Posts Tagged 'justice'

The Minor Prophets, Part 5

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 | TNIV)

Micah prophesied to very religious people; the kind of people who never missed a service! In his day, throngs of people streamed into the Temple to be a part of the worship services. Whatever the divinely appointed occasion, the people were there.

While Micah’s people were very religious, they weren’t at all godly. You can be religious but not godly; our churches are full of people like that. People who behave one way in church on Sunday, but another way outside the church during the other six days of the week. These very religious people, like the people of Micah’s day, don’t think that it might be important to the Lord how they conduct themselves in the world outside the church.

The behavior of his people troubled Micah. And that’s his main message and the main message of this book of prophecy that bears his name.

Micah lived and ministered in the last half of the eighth century B.C. Micah is frequently compared to Isaiah, who was prophesying at roughly the same time, and the messages of these two men of God are in harmony. Some have suggested that Micah was a disciple of Isaiah, and while there are similarities in their writing, the two prophets are very different. Isaiah was a member of the upper classes while. Micah was a commoner. Isaiah was polished, and moved in royal circles. Micah was a rough man of the countryside, a prophet of the regular folks.

His background made Micah familiar with the problems of the poor and lower classes of society, and at the same time he was well acquainted with the political corruption of Judah and royal palace. He also knew about the corruption of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and was a contemporary of Amos and Hosea. While the political corruption of his day was rampant, Micah’s biggest concern, and the burden of his heart, was the treatment of the poor and most disadvantaged of his society.

God rebukes sin

The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the Sovereign Lord may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. (Micah 1:1, 2 | TNIV)

From the get-go, the divine origin of Micah’s message is made obvious – it’s “the word of the Lord” the prophet will speak, not his own word. As Walter Kaiser noted, Micah’s calling is both the source and the authority of what he is about to speak. The Lord’s word is directed to two great cities: Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdon of Israel, and Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Lord has an axe to grind against these capital cities, and He’s calling the whole world to listen to the moral and spiritual failure of His people. Sin is never a private thing; no believer can hide his sin for long. God essentially called all creation to stop and listen to His words against His people. One scholar put it this way:

Where God has a mouth to speak we must have an ear to hear; we all must, for we are all concerned in what is delivered.

Indeed, God’s Word is for all people, even for those who don’t think they need to hear it.

Micah’s message was a fearsome one, but this prophet was prepared and empowered to give it:

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:8 | TNIV)

A personal God

Verse three gives us some very important information about God:

Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth. (Micah 1:3 | TNIV)

First, God is transcendent for He has a heavenly dwelling place. But, second, God is also immanent, He comes down from that dwelling place to be among people. Those who think God is living afar off and uninvolved in the affairs of His creation are dead wrong. And the appearance of God causes creation to respond.

The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope. (Micah 1:4 | TNIV)

In this instance, God enters the human sphere for judgment, but there are other reasons for His coming to “tread on the heights of the earth:”

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18, 19 | TNIV)

For now though, God is coming not to pardon and forgive, but to render judgment:

All this is because of Jacob’s transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel. What is Jacob’s transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah’s high place? Is it not Jerusalem? (Micah 1:5 | TNIV)

The sin of idolatry was at the root of God’s judgment of both Judah and Israel. Because of the influence of the Canaanite cults, Israel (Samaria) was giving only the barest of lip service to Yahweh. Meanwhile, the ethical and moral aspects of the Law were also being ignored. Society was breaking down in both Kingdoms, although in the Samaria and the Northern Kingdom, the slide away from the Covenant and the God of the Covenant was happening at a much quicker pace than in Judah to the south.

It’s interesting that how a society treats its own descends from what it thinks of and how it treats the Lord. When a society has a God-centered world-view, or a world-view that takes seriously Biblical teachings and admonitions, it will treat its citizens with dignity and respect.

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 | TNIV)

This is what God expects from His people, and this single verse is probably one of the most memorable in the Old Testament. Let’s take a look at what this verse says. First, there is an expectation on God’s part. He is right to expect a certain type of behavior from the people He created. Man is not ignorant and he knows right from wrong. Even sinful man is expected to maintain a certain level of ethical and moral behavior, but more so from people that are in covenant relationship with Him.

