Now Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. Bathsheba asked him, “Do you come peacefully?” He answered, “Yes, peacefully.” Then he added, “I have something to say to you.” “You may say it,” she replied. “As you know,” he said, “the kingdom was mine. All Israel looked to me as their king. But things changed, and the kingdom has gone to my brother; for it has come to him from the Lord. Now I have one request to make of you. Do not refuse me.” “You may make it,” she said. So he continued, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” “Very well,” Bathsheba replied, “I will speak to the king for you.” When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand. “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “Do not refuse me.” The king replied, “Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you.” So she said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given in marriage to your brother Adonijah.” King Solomon answered his mother, “Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him—after all, he is my older brother—yes, for him and for Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah!” Then King Solomon swore by the Lord: “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request! And now, as surely as the Lord lives—he who has established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as he promised—Adonijah shall be put to death today!” So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.
To Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the ark of the Sovereign Lord before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships.” So Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the Lord, fulfilling the word the Lord had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli.
When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar. King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the tent of the Lord and was beside the altar. Then Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada, “Go, strike him down!” So Benaiah entered the tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king says, ‘Come out!’” But he answered, “No, I will die here.”
Benaiah reported to the king, “This is how Joab answered me.” Then the king commanded Benaiah, “Do as he says. Strike him down and bury him…So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried at his home out in the country. The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab’s position and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the priest.
Then the king sent for Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but do not go anywhere else. The day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head.”…But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maakah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, “Your slaves are in Gath.” At this, he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slaves. So Shimei went away and brought the slaves back from Gath. When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and had returned, the king summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and warn you, ‘On the day you leave to go anywhere else, you can be sure you will die’? At that time you said to me, ‘What you say is good. I will obey.’ Why then did you not keep your oath to the Lord and obey the command I gave you?”…Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and he died.
The kingdom was now established in Solomon’s hands.
Here we have a young King Solomon after having recently acceded to his father’s throne. David had given him some wise advice, to be strong and observe what the Lord required. In this passage we certainly see Solomon doing just that. Asserting his authority, portraying himself as a king to be feared and respected. He’s even had his own brother put to death. All of these things help him to consolidate his throne, remove those who may be a threat, or simply remove those who do not obey what the Lord and/or Solomon has commanded to them to do.
However, despite all this, he still has time to listen to his mother! Not only this, he treats her with the utmost respect. He seats her at his right hand. He listens and takes heed of her advice. Now, I’m not quite comparing myself to one of the most renowned and rich kings in history – but I’d like to think that, most of the time, I too treat my mother with the respect she deserves.
However, it can be all too easy when we move onto pastures new, take on new roles, new responsibilities and new personality traits, for us to forget not only our mothers, but our family and friends whom we have left behind both physically and, potentially, emotionally. There’s no replacement for parental advice, as we heard in yesterday’s passage, too.
Now Solomon has the full set, the advice from his dying father, and advice from the Queen Mother. He’s consolidated his ‘court’, he can now go off and rule Israel! But he, like us, should not forget the wisdom of those who have been before, those who love us and those who care about us, including Jesus Christ.
God of wisdom and truth, help us to remember where we came from; as a new year dawns, don’t let us forget who we have met, those who we love and respect. Let us take from them all we can in advice, love, and wisdom, so that we can move forward with integrity, filled by your love. Amen
Dan Morrell is the Immediate-Past Youth Assembly Moderator, member of St Andrew’s, Roundhay