1Not long before David died, he told Solomon:
2My son, I will soon die, as everyone must. But I want you to be strong and brave. 3Do what the Lord your God commands and follow his teachings. Obey everything written in the Law of Moses. Then you will be a success, no matter what you do or where you go. 4You and your descendants must always faithfully obey the Lord. If you do, he will keep the solemn promise he made to me that someone from our family will always be king of Israel.
5 Solomon, don't forget what Joab did to me by killing Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether, the two commanders of Israel's army. He killed them as if they were his enemies in a war, but he did it when there was no war. He is guilty, and now it's up to you to punish him 6in the way you think best. Whatever you do, don't let him die peacefully in his old age.
7 The sons of Barzillai from Gilead helped me when I was running from your brother Absalom. Be kind to them and let them eat at your table.
8 Be sure to do something about Shimei son of Gera from Bahurim in the territory of Benjamin. He cursed and insulted me the day I went to Mahanaim. But later, when he came to meet me at the Jordan River, I promised that I wouldn't kill him. 9Now you must punish him. He's an old man, but you're wise enough to know that you must have him killed.
10-11 David was king of Israel 40 years. He ruled 7 years from Hebron and 33 years from Jerusalem. Then he died and was buried in Jerusalem. 12 His son Solomon became king and took control of David's kingdom.
This chapter is grim reading. Looking at it through a 21st century lens, David’s instructions to Solomon about the treatment of his enemies seem ruthless and cruel. We wonder how the gentle poet of the Psalms can act in such a bloodthirsty manner. Our idealistic view of a pastoral artist is offended by the reality of life for an ancient king. But David was a king, with countless enemies threatening both him and his kingdom. Just as presidents and prime ministers in our time sometimes must make life and death decisions about enemies of the state, so too did monarchs in biblical history. Nevertheless, young Solomon was given gut-wrenching marching orders by his failing father. He did what he had to do, and we read at the end of the chapter that his kingdom was finally “established.”
The bleak truth emerging from the slaying of David’s enemies is that decisions we make in life shape outcomes. We “reap what we sow.” We cannot divorce ourselves from the consequences of our choices. The inexorable law of good producing good, and evil producing evil, cannot be ignored or nullified. Whether it’s senators mis-spending taxpayers’ money, petty thieves and murderers victimizing the public, or wealthy people hiding their money in tax havens, the fact is that sooner or later our sins “will find us out.” We will be caught, and we will pay.
None of us, of course, is entirely good or evil. But we’re aware that the Bible is right when it says there is “none righteous.” We need forgiveness and we need a saviour. That’s why the “son of David,” Jesus – the Son of God, brings such hope to sinners like us. He forgives and saves. He pays the penalty of our sin by dying on the cross, and gives us hope of heaven by rising from the dead and ascending to the Father. He pays, and we live.
Thank you Jesus for saving me.