I Kings 1. The Rise and Fall of an Arrogant Son.
Key Notes: Old Testament as history. David at the end of his life. Adonijah tried a coup. Rebellion now.
A preview of the lessons of I,II Kings and I,II Chronicles will set the stage for our studies.
*God is active in history, ruling and over-ruling the kings and their kingdoms. We are studying a case-book of human politics and divine intervention.
*God judges individuals and societies.
*God delivers, and saves people from natural disaster and spiritual distress.
*God foretells the future by His prophets, notably concerning the Great King of which all others are a pale copy. "A greater than Solomon is here". (Matt.13:42)
*God is worshipped well, in the center at Jerusalem, and poorly elsewhere, in various places and rituals.
Kings and Chronicles are authentic history.
•The sources are reliable.
•There is a line of development from beginning to end.
•The interaction of cause and effect is shown in a realistic way.
•Believable portraits of people are shown.
The lives of the Kings of Israel and Judah did not occur in a vacuum. They lived out the ways of their fathers. Consequently, our study will have a number of flash-backs. We must become familiar with I,II Samuel, and plow its ground repeatedly. Kierkegaard said that life must be lived looking ahead, but it can only be understood looking back.
IK.1:1–4 David, about 70 years old, was in failing health, probably due to a thyroid deficiency that made him feel cold, slowed his mind and body, and kept him out of active leadership.
The only way the ancients could think to warm a cold person was to put a warm person in contact. Even today the "armstrong heater" is known for its efficiency. This might not have been a pleasant task, but Abishag, a virgin from Shunam was called to be David's nurse. [What was wrong with Bathsheba, or David's other wives?]
1:5–10 Adonijah was David's oldest surviving son. (IChron.3:1–9). Amnon, David's first born, had been killed by Absalom to avenge the rape of his sister Tamar. (IISam.13). Chileab was not mentioned and probably died young. Absalom was killed by Joab when he revolted against David. (IISam.1). Adonijah was next in line and decided that he would be Israel's next king. He secured the assistance of Joab, David's general, and Abiathar the priest, his brothers and the other royal officials. He made a feast but left out Solomon, Bathsheba and Nathan the prophet.
1:11–27. Nathan the prophet knew that David had promised the kingdom to Solomon, and that Solomon and Bathsheba his mother were now in mortal danger. They could be executed to prevent a rivalry with Adonijah. Nathan arranged a pair of speeches to be delivered to the king. Bathsheba would go first, announcing Adonijah's celebration, and Nathan would go after her to repeat the story. Perhaps David had also lost short-term memory.
1:28–40 David rallied. He confirmed the oath he had made before God to have Solomon as king. He summoned Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah as general of the army to accompany Solomon on David's mule. They were joined by David's elite guard, the Cherethites and Pelethites and a parade of people followed through the streets of Jerusalem: Long live King Solomon!
1:41–48 Joab had ears for trouble. News came from Jonathan, son of Abiathar the priest, that King David had made Solomon king and that David had blessed him.
1:49–53 The party evaporated. Adonijah ran to the altar for refuge. He was brought before David and made homage to him. David let him go.
2:13–25 After David died and Solomon was king, Adonijah made what appears to be a political bid. He asked Bathsheba to get Abishag the Shunammite from Solomon to be his wife. Whether he was thinking that he could gain capital by attaching part of David's harem, or he just wanted a beautiful wife we cannot tell. Solomon understood the request in political terms: "Ask him for the kingdom also; for he is my older brother and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah". (2:22)
Adonijah was a handsome, totally undisciplined prince. His father never corrected him. (1:6). He was one of a dozen children fathered by David, living with their various mothers. David neglected his children with the possible exception of Solomon. Nevertheless, "David's sons were the chief officials in the service of the king." (IChron.18:17). IISam.8:18 says "and David's sons were priests (Heb. "Kohanim", or Kohens). That may mean advisors only, not serving at the altar.
Adonijah said "I will be King". (IK.1:5). Yet he would say later, "However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother's for it was his from the LORD.” (IK.2:15). It was general knowledge that David had declared Solomon his successor. (IK.1:17). Adonijah knew that he was going against his father David, his brother Solomon, Nathan the prophet and God in his ambition to be king. He had the face of a young god and the heart of a rebel like his brother Absalom. Both died in rebellion against the king for whom they had no respect.
In the '60's and '70's rebellion was an important feature of American life. A cultural revolution occurred with different music (rock), clothes (tie-dyed T-shirts, jeans, sandals), hygiene (none), hair (long), car (VW bus), mind (LSD, Pot), marriage (forgotten), government (socialist), religion (Hindu), war (no). Bobby Dylan sang that we would all be swept away. A student radical informed a UW professor that "you will not be the first to go." Some students were collecting information on large houses that they would confiscate on behalf of the poor. Joan Baez sang "The Night They Tore old Dixie Down." "Question Authority" is still seen on bumper stickers. God was merciful and spared us a French-style Revolution.
Rebellion permeated all levels of society. We are still a part of it. It is human nature to react negatively against authority structures. It is up to us to chose the structures we will resist and the methods. Paul was clear on the basis of our rebellion: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this darkness." (Eph.6:12)
Since rebellion is part of our nature, we can mobilize it for good. We must rebel against evil and denounce it in God's name. We must encourage each other to renounce evil, and teach our children to do the same.