Read the Passage (NRSV)    Find more resources related to this passage  Print

1 Kings 1:1-2:46 – Solomon Becomes King

Summary

After David dies, Solomon becomes king at the end of a bloody struggle for succession.

Analysis

The opening of 1 Kings is really the conclusion of David's reign, a story that has occupied most of 2 Samuel. The cast remains essentially the same: David, Solomon, Bathsheba, Nathan, and David's sons, especially Adonijah. Chapter 1 explains why Solomon, not David's eldest son, succeeds him, and chapter 2 conveys David's last instructions and Solomon's consolidation of his kingdom setting the stage for the report of his glorious reign and final apostasy in chapters 3-11.

One would expect Adonijah to succeed his father due to several factors (vv. 5-8):
•    Since Amnon (2 Samuel 13:28-29), Chileab (3:2-5), and Absalom (18:14-15) were dead or missing, Adonijah is the eldest surviving son.
•    David had not questioned his "very handsome" (like his father?) son's claim to the throne.
•    Adonijah enjoyed military (General Joab) and cultic (Zadok the priest) support.

Solomon, however, enjoyed the support of his mother Bathsheba, who joined Nathan the prophet in persuading David to support Solomon with his endorsement and, more significant, his military force. This was cleverly accomplished in Bathsheba's subtle "reminders" to David that he had in fact chosen Solomon as his successor, "Your [Bathsheba's] son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne" (vv. 13, 17, 30, compare 24). In verse 48, however, David gives voice to the real reason for Solomon's success: "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who today has granted one of my offspring to sit on my throne." Solomon's succession to the throne is seen as the first installment of God's promise of an eternal dynasty to David (2 Samuel 7:12). This divine choice of Solomon is explicitly stated in the very different account of Solomon's reign in 1 Chronicles 28-29.

Horrific as the bloodbath Solomon employed to solidify his power seems to us, there were good reasons for his actions, at least by ancient standards. The exile of Abiathar was due to a curse placed upon his priestly family (1 Samuel 2:27-36). Similarly, the execution of General Joab was required to purify the dynasty of the blood guilt incurred by Joab's murder of Abner and Amasa (2 Samuel 3:26-30; 20:8-10). The execution of his brother, Adonijah, was in response to Adonijah's request of Abishag, tantamount to sharing royal power with Solomon.

1 Kings 1:1-2:46

1 Kings

The Struggle for the Succession

1King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. 2So his servants said to him, ‘Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king, and be his attendant; let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord the king may be warm.’ 3So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4The girl was very beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and served him, but the king did not know her sexually.

5 Now Adonijah son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king’; he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done that?’ He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. 7He conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with the priest Abiathar, and they supported Adonijah. 8But the priest Zadok, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the prophet Nathan, and Shimei, and Rei, and David’s own warriors did not side with Adonijah.

9 Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fatted cattle by the stone Zoheleth, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10but he did not invite the prophet Nathan or Benaiah or the warriors or his brother Solomon.

11 Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah son of Haggith has become king and our lord David does not know it? 12Now therefore come, let me give you advice, so that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13Go in at once to King David, and say to him, “Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne? Why then is Adonijah king?” 14Then while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.’

15 So Bathsheba went to the king in his room. The king was very old; Abishag the Shunammite was attending the king. 16Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said, ‘What do you wish?’ 17She said to him, ‘My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne. 18But now suddenly Adonijah has become king, though you, my lord the king, do not know it. 19He has sacrificed oxen, fatted cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the children of the king, the priest Abiathar, and Joab the commander of the army; but your servant Solomon he has not invited. 20But you, my lord the king—the eyes of all Israel are on you to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21Otherwise it will come to pass, when my lord the king sleeps with his ancestors, that my son Solomon and I will be counted offenders.’

22 While she was still speaking with the king, the prophet Nathan came in. 23The king was told, ‘Here is the prophet Nathan.’ When he came in before the king, he did obeisance to the king, with his face to the ground. 24Nathan said, ‘My lord the king, have you said, “Adonijah shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne”? 25For today he has gone down and has sacrificed oxen, fatted cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s children, Joab the commander* of the army, and the priest Abiathar, who are now eating and drinking before him, and saying, “Long live King Adonijah!” 26But he did not invite me, your servant, and the priest Zadok, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon. 27Has this thing been brought about by my lord the king and you have not let your servants know who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?’

The Accession of Solomon

28 King David answered, ‘Summon Bathsheba to me.’ So she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. 29The king swore, saying, ‘As the Lord lives, who has saved my life from every adversity, 30as I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, “Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne in my place”, so will I do this day.’ 31Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and did obeisance to the king, and said, ‘May my lord King David live for ever!’

32 King David said, ‘Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.’ When they came before the king, 33the king said to them, ‘Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. 34There let the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king over Israel; then blow the trumpet, and say, “Long live King Solomon!” 35You shall go up following him. Let him enter and sit on my throne; he shall be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.’ 36Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, ‘Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so ordain. 37As the Lord has been with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.’

38 So the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and led him to Gihon. 39There the priest Zadok 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!’ 40And all the people went up following him, playing on pipes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth quaked at their noise.

