About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, “I will make myself king.” So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him. Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?” Adonijah had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome. Adonijah took Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest into his confidence, and they agreed to help him become king. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and David’s personal bodyguard refused to support Adonijah. Adonijah went to the Stone of Zoheleth near the spring of En-rogel, where he sacrificed sheep, cattle, and fattened calves. He invited all his brothers—the other sons of King David—and all the royal officials of Judah. But he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the king’s bodyguard or his brother Solomon. Then Nathan went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and asked her, “Haven’t you heard that Haggith’s son, Adonijah, has made himself king, and our lord David doesn’t even know about it? If you want to save your own life and the life of your son Solomon, follow my advice. Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, didn’t you make a vow and say to me, “Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ And while you are still talking with him, I will come and confirm everything you have said.” So Bathsheba went into the king’s bedroom. (He was very old now, and Abishag was taking care of him.) Bathsheba bowed down before the king. “What can I do for you?” he asked her. She replied, “My lord, you made a vow before the Lord your God when you said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne.’ But instead, Adonijah has made himself king, and my lord the king does not even know about it. He has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited Abiathar the priest and Joab, the commander of the army. But he did not invite your servant Solomon. And now, my lord the king, all Israel is waiting for you to announce who will become king after you. If you do not act, my son Solomon and I will be treated as criminals as soon as my lord the king has died.” While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. The king’s officials told him, “Nathan the prophet is here to see you.” Nathan went in and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. Nathan asked, “My lord the king, have you decided that Adonijah will be the next king and that he will sit on your throne? Today he has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. They are feasting and drinking with him and shouting, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But he did not invite me or Zadok the priest or Benaiah or your servant Solomon. Has my lord the king really done this without letting any of his officials know who should be the next king?” King David responded, “Call Bathsheba!” So she came back in and stood before the king. And the king repeated his vow: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has rescued me from every danger, your son Solomon will be the next king and will sit on my throne this very day, just as I vowed to you before the Lord, the God of Israel.” Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground before the king and exclaimed, “May my lord King David live forever!” Then King David ordered, “Call Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came into the king’s presence, the king said to them, “Take Solomon and my officials down to Gihon Spring. Solomon is to ride on my own mule. There Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet are to anoint him king over Israel. Blow the ram’s horn and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then escort him back here, and he will sit on my throne. He will succeed me as king, for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.” “Amen!” Benaiah son of Jehoiada replied. “May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, decree that it happen. And may the Lord be with Solomon as he has been with you, my lord the king, and may he make Solomon’s reign even greater than yours!” So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the king’s bodyguard took Solomon down to Gihon Spring, with Solomon riding on King David’s own mule. There Zadok the priest took the flask of olive oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon with the oil. Then they sounded the ram’s horn and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people followed Solomon into Jerusalem, playing flutes and shouting for joy. The celebration was so joyous and noisy that the earth shook with the sound. Adonijah and his guests heard the celebrating and shouting just as they were finishing their banquet. When Joab heard the sound of the ram’s horn, he asked, “What’s going on? Why is the city in such an uproar?” And while he was still speaking, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest arrived. “Come in,” Adonijah said to him, “for you are a good man. You must have good news.” “Not at all!” Jonathan replied. “Our lord King David has just declared Solomon king! The king sent him down to Gihon Spring with Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, protected by the king’s bodyguard. They had him ride on the king’s own mule, and Zadok and Nathan have anointed him at Gihon Spring as the new king. They have just returned, and the whole city is celebrating and rejoicing. That’s what all the noise is about. What’s more, Solomon is now sitting on the royal throne as king. And all the royal officials have gone to King David and congratulated him, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s fame even greater than your own, and may Solomon’s reign be even greater than yours!’ Then the king bowed his head in worship as he lay in his bed, and he said, ‘Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who today has chosen a successor to sit on my throne while I am still alive to see it.’” Then all of Adonijah’s guests jumped up in panic from the banquet table and quickly scattered. Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, so he rushed to the sacred tent and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. Word soon reached Solomon that Adonijah had seized the horns of the altar in fear, and that he was pleading, “Let King Solomon swear today that he will not kill me!” Solomon replied, “If he proves himself to be loyal, not a hair on his head will be touched. But if he makes trouble, he will die.” So King Solomon summoned Adonijah, and they brought him down from the altar. He came and bowed respectfully before King Solomon, who dismissed him, saying, “Go on home.” As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon: “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ “And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace, staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood. Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace. “Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom. “And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him. ” Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. David had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. Solomon became king and sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.
1 Kings 1:5-2:12
Dear God, does all of this conflict really come down to simple lack of estate/succession planning on David’s part? What did he think was going to happen?
His firstborn (Amnon) was killed by his third-born (Absalom). His second-born, Daniel, I believe died of natural causes as a child. That left his fourth-born, Adonijah as the “natural” choice. I’ve never understood how Solomon got in there. According to Bathsheba, David had promised her, but I can’t find any reference to that promise in 2 Samuel. Perhaps I missed it, or perhaps it’s just something David said when she was mourning the loss of her first child. Either way, this looks to be another incredible lack of family leadership on David’s part. What was he thinking?
I’m not saying that Adonijah did it right or that he should have been king. But if David was going to make Solomon king all along then he should have been preparing him for it. He should have been guiding him. I suppose it is important to note here that there is another telling of this story in 1 Chronicles. That telling makes things look a little more organized. I think I believe the chaos of this story a little more.
Why was he like this? I was thinking today about the idea that David was a man after your own heart. What did that mean for all of the areas of his life?
- There was David the servant of you–Check, man after your own heart.
- There was David the warrior–Check, man after your own heart.
- There was David the friend–Check, man after your own heart.
- There was David the king–Check, pretty much a man after your own heart.
- There was David the husband–Well, I don’t see his heart for you as much here.
- There was David the father–Well, no, I don’t really see it here either.
David had this great integrity when it came to his worship of you and his humility before you. He had integrity as a warrior (letting Saul live twice) and as a friend (taking care of Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, after Jonathan died). I think the power started to corrupt him a bit as king, but he certainly tried to lead the nation in following you. But when it came to husbanding and fathering, he seemed absolutely lost.
I talked to a mother of two teenagers today. I could feel her pain. I experienced some of it. Sometimes, it can be easier to just be a good public person and let the private life suffer. Is that what David did.
Then there is this whole angle of dealing with his estate planning and succession plan. I think I counted that he had 17 sons, although how many were alive when he died is a bit unclear. Did he deal with them and tell them how things were going to be? If not, why? Is there anything I need to be doing now to set my children up for good relationships after I’m gone by being open about what my and my wife’s estate plans are now?
Father, help me to be as attuned to my personal life as I am my public one. Scratch that! Make me more attuned to my life as a husband, father, brother, son, etc. than I am to projecting a good public image. Help me to do the hard work and to lead under your grace and mercy.
In Jesus’s name I pray,