And even though these verses were written to and about Hebrews, Christians are expected to go along with these admonitions because we are in a covenant relationship with God in which the laws of God have been placed within our hearts.

It’s not that God didn’t want His people to be offering sacrifices, even though that’s what it sounds like in verses like this one:

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:7 | TNIV)

The people of Micah’s day had got the sacrifices down pat – they were scrupulously religious. But their behavior didn’t live up to their religion. As far as God was concerned, if your behavior is boorish and if you can’t be bothered to live right, then don’t waste your time offering a sacrifice. You’re not only wasting your time, but God’s as well.

Society breaks down

Here what society looks like when that society ignores God and the teachings of Scripture:

Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace be careful of your words. For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—your enemies are the members of your own household. (Micah 7:5, 6 | TNIV)

When God isn’t in the picture, all restraints against bad behavior are tossed off. Kay Arthur made an interesting observation about our society today:

Our society is filled with runaways, dropouts, and quitters. We have seen others faint or walk away and we have followed in their weakness. We have fainted when we could have persevered by exchanging our strength for His.

She’s not wrong when she writes, “We have seen others faint or walk away and we have followed in their weakness.” Why wouldn’t we follow the bad, horrid example of the majority? Our generation has been told that being in a real, strong relationship with God through Jesus Christ is a myth or is dangerous and that being a person faith is to be a “religious extremist.” Christians today have become just terrible at taking a stand for Christ because it’s been politically incorrect to have that kind of objective faith.

So not only has secular society broken down, Christian society is also circling the drain.

God restores the humble

And that’s the world in which Micah lived and preached. It was a world filled with very religious people whose religion was all show; it was not life changing; it didn’t change the lives of its practitioners or anybody else’s . The people of Micah’s day weren’t serious people, they were people who were playing with their faith and because they didn’t take seriously the covenant they had entered into with God, they were forcing God’s hand of judgment to literally slap them down.

Yet, it’s not all bleak.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 | TNIV)

There’s always hope. Micah knew God and he knew God was a God of mercy who had more than enough power to protect him and meet his needs even while judgment was falling on everybody else. The prophet was sure that God wold vindicate the faithful, after all, not everybody in Israel or Judah was committing idolatry. There is a remnant, and that’s who speaking in verse 8:

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. (Micah 7:8 | TNIV)

Over in the New Testament, we learn that the remnant of believers in any age may have complete confidence that God hasn’t forgotten about them and God will help them and will eventually vindicate and restore them.

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18 | TNIV)

That’s really a stunning verse. Nothing, not even the gates of death, can stop the church. The “gates of death” or “gates of hell” is the extreme, meaning that if something as extreme as the “gates of death” can’t stop the church, then nothing else can. Ultimately the remnant of the faithful will triumph.

Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. (Micah 7:9 | TNIV)

Micah knew God was right in judging His people. They deserved it. But the remnant would sit and wait patiently to be restored. The punishment would only last a little while; the true believer would be vindicated and restored, if not in this world then certainly in the next.

A SURVEY OF THE MINOR PROPHETS, Part 3

God’s Call for Justice: Amos & Zephaniah

What is “partiality?” In the Bible, there are no less than 15 Scriptures relating “partiality” to God’s character. In Deuteronomy, the question of God’s fairness is the basis for all human relationships:

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17—19)

We may say that “partiality” is the opposite of justice in terms of Biblical thought. Based on the above passage, it seems clear that God’s people should behave like God behaves. God is impartial in His dealings with man, therefore we should as well.

In ancient Israel, the idea of “justice” formed the basis of not only the Jewish faith, but also its government. The minor prophets frequently railed against the treatment of their fellows because it was a manifestation of how they treated their God.

1. God hates arrogance, Amos 6:1—8

Justice has been on the minds of human beings for all time, it seems. Probably the most significant ancient work of non-biblical literature is what we call “Plato’s Republic.” What most people don’t know is it’s original title: “A Political Discourse Concerning Justice.” But long before Plato thought about justice, the Bible had that topic completely covered. Israel never needed “Plato’s Republic.”

a. A warning against complacency, vs. 1—3

In the ancient world, almost nobody could read or write. Even in the Roman world, historians estimate that less than 10% of the population was literate. Usually these skills, which we take for granted today, were taught only to the children of the elite class or the very wealthy. What sets the Bible apart from all ancient texts is that its writings stem, not always from the intellectually elite, but from the common man. Such is the case of Amos, of whom next to nothing is known. He was mere shepherd from Tekoa. He was no priest. He had no connection to the Temple. His parentage is not mentioned because there was nothing remarkable about it. The fact that God would raise up such a seemingly insignificant person is a demonstration of God’s impartiality!

