David’s dying words to Solomon signal a transitional point in the life of Israel: David’s reign primarily being characterized by war and Solomon’s as an era of peace. First, David’s words echo the covenantal charges given to Joshua (Josh. 1:6-9) as well as the description of the ideal man in Psalm 1: Be strong and courageous (1 Kings 2:2); honor your obligations to the Lord and walk in His ways (v. 3); walk faithfully before God and there will always be one of your descendants on the throne of Israel (v. 4).
Second, David trusted Solomon to exercise wisdom in some matters of justice. These were timely and precarious matters pertaining to individuals who negatively affected David’s reign and public influence, and the beginning of Solomon’s reign seemed to be the appropriate occasion to address them. Of note in this passage is the way David counseled Solomon to deal in wisdom with his enemies.
Interestingly enough, even after Solomon executed David’s enemies, God would commend Solomon for his request for “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (3:9), a request where avenging his personal enemies was not a first priority but second to serving the good of his people (3:11). Accordingly, wisdom is not opposed to justice, and true justice is a display of God’s wisdom.
When has someone trusted you to act with wisdom concerning something important? Why should we not pit wisdom and justice against one another?