June 2, 2015.
Daily Reading: I Kings 1-4.
Background: II Samuel 20-24. Though this is a separate book from II Samuel, it picks up right were II Samuel leaves off, with the end of the life of David.
Concepts and Connections.
Solomon, not Adonijah, to be king: As David’s life draws to an end, we find him likely sick and not able to keep warm. It was suggested that a young maiden be found to lie at the feet of the king so that he may be kept warm, so that sought out a beautiful maiden, Abishag the Shunammite. The record makes it a point, however, to state that David never knew her intimately, which comes into play in the next chapter. As David draws near death, his son Adonijah decides (without discussing it with David or several other key people) that he is going to assume his father’s throne. After all, he was next in line after Absalom (who had killed the firstborn of David, see II Samuel 13) in terms of birth order, and assuming that Chileab was either dead or out of the picture for some reason (see II Samuel 3:3-5 for the order of David’s sons in Hebron), it would seem that he should be the one to take the throne of his father. But this was not the plan of the Lord (see I Chronicles 22:2-5). Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, was to be king after David. It is worthy to note here that it was the son of Bathsheba that would be chosen to take the throne, even though it was through adultery and murder that David took Bathsheba as a wife. Regardless, when Solomon was born, the Lord loved him and he was called Jedidiah, or “beloved of the Lord,” when he was born (see II Samuel 12:24-25). This goes to show that we are not the sin of our parents.
Talking with Joab and Abiathar the priest, Adonijah went to sacrifice before the Lord and set himself up as king, but he did not invite Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David’s mighty men, and David himself did not know what Adonijah was doing. When Nathan found out about it, he sent Bathsheba into David to ask why Adonijah was king instead of Solomon and he would come in and confirm what was happening. When David hears what was happening, he calls in the necessary people to make sure that Solomon was king in his place, just as the Lord had said (see I Chronicles 22:2-5). Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon as king in Gihon and they blew the trumpet and shouted “Long live King Solomon. Adonijah’s guests were very afraid and fled from him when they had heard that Solomon, not Adonijah, had been anointed king, probably because they could be considered enemies of the kingdom if they continued to support Adonijah. Adonijah himself was afraid, knowing that he did not confer with David when he asserted himself as king, and ran to take hold of the horns of the altar so that he would not be killed by Solomon. Solomon said that if he was a worthy man then he would not die, and after paying homage to the king, Solomon sent Adonijah to his house without harm.
Solomon’s reign established: Just before David died, he called Solomon to him to give him some last words of instruction. As a man after God’s own heart, the first thing he tells him is to be strong in the Lord, keeping His commands and statues, the Law of Moses, so that it may be well with him and his lineage might be established before the Lord throughout the generations of the kingdom. Then David gives specific instructions about certain people, almost like he was telling Solomon to clean up some loose ends that he either didn’t, or wasn’t able to take care of. He tells him to not allow Joab to go unpunished for the bloodguilt he had brought upon himself by killing Abner and Amasa (see II Samuel 3:26-30 and II Samuel 20:4-10, respectively). He tells Solomon to do the same for Shemei, who had cursed him when he was fleeing from Absalom (see II Samuel 16:5-14). To the house of Barzillai the Gileadite, however, Solomon was to show loyalty to for they had come to David’s aid when he was fleeing from Absalom (see II Samuel 19:31-38). After reigning 40 years, 7 in Hebron and 33 in Jerusalem, David died and Solomon his son took over his reign.
Solomon’s reign was established though a cleaning out of his court, in a way. Adonijah his brother wanted to take Abishag the Shunammite, the young maiden that was found for King David in chapter one, as a wife. Instead of asking the king directly, however, he tries to get Bathsheba to ask for him, probably because he thought it was more likely for Solomon to agree to something his mother asked rather than him. Adonijah’s plan backfired, however, as Solomon got angry when he heard his mother’s request, almost seeing Adonijah’s request as treason, and he sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada to strike him down. Solomon also banished Abiathar the (now former) priest to his estate, saying that he deserved death but was spared because of the good he had done for David. This fulfilled what the Lord had said to Eli when he rejected his house as priests because of what his two sons had done (see I Samuel 2:27-36).
When Joab heard that Adonijah had been killed, he ran to grab hold of the horns of the altar, for he knew that he was in trouble because he had supported Adonijah when he set himself up as king. Refusing to leave the altar, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was also sent to strike down Joab, which he did in the temple. Benaiah was set over the army of Israel and Zadok was made priest in the place of Abiathar. Then it was time to deal with Shimei. Solomon told Shimei that he was to build a house in Jerusalem and stay there, never leaving lest he be sentenced to death as soon as he left. Shimei agreed to this, swearing by the Lord. After all, this punishment was better than death. However, after three years, a couple of Shimei’s servants ran away, and he saddled a donkey and went after them. When Solomon heard that he had done this, he called him to him and rebuked him for what he had done, and then had him killed. Thus Solomon’s kingdom was established firmly underneath him.
Solomon’s wisdom: Perhaps what Solomon is most well known for is his wisdom, which was given to him by the Lord. The story by which he obtains this great wisdom is recorded in this chapter, just after we learn that he made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and was sacrificing on the high places because the house of the Lord had not been constructed yet. As he was sacrificing in Gibeon, the Lord came to him and asked him what he would ask of the Lord. Knowing that he was young and being taught as a child the value of wisdom (see Proverbs 4:3-9), Solomon asked the Lord to give him wisdom and understanding, that he might know how to rule the kingdom properly. Solomon showed great humility in this request, and because he had asked for wisdom as opposed to riches and honor, the Lord granted Solomon both wisdom and riches and honor, so much so that there would be none that would compare to him. Solomon’s wisdom was first displayed when he decided a case between two prostitutes over who was the mother of a certain child that had been born in their house. Solomon was able to discern which woman was the child’s mother by testing for a true mother’s love. When he rightly judged the case, all Israel marveled at his wisdom and knew that the Lord was with him to do justice.
Solomon’s officials, wealth and wisdom: As Solomon’s reign was established, his officials were set in place and recorded by their positions. We can almost get the sense that Solomon built a core group around him with choice people to help him rule the kingdom. He also had twelve officers over Israel, and each were given a month out of the year to provide food for the king and his house, whose names are also listed here. God truly did bless Solomon with great wealth, riches and wisdom, along with honor both in his kingdom and throughout the nations that heard of him. It is important to note that the Lord gave Solomon rest from his enemies on all sides, which was one of the reasons he was to be the one to build the house of the Lord instead of his father (see I Chronicles 22:2-9). Israel would enter into their golden age under the rule of Solomon, and his reputation for wisdom and understanding would travel to distant lands. People from all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, as he spoke of nature and animals, and wrote many proverbs and songs.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 63-65.
The Lord grant you wisdom.