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1 Kings by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:44 mins 48 secs

God Secures Solomon's Throne


The writer of Kings is really tracing out the Davidic covenant. So what we have in the narrative in the first eleven chapters is the transition from the Davidic kingship from David to Solomon in fulfilment of the Davidic covenant. The first part of that is a transfer of the kingdom from David to Solomon—1:1-2:12. That can be further subdivided into two sections. Chapter one covers the coronation of Solomon despite the fact that Adonijah his half-brother makes a power grab and tries to seize the throne away from Solomon. Then the second part of that has to do with David's final exhortation, his last words to Solomon, regarding covenant faithfulness and dealing with David's foes and friends in 2:1-12.


There are three major doctrines that we need to keep in mind as we go through this. The first has to do with the promises of God. God promised David that Solomon would sit on his throne. We know that from a couple of different passages, first in 1 Chronicles 22:6ff where we see that David told Solomon sometime prior to this event that God had told him that Solomon would be the one to build a house for the Lord and that Solomon would be his heir. Furthermore, according to this passage in 1 Kings David told Bathsheba this, and this happens before God formalised the Davidic covenant with David. So it was clear within the household of David, which would include Adonijah and the other sons, that Solomon was the heir. So that makes Adonijah's coup even more insidious because we see that he must be completely away from the Lord in his own spiritual life.

We have noted looking at the background that we have to look at all these books in terms of the covenants, and the first and most important covenant is the Mosaic covenant because that is the one that is most directly applicable to Israel at this time. In the Mosaic covenant there are promises of blessing for obedience and curses or judgments for disobedience. Deuteronomy 28-30 are key chapters which we ought to take time to read through to see what God promised in terms of blessing and judgment, and in chapter pay attention to the promise to bring them back from all the earth to the land. But in Deuteronomy 28:1 Moses reminds the people NASB "Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth." The word there for obedience means to listen, to hear, to regard, thus to listen with obedience. The idea of hearing in Scripture isn't just a sort of academic detached listening and understanding but it is always for the purpose of application and obedience. That is what we see in the New testament in James: "Don't be hearers only but doers/appliers of the Word." In Deuteronomy 28:10 we see that the purpose for this is to be a witness for all the earth. NASB "So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will be afraid of you." And God's purpose is to make Israel the head and not the tail, v. 13 NASB "The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe {them} carefully, [14] and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them." However, they are warned later after that verse that disobedience will bring discipline.

But then the covenant with Abraham is expanded further with David, and there is a hint of this in 1 Chronicles 15:1 NASB "Now {David} built houses for himself in the city of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it." Burt he wanted to build a house, a permanent dwelling place for God. God told him that he wasn't going to build a house for Him, but he would build a house for David, meaning an eternal dynasty, and this is the Davidic covenant which grows out of the Abrahamic covenant. Remember the three elements in the Abrahamic covenant were land, seed and blessing. The land promise in the Abrahamic covenant was expanded in Deuteronomy 30 with the Israel land covenant. The seed aspect is expanded in the Davidic covenant. Literally in the Hebrew it says, "Your seed will be on the throne forever." That word "seed" is so important because it connects the Davidic covenant directly back to the Abrahamic covenant and further back to the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15. Then later there is the New covenant, Jeremiah 31.

In the Davidic covenant the key verses are 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 89 which is a meditation on the Davidic covenant; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14. 2 Samuel 7 focuses more on the earthly aspect of the descendants, the seed of David down through Solomon, whereas Chronicles focuses more on its eternal results which are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are three elements that are promised through the Davidic covenant. The first is that God promises an eternal house, i.e. dynasty, 2 Samuel 7:11, 13a, 16 and 1 Chronicles 17:10. Then God promised an eternal kingdom in 2 Samuel 7:12c and 1 Chronicles 17:14. Then an eternal throne in 2 Samuel 7:13 and 1 Chronicles 17:12b, 14.

It is obvious from this that this covenant can't be fulfilled in Solomon because Solomon is not eternal, he is just a human being and no other human son is capable of fulfilling this. So it begins to be clear that the fulfilment of this has to be in a person who is also God. So this idea that Jesus or the Messiah would be God does not just pop up when Jesus comes at the first advent. It was very clear from numerous passages in the Old Testament.

