might seek vengeance against him. But David recognised in his wisdom that Shimei represented the Saulite dynasty and a potential threat to the throne. So he has warned Solomon about him and Solomon uses wisdom in dealing with him. He doesn't take him out and execute him, he gives him parameters. He enters into a deal that Shimei readily agrees to. The bottom line is that Solomon is saying to Shimei that if he is really supportive of him he will follow his regulations and if he is not supportive he won't. He is not setting a trap for him but he is setting up conditions of loyalty.

1 Kings 2:36 NASB "Now the king sent and called for Shimei and said to him, "Build for yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, and do not go out from there to any place." Jerusalem was very small. The palace of the king was in a very high position on the ridge which dropped off very dramatically so that from the palace it was possible to look down and see every house in the city, every roof in the city. So Solomon wants Shimei to build a house inside the walls of the city so that he could keep an eye on him. He is going to watch him. [37] "For on the day you go out and cross over the brook Kidron, you will know for certain that you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head." It is up to Shimei to make sure that he stays in town. [38] "Shimei then said to the king, 'The word is good. As my lord the king has said, so your servant will do.' So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days. [39] But it came about at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away to Achish son of Maacah, king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, 'Behold, your servants are in Gath'." So he is in the territory of the Philistines, the area of the Gaza strip to the south west of Jerusalem. On his return Solomon is informed and he says to Shimei: 1 Kings 2:43 NASB "Why then have you not kept the oath of the LORD, and the command which I have laid on you? [44] The king also said to Shimei, 'You know all the evil which you acknowledge in your heart, which you did to my father David; therefore the LORD shall return your evil on your own head'." He locates the problem with Shimei's own treason, and that because he has this failure to orient to authority he didn't pay attention to the oath he had entered into with Solomon, showing that there is a core problem of rebelliousness in the heart of Shimei and that this has now worked itself out and Solomon has him executed.

The result: 1 Kings 2:45 NASB  "But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever." This is not just pious terminology or just trying to tack God's will on what he has done. He is showing that all he has done in securing the throne is consistent with the Mosaic Law, consistent with the promise of God, and he is applying these principles in terms of the administration of the kingdom. But thought all has been pretty well and though Solomon is said to be obedient to the Lord, there are still problems.

In chapters three and four we see the wisdom, the wealth and the government organization of Solomon. What we read in chapter three is a divine viewpoint insight into the character of Solomon. 1 Kings 3:3 NASB "Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places." Solomon is a young man at this point, probably in his late teens or early twenties and God's summary of his character is that he loved the Lord, and this is juxtaposed to the phrase "walking in the statutes of his father David." Remember how God defines love back in Deuteronomy: "If you love the Lord you will keep my commandments." Jesus says the same thing; 1st John says the same thing; that is the standard for the church age believers as well. He had one flaw. When it says "he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places" this does not mean that he is involved in idolatry. It means that he is not restricting his worship to a central sanctuary, the tabernacle. This goes back to the Mosaic Law. This shows a less than complete obedience to God in the area of worshipping God. This is going to be that little kink in his armour that Satan is going to drive a whole bunch of trucks through. The problem with Solomon is that he is going to begin to compromise in key pragmatic areas. We are introduced to that first compromise in the first verse of chapter three.

1 Kings 3:1 NASB "Then Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her to the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem." If we are perceptive we will note that this is the first time since the Exodus that Egypt is mentioned. What we see in the Bible is that there is such a devastation of the military and industrial complex of Egypt at the Exodus that there is nothing left of them as a military power, and they are not mentioned again in all that time in the period of the judges when Israel is dealing with various foreign powers that keep on coming in and conquering them. But now Egypt is mentioned, and if we look at history and we take the Bible at face value we see that David has built a major empire and Solomon is going to increase its size and its strength and its wealth and its fame throughout the earth. What we see here when Solomon makes a treaty with the Pharaoh of Egypt, this isn't a treaty necessarily to benefit Solomon in the sense that he is going to get protection out of this, that he is looking to Egypt to protect his south-western flank, it is that the Pharaoh is looking at Solomon as a prize. Israel is the most powerful kingdom in history at this particular time and Pharaoh is hoping to marry off his daughter to Solomon in order to strengthen his own position. This seems to be indicated because Pharaoh's didn't marry off their daughters to foreigners in order to solidify peace treaties. They were very clannish and did not engage in that kind of practice. So this shows that something very unusual is taking place and it is probably motivated by the king of Egypt in order to strengthen his position in relationship to Solomon. Simply speaking this shows the superiority of Solomon over Egypt. It also, much like Abraham following Sarah's advice to take Hagar the Egyptian, opens the door to problems down the road because the Egyptian wife is going to bring her idols with her and Solomon is going to compromise and allow her to worship them. 1 Kings 3:2 NASB "The people were still sacrificing on the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the LORD until those days." This just gives us a summary overview of what is going to be covered in the next several chapters.

1 Kings 3:4 NASB "The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar." This must have been extremely impressive. Some of these altars that have been uncovered were enormous. [5] "In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, 'Ask what {you wish} me to give you'." The Lord does not appear very frequently in dreams in the Old Testament. This was rare even when God did it; He only spoke in dreams to a handful of people in the Old Testament. Then we have Solomon's famous prayer where he appeals to the Lord to give him wisdom. He shows that at a young age he has tremendous humility. There is a contrast between him at this age and his son Rehoboam. When Solomon dies and Rehoboam becomes king he doesn't listen to the older, wiser advisors of his father but instead listens to the younger, headstrong, arrogant young men. So we see that Solomon is remarkable in his maturity, remarkable in his humility, remarkable in his orientation to God.

1 Kings 3:6 NASB "Then Solomon said, "You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You…" Think of that as a summary of David's life. This is the man who failed the Lord on numerous occasions, had some major failures and flaws and sins, but the summation of his heart's intent—this is why God said David had a heart after the Lord—is that his overall orientation is to obey the Lord. "… and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness [chesed which has to do with covenant faithfulness], that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as {it is} this day. [7] Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in." Here he uses for little child that isn't focusing on his chronological age but on his lack of experience. [8] Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. [9] So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" So he is asking for discernment, for wisdom, to be able to properly rule over God's people. He chose proper grace orientation and humility.

1 Kin 3:10-12 NASB "It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. [11] God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, [12] behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you." The Hebrew word for understanding is binah which has the idea of discerning, to be able to divide between things, to be able to ascertain what the issues are. The word wisdom id chokmah which has to do with skill. God has given him a heart that is able to pierce to the issues, to understand them, and to make skilful decisions. He is blessed with this as a gift. Although believers can receive a measure of wisdom based on doctrine, Solomon is given this as a gift and blessing from God. [13] "I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days." This tells us that the glory of Solomon's kingdom was the greatest on earth during that time. [14] "If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days."

1 Kings 3:15 NASB "Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and made peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants."

A principle: God never does anything in private that He doesn't validate in public. That is what we are about to see.