1 Kings 1


The Reign of Solomon (1:1-11:43)

Solomon’s Rise Amidst Adversaries (1:1-2:46)

David in His Old Age

      • Now King David had become very old and he couldn’t get warm no matter how many blankets covered him. His servants said to him, “Let us find a young virgin for my lord the king, to serve the king and be his caregiver. She can lie with him so that my lord the king may be warm.” So they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman. They found a beautiful young woman from Shunem whose name was Abishag, and brought her to the king. She took care of the king and waited on him, but he was not intimate with her.

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible writes, “According to 2 Sam 5:4 and 1 Kings 2:11, David would have been about 70 years old at this point, which was well beyond the 40-year average male lifespan of the first millennium BC.” Though NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds that, “…royal inscriptions often indicate that royalty tended to live longer.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “…the beautiful Abishag slept next to the king, but was never added to his harem. Yet, as a consequence of this intimate association with the king, any interest in marrying her would be interpreted as a challenge to the throne (cf 2:13-25). It is noteworthy that Abishag was from Shunem in Galilee, not far from Nazareth. Her selection may have been a way to maintain strong ties between the Judahite monarch and the rival northern tribes.”

        • The whole idea of finding a young virgin just to keep David warm sounds extremely odd to us, but Guzik includes this interesting information in his commentary, “…it was a recognized medical treatment in the ancient world, mentioned by the ancient Greek doctor Galen. When Josephus described this in his Antiquities of the Jews, he said that this was a medical treatment and he called the servants of 1 Kings 1:2 ‘physicians.’”

      • What exactly was Abishag’s role? Was she only a servant? ESV Study Bible adds, “The Hebrew expression for ‘wait’ appears in Lev 18:23 (as ‘give herself’), where it refers to availability for sexual intercourse; ‘be in his service’ leaves the precise nature of the service unstated; and ‘in your arms’ has sexual overtones in Gen 16:5 (‘your embrace’); 2 Sam 12:8; and Mic 7:5. This beautiful woman, Abishag, is no doubt intended to interest David sexually; and his impotence (the king knew her not) is all the encouragement that Adonijah needs to foment rebellion (‘I will be the king,’ 1 Kgs 1:5).”

Adonijah Sets Himself Up as King

      • Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, kept promoting himself saying, “I will be king!” He assembled chariots and horsemen for himself, as well as 50 men to run ahead of him. Now, his father had never once reprimanded him by saying, “Why are you doing these things?” He had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Adonijah was David’s fourth son. Because his older brothers, Amnon, Daniel, and Absalom, were all dead, Adonijah assumed he would succeed his father.” However, “Solomon… was to succeed him as king. David had already communicated this fact to Solomon (1:13, 17; 1 Chr 22:6-10).

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says that this was in fact, “…in keeping with the customs of Israel and its neighbors…Many Biblical characters did not adhere to this tradition, but examination of the passage’s ancient context clearly shows that Adonijah and some of the king’s advisors anticipated that David would.”

        • Perhaps David shoulders some of the blame for these views since, as ESV Study Bible points out, “Adonijah, like Absalom, was in part the product of parental negligence and indulgence; David never held him accountable for his actions.”

      • He conferred with Joab (Zeruiah’s son) and Abiathar (the priest), and they gave him their support. But the priest Zadok, Benaiah (who was Jehoiada’s son), the prophet Nathan, Shimei, Rei, and David’s mighty men did not side with Adonijah.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible sets the stage, “Joab, David’s military commander, and Abiathar, the high priest, gave Adonijah powerful military and religious backing in pursuit of the throne.” However, “Zadok was in the priestly line of Eleazar, Benaiah commanded David’s body guard and his thirty mighty men (2 Sam 23:20-23), Shimei was one of Solomon’s district governors (1 Kgs 4:18), and Nathan was David’s trusted prophet. Rei is unknown beyond this verse.”

        • ESV Study Bible adds, “The events of chs 1-2 are to be understood in light of the Judah/Israel tensions already evident in the books of Samuel and soon to reappear in 1 Kings 12 (cf 2 Sam 20:1; 1 Kgs 12:16). Joab and Abiathar were men with deep roots in David’s Judean past..By contrast, only Benaiah and David’s mighty men (special guard) in the opposing group had such a long-standing association with David…Note that it was the royal officials of Judah who were invited to Adonijah’s feast, not those of Israel. Shimei was an antagonist of David from the house of Saul (2 Sam 16:5-14).”