This covenant forms the backdrop for a number of passages later on in Scripture. In Isaiah there is the promise related to the Messiah. Isaiah 9:6 NASB "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." This terms "son" is particularly pregnant with the meaning "son of David." The fact that "a child will be born to us" indicates His humanity; the fact that "a son will be given to us" relates to this Davidic sonship that has divine overtones, because by this time we have Psalm 110:1 NASB "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'," and other passages that indicate His deity. The word "eternal Father" in Isaiah 9:6 does not mean that the son is the Father. This is a poor translation. The Hebrew phrase should be translated "the Father of eternity," indicating His eternal nature. And that reminds us of the fact that God promised David an eternal house, an eternal throne, an eternal kingdom.

Isaiah 9:7 NASB "There will be no end to the increase of {His} government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." This directly ties this son to the Davidic kingdom and the Davidic throne.

Isaiah 11:1 NASB "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit." What is interesting about this is the prophetic element. The picture is of a stump that dies. It appears that the stump related to the lineage from Jesse dies out. Where is it today? Yet a new shoot will come out of the stump from Jesse, and that is a reference to the future restoration of the kingdom under the Messiah, and "a branch from his roots will bear fruit" is a messianic implication related to the Millennial kingdom, that this is yet future.

Jeremiah also makes these same allusions. Jeremiah 23:5 NASB "'Behold, {the} days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land'." That reference to the Branch goes back to that same illustration of the branch or stem coming up from the root of the stump or trunk of Jesse. Another thing that we notice in both the Isaiah 9:6 passage and here is that which characterises the one who fulfils the Davidic covenant is that His reign is characterised by righteousness and justice. Was that true of Solomon's reign? No. As we go through Kings and the various kings in the south and in the north it becomes apparent that no human king can fulfil this requirement to provide a king who acts wisely and does justice and righteousness in the land. No human king can do that. One application of this is that human politics and political leaders aren't the answer. "It is a fool who puts his trust in the arm of flesh." Down through even the kingdom of Israel we see that even when they had great kings they failed greatly.

Jeremiah 30:8, 9 NASB "'It shall come about on that day,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them." This was written centuries after David died and it is a Millennial promise by Jeremiah that He will break the yoke off their neck," i.e. at the time it is fulfilled of the Antichrist, the end time king. David is already dead when he writes this. "I will raise up" is future tense, so we know that David will be in the resurrection and will be reigning over Israel during the Millennial kingdom. Jesus will be reigning on the earth but David will be the prince reigning over the nation Israel.

Amos 9:11 NASB "In that day [Millennial kingdom] I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old." So we see that this theme of the fulfilment of the Davidic covenant runs through the rest of the Old Testament.

That brings us to I Kings 1:1 NASB "Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm." The picture that we have of David in this first chapter is of an old king where it is not possible for his body to generate warmth, and he is no longer the vibrant, take-charge leader that he has been. In fact, in the first part of this chapter all of the verbs related to David are passive. It reinforces this picture that he is not active. He is not in charge of his life or what is going on around him. He has to be taken care of.  

As we look at this first chapter we have six scenes. The first scene, vv.1-4, is the old king's bedroom and the problem of his warmth. His body just can't generate body heat anymore. The second scene, vv. 5-10, introduces us to Adonijah's attempted coup. The third scene which is really broken up into sub sections goes from 1:11 to verse 37. All this is happening at the same time. While Adonijah is having this huge ceremony where he is going to be anointed as king. Nathan finds out what is going on and he comes to Bathsheba and says they have to inform David. Something has to pull David out of his passivity, his lethargy, they have to get him engaged, so they come up with a plan where first Bathsheba will go in and address David, and while she is telling David about what is going on Nathan will go in behind her and he will reinforce what she is telling David. Once they arouse David to be engaged in the plan then they help him put together the plan. He needs to make a quick decision to proclaim Solomon as king.