This one-time prophet of God ministered during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, king of Israel. He was living and working during a time when all nations of the ancient Near East were very much aware of the mighty Assyrians and their propensity for the conquest of entire nations. The tyrannical Tiglath-Pileser III was the ruler of Assyria at this time and he managed, in a relatively short span of time, to establish one of the most enduring empires in ancient history.

Amos, as uneducated as he was, was a powerful speaker who could easily catch the attention of his audience. And he was skilful, too. He ably connected the moral decline of Israel and Judah to the coming of the Assyrians. As we read Amos, we can see how vitally connected moral obedience is to God’s Word and the security of a nation.

In the first five chapters, Amos dealt with God’s judgment of the northern kingdom, Israel. While the people expected a day of deliverance coming, Amos knew otherwise; he knew the great and terrible Day of the Lord—a day of judgment—was just over the horizon. The monarchy and political power brokers should have seen it coming, but the power structure of Israel was riding high, falsely secure in their military power and victories of Syria. They felt unconquerable. The people, for their part, seemed quite content to be “under their thumbs.” The people couldn’t do a thing without getting the approval of some political body. No wonder these verse stung and cut so deeply.

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! Go to Kalneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. (verses 1—3)

Amos aimed at and scored a direct hit at the false optimism and sense of security and carefree arrogance of the leaders. They looked so strong and unbeatable in their own eyes, but in God’s eyes, they were as puny as the leaders of any other nation. Amos lumped Israel in with a bunch of conquered and subjugated city-states of other greater nations.

Naturally, the leaders rejected Amos’ prophecy, and they continued to wallow in their complacency, and in their mistreatment of their own citizens.

b. A warning against elite luxuries, vs. 4—6

So while the political class revelled in their own lives of ease, indulgence, and affluence, they continued to care very little for the state of others. They stuffed themselves with gourmet food, went to the best golf courses, sang songs and got drunk.

You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

c. The coming judgment and exile, vs. 7, 8

To Amos, luxury and wealth, in themselves harmless, had become symbols of the oppression by which these leaders pampered themselves. And so, those who amassed so much wealth would be the first to go into exile. The corrupt government of the House of Israel would finally come to an end. Amos said this sometime around 760 B.C., when Jeroboam II reigned over an immensely prosperous people. Less than 4 decades later, Israel was overrun and conquered by Assyria and all but the poor were exiled.

As we read about the state of ancient Israel, we are prompted to think about the awesome responsibility of leadership. A country, church, Christian movement, or even a family can rise no higher than its leadership. Those being led will either rise to great heights or sink to new lows depending on the spiritual and moral quality of their leadership.

2. God hates injustice, Amos 8:4—12

Amos was concerned, not only that the people turn to the Lord, but that society as a whole repent from its injustice.

Looking after those who are incapable of looking after themselves has always been important to the Lord, and it should be important to His people. Much of the Law is devoted to making sure the real poor and afflicted were cared for; those policies had been enshrined in the religious and civil laws of Israel. Other nations exploited the poor, or they were left to die. When Israel did as they were told, the nation prospered, from the richest to the poorest. But when Israel, as they did time and again, followed the example of worldly nations, the poor suffered and the rich were harshly judged.

In Amos 7, the priest Amaziah grew weary of Amos’ preaching, and ordered him to return to Judah.

Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”

Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the disciple of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ (7:12, 15)

Amos was faithful to the Lord, and continued to prophesy in Israel.

a. The sin of oppression, vs. 4—7

In Amos’ time, religious hypocrisy had become outright rebellion against God. Those who pretended to be religious were the ones who were taking advantage of the poor. God made it clear that to sin against Yahweh’s people was, in fact, to sin against Him. These religious types kept their festivals meticulously, but managed to find time to rip people off right and left. To these people, God had a particularly ominous message:

I will never forget anything they have done. (verse 7)

b. The land cannot withstand oppression, vs. 8—12

Israel’s end will be like an earthquake. The land will shake and heave. Nature will share in God’s anger. The earthquake will be followed by an eclipse, which will cause great fear. The earth and the very cosmos will seem to be in opposition to the people who turned away from their God, the Lord of all creation.