      • Adonijah went to the Stone of Zoheleth which is near En Rogel and sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle. He invited all of his brothers and all the officials of Judah. But he didn’t invite the prophet Nathan, Benaiah, the mighty men, or his brother Solomon.

        • Guzik explains, “The idea is that Adonijah burned the fat of these animals as a sacrifice to the LORD, and he used the meat to hold a dinner honoring and blessing his supporters.”

Nathan and Bathsheba Before David

      • Then Nathan said to Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, “Haven’t you heard that Haggith’s son Adonijah has become king and our lord, David, doesn’t know about it? Now come and let me advise you so that you can save your life and your son Solomon’s life. Go visit King David and say to him, ‘My lord king, didn’t you swear to me, your servant, “Your son Solomon will be king after me; he will sit on my throne”? So, why has Adonijah become king?’ Then, while you are still there speaking to the king, I will come and confirm what you have said.”

        • HCSB notes, “There is no biblical record of David’s promise to Bathsheba…It may never have been publicly announced.”

      • So Bathsheba went to the king in his private room. He was very old now and Abishag the Shunamite was attending him. Bathsheba bowed down in homage to the king, and he asked, “What is it you want?” She replied, “My lord, your swore an oath to your servant by Yahweh your God: ‘Your son Solomon will be king after me and he will sit on my throne.’ But look, now Adonijah has become king, and my lord the king doesn’t know about it. He has sacrificed an abundance of oxen, sheep, and fattened cattle. He invited all of the king’s sons, the priest Abiathar, and Joab, the commander of your army. But, he didn’t invite your servant Solomon. Now, my lord king, all of Israel is looking to you to tell them who is to succeed my lord king on the throne. Otherwise, when my lord the king rests with his fathers, my son Solomon and I will be considered criminals.”

      • Just then, while she was still speaking with the king, the prophet Nathan arrived and it was announced to the king, “Nathan the prophet is here.” When he came before the king, he bowed with his face to the floor. Nathan asked, “My lord the king, did you declare, ‘Adonijah is to become king after me and sit on my throne’? Because, today he has gone down and sacrificed a large number of sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle, and invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army, and the priest Abiathar. At this very moment, they are feasting in his presence and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But he didn’t invite me, the priest Zadok, Jehoiada’s son Benaiah, or your servant Solomon. Has my lord the king authorized this without informing your servant who will succeed my lord the king on the throne?”

        • …Nathan emphasizes the alarming purpose of these events to motivate David to quickly resolve the problem of royal succession.” (ESV Study Bible)

Solomon Anointed King

      • King David said, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came and stood before the king. Then the king swore an oath: “As Yahweh lives, who has saved my life from all trouble, today I will keep the oath I swore to you by Yahweh, the God of Israel: Your son Solomon will become king after me and sit on my throne in my place.” Bathsheba bowed with her face to the floor paying homage to the king and said, “May my lord, King David, live forever!”

      • Then King David said, “Call in the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Jehoiada’s son Benaiah to me.” So they came before the king and he told them, “Take my servants with you, have my son Solomon ride my own mule, and take him down to Gihon. There, the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan are to anoint him king over Israel. Then, blow the trumpet and declare, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then escort him back up here, and he is to come and sit on my throne. He will be king in my place because I have commanded that he will be the ruler over Israel and Judah.” Jehoiada’s son Benaiah replied, “Amen! May Yahweh, the God of my lord the king, confirm it. Just as Yahweh was with my lord the king, so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible explains, “David’s quick action rendered Adonijah’s feast an act of rebellion in practice and not just theory. He handed to Solomon several overt symbols of kingship, including his personal means of transportation as well as the go-ahead for anointing him in a public declaration at one of the royal city’s main landmarks. Mules were the preferred means of transportation among royalty, a fact corroborated by second-millennium BC letters from the kingdom of Mari.”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible cites the archaeological corroboration mentioned above, “A letter written to King Zimri-Lim (18th century BC) of Mari (in western Syria) states, ‘[If] you are the king of the Haneans, you are, moreover, a “king of the Akkadians” [My lord] should not ride horses [i.e., in tribal fashion]. May my lord drive in a wagon and mules [i.e., in a “civilized” manner], and may he [thus] honor his royalty’ (ARM 6, 76.20-25).”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “David’s sons rode mules (2 Sam 13:29; 18:9). Similarly, Zechariah predicts that Israel’s king will come ‘riding on a donkey’s colt’ (Zech 9:9), a prophecy fulfilled by Jesus (Matt 21:4-7; John 12:14-15)…The Gihon Spring, just outside Jerusalem’s eastern slopes, was the city’s major water source. In this common gathering place, Solomon’s anointing would be well known, yet not visible to Adonijah’s supporters at En-rogel.”

