…and More Death

Solomon completes his first few days of his reign as king by finishing some business with a former enemy, based on the advice his father David gave him back in 1 Kings 2:8-9.

We have seen two stories already involving the man called Shimei – here and here.  And while it seemed that Shimei had been completely forgiven by David for his initially rebellious attitude, it was not to be.  David had advised Solomon to carry out retribution on Shimei by bringing “his gray head down to the grave in blood”.  Solomon complies:

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.”

Shimei answered the king, “What you say is good. Your servant will do as my lord the king has said.” And Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.

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.

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?”

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.  But King Solomon will be blessed, and David’s throne will remain secure before the LORD forever.”

Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and killed him.

The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands.  — 1 Kings 2:36-46

Solomon’s reaction to Shimei’s temporary exit of the land seems harsh – after all, Shimei did come back to the land after looking for his runaway slaves.  As always, I believe the Old Testament serves as a guide to the nature of God.  Was Solomon acting in a way that pleased God, even though the result was the death of Shimei – along with the deaths of Adonijah and Joab before him?  I believe he was, and he was also acting on the advice of his father, David, who was a “man after God’s own heart”.  What does it tell us about God?  I think it demonstrates that God treats rebellion very seriously.  So seriously, in fact, that death might be the proper result.


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