3. Spiritual renewal results in justice, Zephaniah 3:9—20

There is a “prophetic gospel,” and the minor prophets are full of it. What is the “prophetic gospel?” It is the “good news in prophecy.” God will always have the “last word.” This last word is repeated spoken in Psalm 136: His mercy endures forever.

The minor prophet Zephaniah, who prophesied during the time of great king Josiah, spent 2 chapters declaring what God would do to the nations on a worldwide scale. Now he turns his attention to Judah and Jerusalem. Joshiah’s awesome religious reforms, unfortunately, did not long outlast him. Jerusalem should have been the model for the whole world. Jerusalem should have been setting the example for every nation in the world to follow after. Instead, Jerusalem, like Samaria before it, became the home of those who were wilfully living in rebellion against God. They lived polluted lives, defiling themselves with sinful deeds, and disregarding the rights of others, especially of orphans and widows.

a. Arrogance abolished, vs. 9—13

Just when the promised judgment had reached its crescendo, God would enter center stage in a big way:

Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder. (verse 9)

The Hebrew for “purify” is a strong word that means “a turning away” or “a transformation.” It’s not a slow process, but a quick and total change; a radical break with the past. This radical change will affect all nations because this work of God will be worldwide in scope.

I will sweep away both people and animals; I will sweep away the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea—and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.” “When I destroy all people on the face of the earth…” (1:2—3)

God would use the Babylonian Exile of the Jews to accomplish this purification. The rebellion would be purged from their souls. God would use the exile to reorient the people around God.

b. The everlasting presence of God, vs. 14—17

She who was once the rebellious, polluted, and oppressing city is given three titles of honor: daughter of Zion, Israel, and daughter of Jerusalem. In Biblical poetry, which much of the prophetic word is, cities and their citizens are often referred to as women.

Zephaniah is describing life in the Messianic era. It will be a time filled with great joy, singing, and gladness. All this happiness of God’s people will be shared by God Himself:

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (verse 7)

c. The restoration of the nation, vs. 18—20

In spite of the translation difficulties surrounding verse 18, Zephaniah writes of a time in the future of God’s people that even we have yet to experience. The years of exile in Babylong would be difficult for the Jews. They would be unable to worship, and would long for the day when they could gather together in praise.

To these exiles, God promised that one day, all would be restored. Once they lived in shame, but one day, they people would receive honor and fame on account of what their God will do for them.

Through God’s work of restoration, Judah will become renowned around the world.

At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes…” (verses 19, 20)

The minor prophets saw the day when God’s saving grace would flow from Israel to all the people over all the earth. By taking seriously the words of “the minors,” we can learn what God requires of us and how to “do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8)

(c) 2011 WitzEnd

SOLOMON TAKES A STAND

1 Kings 2, assorted verses, 1 Chronicles 29:26—28

Most people who read the Bible have noticed the similarity between the books of Kings and Chronicles. There is a very good reason for this: both books (4 in our English Bibles) cover essentially the same material from slightly different perspectives. Often details missing in one version of a story may be found in the other account. Such is the case of the account of Solomon’s first few days as solo king of Israel. For an unspecified period of time, a co-regency existed in Israel; Solomon reigned alongside his father, David.

As we begin our study, David has passed away and Solomon has become the king of Israel in earnest. The account in 1 Chronicles makes the transition sound simple and uneventful:

David son of Jesse was king over all Israel. He ruled over Israel forty years—seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honor. His son Solomon succeeded him as king.

As for the events of King David’s reign, from beginning to end, they are written in the records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer, together with the details of his reign and power, and the circumstances that surrounded him and Israel and the kingdoms of all the other lands. (1 Chronicles 29:26—28)

This brief account screams out for more details, which are thankfully provided in 1 Kings 2.

1. David’s charge to Solomon, verses 1—12

Hebrews 9:27 is a verse that we think of as we read David’s charge to his son:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (KJV)

Even though this verse was written many centuries later, David knew his final appointment was near, so he took his son, Solomon, aside to share from his heart the things that the old king thought were important. His charge is easily divided into two sections. The first section, verses 2—4, covers Solomon’s spiritual life, and the second section, which covers verses 5—12, deals with practical political advice.

