I Kings 1

The Word Made Fresh

1The years passed, and David was an old man. He could never seem to be warm enough no matter how many blankets they covered him with. 2His servants said, “Let us look for a young virgin to attend the king. She can wait on you and be your personal servant. She can lie beside you and help our lord stay warm.” 3They searched for such a girl throughout Israel. They found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4She was a beautiful girl and she took care of the king faithfully, but the king was not intimate with her.

5David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, decided he would be king. He gathered horses and charioteers and had fifty men run ahead of him. 6His father never disciplined him or asked him why he did these things. He was a handsome young man, next in line to the throne after Absalom. 7He sought support and advice from Joab son of Zeruiah and from Abiathar the priest, and they both supported Adonijah in his quest. 8But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoida, and Nathan the prophet, along with the king’s bodyguards Shimei and Rei, did not support Adonijah.

9Then Adonijah threw a party, and slaughtered sheep, oxen and fattened cows by the Zoheleth stone near En-Rogel. He invited his brothers (the king’s other sons), and all of the royal officials of Judah, 10but not the prophet Nathan or Benaiah or any of David’s special forces or his own brother Solomon.

11Nathan came to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and said, “Have you heard that Adonijah son of Haggith has made himself king, and our lord David knows nothing about it? 12Let me tell you what to do. You can still save yourself and your son Solomon. 13Go to king David right now. Say to him, ‘My lord the king, didn’t you promise me my son Solomon would be king after you? How then did Adonijah become king?’ 14While you are telling him this, I’ll come in after you and confirm what you have told him.”

15Bathsheba went to the king in his room. He was very old and was being attended by Abishag the Shunammite girl. 16Bathsheba bowed low, and the king asked, “What do you wish?” 17She said, “My lord, you promised me, your servant, by the LORD your God, that my son Solomon will be king after you and would sit on your throne. 18But now Adonijah has become king without you, my lord, knowing anything about it. 19He has slaughtered oxen, fattened cows and a large number of sheep, and has invited all the king’s children, along with Abiathar the priest and your general, Joab. But he did not invite your servant Solomon. 20But, my lord the king, all eyes in Israel are on you to see who becomes king after you. 21If you allow this to stand, then when my lord the king sleeps with his ancestors, my son Solomon and I will be looked upon as traitors.”

22She was still speaking when the prophet Nathan entered the king’s house. The king was told Nathan had come, and when he came to the king’s room, he bowed face down before the king. 23He asked, “My lord the king, have you said that Adonijah would be king after you and sit in your place? 25Today he has slaughtered oxen and cows and a number of sheep. He has invited the king’s children along with General Joab and Abiathar the priest. They are having a drinking party with him now and are yelling, ‘Long live king Adonijah!’ 26But he didn’t invite me or Zadok the priest or Benaiah son of Jehoida. Nor did he invite Solomon. 27Did the king sanction this without letting us know who you want to succeed you?”

28King David said, “Tell Bathsheba to come back in.” She came into the king’s chamber and stood before him. 29The king made a promise. He said, “As the LORD lives who has saved my life from every enemy, 30as I swore to you before the LORD that your son Solomon shall follow me as king and sit on my throne, I will make that happen today!”

31Bathsheba bowed face down to the ground as an act of submission to the king. Then she said, “May my lord David the king live forever!”

32King David told his servants to bring the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada. When they were assembled, 33the king said, “Take my servants with you, put Solomon on my mule and take him to Gihon. 34When you get there, the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan will anoint him king of Israel. Then blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live king Solomon!’ 35Follow him in to sit on my throne. He shall be king in my place. I have appointed him to rule Israel and Judah.”

36Benaiah son of Jehoiadah, said, “Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, make this happen! 37The LORD has been with my lord the king all along, and may he now be with Solomon as well, and make Solomon’s throne be even greater than the throne of my lord king David.”

38So, Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Behaiah son of Jehoiada, along with the Cherethites and Pelethites went to Solomon, put him on king David’s mule and led him to Gihon. 39Zadok then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the trumpet and all the people cried, “Long live king Solomon!” 40All the people followed him, playing pipes and shouting with great joy until the earth shook with the noise they made.

41Adonijah and all his guests heard it from where they were eating their feast. Joab asked, “Why is the city in such turmoil?”

42Before he finished speaking, Jonathan son of the priest Abiathar arrived. Adonijah said, “Come in! You are a good man, and surely you bring good news!”

43Jonathan answered, “Not at all! Our lord king David has just crowned Solomon as king. 44The king sent the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan and Benaiah son of Jehoida, along with the Cherethites and Pelethites, to go with him. He was riding the king’s mule. 45Zadok and Nathan have anointed him king at Gihon, and they are having a great celebration there; that’s the noise you heard. 46Solomon now sits on the royal throne. 47The king’s servants lined up to congratulate king David, saying, ‘May God make the name Solomon more famous than yours, and make his throne greater than yours.’ The king bowed in prayer on his bed, 48and he prayed, ‘Blessed is the LORD, the God of Israel, who today has granted that one of my own sons will sit on my throne and has allowed me to be a witness.'”

