Sunday, March 30. 2 Samuel 24 – 1 Kings 3

In chapter 3 there is a noticeable change in this brief story of Solomon.

We were told in 2 Samuel 12 that Solomon was the second son born to David’s union with Bathsheba. We are also told concerning this child that “the Lord loved him,” though we are never told why. Reading the opening chapters of Kings, we might well wonder if the Lord’s love persists.

After all . . .

Solomon kills his half brother Adonijah. I understand that Adonijah is competition for the throne, but still, should he have been murdered?

Solomon demotes Abiathar the High priest. Apparently at this time, there were two High Priests, Abiathar and Zadok. Because Abiathar supported Adonijah in his quest for the throne, Solomon, on his own, removes Abiathar from the priesthood. We can wonder if Solomon had the authority to do this. Of course, the observation is made that this was according to the plan of God to deprive Eli’s descendants from the priesthood, but working according to the plan of God is not exactly the same as working according to the word of God. If God told Solomon to do this, we are not given that information. It simply seems as if Solomon is acting on his own.

Solomon has Joab murdered, and he kills Shimei.

It’s a bloody story and we are right in wondering whether Solomon could possibly still have God’s blessing. But the trouble doesn’t end there. Solomon goes to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, the “most important high place.” The tabernacle is there, but the Ark of the covenant is in Jerusalem. Where should he have gone? This little note points out Solomon’s confusion. He doesn’t really know what he is doing, or what he ought to do.

But in chapter three, things change.

During a dream, Solomon goes to God in prayer. God offers him whatever he desires and Solomon chooses wisdom – specifically the Lord’s wisdom to govern correctly. We have to admit, it was something Solomon desperately needed.

For the next eight chapters, Solomon goes from one success to another until finally, his success goes to his head and he stops living by the wisdom of God. Failure is on the horizon.

One message from this is, of course, to stick within the guidance of the Lord. But another, more pertinent to chapter three, is that when you don’t know what you are doing, it’s best to admit it and go to God in prayer for guidance.

Sunday, May 27. 1 Kings 2 – 5

“You can’t tell the players without a program.”

Adonijah was Solomon’s older half-brother.  As David’s eldest surviving son, he would normally have been the legitimate heir.  But succession in the Bible it always a matter of God’s choice and grace.  Adonijah thought he was to be King, but David had other plans, plans he had not exactly shared with everyone.  When David’s plan to make Solomon his successor became known, Adonijah seemed to graciously accept the decision, but his request for consolation prize, David’s young nurse (concubine) Abishag, revealed his true heart.  To take the wife of a king gave the taker a right to the throne.  Bathsheba does not seem to know this.  Or, perhaps she did and she knew that by requesting it on behalf of Adonijah she would remove him as a rival to the throne.

Joab of course was David’s cousin and had been David’s most successful general and greatest supporter.  But Joab’s ruthlessness turned David’s stomach (nevermind that such ruthlessness probably kept David on the throne).  Joab’s support of Adonijah either demonstrates he was not a part of David’s inner-circle, or that he saw himself as a king-maker and determined to subvert David’s wishes.  Either way, it cost him his life.

During David’s reign there had been two high priests, both descendants of Eli: Abiathar, and Zadok (though Zadok appears to be older).  Abiathar too supported the wrong heir and was removed from the priesthood.  From that time on, the family of Zadok determined the High Priesthood.

Frankly, this securing of Solomon’s throne is hardly a tale of righteousness, and I think that’s why the whole story beginning in chapter 2 begins with God’s conditional promise to David: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’  The coup described here is pure worldly politics – a foretaste of what is to come.