So act according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace.
1 Kings 2:6
Yesterday, I considered the first part of David’s last bit of advice to Solomon before his (David’s) death. This morning, I turn my attention to the last part of that advice.
David knows that when Solomon inherits the throne, he will also inherit all the problems that go along with it. This includes all of the challenging people that David has yet to deal with and all of the excellent people who supported David. David calls out two individuals that could be a problem for Solomon and one group that he should keep close.
The two problem people that David points out are Joab and Shimei.
Joab has been too much for David to handle. Whether this is because David felt like he needed Joab’s military prowess or because there was some sort of friendship there I cannot say, but David has not dealt with Joab. Since Joab was among those who supported Adonijah’s bid for the throne, this makes him particularly troublesome for the newly-crowned King Solomon. Solomon deals with Joab (vv 28-35) not long after David’s death.
Shimei is the man who cursed David as David was fleeing Jerusalem to avoid fighting Absalom. Shimei cursed and threw rocks and so on. Shimei came out and seemed to be trying to make amends when Davis returned to Jerusalem, but something in Shimei’s behavior since that time must have given David a reason to think that Shimei was still a potential threat, as he counsels Solomon do not let him go unpunished, for you are a wise man; and you will know what you ought to do to him, and you will bring his gray hair down to Sheol with blood (v 9). Solomon follows the advice that a person keep his enemies close and commands Shimei to live in Jerusalem and never leave on penalty of death. Shimei eventually leaves and Solomon makes good on his word and Shimei is executed (vv 36-46).
The family of Barzillai is mentioned as a group to whom Solomon ought to show kindness for the sake of David. I do not see it mentioned in this chapter, but it is likely to have been done as Solomon listened to the rest of David’s advice.
This portion of David’s advice and Solomon’s adherence to it remind me that we often inherit our parents’ friends and enemies. Both of my parents have friends who have looked to do good for me in times past (and present) and I know that those friends will be there for my sibling and me as long as they are alive. I suspect that there are those who would seek to do me harm, as well, based on their history with my parents.
All of this translates upward. The LORD is the King of Kings and coming to Him for salvation is likened to adoption into His family. This makes believers heirs to His kingdom. It also means that we inherit His friends and His enemies. There have been times when I found immediate kinship with fellow believers and learned of them being believers only later. We are both friends of the same King and looked to do one another good because of it. Likewise, I have encountered those who are hostile to God and that hostility carries over to me. It has not happened often, but it has happened. And I have seen those who oppose God in one way or another oppose believers in the very same way. Solomon responded to these adversaries in the way that he was instructed by his father, David. I ought also respond to my adversaries as my Father has instructed: pray for them.
Father, thank You for this reminder that inheritance of Your kingdom also involves inheritance of Your allies and enemies; Your friends and foes. Thank You for the reminder that the King — You — has already advised me how to deal with those who oppose the kingdom. Please give me a heart that wants to pray for those who oppose You and, by extension, my attempts to walk in Your ways.