        • The same source continues, “Due to David’s age and infirmities, Solomon officiated publicly for about two years before his father died. Co-regency provided for orderly royal succession and became commonplace during Israel’s divided monarchy. It was also practiced in Egypt.”

      • So the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, Jehoiada’s son Benaiah, the Kerethites, and the Pelethites took Solomon down to Gihon, with Solomon riding on King David’s mule. The priest Zadok took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon, then they blew the trumpet and all the people proclaimed, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people followed him up to Jerusalem playing flutes and rejoicing so loudly that the ground split.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible reminds up who the Kerethites and Pelethites are, “The king’s bodyguard were foreign mercenaries from Crete; they served David throughout his reign (2 Sam 8:18; 15:18; 20:7).”

        • I noticed that the HCSB actually identifies the tent the oil came from as the tabernacle. However, ESV Study Bible has this to say, “The most natural assumption might be that this is ‘the tent of the Lord’ that appears also in 2:28-30, i.e., the tabernacle. The Chronicler, however, (2 Chron 1:1-6), differentiates David’s tent in Jerusalem (the temporary location of the ark of the covenant) from the tabernacle in Gibeon, so the reference is in fact unclear.”

        • Did the ground literally split open? Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says, “The Hebrew text implies ‘cleaving asunder’ and must, if correct, be taken as hyperbolic: that it is correct seems clear from the LXX. which has ‘was broken asunder’… though a slight change in the letters of the Hebrew…would give the meaning which the Vulgate has, ‘insonuit,’ i.e. resounded. Josephus appears thus to have understood the phrase, whatever reading he had, for he writes ‘from the multitude of the instruments all the earth and the air resounded.’”

Adonijah Hears of Solomon’s Coronation

      • As they were finishing their feast, Anonijah and all of his guests heard the noise. When Joab heard the sound of the trumpet he asked, “Why is there such a noisy commotion in the city?” As he was still talking, Jonathan, who was the son of the priest Abiathar, arrived. Adonijah said, “Come in! You’re a worthy man so surely you must be bringing good news.” But Jonathan answered Adonijah, “No! Our lord king David has made Solomon king. The king sent the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, Jehoiada’s son Benaiah, the Kerethites, and the Perethites with him. And they put him on the king’s own mule. Then the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anointed him king in Gihon. They have gone up from there rejoicing and the city is in an uproar. This is the noise you’ve heard. Solomon has even taken his seat on the royal throne. Moreover, the king’s servants have come to congratulate our lord King David saying, ‘May God make Solomon’s name greater than yours, and make his throne greater than your throne.’ Then the king bowed in worship on his bed and said, ‘May Yahweh, God of Israel, be praised! Today He has placed a successor on my throne and I am a witness.’”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Those attending Adonijah’s banquet at En-rogel could not see the celebration, but it was so joyously noisy that they could hear it.”

      • Then all of Adonijah’s guests got up in fear and went their separate ways. Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, so he went and grabbed hold of the horns of the altar. It was reported to Solomon: “Adonijah is afraid of you. Look, he has taken hold of the horns of the altar saying, ‘May King Solomon swear to me first that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’” Solomon replied, “If he shows himself to be loyal, not one of his hairs will fall to the ground. But, if wickedness is found in him, he will die.” So King Solomon sent men to bring him down from the altar. He came and paid homage to King Solomon, so Solomon dismissed him saying, “Go home.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Fearing for his life, Adonijah sought refuge at the horns (projections at the corners) of the altar (Exod 27:2), hoping for mercy according to biblical precedent (cp Exod 21:12-14). However, such protection was provided only for unintentional homicide, so Adonijah’s treason could only be forgiven by the king. Solomon treated him graciously on the condition that he remain loyal. Appearances aside, Adonijah was still looking for ways to usurp the kingship and was later killed as a troublemaker (1 Kgs 2:13-25).”

Click here to go to 1 Kings 2