David, Solomon and Unforgiveness

Get 'emWhen David was passing along the kingship mantle to his son Solomon, he told Solomon about some people. Of course, David begins his final words to his son with an admonition to follow the Lord. We would expect that from David. It would be the right and appropriate thing to do. But what comes next seems odd to me.

David told Solomon about three different people — actually two people and one family. David reminded Solomon about how Joab had killed two of his commanders and how Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, had cursed David. He told Solomon to deal with them according to his wisdom. In fact, of Shimei David said, “You shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” (1 Kings 2:9)

David, what were you thinking? What an awful legacy to leave your heir-to-the-throne son. [Cue the mob boss voiceover] “Take care of these guys. They caused me problems, and I ain’t never forgotten it. Get rid of ’em.”

One of the things I so love about God’s Word is that it doesn’t gloss over real-life situations. We see the good, the bad and the ugly. And this is one ugly situation.

Let’s rewind for a minute and play this scenario back differently. What if we rescript it so that David doesn’t hold the grudges? What if he had chosen to simply forgive? Would that make a difference in how the story plays out?

Of course it would! Instead of passing the baton that has the “get rid of ’em” instructions attached, he could have handed Solomon a clean slate. David still could have told of the family he wanted Solomon to take care of, the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, the family that had showed him kindness. But he certainly didn’t need to make Solomon into his henchman, his retaliator. Solomon should not even have been involved in those disputes. Yet he was, because David held a grudge. He refused to let it go and forgive.

Unforgiveness will  definitely hurt the one who refuses to forgive. But it may also affect others if they’re dragged into that unforgiveness scenario. The better choice is to forgive.

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5 Responses to David, Solomon and Unforgiveness

  1. Ron Sutton says:

    This is a great insight, Tom. I have passed uncomfortably over this passage time and time again. I gave DAVID the benefit of the doubt and told myself that he was just thinking of Solomon and didn’t want these guys around to cause him trouble. But I think you are right. What an unjust thing to require of Solomon.

    • Tom Kraeuter says:

      Thanks, Ron. I, too, have struggled with this idea for a long time. Recently I’ve been teaching a lot on forgiveness. So, when I read this section last week, it struck me. What if David had forgiven? It changes the entire perspective of the story. That’s what forgiveness does in our lives, too.

  2. I interpreted David’s words only as warnings to Solomon to be wary of them. Solomon did not harm them until they intrigued against him.

    Solomon was 1000 Yeats before Christ. Fear was the motivator philosophy until Christ preached love.

    Both fear and love can instill obedience, love the greater does not work always work well with scoffers.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

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