All of this has to happen very quickly because Adonijah is at that very moment being anointed and crowned king. So they have to find Solomon, they have to bring him out and the other supporters, they have to get Zadok the high priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada who is the head of the military now that Joab has gone over to Adonijah. They have to pull this ad hoc anointing together very quickly so that they can regain the initiative. We see a lot of wisdom here in the way they react and plan. They go down to the pool of Gihon which is about half a mile closer than where Adonijah is, which means they can get Solomon down there and anoint him and they can blow the trumpet to announce the anointing of the king and then bring him back to the palace because he is not as far away as Adonijah. So they can come in and undercut what Adonjiah is doing.

In the fifth scene, beginning in v. 41, Adonijah learns that he has been trumped. Solomon has already been anointed king by Nathan the prophet, and Zadok the high priest is behind him, and he is in trouble. He knows that his life is in danger. So in the closing scene he appeals to Solomon in grace and he is treated in grace "by the seed of the covenant." Solomon is demonstrating grace orientation and acting at this point as a type of Christ. He is extending grace to the usurper to give him time to show that he will not be an enemy of the throne.

In the first four verses the focus is on David and Abishag. Why is this here? It is not simply to tell us that David has a problem with something similar to hyperthermia and needs to be warmed by another human being. Because Abishag is brought into the kings harem tells us why Adonijah wants her for his wife later on. It is a set-up, this isn't just here to tell us that the king had a lovely young woman sleeping with him every night. There is nothing untoward about this, it was a common practice. He was not able to generate his own body warmth anymore so his servants came up with a solution, v. 2 NASB "So his servants said to him, 'Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her attend the king and become his nurse; and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm'." The word for "virgin" here is bethulah. The two main words in the Hebrew are bethulah and almah, as in Isaiah 7:14 which is a picture of a sign, a sign for Ahaz. Bethulah can refer to a virgin of any age, but it may also refer to a young widow, as it does in Joel 1:8. Usually when bethulah is used it has an explanatory statement, which we have here. Almah is a term that refers to a young virgin of marriageable age. It is never used of a married woman. When the rabbis translated Isaiah 7:14 into the Septuagint they used the Greek word pathenos [parqenoj] and they understood that it was a virgin. It wouldn't be much of a sign if a young woman got pregnant. What kind of sign would that be? Young women get pregnant every day! So for it to be a miraculous sign it would necessarily have to be a virgin. But here we have the word bethulah, and the idea is that it is qualified by the phrase "a young woman, a virgin, for my lord the king."

The reason they were looking for a virgin is that it had to be a single woman, not a married woman. No husband would want their wife sleeping with the king or any other man to keep him warm, so she had to be unmarried. And in that culture a young unmarried woman would be a virgin. They did not have problems with infidelity or sexual promiscuity in that culture like we have today. That young woman would still be living in the home with her parents.

1 Kings 1:3 NASB "So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. [4] The girl was very beautiful; and she became the king's nurse and served him, but the king did not cohabit with her." She will become a part of the king's harem even though the text makes it very clear that there were no sexual relations with the king. This was not a relationship of intimacy in nature, she is simply being used for her body warmth. This is something that is still common practice today in situations of hyperthermia. They brought her into the harem. That is why later on when Adonijah is going to try to make her his wife he is going to have to go to Bathsheba, because Bathsheba was like the first wife and was the one in charge of the harem. 

Then the scene shifts. We see this passive, out-of-touch king who is entering into some early stages of senility and he is just not in control of his family or the administration of the kingdom anymore, and so one of the sons attempts to seize control. Adonijah was the fourth son of David. Amnon was the eldest and he is dead, Absolom is dead. There was another son mentioned in 2 Samuel but he apparently died young and is not in the picture. Adonijah makes a decision that he wants to reign and he doesn't look to God or seek God's direction, he is going to make his own decision. 1 Kings 1:5 NASB "Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, 'I will be king.' So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him." He is operating on arrogance and self-absorption. He is the product of a spoiled upbringing. There was no parental discipline. 1 Kings 1:6 NASB "His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, 'Why have you done so?' And he was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom."