The Book of First Kings
The first half of First Kings traces the life of Solomon. Under his leadership, Israel rises to the peak of her size and glory. Solomon’s great accomplishments, including the temple, which he constructs in Jerusalem, bring him worldwide fame and respect. However, Solomon’s zeal for God diminishes in his later years, as pagan wives turn his heart away from worship in the temple of God. As a result, his divided heart leaves behind a divided kingdom. For the next century, the Book of First Kings traces twin histories of two sets of kings and two nations of disobedient people who are growing indifferent to God’s prophets and precepts.
The Decline of David
Verse 1 – Israel was near the end of the golden years of David’s reign. The book of First Kings begins with a unified Kingdom, glorious and God-centered; it ends with a divided kingdom, degraded and idolatrous.
Verse 4 – David was around 70 years of age and his health had deteriorated. In times, when polygamy was accepted and kings had harems, this action was not considered offensive.
Verse 5 – Adonijah was David’s fourth son. He decided to seize the throne without David’s knowledge. He also knew that Solomon was David’s choice to rule. But his deceptive plans to gain the throne were unsuccessful.
Verse 6 – David served God well as king, but as a parent, he often failed both God and his children. Remember Absalom? Or Amon? Because David had never interfered by opposing or even questioning his son, Adonijah did not know how to behave within limits. The result was that he always wanted his way, regardless of how it affected others.
Verse 9 – Adonijah wanted sacrifices offered, perhaps hoping to legitimize his takeover. But Adonijah was not God’s choice to succeed David. Sealing an action with religious, ceremony does not make it God’s will.
Verses 11-25 – Bathsheba approached the king first because she knew if something were not done, she and Solomon would be executed. Now Nathan came before the king when he learned of the conspiracy. We often know what is the right thing to do but don’t act on it.
Verse 32 – David responded with the orders that legitimized Solomon’s succession. Benaiah seemed to be the dominant military leader in the city.
Verse 33 – To ride the king’s mule was to claim the throne.
Verse 34 – The proper religious personnel were to anoint Solomon. This was done by the king’s command and in the presence of the king’s private army. These facts were sufficient for the people of Jerusalem to choose Solomon over Adonijah.
Verse 38 – The Cherethites and the Pelethites were, formerly, Philistines mercenaries, personally loyal to David, and by this time presumably converted to faith in Yahweh. They formed David’s personal bodyguard and were an effective infantry.
Verse 39 – The sacred anointing oil was used to anoint Israel’s kings and his priests, as well to dedicate certain objects to God.
Verse 41 – The conflicting coronations were occurring within 500 yards of each other, the distance between Gihon and En-rogel. Imagine the uneasiness when Adonijah’s group heard the noise of Solomon’s coronation.
Verses 44-46 – Adonijah followers were not ready to battle for Jerusalem, especially since David had spoken and was still alive.
Verses 49, 50 – Sometimes people have to get caught red-handed before they are willing to give up their schemes. When Adonijah learned that his plans were doomed to fail, he ran in panic to the altar, the place of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Verses 52, 53 – Adonijah feared for his life and expected severe punishment, but Solomon simply dismissed him and sent him home. Sometimes forgiving a personal attack shows more strength than lashing out in revenge. Trying to prove one’s power and authority often proves only one’s fear and self-doubt. Only after Adonijah made another attempt to secure royal power was Solomon forced to have him executed (2:13-25).
The Book of First Kings