41 Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished feasting. When Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, ‘Why is the city in an uproar?’ 42While he was still speaking, Jonathan son of the priest Abiathar arrived. Adonijah said, ‘Come in, for you are a worthy man and surely you bring good news.’ 43Jonathan answered Adonijah, ‘No, for our lord King David has made Solomon king; 44the king has sent with him the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and they had him ride on the king’s mule; 45the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan have anointed him king at Gihon; and they have gone up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise that you heard. 46Solomon now sits on the royal throne. 47Moreover, the king’s servants came to congratulate our lord King David, saying, “May God make the name of Solomon more famous than yours, and make his throne greater than your throne.” The king bowed in worship on the bed 48and went on to pray thus, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who today has granted one of my offspring* to sit on my throne and permitted me to witness it.”

49 Then all the guests of Adonijah got up trembling and went their own ways. 50Adonijah, fearing Solomon, got up and went to grasp the horns of the altar. 51Solomon was informed, ‘Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon; see, he has laid hold of the horns of the altar, saying, “Let King Solomon swear to me first that he will not kill his servant with the sword.” 52So Solomon responded, ‘If he proves to be a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the ground; but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.’ 53Then King Solomon sent to have him brought down from the altar. He came to do obeisance to King Solomon; and Solomon said to him, ‘Go home.’

David’s Instruction to Solomon

2When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: 2‘I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, 3and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. 4Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: “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.”

5 ‘Moreover, you know also what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner son of Ner, and Amasa son of Jether, whom he murdered, retaliating in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist, and on the sandals on his feet. 6Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his grey head go down to Sheol in peace. 7Deal loyally, however, with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table; for with such loyalty they met me when I fled from your brother Absalom. 8There is also with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a terrible curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim; but when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, “I will not put you to death with the sword.” 9Therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man; you will know what you ought to do to him, and you must bring his grey head down with blood to Sheol.’

Death of David

10 Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. 11The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned for seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon Consolidates His Reign

13 Then Adonijah son of Haggith came to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. She asked, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably.’ 14Then he said, ‘May I have a word with you?’ She said, ‘Go on.’ 15He said, ‘You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel expected me to reign; however, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the Lord. 16And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.’ She said to him, ‘Go on.’ 17He said, ‘Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.’ 18Bathsheba said, ‘Very well; I will speak to the king on your behalf.’

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. The king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right. 20Then she said, ‘I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.’ And the king said to her, ‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.’ 21She said, ‘Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to your brother Adonijah as his wife.’ 22King Solomon answered his mother, ‘And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom as well! For he is my elder brother; ask not only for him but also for the priest Abiathar and for Joab son of Zeruiah!’ 23Then King Solomon swore by the Lord, ‘So may God do to me, and more also, for Adonijah has devised this scheme at the risk of his life! 24Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of my father David, and who has made me a house as he promised, today Adonijah shall be put to death.’ 25So King Solomon sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he struck him down, and he died.

26 The king said to the priest Abiathar, ‘Go to Anathoth, to your estate; for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before my father David, and because you shared in all the hardships my father endured.’ 27So Solomon banished Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.

28 When the news came to Joab—for Joab had supported Adonijah though he had not supported Absalom—Joab fled to the tent of the Lord and grasped the horns of the altar. 29When it was told King Solomon, ‘Joab has fled to the tent of the Lord and now is beside the altar’, Solomon sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada, saying, ‘Go, strike him down.’ 30So Benaiah came to the tent of the Lord and said to him, ‘The king commands, “Come out.” ’ But he said, ‘No, I will die here.’ Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, ‘Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.’ 31The king replied to him, ‘Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him; and thus take away from me and from my father’s house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. 32The Lord will bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men more righteous and better than himself, Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants for ever; but to David, and to his descendants, and to his house, and to his throne, there shall be peace from the Lord for evermore.’ 34Then Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck him down and killed him; and he was buried at his own house near the wilderness. 35The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in his place, and the king put the priest Zadok in the place of Abiathar.

36 Then the king sent and summoned Shimei, and said to him, ‘Build yourself a house in Jerusalem, and live there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. 37For on the day you go out, and cross the Wadi Kidron, know for certain that you shall die; your blood shall be on your own head.’ 38And Shimei said to the king, ‘The sentence is fair; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.’ So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for many days.

39 But it happened at the end of three years that two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When it was told Shimei, ‘Your slaves are in Gath’, 40Shimei arose and saddled a donkey, and went to Achish in Gath, to search for his slaves; Shimei went and brought his slaves from Gath. 41When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and returned, 42the king sent and summoned Shimei, and said to him, ‘Did I not make you swear by the Lord, and solemnly adjure you, saying, “Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever, you shall die”? And you said to me, “The sentence is fair; I accept.” 43Why then have you not kept your oath to the Lord and the commandment with which I charged you?’ 44The king also said to Shimei, ‘You know in your own heart all the evil that you did to my father David; so the Lord will bring back your evil on your own head. 45But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever.’ 46Then the king commanded Benaiah son of Jehoiada; and he went out and struck him down, and he died.

So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.

oremus Bible Browser
biblemail@oremus.org
v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

Related Passages