1 Kings 1:1-4 When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. So his attendants said to him, Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm. Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The woman was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no sexual relations with her.
The author of First and Second Kings is not identified, but he wrote for the people of God around 550 BC. The first four verses are an honest account of David’s frailty at the end of his life. He could not keep himself warm, and lacked the virility to have sex with a beautiful young woman. This was a different stage of David’s life than when he was slaying Goliath (1 Samuel 17), or adding to his harem (2 Samuel 5:13).
David was only about seventy years old at this time (2 Samuel 5:4), but his difficult life had worn him out. He would not live much longer, and had failed to appointed his successor. This became a problem when one of his sons began to assert himself.
1 Kings 1:5 Adonijah . . . put himself forward and said, I will be king.
Adonijah was the oldest of David’s remaining sons, and a likely successor to his father’s throne. His chariots, entourage and natural good looks gave him a kingly appearance. But like his brother Absalom, Adonijah was overly ambitious.
Since David was frail, Adonijah appointed himself king without expecting much resistance. He had the support of many officials including Joab (David’s general), and Abiathar (David’s priest). So Adonijah held a celebration where his kingship was made official. Once again, David’s throne was being challenged by one of his sons.
Even the best parents can have rebellious children, but some of David’s children were truly awful. Amnon raped his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:14), Absalom led a revolt (2 Samuel 15-17), and Adonijah was trying to steal his father’s throne. Where did David go wrong?
David was a busy king, and probably delegated most parental duties to the mothers of his children. Most mothers are well equipped for this, but religious training is the duty of fathers. Fathers should raise their children in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), wrote Paul. Mothers can be helpful and effective (2 Timothy 1:5), but there is no substitute for a good and godly father.
1 Kings 1:11 Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it?
Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba, after the child of their adultery died (2 Samuel 12:15-24). David promised Bathsheba that Solomon would be king (1 Kings 1:13), but unless David acted quickly, that would not happen. Even worse, if Adonijah came to power, he might have Solomon and Bathsheba put to death, to eliminate a possible challenge to his throne.
1 Kings 1:12 Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon.
Nathan the prophet advised Bathsheba to tell David what was happening. While she was doing so, he would arrive to confirm it. When David learned of the situation, he quickly arranged a ceremony for Solomon to be installed. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, Long live King Solomon! (1 Kings 1:39). When Adonijah’s supporters learned that David made Solomon king, they quickly dispersed so they would not be put to the sword for their rebellion.
1 Kings 1:51 Then Solomon was told, Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar.
Afraid for his life, Adonijah ran to the place of sacrifice and clung to it. This did not guarantee his safety, but since the place was sacred, Adonijah hoped for mercy. If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, said Solomon. So Adonijah came and bowed down (1 Kings 52-53).
Solomon was now the undisputed king of Israel. He would rule the nation forty years (1 Kings 11:42) and bring it to its height. The Lord loved him (2 Samuel 12:24), and he was greatly used by God.
Again we see that God is able to bring good out of evil. God was displeased when David committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:18), and had her husband killed (2 Samuel 11:16-17). But God used their second son to lead the nation to greatness.
Sexual sin is not uncommon among God’s people, and murder is not unheard of. But they are not in a separate category of sin, nor are they handled differently. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), wrote John. The consequences of sin may last a lifetime, but we do not live under a cloud of God’s wrath. God forgives completely, and can even bring a blessing out of our rebellion.
Reflection and Review
Why do children of godly parents often become ungodly?
Why was David slow to transfer his throne to Solomon?
How did God bring a blessing out of David’s sin with Bathsheba?