1st Kings and the Death of David


David and Solomon

The Death of David in 7½ minutes

I had said we would be done with David and Samuel last week. That was the twelfth study in Samuel and I wanted to move on to the old testament prophecies of Jesus relating to the Easter holiday. Apparently I don't know when to leave it alone. We need to talk about Solomon. This is the last one. Really.

The book(s) of Samuel detail the rise of the monarchy in Israel and ends with king David building an altar to the Lord as an atonement for his sin of counting the fighting men in Israel. The death of David is part of the Solomon narrative in First Kings. Just as David's transition to power had been fraught with political misdeeds, Solomon's is only a little less messy. David is advanced in years an essentially bedridden.

1Kings 1-2 1. When King David was old and well advanced in years, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2. So his servants said to him, "Let us look for a young virgin to attend the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm."

They found a young girl named Abishag to care for the king. She waited on David and kept him warm, but verse four clearly states that David did not have sex with her.

Meanwhile David's oldest son, Adonijah was jockeying for the throne. Adonijah would have been David's oldest son, around forty years old. Like Absalom, Adonijah acquired a chariot and horses and bodyguards to run ahead of him. He also colluded with David's senior staff, Joab, David's general and Abiathar, the priest. He sacrificed sheep and cattle and invited all his brothers, the king's sons, and all the men of Judah who were royal officials." For many, this may have seemed a natural transition sanctioned by the king, but it is significant who Adonijah doesn't invite to his "inauguration", Nathan the prophet, Zadok the priest, Benaiah commander over David's special guard (Kerethites and Pelathites), and Solomon himself. They also didn't tell David; this is not just a misunderstanding.

The prophet Nathan prompts Bathsheba to bring the matter to David and while she is speaking with the king, Nathan arrives and confirms what Bathsheba is saying. When David heard what Adonijah was doing, he ordered Solomon to be set on David's own mule, taken to the spring at Gihon and be anointed king by Zadok and Nathan. Once done, they are to blow the trumpet and shout "Long live King Solomon" and then accompany him back to the palace and set him on the throne. The procession back to the palace was so large the ground shook.

This took place just as Adonijah and his party were finishing their feast. Abiathar's son Jonathan brought news of Solomon's ordination and Adonijah's guests fled the party. Adonijah ran to the temple and took hold of the horns of the altar. Seeking asylum was (and is) biblical. Solomon spares Adonijah... this time.

Exodus 21:12-14 12. "Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. 13. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. 14. But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

Chapter 2 - Solomon would have been about nineteen or twenty and king David about seventy at the time of his death. Solomon's son Rehoboam was already born when Solomon became king. Just before his death, David encourages Solomon of the importance of staying faithful to God and keeping his laws. David gives advice to Solomon regarding potential enemies.

After the death of David, Adonijah makes one more attempt to seize recognition of power by surreptitiously getting Bathsheba to request that Abishag, David's young nurse be given to Adonijah as a wife. Solomon sees through the stunt. Despite Abishag's virginity, the Israelites would perceive her as belonging to David's harem and associate the relationship with a legitimate claim to the throne. Solomon has Benaiah kill Adonijah.

Solomon allows Abiathar the priest to return to his fields despite his role in the plot against the king. Solomon was deferential to Abiathar for his years of service but his removal from the priesthood fulfills the prophecy against the house of Eli from 1Samuel, chapter two. When Joab heard that Solomon removed Abiathar, he also ran and grabbed the horns of the altar, but this time Solomon had Benaiah kill Joab thus fulfilling the curse placed on Joab by David for the killing of Abner back in 2Samuel 3:28-29. Finally, Solomon has Shimei killed. Shimei was the Benjamite who called down curses on David as he fled Absalom. There is no fulfillment of prophecy here, but the dude seriously had it coming.

With this, Solomon has established his kingdom in Israel.