A Clean Slate

(Today's post by Adam Cooper)

1 Kings 2

As we continue the story of arguably one of the most devout kings in Israel’s history, David has just slid the rightful king (Solomon) in under the radar as yet another son constructs a hostile takeover as it were. Adonijah is scared and holding onto the horns of the altar in the temple until the new king, Solomon, tells Adonijah to go home. A quick search for information concerning this practice of grasping and holding on to the horns of the altar led me to understand that these horns were on the altar on which the Jews conducted their burnt offerings (also called the Brazen Altar). Fugitives wishing asylum would grasp onto the horns of the altar showing submission and confession of their wrongs. Also by Solomon simply telling Adonijah to “go home” he was telling him that he was not even worth dealing with. We join David on his death bed outlining a series of things that he wishes Solomon to accomplish and commissioning him to live in the ways of God. Basically, the grace that David had shown to those who had wronged him in previous chapters had run its course and in an effort to protect the reign of his son, David made a list of people that Solomon needed to “remove” from his service…..permanently. So in a directed “house cleaning” Solomon and his supporters systematically remove those who David said.

Adonijah, after being told by Solomon to go home, insisted on having some part of David’s reign so he requested the young handmaiden that had been selected to keep the aging king warm for his bride. An interesting note in the NIV Study Bible says that possessing one of the king’s harem was the equivalent to claiming his throne. Adonijah knew this and so was laying insult and disrespect to Solomon as the new king. We find out rather quickly that Solomon’s grace did not come easily as he has Adonijah killed.

I find this particular chapter interesting because throughout our study of Samuel we see David exercising grace on those who have wronged him. We compared this to the grace that God shows us by giving his Son to die for our sins. But now we see David, on his death bed, declaring that those people should no longer receive his grace and should be punished for what they have done and continue to do. Some may say that David showed them grace once and the second time chose not to show grace as some of the same people supported Adonijah who had supported Absalom. Others could use this, although improperly, to show that God’s grace is not guaranteed and that we can lose God’s grace. What I see in this is David exercising his right as a father to protect his son. David knew, and this is purely assumptive, that the ones that had stood against him and that now stood against Solomon would try again. He knew that they would eventually attempt to overthrow Solomon. David being the great warrior that had exercised great restraint and grace throughout his reign did not want Solomon to have to contend with this from the outset. He also knew that if Solomon simply bowed down to the insurrection and support of Adonijah with a show of grace that many would see this as a sign of weakness. I find this an interesting transition from David, a king of great grace to Solomon, a king of great wisdom. David knew from God that Solomon would build the Lord’s house and he wanted Solomon to have the respect and the support of the people to be able to do this.

What can we take from all of this? How does this story support or conflict with the way we are told to live our lives under Christ? Does this verse tell us that we should only extend grace in a limited way in our lives?

Christ tells us to forgive those that wrong us 70 times 7 times (Matthew 18:22). We are told to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). We are told that God’s grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that it is eternal. But here we see David, an example of grace personified, showing us that grace is limited or runs its course, or is only good for one or two wrongs. However, we know that God has always been the same; yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We are not seeing a difference in God here. We are seeing a difference in context and history and humanity. A difference that was ushered in by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. He came to save us from the wrath of God, the wrath which we all deserve. He is here to stand in intercession for us with God to save us from that wrath.

We do not need to get bogged down in the minutia of these Old Testament verses. While they are instrumental in learning about God and in many instances they can be very revealing about God and the overall grand plan that He has been orchestrating since the beginning, we need to remember the teachings of Christ. Christ ushered in a new covenant that was not governed or controlled by the legalistic menagerie that had become of Jewish law and we need to look at stories like this from 1 Kings 2 in the light of those differences and what we can learn from them.

My action step for you today is to remember the teachings of Christ when you are faced with adversity. Keep them in your heart and in your mind and commit them to your lives in all ways and in all things with the goal of everything you do bringing glory to one who gave His life for us.


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