The very first thing David tells Solomon is this:

So be strong, show yourself a man. (verse 2b)

In other words, David encouraged his son to “act like a man.” David, even in his last days, had discernment; he knew that Solomon was not much of a man. In fact, Solomon was nothing like his father. David was strong, rugged, and a decisive man of action. Solomon was raised in luxury by surrounded by women. This seems to explain why, later on life, he had a thousand wives and concubines; all he knew was women! However, with David’s life ebbing away, it was time for Solomon to “grow up” and “put on the long pants.” Israel needed a strong leader, not a “girlie man” who would be easily swayed and influenced.

In David’s mind, what constituted a “man?” The answer might surprise you:

[O]bserve what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go. (verse 3)

It is interesting, is it not, that the warrior-king considered devotion to God the mark of a true man? David’s legacy to Solomon was much more than just a kingdom with a strong military, secure borders, prestige and wealth. Of infinitely more value was the love for God which he instilled in Solomon. Though David must be considered a failure as a father throughout his life, at his death he provided Solomon with the proper orientation to life and leadership. Everything Solomon would do as king must find its foundation on and motivation in the Word of God.

No father could give his son more than David gave Solomon: a heart that truly beat for God. It reminds of what Jesus would later say in Mark 8:36—

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

Solomon had everything; what he needed was a relationship with God. Thanks to his father’s charge, Solomon now had that.

2. Following his father’s advice: taking the stand.

David gave Solomon some very specific advice about dealing with the traitorous Joab and Shimei. But we shall see that the first thing Solomon had to do as sole regent was deal with his traitorous brother, Adonijah.

(a) Another plot, verses 13—25

You will recall that Adonijah had attempted to “steal” the throne from David and Solomon, with the help of two of David’s good “friends,” Joab and Abiathar. The coup failed and Solomon, exercising mercy and grace told Adonijah this:

“If he shows himself to be a worthy man, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die.” Then King Solomon sent men, and they brought him down from the altar. And Adonijah came and bowed down to King Solomon, and Solomon said, “Go to your home.” (1 Kings 1:52, 53)

It was not long before Adonijah showed himself anything but worthy. Even though he admitted in verse 15 that God had given the kingdom to Solomon, Adonijah was still not satisfied. He stubbornly continued to advance his rebellious and selfish agenda.

Adonijah is the perfect example of a rebellious believer: knowing exactly was God’s will is but not accepting it. In asking for the hand of Abishag, his late father’s concubine, he was not interested in romance, but in trying once again to secure for himself a legitimate claim to the throne. Here is where understanding the rather odd cultural traditions of that time is helpful. At this time in Hebrew history, the king’s harem used to pass on to his successor. For example, David received the wives of Saul when he was given the throne (2 Samuel 12:8). When Absalom attempted to wrest the throne from David, one of the ways he asserted his claim to the throne was to publically approach the concubines of David in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 16:21—22). Possession of that harem was literally viewed as a clear title to the throne.

What Adonijah was doing must not be viewed as innocent in any way. This man was fueled with overweening ambition and was looking for a way to circumvent God’s will. Whether or not Bathsheba understood this is not known, but Solomon was smart enough to see through his half-brother’s request:

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. (verses 23—25)

To our touchy-feely feminized culture of today, what Solomon did may seem harsh and over-the-top. However, it was a necessary action since to leave Adonijah alive would have meant leaving an open, festering sore in the land. Adonijah had proved that he was not to be trusted; he himself had forced on Solomon the action the king took.

Furthermore, it must also be pointed out that Solomon was not out for revenge nor was he being vindictive. There is no mention in this detailed account any punitive actions taken toward the other brothers, who most certainly had, at the very least, passively supported Adonijah (see 1:9).

(b ) A little temple-cleaning, verses 26—27

With Adonijah removed as an opponent, Solomon turned to Adonijah’s main supporters, Abiathar and Joab. Even though he is not mentioned in David’s charge to Solomon, the priest Abiathar’s opposition to Solomon did not go unnoticed. Abiathar was, at one time, a close friend and associate of David’s. He was anointed of the Lord to be priest over Israel. Though he could have been put to death for his treasonous acts, Solomon showed this priest a measure of clemency. He was forcibly removed from office and banished to his home in Anathoth.

