Today we’ll begin reading the book of 1 Kings which opens with King David being very old and frail, knowing it will soon be time for him to die. His sons were also aware of this fact but one son, Adonijah couldn’t wait for his father to pass and let God’s chosen be named king. He decided to make himself king without God’s blessing and without his father’s knowledge. Verses 5-10 describe Adonijah and his plan.
“Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6 His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. 7 He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him. 8 But Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David's mighty men were not with Adonijah.
9 Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle by the Serpent's Stone, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king's sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10 but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the mighty men or Solomon his brother.”
When Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother heard about it they went to the King and told him what was happening. David knew that God had chosen Solomon to reign after him and he knew that he was close to the end of his life, so he couldn’t let Adonijah steal the crown from Solomon. David answered in verses 28-31.
“Then King David answered, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king's presence and stood before the king. 29 And the king swore, saying, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity, 30 as I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ even so will I do this day.”31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and paid homage to the king and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”
David understood his entire life, every triumph, and every good thing was due to The Lord. And he knew that every bad thing had worked to strengthen his character and soul. God had redeemed his soul out of every adversity and so He will ours too. (Romans 8:28-31). God didn’t keep him from adversity but strengthened and bettered him out of all the difficulty and hardship he had faced. And Bathsheba to knew that there was more to life than this temporary earth. Even during a time when the Jewish nation had not been told about eternal life, The Holy Spirit taught her about it. That is how and why she was able to proclaim, “May my lord King David live forever!” One does not have to be a prophet in order to hear what God has to say to her.
And so the people who could, under the King’s decree make it happen, did as King David ordered. Verses 36-40 read,
“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, say so. 37 As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”
38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada,and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David's mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.”
Adonijah had proclaimed himself king and his ceremony looked like it might have been approved of by God. He sacrificed animals but not at God’s altar but by the Serpent's Stone, which is beside En-rogel. It looked godly but it wasn’t. It was a lie, a clever deception and rather than be anointed by God, the act was approved of by the serpent, the devil, the father of lies. Adonijah had many people rejoicing with him, but when Solomon was proclaimed and anointed king by David and therefore by God’s chosen, it meant that Solomon was the true king and Adonijah was a treacherous deceiver. If they supported a trader, they too would be guilty of treason. As soon as they heard the commotion they knew what it meant and they abandoned their false king for the true one.
Adonijah quickly realized his position and his sin. He went to the altar and took hold of the horns. This act meant he sought forgiveness and asylum. (Leviticus 4:27-31). The horns of the altar were what bound sin to the altar and made atonement possible. The horns of the altar represent the atonement for sin, they are a representation of Christ and without the horns of the altar there is no forgiveness in the sacrifice, there is no place for the blood and so the payment of sin to be put. (Psalm 118:26-28, Amos 3:13-15). They are what hold back God’s wrath over sin and allow us to come to salvation. (Revelation 9:13-15).
Adonijah realized if he didn’t repent quickly he faced death for his sin, and he could very well face death even with repentance. Rather than flee a sinner, he sought the compassion and absolution of his brother whom he had grievously wronged. Verses 49-53 record what happened.
“Then all the guests of Adonijah trembled and rose, and each went his own way. 50 And Adonijah feared Solomon. So he arose and went and took hold of the horns of the altar. 51 Then it was told Solomon, “Behold, Adonijah fears King Solomon, for behold, he has laid hold of the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me first that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’” 52 And Solomon said, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” 53 So King Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and paid homage to King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, “Go to your house.”
Adonijah wanted and expected certain things from God. Because he was second born after Absalom[i] and he assumed he was next in line for the throne. (2 Samuel 3:2-5). He knew deep down this wasn’t the case or he wouldn’t have stealthily proclaimed himself king. He would have waited for it to happen the right way.
We all want certain things for ourselves. Sometimes we try and take them on our own, or “speed up” God in our desires. Isaiah 55:8-11 reads,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
But God’s plans for us are greater than our own. And what God promises He always delivers. (Deuteronomy 7:8-9). Did God promise you what you yearn for so desperately? Or have you listened to the lies of the enemy and decided that God made that promise? If He said it, it will be. If He didn’t, then what He wants for you is far better than what you could want for yourself.
[i] Absalom was considered the most handsome man in the kingdom. (2 Samuel 14:25-27).He avenged his sister’s incestuous rape by Ammon. (2 Samuel 13). He tried to steal his father’s throne. (2 Samuel 15). And was killed in his cowardly escape by the vanity of his long hair. (2 Samuel 18:9-15).