49Then all of Adonijah’s guests left, trembling. 50Adonijah went also and grasped the horns of the altar, for he was afraid of Solomon. 51Someone told Solomon, “Adonijah is afraid of you and has clung to the horns of the altar. He says he’ll stay there until king Solomon promises he will not have him killed.”

52Solomon said, “If he proves to be worthy, I won’t harm a hair on his head. But if there is any evidence of evil in him, he shall die.” 53Then king Solomon sent for him, and he was taken from the altar and brought before him. He bowed before king Solomon, and Solomon told him to go home.


1-4: When we left 2 Samuel David did not seem to be slowing down with age, but now we have moved rather suddenly to find David as an old man who is always cold. So, they provide a young girl to take care of him; day and night of course, but we are assured nothing untoward happens.

5-8: In the king’s dotage other pretenders to the throne arise. Prince Adonijah was the 4th son born to David at Hebron (2 Samuel 3:4). He decides it is time to make his claim to the throne, with Joab and Abiathar supporting him — pretty powerful support. Joab is overall commander of the armed forces and Abiathar had been David’s staunch ally during the Absalom affair. Adonijah is a good-looking guy like his brother Absalom, but a spoiled brat — that’s what verse 6 means. David was a great warrior and poet, but a terrible father. Adonijah starts putting on airs like his brother Absalom (see 2 Samuel 15:1). But Adonijah does not have the support of some key palace and temple officials: Zadok the high priest; Benaiah, one of David’s trusted military commanders; the prophet Nathan; Shimei, probably David’s brother (2 Samuel 21:21); and Rei, who is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. All of these stick with David.

9-10: Adonijah throws a big party at En-Rogel a couple of miles out of town and invites the other princes except Solomon, and other dignitaries except Nathan and Benaiah. This is the same kind of ploy Absalom used (2 Samuel 15:7-12). Want to overthrow your father the king? Have a big barbeque (beef only, of course) and invite all the bigwigs.

11-14: The prophet Nathan makes the counter move. He talks to Bathsheba and tells her that Adonijah has proclaimed himself king. But has he? No such pronouncement has actually been made. Nathan uses that premature alarm to engage Bathsheba in a ruse to put Solomon on the throne. Nathan is protecting his own interests, you understand, because he knows that if Adonijah becomes king he may be in trouble. He tells Bathsheba to go to the king and remind him that Solomon is to succeed him. However, if you review all that has gone before, such a promise was never made to Bathsheba. Nathan is making this up, knowing that David is doddering and probably won’t remember that he never officially tagged Solomon as his successor. Tell him Adonijah has made himself king, says Nathan, and then I’ll come in, pretending not to know you’re there.

15-21: Bathsheba goes to David. Nathan has alarmed her because if Solomon does not succeed David she, too, is in trouble. She follows Nathan’s advice, “reminding” David that he has picked Solomon and promised her by the LORD “his” God (she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, remember, which may mean she herself is a Hittite). Adonijah has tried to usurp the throne and she is worried that she and Solomon will be cast aside (dead, of course).

22-27: Nathan arrives on cue. Adonijah, he says, has thrown a big party and the invitation list is suspicious. Did the king know about this? Did the king decide Adonijah would succeed him without telling Nathan and Zadok and Benaiah? Why, such a thing would be unthinkable, wouldn’t it?

28-31: David sends for Bathsheba, who apparently stepped aside when Nathan came in. He tells her that he will keep his word to her and make Solomon the king. She bows to the floor and says, “May my lord King David live forever!” Sure.

32-37: David summons Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah and tells them to take Solomon to the spring called Gihon on the edge of town and anoint him king over Israel. Then they are to blow the horn and form a noisy procession to the palace and seat Solomon on David’s throne. Benaiah, the military guy, utters the hope that Solomon will be greater than David. I wonder what David thought of that?

38-40: They take Solomon, accompanied by Benaiah’s mercenary troops, down to the spring, anoint him king, blow the horn and shout, “Long live King Solomon,” then form a procession into the city, raising a ruckus. The mercenary soldiers are always nearby, aren’t they?

41-48: Adonijah and his company hear the noise a couple of miles away at En-Rogel. Joab is the first to be alarmed. Jonathan, son of Abiathar, another ally of David during the Absalom affair, brings the news. Solomon has been crowned with the king’s compliance. That makes Solomon’s claim secure and they all know it is so.            

49-53: Adonijah runs to the altar. We aren’t sure where this is, exactly, since the temple is not yet built, but it is obviously recognized as a place of neutral ground and he runs there for protection. Perhaps it is on the former threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Solomon’s first act as king is to let his half-brother off the hook for the time being. You can bet that won’t last long.


David was a political genius, but a poor father who spoiled his sons, two of whom — Absalom and now Adonijah – tried to unseat him. God is in there somewhere, but strangely in the background and out of sight. That is always a red flag, isn’t it?