What many do not realize is that Solomon directly fulfilled a prophecy in what he did this day. Not only did Abiathar cease to be a priest, but his banishment ended the line of Eli, as foretold in 1 Samuel 2:27—36.

Once again, Solomon took the hard-line approach, but what he did was precisely what the Lord had intended. With Abiathar out of the picture, Zadok assumed the role of high priest in the land. David had avoided this thorny issue for some time, but God’s will came to pass, thanks to Solomon.

(c) The execution of Joab, verses 28—34

This was part of David’s charge to Solomon: take care of the traitor Joab. As with the previous incidents, personal revenge was not the motive; it was a matter of justice. As long as Joab went unpunished, there was guilt on David, and this guilt was passed on to Solomon, since David had not, for whatever reason, been able to remove it. The only way to remove this guilt was to deal with Joab properly, as prescribed by law.

Then the king commanded Benaiah, “Do as he says. Strike him down and bury him, and so clear me and my father’s house of the guilt of the innocent blood that Joab shed.” (verse 31)

“May the guilt of their blood rest on the head of Joab and his descendants forever. But on David and his descendants, his house and his throne, may there be the LORD’s peace forever.” (verse 33)

When we look at the judgment of both Abiathar and Joab, a couple of points jump out at us. First, one’s position before God does not dictate how they will be treated if they sin. Abiathar was a high priest, yet he was apparently unrepentant for his sin and therefore punished accordingly. We might think that he got off easy because he was basically fired instead of being executed. However, that is not the case. Imagine the shame of being fired from what should have been a lifetime position. For the rest of his days, this one-time priest was known as an unfaithful traitor and unfit priest. That would have been a heavy burden to bear.

Second, while the horns of the altar provided Adonijah with refuge, not so with Joab. Joab ran to the altar but it did him no good. The lesson here is two-fold: what worked for one does not always work for another. God treats us individuals. God is also sovereign. It was His will to give Adonijah chance, but Joab’s fate was sealed. The sin Joab was being punished for not only struck at the integrity of David, but also that of Solomon because the murders he committed were not a private matter, but public. In a sense, they were not really murders but political assassinations! Therefore, the whole nation had a stake in his punishment.

(d) The sad case of Shimei, verses 36—46

Who was this Shimei? Back in 2 Samuel 16, we learn that he had blasphemed God’s anointed, David, and was part of Absalom’s treasonous revolt. David did not deal with Shimei at all because he had given him his word that he would not. This piece of unfinished business needed to be dealt with, however.

At first, Solomon showed this rebellious man great mercy by allowing him to live in Jerusalem. Essentially the king would keep him close by, thus keeping an eye on him. The problem with Shimei was that he was a troublemaker, and all troublemakers are the same: they continually sow seeds of discontent wherever they go. While Shimei was not one of the conspirators in league with Adonijah, he had great potential for stirring up trouble for the House of David. He couldn’t stand anybody related to the late king.

Solomon, perhaps out of respect for his father, cut Shimei some slack and placed him under a kind of house arrest. This was a second chance for life! Apparently he behaved himself for three years:

But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maacah, 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. (verses 39, 40)

How seriously did Shimei take his oath to the king? What was his life worth? Instead of doing the right thing and acting like an honest man and going to the king for permission to chase down his slaves, he barged ahead and broke his word. He staked his life on the value of two slaves and lost.

Solomon called Shimei to account for his breach of an oath to God:

“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.’ (verse 42)

Shimei did not disrespect the king, he disrespected the King! This man had been shown mercy upon mercy but now justice had to be extracted because Shimei by his actions showed that he was not worthy of another pardon.

The king also said to Shimei, “You know in your heart all the wrong you did to my father David. Now the LORD will repay you for your wrongdoing.” (verse 44)

The final opponent to the House of David was eliminated and the throne firmly established. All his life, David had his detractors, but God caused him to prevail and prosper, not only during his own rule, but that blessing carried over onto his son, Solomon. The covenant God made with David was well on its way to toward fulfillment in the Person of Jesus Christ. Solomon was given a kingdom of peace and prosperity, and in his amazing wisdom and insight he will become a type of another Son of David, the Messiah.


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